Image: Matt Trostle
Choosing a new computer can be a long and difficult process; there are so many brands and specifications to choose from, and different types of computers will always be better suited to different tasks. Below I have listed the main considerations to help you choose which one is best for you.
Laptops were once the height of portability. Now, due to other devices, they fill a more specific gap in the market for those who want relative portability but still need a full range of features such as a full size keyboard and an optical drive.
Netbooks are good if you are looking for an ultra portable and cheap computer. Once just for casual browsing and word processing, the advancement in design means processor power now allows these cheap alternatives to perform tasks you would normally only expect from larger machines. You may still struggle with memory heavy processes such as watching HD streams or graphical programs, though.
Netbooks are also absent of an optical drive for playing or burning CD’s and DVD’s although you can buy an external drive if you get stuck. Personally I have a netbook and was only caught out once when I wanted to access photos that I had developed and put onto a CD.
A desktop computer is seen as the traditional choice for many people. Unlike portable computers, desktops do not have to squeeze all of their components into a portable frame and are therefore slightly cheaper for the same spec you might find in a portable device. Desktops are also good if you are looking to expand or upgrade your computer in the future, as memory and other components are likely to be easily accessible and relatively straightforward to change yourself.
Desktops are the most common computer to find in a business environment, as portability in an office is not an issue, and the computers will need to remain static so that they can be networked together. Desktops are used in many areas of business, from creative through to financial industries, performing a multitude of tasks, from simple word processing to complex SQL query analyzer searches and algorithms.
External screens are another positive element of a desktop, with the ability to change or upgrade as simply as changing a cable over. Many modern televisions now have the capacity to be connected to a computer so that you may use your television as a monitor if you wish.
Tablets are widely seen as the future of portable computing. There are wide ranges available including the by far most popular iPad. Windows has just announced is foray into tablet computing with the Microsoft Surface which looks like an interesting concept, as the case contains its own keyboard, something that is a big consideration for those deciding whether to go for a tablet.
When choosing a computer, make sure you do your research; there are plenty of online reviews that you can read about the hardware, but also take into consideration things like after sales care and software that you will need to perform tasks. Happy hunting!
James Duval is an IT specialist who is addicted to his Xbox. Given the choice, he would rather spend his days roaring around the world on his motorbike seeing the greatest architecture the globe has to offer. He currently advises on IT systems and blogs for centeractive.