If you’re in the market for a new laptop, you may be overwhelmed by all the options available. Not only are laptops made by many different companies but they also come in different sizes and price ranges and technical specifications. Now, the first two categories are pretty easy to figure out. If you have a favorite brand that you trust then you don’t have to look at as many laptops. Size is also fairly easy to decide on. If you want a light laptop that you can travel easily with you’ll probably look for an 11″ or 13.3″ laptop. However, for more standard work or video watching a 15.6″ or 17″ laptop might be better suited to your needs.
Generally, the size of the laptop will also affect its price but that is not always the case. However, the size of the laptop is probably the detail you are the least flexible about so it’s best to just stick to something you are happy with regardless of other factors including price.
If you are replacing a laptop that is a few years old and aren’t changing your usage habits then any recently manufactured laptop will be greatly superior to your old machine. This is because we are now using a new generation of processors and a new type of RAM memory in today’s laptops. Effectively, even at the lowest price point possible ($300-$350) you are still getting a machine that out classes your old one significantly.
Price is a tricky metric by which to measure laptops. Just because your laptop costs more doesn’t mean you are really getting your money’s worth in today’s market. There are a few things you can do to make sure the hardware included in your laptop is worth the price you’re paying:
- Make sure you are getting DDR3 RAM and at least 4GB of it. That’s not to say that you need more than 4GB (you probably don’t and can’t put more than 4 to use) but there’s no excuse for not having at least 4GB these days. This will allow your computer to multitask significantly better.
- Check what processor you are getting. Generally speaking, Intel is currently providing 3 tiers of processes. They have their lowest tier which is the I3 series, their midway tier which is I5 and finally they have their strongest processor, the I7 series. Check a website like http://www.cpubenchmark.net/ to see how your prospective processor measures up to other machines.
- Consider the battery life of your laptop. Two hours of battery life is no longer acceptable for most models that are not made for gaming. Find something you are comfortable with and determine whether you can upgrade the battery from a 6 cell to a heavier 9 cell batter.
- Finally, take note of the type of hard drive you are getting. The speed of the hard drive is measured in RPM or Rotations Per Minute. Aim for a 7200RPM hard drive for best performance. The capacity of the hard drive is measured in GB or Gigabytes. 250GB is the lowest you will want. Consider expanding the size of the hard drive if you store many videos or music files (or pictures!).
- If you can get one, a laptop with a solid slate hard drive will be way faster than a typical mechanical hard drive. They are not always available and they will bump your price a hundred dollars or more but they may be worth it if you need the extra performance and loading times (You’ll load Windows in a dozen seconds instead of 50 seconds!)
You may feel the need to ask if certain brands are better than others. We’ve found that most laptops these days are very solidly built and that the risk for a widespread manufacturer defect is pretty low. The best way to get more mileage out of your new laptop is to use it safely and properly and to consider purchasing an extended warranty if it’s available.
This week we take a look at a very popular file storage service called Dropbox. Like most online data “backup” services, Dropbox allows you to store your files on their servers and retrieve them from any web connected device in the world. Online backup solutions can be more reliable than local data backup solutions because these companies are able to provide secure data storage servers that are themselves backed up and protected from catastrophe. However, they are not a bullet proof solution as legal issues may force a company to unexpectedly shutdown all of its servers.
Dropbox is meant to be installed on one or multiple computers. In fact, Dropbox is most useful when you need to use it on multiple devices to share your files. This is because Dropbox not only stores and shares files online but it also stores them on every machine that you link to your Dropbox account. At its most basic, you can tell your desktop to share your Pictures folder with Dropbox. When you save a file in the Pictures folder it will automatically be copied online. Additionally, when you turn on your linked devices, they will automatically download the new files.
As a security measure, having your files stored locally as well as online makes Dropbox a very reliable solution. Just because you can’t get online one day doesn’t mean you can’t access your local files. What’s more is that Dropbox can be installed on mobile devices such as your tablet or smartphone. Setup is a breeze and then the service is fire and forget. Did we mention that it’s FREE to store up to 2GBs of data? If that’s not enough, you can simply refer your friends and earn additional space for each referral. Try it out, you won’t be disappointed.
This is for all the small businesses out there that have had trouble stocking screens because of the thousands of model numbers. For years, we had a slow laptop screen repair process because we needed to open up each laptop to identify what screen it used and then order an appropriate model. In fact, ordering off the model of the laptop alone produced a high fail rate because we’d get the wrong screen every third order. After painstaking cross reference of all the screens we purchased over 4 years, we were able to notice patterns between the screens. For example, a B156XW02 starts with the numbers 156. This number represents the size of the screen (15.6″). The same is true across the board. H101 screens are 10.1″ and B140 screens are 14.0″ across.
Of course, if you asked your vendor for a list of compatibilities they would tell you that they don’t have one or that they simply know from experience. That’s not exactly true. In fact, it’s not true at all. Vendors know specifically what fits and what doesn’t. It’s pretty simple. All you need to do is match up the dimensions of your screen:
- What is the size of the screen diagonally?
- Is it an LED or an LCD CCFL backlight?
- What resolution is the screen? WXGA, WSVGA, WXGA++?
For 99% of your screens, that is all you will need. Occasionally, you need to match up the data cable PIN number as some screens defy the norms (LED screens used in Mac’s tend to be 30 pin instead of the standard 40 pin LED). Then, once every blue moon you will stumble upon a unit that requires a very specific screen and not a compatible version. These laptops are growing rarer however.
So without further ado, here are the common screen types you should stock to cover most of the computers that come through your repair shop:
- LTN101NT02 WSVGA 10.1″ LED
- LP133WX1 WXGA 13.3″ LCD
- LP133WX3 WXGA 13.3″ LED
- HT141WXB WXGA 14.1″ LCD
- LTN141WD1WXGA+ 14.1″ LCD
- LP154WP1 WXGA+ 15.4″ LCD
- LP154WE2WSXGA+ 15.4″ LCD
- LP154WX4WXGA 15.4″ LCD
- B156XW02WXGA 15.6″ LED
- LTN156AT01 WXGA 15.6″ LCD
- LTN173KT01 WXGA++ 17.3″ LED
These screens cover the most popular screens for their size. By far, the most common screen is B156XW02 so always keep a few on hand. Some screens of the same type are more expensive then others. Match their features so you don’t get ripped off. Over the years, we’ve paid over a hundred dollars extra for the exact same screen because we didn’t have all this information.
CCleaner is a tool that can help speed up your computer and clear up your cookies. CCleaner will scan for mismanaged hard drive space, clean up your browser history and cookies and also protect your registry files. Currently, CCleaner can be used to clear up cookies from Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Safari and Opera. To start using CCleaner, simply visit Piriform’s website and click download latest version. Run the file to install the program and follow the screen prompts.
Once CCleaner is installed, launch the program to begin using it. The first tab that is open is the cleaner tool. Here, you can select what items you would like CCleaner to take a look at. If you are unsure, just leave the faults checked and then click on analyze. Over the next few seconds, your computer will be scanned and a summary will be displayed of just how much space will be saved. Click on run cleaner to begin the clean up process.
The next tab is the registry tab. Leave all the items checked and then click on “scan for issues” to attempt to identify missing or corrupt files. Once the scan is successful, click on “fixed selected issues” to remove the problems. In our experience, multiple runs of the registry cleaner have been beneficial.
The third utility tab will present you with 3 options. The first is an uninstall tool to manage the programs installed on your computer. Review the list to identify any unused software that can be removed. The second tab allows you to manage your start up items. These are the programs that run when the computer is first logged in to Windows. Finally, the third tab will allow you to create and manage your Windows system restore points.
CCleaner is a lightweight, fast and powerful tool to clean up and protect your computer. It should be run once a month.