Notebooks & Laptops Tips

Read these 20 Notebooks & Laptops Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about PC tips and hundreds of other topics.

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Should I buy a CD-ROM or a DVD-ROM drive?

Choose a DVD-ROM Drive Instead

Even though it is tempting to save money by buying a laptop with only a CD-ROM, it is a good idea to spend the extra money on a DVD-ROM. The reason for this is because a DVD-ROM can play a CD, as well as a DVD. However a CD-ROM can only play a CD. If given the option, to purchase a CDRW/DVD-ROM combo, go for it! Having the ability to burn CDs and watch movies using only one drive is an added bonus!

   
What is a laptop computer?

The skinny on Laptop computers

The 1980s gave us the rising of business and the shrinking of desktop computers. The, first laptop computers (like the Osborne 1 and the Epson HX-20) had a bit more bulk than today. It wasn't until the early 90s ‘til the design was perfected. The obvious advantage to the laptop or notebook computer is portability. Though, when shopping for a portable notebook you should remember weight also plays a big factor along with size.

   
What is a laptop computer?

Missing the Mouse?

The biggest difference between a desktop computer and the laptop is no mouse. Laptops are designed with two types of replacements – the touchpad or the track point mouse. The touchpad is an area where the finger can move around to guide the pointer. The track point mouse looks like a mini red clown nose shoved in the middle of the keyboard. Like the touchpad the user can use their finger to work the pointer. If you know you'd miss the mouse too much make sure the laptop you buy has a USB port to accommodate your familiar, little clicking creature.

   
What is a laptop computer?

Breathe life into your Battery life

Until they make an institutional sized 80mile power cord you're going to need to rely on your laptop's battery. Unfortunately this doesn't work out to too much work time. Maybe 3 hours. However, a few simple rules can help you add a bit more time to your laptop battery. First, try using the power management feature on your laptop. Second, purchase a more powerful Li-lon batter like the IBM ThinkPad 570 Li-Ion Battery. Finally, make sure you correctly follow your laptop's recharging procedure.

   
Is a proper laptop case needed when traveling?

Laptop Traveling Cases

When traveling with a laptop, make sure to buy a proper case with which to carry your laptop in. Laptop cases vary from simple backpacks to stylish attaché-style leather cases. When choosing a laptop case, investigate how comfortable it feels to carry around with you. Pick up the case and hold the straps in your hand. Next check how the shoulder strap feels on your shoulder. All of this is necessary to decide on the right carrying case for your laptop.

After investigating the straps and handles for the laptop case, unzip the bag and examine how padded it is. The laptop case should have enough padding inside to absorb the shocks and bumps the laptop will experience as you travel.

   
How much does a laptop cost?

The Price of a Laptop

Before shopping for a laptop, think about how much money you would like to spend. Even though they are smaller than desktops, laptops are generally more expensive than desktops. A few years ago it was common to pay between $1,500 - $2,000 or more for a new laptop.

However, just as the price of desktops have been reduced, the price of laptops have come down as well. Now it is possible to be able to purchase a laptop for under $1,500, or even for under $1,000 for lower end models.

   
What is the difference between the various types of laptop screens?

Laptop Screens

Laptop screens vary in size from 12 inches to 17 inches. A laptop can either be purchased with a dual-scan screen or an active matrix screen.

An active matrix screen costs more than having a dual-scan screen, but it is worth every penny. With a dual-scan screen, the picture quality is not as sharp, and there is a noticeable lag with images displayed on this type of screen. However, an active matrix screen compensates for this lag with a sharper picture quality.

   
What is a laptop computer?

Adapting to the wireless web

The airport. Train. Just one decade ago those areas signaled time away from office communication, but no more. First came the cell phone. Then recently, office email became accessible with the wireless network adapter card. Laptops today have a number of options to plug into the web without wires. Cards like the D-Link 11Mbps USB Adapter or the ParkerVision 802.11b Card plug into the PCMCIA slot or a USB port. These cards act like mini antennas that allow you to surf the net when you are in areas that enables wireless surfing. These areas are known as hotspots.

   
Where can I find laptop deals online?

Finding Laptop Deals Online

There are numerous resources available to help find almost anything you are looking for, and finding deals on laptops is no exception. Looking for laptop deals on the Internet is quite easy. There are a number of reputable online stores that offer affordable prices on new laptops and notebooks.

In order to decide if the online computer store you have selected is a reputable one, look for clues on the online computer store website. A legitimate physical address and phone number, membership in the Better Business Bureau, and a secure Web site in order to complete transactions are examples of clues to look for.

These are just the minimum recommendations an online computer store should have, before you start doing business with them.

   
How much space should my new laptop have?

Laptop Hard Drive Space

Even though laptops are smaller than desktops, it is possible to buy a laptop or notebook with adequate amount of hard drive space. A laptop with 20 gigabytes of hard drive space is the minimum amount you should consider. This might seem like a lot to you, however after installing other programs, adding digital photos, and placing music files on your hard drive, you will realize how quickly the 20 gigabytes of hard drive space is eaten up. A good rule of thumb is to purchase as much space as you can afford.

   
Why is a laptop warranty important?

Laptop Warranties

It is necessary to purchase a laptop on warranty because you never know when a situation will arise in which the laptop must be repaired. If the laptop is still under warranty, it can be returned to the manufacturer in order to complete the necessary repairs. If the laptop does not come with a warranty, ask the computer store sales representative about buying warranty coverage.

   
What is the minimum amount of memory to purchase for my laptop?

Minimum Amount of Memory

Depending on your laptop's configuration, the amount of RAM or Random Access Memory it has will determine how quickly programs open and how quickly commands are executed. Since data from opened programs are stored temporarily in RAM, 64 megabytes of RAM is the minimum amount of RAM a laptop should have. This amount can be upgraded if your habit is to have open a variety of programs at the same time.

   
What is a refurbished laptop?

Refurbished Laptops

If you would like to buy a previously owned laptop, a refurbished laptop might be just what you are looking for. A refurbished laptop is one in which someone else has purchased new from the manufacturer and returned to them. There are a number of reasons why a customer would return a laptop, but this works as big savings for you because the manufacturer cannot sell this laptop at the regular price. Instead you benefit from having a laptop that is ‘almost' new but at a cheaper price.

   
What is the maximum amount of memory to purchase for my laptop?

Maximum Amount of Memory

When using your laptop, it is a good idea to make sure you have enough memory when you first purchase it. Most computer stores will sell computers with at least 256 megabytes of memory. It is possible to survive on 128 megabytes of memory if the notebook computer is only going to be used for simple Word processing and surfing the Internet. However, there is no real suggested maximum amount of memory, so consider buying the maximum amount of memory you can afford.

   
What is a laptop computer?

Don't feel blue about networking

Syncing up your laptop to a home or work computer used to include a whole mess of disks and lots of wasted time. That is until 1998 when the Bluetooth network system was invented. Named after the former King of Denmark the adapter plugs into the USB port and can share information with PDAs, Cell phones and computers. Basically any device that is Bluetooth enabled.

   
My laptop has never crashed before. Should I still consider backing it up?

Backup Your Laptop

If your laptop contains sensitive files you would like to have access to if something goes wrong, protect your information by making a backup. The main thing the backup should contain is a copy of your operating system files, as well as a copy of your system's registry. In this way, you will still have copies of these files if something goes wrong.

After backing up your registry and operating system files, make copies of other files that are important to you. This could include files in your Documents folder or located on your Desktop.

There are a few options to choose from as to the type of media you would like to store the backup of your laptop. Often backups are saved to cartridges, or a recordable CD or DVD. There is no point in backing up the laptop and saving this backup onto the laptop's hard drive, as this information can be erased if the hard drive ‘crashes'.

   
Can I improve the life of my laptop?

Improving the Life of Your Laptop

Regardless of what type of laptop you choose to purchase, there are a few things you can do to ensure your laptop remains in top condition:

Keep your computer away from all magnets

Your laptop should never be placed directly in bright sunlight especially if left in a car

Avoid exposing your laptop to cold temperatures.

Backup your laptop's information constantly.

It is not recommended that you eat or drink near your laptop.

   
Where can I find used laptops or notebooks online?

Used Laptops

There are many places online selling used laptops for someone who is not able to afford a new laptop. Generally, a used laptop is a laptop that has been previously owned by someone else but still works.

Buying a used laptop is a great way for someone who wants a laptop to buy one at an affordable price. However, there are numerous scams out there. Therefore, it is a good idea to check the laptop yourself or have a computer technician check it for you, before deciding to buy a used laptop. Doing so can help you avoid spending money on a laptop that does not work.

   
How can I make my laptop secure?

Laptop Security Locks

After investing hundreds of dollars in a laptop, many people fail to implement ways to prevent its theft.

There are numerous products available such as security cable locks, which prevent someone stealing your laptop from the desk it is attached to. These cable locks are quite handy when staying at a hotel or when you bring your laptop to the office.

If someone is successful at stealing your laptop, there are different brands of laptop tracking software available, which can tell you the location of your laptop when the thief uses it to connect to the Internet.

   
Can a laptop do the same job as a desktop?

Good Things Come In Small Packages

After you have made the transition from a desktop to a laptop, one thing you will notice is how much smaller a laptop is compared to a desktop. Usually a laptop will average between six to eight pounds in size with a notebook being slightly less in weight.

Even though a laptop is smaller in size, it can manage the same amout of functionality as a desktop. However, one of the great benefits of using laptop is in its portability, giving you the ability to travel around with it.

   
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Jolyn Wells-Moran