What do you want to use your laptop for?
Consider your requirements before making a decision. Laptops with detachable screens are great if you need to show presentations, demos or if you don’t want to carry a big machine all the time.
If you want a device mainly for multimedia, consider something that has a rotating display or a stand mode. For students and basic office use, stick with something that offers good battery life and basic hardware.
Laptop or tablet?
If all you ever do on a laptop is check your email, surf the web, listen to music, watch movies and create/edit the odd document or presentation — you don’t need a laptop. You’ll be just fine with an Android/iOS tablet.
If you feel that you can’t use an on-screen keyboard for long text, a tablet can easily be paired with any Bluetooth keyboard, starting at about Rs 1,000.The major downsides of tablets compared to laptops: Limited processing power; some websites may not display correctly; and you can’t freely connect peripherals to them.
The tile and gesture-based Windows 8 interface is far easier to use with a touchscreen. This and the fact that prices are coming down is one of the reasons more manufacturers are now offering touchscreens.Having a touchscreen on a laptop has a number of benefits. It is easier to scroll through web pages, launch applications, browse through photos and view long documents. Especially with web pages and photographs, the pinch-to-zoom gesture can be an incredible timesaver.If you want a touchscreen laptop, only Windows options are available right now. There are a number of apps and games available on the Windows Store that take advantage of multi-touch capabilities.
In regular usage, you have the flexibility of using the touchscreen or reverting to traditional keyboard/trackpad use.
A touchscreen laptop with Windows 8 can be purchased for less than Rs 30,000 from brands like HP, Acer and Asus.
New form factors
A popular design today is the removable display (like the Asus Transformer Book): You can detach the screen completely and use it like the tablet.You also get screens that can twist a full 360-degrees (Lenovo Yoga) which means you can use the device in many different ways.
With or without an OS
You can save a little bit of cash if you buy a laptop without an operating system but it might just
end up costing you more in the long run (taking into account lost data in case of a crash or downtime caused by malicious software).Note that it’s a lot cheaper to buy a system bundled with an operating system rather than buying a standalone operating system license at a later date.
If you travel a lot, opt for a lightweight 12- or 13-inch laptop that offers good battery life. If your usage is mainly at home/office, go for a laptop with a 14-inch or 15.6-inch display that can be carried around occasionally.
If you are a gamer or photo/video editor who prefers a powerful machine (which will mostly be kept in one place), then you can consider getting a powerful 15.6-inch or 17-inch machine.
Thinner and lighter; with longer battery life
It is now common to find laptops that are just a couple of centimetres thick and weighs less than 1.5kg.The lithium ion batteries themselves are now smaller and denser while the hardware components are more energy efficient — leading to a battery life of 7 to 8 hours, good enough for a full day’s work.
Old laptops had the space to include several ports like S-video, VGA, Firewire, multiple audio jacks, multiple USB ports and so on. Now that laptops are so much smaller, you mostly get a couple of USB ports, video out (HDMI) and a card reader.Some ultra-thin laptops have to resort to using collapsible Ethernet ports, micro USB, and micro HDMI ports.
Optical drives out, flash storage in
Optical drives are bulky, so they were the first to go. These days, unless you get a 15.6-inch laptop, optical drives are rare (and not without reason — their use was declining too).Another change is the shift to flash based storage (SSDs) from hard drives or HDDs. Flash storage is more expensive but is less prone to failure, can be much smaller and offers better speeds.
How much storage is enough?
Most new laptops come with a 500GB HDD by default. This is good enough for most users for documents, movies, music and photographs.If you like to store HD movies, uncompressed audio and RAW images, then consider getting at least 1TB internal storage. Laptops max out at 1.5TB currently. More can be added via external drives if needed.You can get better performance if you opt for flash-based (SSD) storage, but you will have to compromise on storage space because SSDs are expensive.
A new middle ground is to go for a laptop with a hybrid drive that combines 8/16GB flash storage with the usual 500GB/1TB HDD — this gives you both speed & extra storage. Note that only a few manufacturers offer hybrid drives.