RT Cunningham


Find the Best Laptop Computer for Your Particular Situation

laptop computer You would think it would be simple. It should be but it isn’t. You can’t walk into a store and just pick up a laptop computer without examining the specifications. You just can’t.

There are choices to make. Too many to pretend ignorance. Everything is important, from the amount of memory in the laptop computer to the screen size.

Laptop Computer Types

A “type” is the best way to describe a laptop computer. The types have changed over the years, since the time I first saw one with my own eyes. Let’s ignore those that came before the PC laptops with Windows on them or we’ll be here all day.

A laptop computer is called by many names. We had something called a “netbook” at one time. The name didn’t last long but it forced manufacturers to build better machines at lower prices. If you hear or see “notebook”, “ultrabook”, “chromebook” or something similar on a laptop computer, it just means a certain type. Usually, it has something to do with the operating system.

When you walk into a store these days, you’ll find laptops with one of three operating systems on them: Windows 10, macOs or Chrome OS. In a dedicated computer store, you might find one Linux distribution or another. Some laptops will have touch screens and some will not. The laptop computer type you need depends on your particular situation.

Laptop Computer Operating Systems

According to Wikipedia, most people buy Windows laptops. Windows 10 just recently overtook Windows 7, after being out for more than three years. I guarantee you there are still some people running Windows XP on older laptops and it isn’t even supported anymore.

The next favorite is macOS. I can’t tell you a thing about it. I’ve never owned a MacIntosh anything and I’ve never used one for anything. Not even in a work environment.

Two operating systems seem to be used by the same amount of people and not too many: Linux and Chrome OS. Unlike Chrome OS, there are dozens of Linux distributions. Many newer distributions are based on older distributions like Debian and Slackware. And then you have Redhat/Fedora and Suze whatever. Ubuntu is very popular and it’s based on Debian.

Chrome OS is Google’s version of Chromium OS (like how the Google Chrome web browser is Google’s version of Chromium). Chrome OS uses the Linux kernel, just like all the Linux distributions, but only the kernel. So far, only one other company is making software with Chromium OS. Neverware produces CloudReady, which is free for home users.

Laptop Computer Specifications

I remember when laptops had floppy drives. They were eventually replaced by CD drives and then by DVD drives. I recently bought an Acer laptop computer for my older son. It doesn’t have a DVD drive and it wasn’t replaced by anything at all. And why should it have been? People install from downloaded files and watch streaming video these days.

The drives were put there to install software. At one time, that was the only way to upgrade Windows. A dedicated DVD or Blu-ray player, even a portable one, is better suited for watching videos from disc.

There are three types of internal storage drives I’m now aware of, though I can’t tell you much about each of them. There’s the traditional hard drive, with spinning platters. Then there’s the solid-state drive that replaces the hard drive. Finally there’s the eMMC drive. The eMMC drive is sometimes listed as a a solid-state drive and it isn’t. It’s non-removable flash memory attached to a circuit board.

Of all the internal storage drive sizes, the eMMC drive is the smallest. It’s big enough to hold Windows 10 and then some but you’ll need something else to store your prized photo collection on. There are at least four extra storage space options, which I discussed in an earlier article. Of course, you can’t replace an optical drive that doesn’t exist.

A really new laptop computer may have USB-C ports instead of the standard USB ports. I can’t tell you about any other than the latest MacBook, which I haven’t even looked at yet. That’s just one of the many hardware specifications that have changed recently.

Using a Laptop Computer

Sometimes the price you pay for a laptop computer coincides with what you intend to use it for. If you want to use it for PC gaming, it needs to be beefier than most of those you’ll see at Walmart. It has to have a good GPU (think Nvidea GeForce) along with a fast CPU. The same thing for graphics-intensive use, like architectural programs and graphic design.

An inexpensive laptop computer is suited for the things that a Chromebook excels at like web browsing, composing e-mail and working with office software. Chromebooks tend to be less expensive. I own nothing but inexpensive laptops. I figure gaming is best suited for consoles and I don’t do anything that’s really graphics-intensive.

One of my grandsons thinks he needs to have a gaming laptop computer to do YouTube videos. He wants to grow up to be a YouTuber. I told him the laptop computer his dad already owns can do everything he needs it to do. It has a camera, a microphone and a Bluetooth adapter built in. My own laptop computer doesn’t have a Bluetooth anything. His has 8 gigabytes of memory while mine has only 4.

Naturally, I would like to have a laptop computer with more of everything. I just don’t want to have to pay for it.

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By RT Cunningham
January 14, 2019