Considering to buy a new Laptop? Which one to choose? Thanks to the Internet, you have easy access to almost all the details you need to look into before finalizing your buy (technical specifications of a laptop, features, its cost, comparison between models). Well, not entirely. Most of the websites that you’ll refer before buying a new laptop (or any electronic device) will give you technical specifications, features and reviews about the product. But, they don’t really give all that you might be looking for.
So what do they miss out?
Here’s a list of the 10 things that the laptop specifications are least likely to tell you.
(I have composed this list after my experience of purchasing a Dell Inspiron N5010 based solely on its technical specifications and features . In the past 5 years I have used HP6515b, Compaq 510, Dell Inspiron N5010, Lenovo G460)
1. Quality of the Touchpad
One of the primary input devices of of your laptop, a touchpad must have almost negligible friction when you glide your finger. That is, your finger must not stick to the touchpad when you use it. Plus, the left and right click buttons must require minimum effort to get pressed. Some of the newer laptops, do not have a good touchpad.
(The touchpad click buttons of Lenovo G460 are not very click-friendly. In case you happen to buy a laptop with a similar touchpad, you will always want to use a USB mouse instead of the stock touchpad.)
2. The Quality of the Screen
While you might be thinking about LCD or LED or OLED, here, I’ll focus on a much basic characteristics of the screen – its finish. You have two choices – Matte or Glossy. Most of the new laptops have a glossy laptop screen. The picture quality is good and the brightness is also better than the Matte screens. But, glossy screens can be very annoying since strong lighting causes glare on the screen which may cause eye-irritation as well. So, I suggest you decide whether you want the richness of the display or ease of reading.
(My Dell Inspiron N5010 has an irritating glossy screen whereas my HP 6515b has a very comfortable-to-read matte display.)
The next two are related to the cooling system of your laptop.
3. The Placement of the cooling vents and fan
The heat produced in your laptop is dissipated to the surroundings using a fan and cooling vents. Basically, the fan pushes the air out through the cooling vents. If the cooling vents are placed on the bottom side of your laptop, the vents will be covered when you place the laptop on a table or your lap. This will lead to inefficient cooling and hence, overheating. To avoid this, always make sure that the vents are on the sides and not on the bottom of the laptop.
(My Dell Inspiron N1510 has cooling vents on the bottom as well which makes it very hot while using on a table. Hence, I had to buy an additional laptop cooling fan to cool my laptop effectively.)
4. Is the Cooling system good enough?
These days, most of the laptops come with dedicated graphics memory. This creates an illusion in the buyer’s mind that he will be able to play graphics intensive games/applications on the laptop. While it may be true according to the technical specifications, the performance is not guaranteed. If the laptop does not have a good cooling system with adequate cooling vents (and positioned correctly), the laptop will end up getting overheated almost every time you play a graphics intensive game. That means no Call of Duty or GTA IV on your new laptop.
(My Dell N5010 used to shut down every time I played GTA 4 even though the specs were sufficient. I had to get the heat sink and fan replaced along with a better thermal paste to allow proper cooling of the laptop. )
Others things that the manufacturers are known to neglect:
5. The number and location of USB ports
USB Ports – One of the most commonly used feature of Laptops. Some of the laptops have only 2 or 3 USB ports. As I have found from experience, I make use of 3-4 USB ports most of the times. Plus, I find it more convenient to have the USB ports on the sides (as in most of the properly designed laptops) instead of having them behind the screen (as in my Dell N5010).
(e.g. HP6515b, Compaq 510 and Lenovo G460 have USB ports on the left. Don’t know what the Dell guys were thinking when they positioned the USB ports on the back side.)
6. The quality of charger wire ends
Most of the Chargers malfunction because of damage to the wires at the connector end. Hence, ensure that your laptop’s charger wire does not have inadequate protection at the connector end.
7. Primary functions of the Fn keys
The people who have always used F2 key to rename and F5 key to reload/refresh find it very irritating when those keys are given some other primary function, like “WiFi” or “Presentation Mode”. So in these laptops, by default, an F2 results in Wifi On/off instead of the Rename function. (For renaming on a Dell Inspiron N5010, you have to press (fn) + F2 which I find very stupid.) Similarly, some of the new laptops try to merge multimedia functions with the Fn keys in the process of which they assign different primary functions to F1, F2, F3 and F5 which some users may find very irritating.
8. The extent to which the monitor can be tilted.
There are a lot of people who like using their laptop by attaching it to their workstations. Restricting the tilt of the screen makes it very uncomfortable to view the screen when the laptop is attached to a workstation.
9. Ease of Removal of Hard Disk
There might be some (experienced) users who like the freedom of being able to replace the laptop’s stock hard disk with their old laptop hard disk or self-upgrade their laptop to one with a higher-capacity harddisk. In these cases, it is always better to be able to remove the harddisk without dismantling any other part of the laptop. (My HP6515b has a externally replaceable harddisk whereas my dell N5010’s harddisk is buried deep below the keyboard and can be removed only after dismantling the keyboard.)
10. The after-sales service
Each Laptop seller will pronounce his brand’s after-sales service to be the best. But, it is always better to check out reviews for that brand and closely examine the services they offer. (I always look for the availability of on-site warranty and replacements along with accidental damage protection.)
To save yourself from getting trapped with a laptop having one or more of these problems, I suggest that you always physically check out the Laptop you intend to buy. That will give you a better idea about it. Plus, check out reviews to make sure the laptop does not have any other problems.
These are among the most annoying things I have discovered after buying a new laptop.
Have you come across a similar situation when you neglected a feature while buying and later regretted it? Or Do you know other things which are important but the specifications don’t mention them? Let us know by leaving a comment below.