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www.thelaptopcentre.co.uk trades under the Company name:
Portable IT Ltd
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South Newton Industrial Estate
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What are Laptops :
A laptop is a portable personal computer with a clamshell form factor, suitable for mobile use. A laptop has most of the same components as a desktop computer, including a display, a keyboard, a pointing device such as a touchpad (also known as a trackpad) and/or a pointing stick, and speakers into a single unit. A laptop is powered by mains electricity via an AC adapter, and can be used away from an outlet using a rechargeable battery. Laptops are also sometimes called notebook computers or notebooks. Other terms, such as ultrabooks or netbooks, refer to specific types of laptop / notebook. Most of the modern day laptop computers also have a webcam and a mic (microphone) pre-installed.
Portable computers, originally monochrome CRT-based and developed into the modern laptops, were originally considered to be a small niche market, mostly for specialized field applications such as the military, accountants and sales representatives. As portable computers became smaller, lighter, cheaper, and more powerful and as screens became smaller and of better quality, laptops became very widely used for a variety of purposes.
More info about Laptops (below is a review from PC Advisor explaining in depth what Laptops are all about.)
Laptop advice: Components
The Windows PC sales machine was built on promoting internal components above less tangible aspects like battery life and build quality. So laptops would be sold on the strength of name checking an Intel processor, the number of gigs of RAM or hard disk, and the size of graphics card inside.
At the budget end, you may see huge hard disks included as they're now so cheap. Solid-state storage makes life-changing improvements to your computing experience, but don't expect to see any in the cheap category, or rarely a small amount bolted on to speed up booting and program launching.
Displays are nearly always gloss finished, as they look more impressive in showrooms against matt screens. It's true they can have rich colour and even useful contrast ratio – but only in a pitch-black room. Unless they have an expensive anti-reflective optical coating – unheard of at the budget end – expect to see distracting reflections, and to have to reposition yourself, your laptop or your curtains for proper viewing of what's on screen, rather than what's behind your head.
Budget laptops buying advice: Performance
Don't be fooled by processor clock speed. AMD dropped out of this race years ago and rarely lists the gigahertz figure in its marketing. The fact is, a speed rating like ‘2.5 GHz' gives only the most rudimentary guide to performance, unless given the context of the type and generation of processor, and how many cores it includes, and any other go-faster tricks added by Intel and AMD to keep the aged x86 architecture in business.
A laptop review should include a performance score, but unless you follow the tech, a single number of, say, 3500 points in PCMark 7 is also worthless. Look out for comparison tables in reviews that may let you gauge the current possibilities together.
Graphics performance is never great on cheap laptops – a decent graphics processor to enable fast-running shoot 'em up Windows games is an expensive part of the parts budget. Instead expect to find an integrated graphics processing unit (GPU) inside the main chip. And these are getting faster every year. But cheap laptops don't usually have this season's Intel chip, so will be behind the current-best anyway. For the most part, expect to do little more than play basic undemanding games; or to drop quality settings to their minimum to keep action reasonably fluid.
Performance is about much more than how quickly your spreadsheet or DVD rip is rendered though. Thanks to the iPad, people now rightly demand longevity too, and the days of the four-hour laptop are now behind us.
Except in the budget category, that is, where batteries are always scrimped. So look out for tiny, inadequate battery packs. Batteries are still relatively expensive so a manufacturer will do its best to give you as little capacity as possible (and thereby aiding the laptop's ‘weight' spec too).
‘Performance' also stretches to connectivity. Specifically, Wi-Fi wireless performance. Budget laptops are shackled with the most basic of 802.11n capabilities – the IEEE spec allows for three antennae to provide half-decent indoor range and throughput enough to meet last century's ethernet connections. But budget laptops may only have one aerial (sometimes rarely dubbed ‘half-n'), which limits wireless performance further.
Budget laptops buying advice: Connections
Modern laptops now sport usefully fast USB 3.0 ports for getting data in and out quickly. But budget laptops may still have part- or total complement of slow USB 2.0 to save on the parts bill.
HDMI is now ubiquitous for video output, but gigabit ethernet is far from a given – it's a way a manufacturer can save a few cents out of view of the buyer.
Budget laptops buying advice: Software
Windows is no longer a given, and the consumer is finally seeing more choice on the high street and its online equivalents. Google is edging into the budget space with its cheap-to-buy Chromebooks, although these come at the high cost of personal privacy.
Macs are now more popular than ever before, albeit at the more premium end of the price scale, leaving Windows as still the incumbent offering on budget laptops. If you look around you may find Ubuntu laptops ready to buy, skipping the Windows tax and providing a more secure computing option; but for the most part expect to find unloved Windows 8 as your only choice, unless you can track down older end-of-line Windows 7 machines.
Beware that Windows laptops may have their low price subsidised in part by an obscene amount of pre-installed software from companies who pay to be put there. Also known as crapware, this includes software that pays kickbacks to the laptop maker when you sign up for expensive anti-virus or backup yearly subscriptions. Cheap laptops may make you pay with your time, as you spend hours trying to remove all the unwanted and obstructive software dross. See our Group test: what's the best budget laptop?
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