Know the basics before shopping for a new laptop
CAIRO: Whether you are looking for a laptop with minimal options that would best meet your professional and personal needs or are into the high-tech machines that bare resemblance to those in sci-fi movies, there are some basics that you must know and definitely can t ignore while shopping for a new one.
The processor (CPU), the Hard Drive (HD), the Random Access Memory (RAM), and the Visual Graphics Accelerator (VGA), are not all references that computer geeks invented to make your life difficult. These can be considered the most important features of any computer and imply its capability and performance.
Celeron, Pentium, solo and dual core, are the four main types of processors, produced by Intel. Recently, some processor packages have been introduced in the market combining two processors at one time, such as Centrino and Centrino Du.
The first includes Pentium and the Intel Core Solo, while the other has an Intel Core Duo processor added to standard processor of the computer, says Ahmed Kamal, a retail sales advisor at CompuMe.
Pentium and Core Duo are highly recommended for graphic designers, engineers and those who work in sophisticated professions requiring complicated software. For regular standard users, who work in administrative jobs like bankers, accountants and even students, Celeron and Pentium suit their demands.
As for the Hard Drive, it stores any data processed on the computer. “It has two types, ATA and SATA, explains Kamal, In the ATA Hard Drive, all the data are being processed at the same time in a maximum speed of 50 Mega Byte per second (MB/Sec), while the SATA (the Serial ATA) the data is processed faster at the minimum of 150 MB/Sec.
Regarding the Random Access Memory (RAM), Kamal says it is a temporary memory on the computer, adding that its minimum space is 256 kilobytes (KB) and can reach up to two gigabytes (GB).
Kamal explains the difference between the memory of the hard drive and that of the RAM, saying, “It is like your office. The document stored in the drawer of your office is the Hard Drive. When you get out the document from the drawer to work on, this is the RAM: the temporary work on the document.
The Cache memory is another kind of memory at the computer, but users are rarely concerned about it, since the processor attracts them more, says Kamal, adding that the maximum space of the cache memory is two MB and the least is 512 KB.
Yet, without proper connections to the outside world, whether to the Internet or to computer networks, many wouldn t be satisfied with the functions of their laptops. The Network Interface Card (NIC) or the Local Area Network (LAN) is part responsible for this type of communication. There are two speeds of the communication parts, 10/100 Mega Byte per second (mbps) and 10/100/100 mbps, which, as the numbers suggest, is faster.
A good laptop should include a Wireless Fidelity (WIFI), an option that connects the computer to the Internet in any place that offers a wireless connection.
Also, the Universal Serial Bus (USB) has become one of the most demanded features in both laptops and PCs. It enables the user to connect any external device, like printers, cameras and flash drives to the computer.
Moving to the optical devices of the laptop, DVD and CD options are always preferable. According to Kamal, there are four options of the DVD/CD.
“The first is the DVD/CD Read/Write (RW). This option allows the user to watch DVD films on the computer and make copies of CDs. It is considered the least advanced option in terms of DVD/CD options, says Kamal.
The other option is DVD R/W, which reads a DVD film and can make copy of the same film, and it also includes the CD R/W by default.
The third is the DVD R/W Double Layer. It is an option through which the computer reads and writes the film on two layers, therefore not consuming much space on the computer.
The fourth and last option is the DVD R/W Light Scribe, which enables the computer to copy a DVD film and draw the name or an image of the film on the side of the CD copied.
So if visuals and entertainment is the department that concerns you the most, then the screen requires your attention. Kamal says there are different types of monitors, but the words “Wide Screen will be written before all of them.
WXGA Wide Screen monitor stands for Wide Extra Graphics Accelerator and it gives a cinematic view. “If you are watching a film on this type of monitor, you will notice it doesn’t have the two black strips at the top and the bottom of the screen, says Kamal.
The XGA Wide Screen is the Extra Graphics Accelerator, which gives an image of the film as displayed in a television. “In this type, any film displayed will include the two black strips, exactly as if shown on a television, he adds.
Another option is the LCD, standing for the Liquid Crystal Display. “The LCD option means that when you have, for example, a red color on the screen, you will get the same red color with its same level, on the document you are printing, explains Kamal.
VGA cards, which enable the monitor to work, have two varieties, dedicated and shared. “The dedicated VGA has its own standalone memory, while the shared VGA, shares the memory of the monitor with the default memory of the computer, says Kamal. Engineers and graphic designers need no less than 128 MB of VGA memory.