Which Laptop?

by enterpriser staff    Apr 03, 2008

In the always-on commercial world, which tech product keeps you in constant touch with your business? Laptop, indeed. But which laptop can become your true business partner? Find out, as here comes an enterpriser.in Laptop Tech Guide.

Introduction

Laptops are small, portable computers, which can, literally, sit on your lap. Laptops broadly weigh 2-18 pounds, depending on size, materials, and other variables. Of late, they are being called notebook computers, irrespective of the fact that they are smaller in size than notebooks. Being light in nature, you can carry and use laptops conveniently wherever you go.

Since laptops are meant to be used on the move, they run on a battery and do not necessarily need to be plugged into a switchboard. Laptops also have an inbuilt power adapter through which the battery can be charged from a power outlet. Among the best-known brands of laptop computers in India are Apple, ASUS, Lenovo, Apple, Sony, Dell, Acer, HCL, Sahara, etc. Laptops use less power than desktops (so in a way its environment friendly) and also make less noise. However, they cost more than same capability desktops (these days though the margin is narrowing) because laptops are more complex to design and manufacture.

An integrated approach

One may wonder how all desktop applications can be fitted into such a small, slick package. Generally, both act similar and have the basic software, hardware, and operating systems. The only difference is the way the components are built-in together, both perform more or less same functions but laptops are strategically miniaturized and optimized for efficient power consumption and effortless mobile use.

Contrary to desktops, the laptop’s screen and keyboards are integrated parts of the unit. Unlike desktops, where the motherboard, video card, hard drive, and other components are kept in a large case with room for air circulation, a laptop uses a small, compact, flat design in which all the components fit together compactly.

Laptops and India

In recent years, laptop prices have fallen drastically In West Europe, Middle East, and Singapore, the ratio of laptops to desktops is 60:40, in US it’s 45:55, whereas, India still stands at 20:80. Industry analysts believe that the ratio may become 50:50 in the next few years with more and more users preferring slimmer and feature rich laptops.

According to Manufacturers’ Association for Information Technology (MAIT), India’s hardware industry lobby, laptop and notebook sales have grown at 94% in the recent past. It says compared to 80,000 laptops in 2006, Indians bought approximately 306,000 laptops in 2007. The increased adoption, many feel, will happen due to enhanced productivity with faster processors and increased portability and connectivity on the enterprise end.

Laptop categories

* Budget Laptops: You get minimum of what you need without all the pricey battery eater add-ons. Decent performance, wireless (and wired) networking options and an optical drive are must for budget laptops.

* Ultralight Laptops: Smallest of the lot, these normally do not have an internal CD Rom. An ideal way to stay away from 17″ giant monster screen. Normally comes in between 10″-12″, these ultra portables are equipped with enough computing power for today’s mobile executives.

* Thin/Light Laptops: If you are ready to pay a bit of premium, and hate to carry a monster in business meetings, this one is for you. Should weight between 4lbs to 7lbs and have larger hard drives, optical drives and larger displays in them.

* Multimedia Laptops: These computers help you use multimedia content including audio-video files.

* Semi Rugged Laptops: Purposefully built for rugged use, these laptops along with their owners have to embrace daily grind of bumps and bruises on the road. Last year Dell has unveiled semi rugged range of laptops, which they claim meets military standards for resistance to vibration, humidity, altitude and torture.

* Mobile Laptops: Simply for the people on move. A lightweight laptop with longer battery shelf life, a true mobile laptop’s screen would measure between 8″-14″. 5 hours of battery life is good, connectivity options like dedicated docking will connect the system to a docking station.

* Gaming Laptops: Fastest processors with large amount of system memory, these heavy-duty gaming laptops are equipped with ultra powerful dedicated graphic cards (to make sure you don’t lag in the middle of a car race) but go slow on battery back up.

Applications

* Wireless Internet Connectivity: Getting wireless Internet connection (WI-FI) on your laptop will enable you to conduct your business in the easiest possible way without being stationed in the office. With Wi-Fi, a laptop can be moved from one place to another (within offices, cities, states, countries). A wireless networking card will connect your laptop to the Internet via thousands of wireless networks or Hotspots. Because of the immense popularity of the wireless Internet, there are now public places like airports, hotels, even cities that have Wi-Fi Hotspots enabling every laptop user connect to Internet.

* Video Conferencing: An entire conference can be done on laptop. People are increasingly utilizing laptop for delivering business speech.

* Live Presentation: Live presentation via laptop has become a trend over the years. Mostly people use Microsoft PowerPoint with optionally use of digital and interactive images, multimedia etc. It does not much technical expertise.

* Remote Access: with laptops you can get access to your corporate network or servers easily, making work on the go easy. Wireless technologies (along with cable modem) offer a plethora of possibilities to access server remotely. With Microsoft Remote Desktop Connection, you can connect from your Macintosh laptop to a Windows-based computer and work with programs and files.

* Entertainment: From online gaming (thanks to unlimited internet at Hotspots) to latest flicks, you can entertain yourself while waiting at the airport lounge, on airplane or in the car.

* Easy Connection Worldwide: Thanks to VoIP and better webcam quality you can chat with your friends, family, and business associates from anywhere.

Major features

* Processor: The most important aspect of a laptop and is also referred to as Central Processing Unit (CPU). This part of computer (a microprocessor chip) undertakes most of the data processing work. It enables you to surf the web, check emails, use various Office applications, listen to music, and watch movies. The Celeron processor from Intel and Sempron from AMD are very popular. A high-end processor is needed (Like Intel Core 2 Duo Series) to play 3D games, render image or encoding movies. Intel’s Centrino technology while sprucing up battery life delivers better laptop performance.

Apple’s portables like i-Book and Power Book come equipped with its own G4 processor, which delivers robust portability and power options.

* Memory: For every laptop the bare minimum physical memory storage capacity should be 256 RAM (Random Access memory), any less will make your laptop performance crawl. Computers store running applications and data in this area. If you want to use the laptop for downloading music or digital video, you will have to upgrade it to 512 MB. Remember, for Windows Vista or Mac OS X you will need 2GB (1 GB is minimum) and 512 MB for basic Windows and Mac. RAM can be upgraded afterwards, so don’t forget to check out the RAM capacity that you can upgrade in future.

* Hard Drive: The larger the hard drive is better. Computer programs, files, videos, music, games, and other software are stored in hard drives. 20-30GB hard drive is recommended for basic users. However, if you want to work on databases, business-related documents and presentations, or build simple audio and video library, it’s ideal to move to 70GB-80GB.

If you are ready to pay a premium, you may also get notebooks, which place two 120GB drives for extra storage space. Remember that space alone does not ensure that the hard drive is good; its rotational speed also matters. A 7200rpm Laptop will disk will spin much faster than an average 4,200rpm one (most budget models offer that). Also keep in mind a faster disk can burn out the battery’s life significantly.

* Display: Days of 14″ LCD with 1024×768 pixels are over, 15″ displays with higher resolutions are norms these days, while pros prefer 16″-17″ widescreen displays which sport resolutions as high as 1680×1050.

* Weight: With more capabilities comes more weight

* Operating System (OS): Windows XP Pro or Vista Ultimate are recommended, but for basic use you can also do with Windows XP Home Edition or any Vista. Linux is also popular OS for laptops, especially for the low-cost, low-power ones.

* Battery: Laptop battery life varies between 2 to 5 hours. Average complete recharging time is under an hour depending on the different brands, it’s always better to have a spare battery handy.

* AC/DC adapter: Powers up the laptop.

* Optical drives: CD-ROM (Compact Disc, Read Only Memory) is common on all laptops. It also helps keep the cost of notebooks down as most software are available on CD. CD-RW (re-writeable compact disc) is better than CD-ROMs because you can record, copy and write data on them. DVD-ROM (Read -Only Memory) can read both VCDs and DVD.

* Video Card: Other than sharing memory with different applications It can also display graphics for computer gaming and can be used for business applications like video conferencing

* Connectivity: A laptop must have at least two USB ports along with a Firewire connection. Since most of the laptops do not include a floppy drive, the USB ports are utilized for quick back ups.

* Wireless Technology: Lot many go Centrino way to be portable. This is Intel’s mobile processor technology for wireless networking, All Centrino-based laptops come with 802.11 b/g modules. You may be promised 54 mbps (minimum) connection speed, but in reality you will be using 15-20 mbps. You can also get a wireless LAN card for the purpose. Most laptops/notebooks have a slot for a datacard, but it’s better to go for a system with Wi-Fi already installed in it.

* Bluetooth: As an optional extra, Bluetooth can be found in some laptops, Bluetooth is a short-range wireless networking technology. If you own a Bluetooth-enabled cell mobile phone or PDA, you can use the laptop to exchange data wirelessly.

* Built-in keyboard, mouse: Laptops and notepads use standard QWERTY keyboard model like old typewriters.

* Docking Stations: It turns your laptop into a desktop. It can connect peripherals like scanners, printers, and speakers at one go.

* Graphic Card: It is also called video adapters, responsible for display capabilities. If you are into gaming or deliver a lot of PowerPoint presentations, you should get a graphic card containing 32 or 64 MB of dedicated memory.

* Cable Lock: Not all laptops come with a security lock. It’s important to get a lock to safeguard your laptop from data leak. Look out for product description while buying a laptop. You can also include it separately later.

Interesting facts

1.Denver Airport authorities have ‘Got It’ right

To cope with rising instances of lost laptops at the airport, Denver Airport authorities have started a ‘Got Laptop’ ad campaign. Airport officials resorted to posting signs at security checkpoints saying, ”Got laptop?” This is a play on the ad for “Got Milk” (a well-known dairy supplier in the region).

2.The US $54 million laptop

An American woman, Raelyn Campbell, bought a laptop from retailer, Best Buy. On sending it for repairs, the store misplaced her laptop. Campbell has slapped a US $54 million dollar lawsuit on Best Buy on account of inconvenience caused and the fear of identity theft.
A laptop worth US $54 million! Hard to believe, isn’t it?

3.Gone in 60 seconds

An estimate reveals a laptop is stolen every 53 seconds. How much does that come to annually? Do the math!

How to protect your laptop from theft

The laptop is not just a piece of hardware; it contains tons of personal data, information, confidential business documents, etc. A theft can really put you in much distress. Don’t think it’s a rare practice and cannot happen to you. According to the FBI, in 2005, losses incurred due to laptop theft were US $6.7 billion. On an average, a laptop is stolen nearly every minute. It’s better to be extra careful in places like airport security checkpoints and trains/buses.
Here, we have laid down 11 essential tips so to keep your laptop secure.

* Never Write Password in the Case or Laptop Cover: It’s a deadly sin, much like keeping the keys with car in the parking lot.

* Password Protection: A must for all laptop owners. One should protect his laptop with startup passwords, which will prohibit any access to the computer. Some laptops support biometric authentication wherein fingerprint is used instead of passwords.

* It’s a Crime of Opportunity: Always keep an eye on your laptop. It’s could be fatal to put it out of sight.

* Encrypt Data: In case your laptop is stolen, encrypting files could keep your privacy intact. It’s an extra layer of protection. Programs such as Encrypted File System (EFS) are popular amongst Windows users. TrueCrypt is also in circulation.

* Insurance Policy: Do you have coverage against theft, if it’s not readily available with the purchase, get one soon.

* Back Up: Back up your files and store them in some place else other than the laptop itself.

* Tracking and Recovery Tool: If your laptop gets stolen, you can track the stolen device via the Internet. Popular tracking tools are GadgetTrak for Windows PC, BackStopp by Virtuity, etc. There are also anti-theft software, which can locate a laptop once it is connected to the Internet.

* Motion Sensor: A motion sensor will trigger an alarm if the device attached to the laptop is moved or tempered with.

* Remote Data Deletion: Remotely controlled data demolition software will help you delete sensitive information.

* Visual Locks: It may not save you from a professional thief, but surely this locking system will make your laptop more secure. You can attach the clamp to the security slot found on all laptops.

* Invisible Markings: Invisible ultraviolet markings ensure the recovered laptop is yours. The unique serial number found on all laptops also helps police in hunting for lost laptops.

Major players

The major players in the Laptop category are: Acer, Apple, Dell, HCL, HP, Sony, Toshiba, and Zenith.

These details on laptops will help you make a decision when you want to buy a new laptop or replace your existing one.

Compiled by Krishanu Bhattacharjee.

Related Links:
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