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Buying guide: Laptop

What kind of laptop is right for me? If you are shopping for a laptop and you are asking this question, then you are on course to getting the right machine for you. Many people get oversold by pushy sales assistants because they don't know what they are looking for. Learn how to determine what laptop is right for you with this simple guide.

Home user

Desktop replacement If you want to replace your cumbersome desktop and you rarely use a PC on the go, then there are laptops just for you. Go for a laptop with specification close to those on your desktop. Seek a good bargain on more specs by sacrificing battery life (at home the laptop will be plugged in most of the time) and weight (you will not use the laptop often). Generally, replace a decent (£500) desktop with a laptop approaching £1,000. Basic specifications Buy a laptop with 4GB RAM, 350GB hard-drive and a 2.2 GHz dual core processor or higher for it to manage the wide variety of family tasks. A traditional 15-inch laptop screen size is good for checking email and watching DVDs on a home laptop, while a 19 inch screen is good for watching DVDs but not ideal for checking email.

Casual user

What to look for
The casual user uses the laptop to check email, browse the internet, listen to music, watch DVDs and not a lot more. Go for something cheap, under £400. The laptop might not be light or stylish, but it will let you do all the simple tasks you want. Basic specs
Get at least 2GB of RAM, although 1GB RAM will suffice if you don't conduct multiple tasks at once. A 250GB hard-drive would be spacious - the more the hard-drive, the better.

The travelor

What to look for
Buy a portable laptop PC with a weight under 2kg. Compromise screen size to about 13 inches or go down to 10 inches if you need something really light. Buy a cheap notebook PC which has smaller memory and longer battery life. It can be less than 3 cm in width, if you won't be watching DVDs or doing complex tasks. Basic pecs
Get at least four or five hours' standard battery life and 160GB hard-drive.

The gamer

What to look for
Buy a high end laptop with Quad core (the equivalent of four processors in the same machine) to run the latest software/hardware applications. Get at least 1GB dedicated graphic card memory and a full HD display. Basic specs
Get 320GB hard drive or larger, 17-inch or larger display and 4GB RAM, although this is less important due to the graphics card.

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