About Laptops

Today's laptops (also known as notebooks or netbooks) are sleek, high-performance mobile workstations.  Or they can be very convenient, scaled-down mobile units that feature just the right amount of power for certain specific tasks, no more and no less.  It's up to you.

Laptop computers are a fully mature technology, and the choices are many. Let Office Shop Direct help you find the best device for you.

Finding Out What You Need

Many of the principles for buying a desktop computer or a tablet apply when purchasing a laptop, so feel free to visit those pages as well.  But for now, here are some issues to consider.

The best laptop computers enhance your workflow, are enjoyable, and offer dependability you can count on.  Such systems add to your productivity and bottom line.

Your goal is to assemble an effective combination of computer hardware and software.  To some extent, these go together.  For example, if you want to run the Macintosh operating system (Mac OS), you'll be purchasing an Apple laptop because, for all practical purposes, Mac OS only runs well on Apple equipment.  Then again, if you're running Windows 8, you'll want to look at a laptop with touchscreen technology, since Windows 8 is designed for these interactive touchscreens. Dell and HP are two companies that offer many devices designed for use with Windows.


When shopping for a laptop computer, it's best to begin with some basic questions.  First, do you need a laptop at all?  If you do all your work at your desk and prefer a large monitor, it may be best just to utilize a desktop computer.  Or if you do need to work remotely at times, perhaps a tablet is a better choice than a full laptop device.

Assuming you do need a laptop, how powerful a model should you choose? Do you need a full-blown laptop computer or "notebook," or will a lighter "netbook" suffice?

Netbooks, Notebooks, and Ultrabooks

In the past people wanted to make clear distinctions between netbooks, Ultrabooks, and notebooks (not to mention palmtops and laptops).  These days, the lines are much more blurred. 

In general, netbooks and Ultrabooks are thinner, lighter weight, and more truly portable than other laptops.  The main difference between the two is performance.  Netbooks, while typically a bit smaller than Ultra books, feature less powerful processors and graphics capabilities.  They are designed for simple, everyday tasks.  Ultra books, though, feature powerful processors and are designed as being mobile workstations, able to handle more intense tasks.

In practice, there really is no distinction between notebooks and laptops anymore.  In fact, notebook is now the more common term for a laptop.  The primary difference between a notebook and an Ultrabook is size and bulk.  While it's expected that an Ultrabook should be lightweight, portable, and sleek, a notebook is more likely to be heavy and less streamlined.

Really, though, there are no official guidelines for these distinctions, and companies use the terms differently and at times interchangeably. So the main issue is to determine how important power and size are to you and to shop accordingly, without worrying too much about the terminology.

Investing Wisely in Hardware

What is your budget?  Remember, the best hardware purchases provide the necessary performance features at a reasonable cost.  An unnecessarily enhanced notebook can run substantially higher than a streamlined netbook.  The best laptop computers are expensive – but maybe you don't need "the best." (That being said, there's a rule of thumb that says to buy "a little more than you really need now" in terms of performance, in order to incorporate rapid technological advances over the next few years without having to completely update your system prematurely.)

Other good questions to ask before purchasing your laptop include:

  • What is the primary business function of this laptop? (Drafting letters and managing email, crunching numbers, or rendering graphics?)
  • How large a screen do you require?  Choosing a 17.3" screen over a 13" one will add to the cost and bulk of the device, so it's good to be clear about your preferences.
  • How important are size and weight?  If you're a frequent flyer and take your laptop with you, then a true netbook or Ultrabook may be a better fit than a 7-lb. notebook that throws your spine out of line after thirty minutes of lugging it through terminals and security checkpoints.
  • Do you have a strong preference for a matte versus a glossy screen?  This is especially important if you will use your computer in different lighting settings.

A final question is:  Who will be your supplier?  Just as with a desktop system, when faced with particularly unusual needs, consider seeking one-on-one service from a local supplier who can help you customize a laptop that's perfect for your needs.  The best ones usually offer superior support. 

However, most big-name computer hardware suppliers can provide more than adequate equipment for many businesses.  And they usually can and will build custom systems also.  Look for such trusted names as HP, Dell, Apple, Toshiba, Acer, and Samsung.

Once you've found the laptop computer that's right for you, you're ready to make sure you have the best software package to support your computing needs.