Laptop Computers

Laptop computers - also called 'laptops' - are computers that are designed to be portable. As a result they are usually small and light enough to comfortably sit on a person's lap (which is naturally where their name came from). Due to their portability, it is common for people - especially those on business - to use a laptop computer when on a train or plane. They can run off mains electricity, however they also have a rechargeable battery which allows them to be run for (on average) 3-5 hours before needing to be recharged again.
Whilst there were many attempts at bringing out laptops to the mainstream public in the 1970s and 80s, they only started to increase in popularity in the 1990s.
This was because from around 1985, there were some big improvements in power management technology (both built in to operating system software, and also the hardware itself) - along with increases in storage technology and display devices - which allowed for them to be built with greater efficiency and quality and also at lower costs.
This increasing quality and falling prices meant that they quickly became desirable to the wider public.
Unlike desktops, laptops have a monitor, keyboard, speakers and a touch-sensitive pointing device (the equivalent of a mouse) all built in to one unit. The average laptop has a 17" display screen, however variations with larger and smaller screens are available.
They use a flip form which allow you to close them when they are not in use, thus protecting the screen and also the keyboard and pointing device. The flip form also makes them very compact which makes it relatively easy to transport in a suitable carrying case.
An image of a typical laptop (when open) is below:
A typical laptop computer with display, keyboard and pointing device. Image from, used with permission.
Laptops offer a range of advantages over desktops including higher productivity (making it easier to do work whilst travelling), a smaller size (so they take up less space, which is especially useful in smaller work areas), a lower power consumptions (they can be 80% or more power efficient) and they are 'all in one' (compared to desktops which have a separate case, monitor, keyboard and mouse).
They also have wireless functionality built-in (and thus are sometimes called 'Wireless laptop computers') - this allows for them to connect to the internet with relative ease (i.e. without the need for cables). Naturally, though, they have their disadvantages too (for example, they tend to be less powerful than desktops and they also can't be upgraded easily since they use mainly unique components).
Despite their disadvantages, many people nowadays are opting for laptops over desktops. For example, in October-December 2008 there were 38.6 million laptop sales which exceeded desktop sales by 100,000-150,000 units sold. And the average price of a laptop on the market today is around $550 which is viewed as an affordable 'major' purchase by the average US household.
The following list gives the various topics in this category. Whether you are looking for really cheap laptop computers, Dell laptops or 'best buy' laptops (ones which represent the best value for money), the following sections should have all the information you will need.

Very Cheap Laptops

Laptops are becoming more and more popular each year, and towards the end of 2008 it was estimated that they became more popular than desktops (with more units being sold). This is probably due to their portability and small size, combined with the fact that they are getting more powerful every year. Despite this, they used to be relatively more expensive than their desktop counterparts. Fortunately this is no longer true.
It is now possible to get really good, cheap laptops due to recent technological improvements. For example, various stores (both online and in actual shops) allow you to buy cheap laptops starting from around $250 - a massively lower price than the $1,000+ average price of a laptop 10 years ago!
And whilst systems at this all-time low price might be a little slow at times, they tend to easily carry out typical day-to-day tasks with ease.
Depending on where you purchase it, very cheap laptops also tend to come with a full service warranty for at least 1 year. Hence if there are any problems with your purchase, it will still be fully covered.
This is yet another advantage of really cheap laptops - they are quick enough to run most day-to-day tasks with no problem, they are very cost effective, and they have a full warranty!
As a result, there's very little to avoid buying a cheap laptop if you are on a budget. This section has tips in the below articles which will help you to find the perfect very cheap system for you.

Cheap Factory Refurbished Laptops

A method of getting really cheap deals is by finding refurbished laptops for sale. It's possible to get systems for as much as 40-50% off the 'brand new' price. This article looks into whether it's worth buying cheap, refurbished laptop computers.
One of the common concerns with purchasing factory refurbished products is whether or not they are safe (i.e. whether they will break down soon after buying). People are concerned about this for any product, although it's an especially big concern when it comes to electronic products.
Fortunately, the short answer is: yes, they are safe! It's perfectly safe to buy cheap factory refurbished laptops as long as you take note of the following tips in this article.
A factory refurbished laptop is one that falls into one of the following three categories:
  • Certified Refurbished: The system was sold by a large retailer but failed/didn't work properly. It was then taken away, completely fixed as appropriate, and then run through all the standard quality assurance tests (and then only sold once the retailer is sure it's been completely fixed.)
  • Stratch and Dent: A large retailer noticed that a system's outside case had stratches and/or dents which don't affect performance in any way, and thus aren't able to sell it as a brand new system.
  • 'Amateur' Refurbishment: This is where an individual - or a smaller, local shop - buys up a faulty computer and repairs it, then resells it on as a refurbished product.
Option 3 might be a safe option - especially if the individual/shop is well respected in your area - however remember that such a refurbishment wouldn't be subject to the same strict quality assurance tests that factory refurbished laptops would go through (as in the cases of 1 and 2 above).
Hence we would suggest to stick with a factory refurbishment carried out by a large retailer, such as Dell, HP, Toshiba (etc). As mentioned in the above list, systems in these cases are subject to a lot of testing and in some cases would undergo more tests than new laptops would since the manufacturer would want to ensure that the customer is happy with their purchase.
Also some retailers will sell such laptops with a warranty too (sometimes they are only 90 day warranties, although some refurbished laptops have a 1 year standard warranty). Therefore in this case you can't really go wrong: the systems will be much cheaper, subject to the same quality assurance tests as new products, and comes with a warranty to protect your purchase. A win-win!
Be sure to read the description of refurbished laptops for sale thoroughly. This is because sometimes refurbished laptops are simply orders which got cancelled with the manufacturer after purchasing but before being used for any great length of time by the buyer. When this happens, the item is essentially brand new with no previous faults, but the box has been opened and as a result, some retailers will sell the system as a factory refurbished product regardless (i.e. since it's already been opened). Hence be sure to read the description because when this happens, you can get a system which is essentially brand new, but for a sizeable discount.
In short, there are a few different reasons why a laptop will end up being sold as refurbished. And if it falls into the first two categories in the list above, we'd recommend that you strongly consider buying the system because it should be just as safe as new laptops, but it will be available at a discounted pri

Cheap But Good Laptops

Finding cheap but good laptops doesn't have to be a difficult task. Nor do you have to leave out loads of great features if you are on a budget.
This article will give some tips and tricks to help you find the best cheap laptops for your requirements. The five tips below will help you to find a cheap laptop computer that is right for you:

Tip 1 - Shop around

All the major laptop retailers (for example Dell, HP and Toshiba) have resellers which sell the same laptops that Dell do, but at at cheaper price. It's possible to save hundreds in some cases by getting the exact same system (completely brand new) through a reseller instead.
To find these retailers, find the name of the laptop you are interested in (for example "Dell Inspiron 17R") and searching in Google and the other search engines for "Dell Inspiron 17R resellers".
Great tip: Google has a fairly new feature whereby you can click on "More search tools" on the left-hand sidebar, select "More shopping sites" and a greater number of shops will appear in the search results. Hence search for "[Laptop name] resellers" and select for more shopping sites to appear, and you'll easily be able to find shops selling the laptop you are interested in for cheaper than on the Dell website.

Tip 2 - Only buy what you need

This seems obvious, although it's very easy to keep adding on extra features and buying upgraded components when shopping online (or anywhere, for that matter!). Therefore we suggest that you work out the kind of system you want, and then make sure that - when ordering - you don't get tempted into buying upgraded components or extras (extra software, a printer, etc)
This applies to the warranty on offer too. Whilst it might seem like a good idea to spend hundreds extra on a bumper 3-year, next-day on-site warranty package, stop and consider whether you do actually need such a warranty. In many cases, the extra cost of a bumper warranty isn't needed.

Tip 3 - Pick a budget, and stick to it

One of the best ways to stay disciplined and not keep adding in extra features and spending more (see tip 2 above) is to set yourself a budget, and then make sure that you stick to it. Once you have set a specific budget, there's less chance that you will spend over-and-above what you originally intended to spend.
Part of the retailer's sales technique is to have 'Special Offers' which expire after a particular date. But don't be tempted to spend over your budget as a result of these special offers. There's always discounts and new offers out (and in many cases, the 'special offers' aren't as good as they seem at first). So be wary of special offers and don't exceed your budget!

Tip 4 - Wait for technological advances

Sometimes patience is key. If you know that a big new technology is due out very soon, if you wait a few months it's likely that the online retailers will have started to use this new technology in their systems, and thus the 'older' systems (using the still good, but slightly 'older' technology) will be available at a discount price.
For example, when Intel released their new Core i3/i5/i7 range, within 3-4 months Dell were selling systems with these processors in them. And as a result, systems with the slightly older processors (for example, the dual and quad core Intel processors) were available at a cheaper price than they were available at 3-4 months ago.
So if you know there'll be a fairly big new technology/component range due out soon, consider waiting a few months and - as a result - buying slightly older systems will see you get a good deal!

Tip 5 - Consider buying a refurbished laptop

In short, factory refurbished laptops are ones which have been damaged in some way and - after being fixed by the retailer - are available to buy at a (big!) discount. Check out our article for more information on cheap, factory refurbished laptops. To sum up that article, whilst some people are dubious about ordering such laptops, it is a fairly safe way to get a great deal: this is because they have to pass various quality assurance tests before being sold and thus it's unlikely that they will break down easily.
It's possible to get cheap laptop computers for as much as 40% off by going down the factory refurbished route. And (as the article explains), it's safe to order refurbished systems hence we recommend that you strongly consider this option if you are on a tight budget. If you don't wish to do this though, the four tips above will still net you a good deal on a laptop. So... happy shopping!

Top 5 Laptops Under $400 Dollars

Even if the economy is booming, there's always a strong market for really cheap laptops, such as laptops for under $400 dollars.
And whilst laptops used to cost a minimum of $1,000 just 5-6 years ago, nowadays advances in technology have thankfully allowed for budget laptops to be sold for under $400.
Naturally budget laptops won't have the latest technology and they won't be the most powerful, although they can still offer a good level of performance considering the price.
Hence this article will look at 5 of the best laptops which are on the market today for under $400.
And whilst it is possible to get some great deals in-stores or at local shops, this article will focus on laptops being sold on the internet and by reputable and well known laptop vendors.
The list below is in no particular order; we suggest that you look at all the ones mentioned in this article.

1) Dell Inspiron 15

The Dell Inspiron 15 range starts at $399.99, although the 'Economy' laptop in this range (the $399.99 one) comes with a decent amount of power and features to make this a recommendable 'Under $400' purchase. It comes with a Intel Celeron 900 processor (which isn't too powerful, but it's aimed specifically for budget laptops), 2GB of RAM (which is plently for most uses) and a 250 GB hard-drive which is also plently for most users.
A Dell Inspiron 15 laptop Screenshot from website, correct as at 5th November 2010

2) Toshiba Satellite C650D-BT2N13 Laptop

This well reviewed laptops is available for just $349 and comes with a AMD V140 processor, 2GB of RAM ('memory') and a 250GB hard-drive. The processor in this machine is slightly faster than the one in the Dell Inspiron 15 which is a definite advantage.
The Toshiba Satellite C650D-BT2N13 Laptop Screenshot from website, correct as at 5th November 2010

3) Toshiba Mini-Notebook NB305-N440RD

This Toshiba retails at $379 and is a notebook. What this means is that - unlike the above 2 laptops with 15-16" screens, it has a smaller, 10" screen instead. So be sure that you want to buy a notebook before hitting the buy button since they can take a bit of getting used to!
This system comes with an Intel Atom N455 processor (which is slower than the two laptop's processors earlier), 1 GB of RAM and a 250GB hard-drive. This notebook comes with a slightly cut-down version of Windows 7, so 1GB of RAM should be sufficient.
The Toshiba Mini-Notebook NB305-N440RD system Screenshot from website, correct as at 5th November 2010

4) Compaq Presario CQ62Z Laptop

This laptop retails at $379.99 and provides fairly good performance. It is pretty similar to the Toshiba laptop at number 2 in that it has the same processor (the AMD V140), 2GB of RAM and a 250 GB hard-drive. It is naturally more expensive than the Toshiba though; although look at the warranties and extras offered on both to decide whether the extra price of the HP is worth it.
The Compaq Presario CQ62Z Laptop Screenshot from website, correct as at 5th November 2010

5) HP Mini 210 Notebook

This notebook is the lowest priced system we look at in this article, priced at just $329.99. This has the same specification as the Toshiba notebook: it has an Intel Atom N455 processor and 1GB of RAM. Its default is a 100GB hard-drive, although you can purchase a 250GB one for just $10 extra.
HP Mini 210 Notebook Screenshot from website, correct as at 5th November 2010

New Dell Laptops

Dell are the leading manufacturer of desktop and laptop computers. They were founded in 1984 and they are now the most popular laptop provider on the market. Their range starts at around $350 and goes up to the $1,119+ price point, meaning that they offer systems for all users and at all price points. Their Dell Studio range is one of their most popular, and it starts at $479.
Dell allow you to customise the system you are ordering to a large degree - you can usually choose the color, components inside the laptop, the software that comes with your order and more. This - combined with their large range of new Dell laptops on sale - has meant that Dell are a very popular choice for consumers due to the customisation options they offer.
Whilst they have an expensive range, there are also a large choice of cheap Dell laptops available. For example, their Inspiron 15 range starts at $379 and is powerful enough to run any standard computing tasks (word processing, surfing the internet, etc) without any problems.
Despite its low price, this range also comes with Windows 7 - the latest operating system available from Microsoft. The system is easily powerful enough to run Windows 7 with little problem.
Overall we feel that choosing Dell for your laptop requirements will be a good choice. Please check out the articles below for various information on Dell laptops and the best purchase for your needs:

Comparison Between Dell Latitude And Inspiron Laptops

As a company, Dell are very well known and respected, especially for their computer systems. Dell are also the most popular laptop producer in America, the UK and a range of other countries.
They produce an extensive range of laptops under various brand names, such as Dell Latitude and Dell Inspiron. This article will compare two Dell laptops, namely the Dell Latitude laptop and the Dell Inspiron laptop.
Both laptops are stylish and offer good value for money. So depending on your requirements (since these two systems are aimed at different target markets), either purchase should be a good one for you. The list below outlines the key differences between these two laptop ranges:
  • The Dell Latitude is aimed at the business market, i.e. they are meant for the corporate market. The Inspiron series - on the other hand - is largely aimed at the student and typical user market. This latter laptop range is therefore aimed at the standard consumer laptop market and has laptops designed with (for example) gaming and multimedia in mind. Hence the target markets for these two ranges is fairly different.
  • The Latitude line focuses more on networking and sharing/wireless capabilities, whereas the Dell Inspiron pays more attention to the latest technology out. For example, the Inspirion R series (launched July 2010) uses the latest line of Intel processors (the Core i3/i5/i7 series)
  • Regarding build quality/materials, the Latitude laptops are built from a metal alloy frame which is fairly durable and has a nice look to it. This is in contrast to the Dell Inspiron whose case is made predominantly from plastic.
  • Whilst the Latitude range doesn't always use cutting edge technology, it is relatively more expensive than the Inspiron range hence it does tend to have more powerful hardware. The Inspiron range is one of Dell's budget ranges and so - whilst fairly recent - its hardware typically isn't as powerful (despite using more modern technology)
  • Another major difference is price. Whilst there is a budget Latitude laptop, the average price of the Latitude laptop range is a few hundred dollars higher than the average price of the Inspiron laptop range.
  • Due to their superior built quality, Latitude systems are therefore better built to withstand the potential perils of travelling with your laptop. Whilst the Inspiron series can also be taken with you when travelling, it is designed for mainly home/local use and so if you plan on travelling a lot, the Latitude might be the better choice.
Both systems have advantages and disadvantages. It's best to sit down and decide on your needs and then choose the right system for you based on the above analysis and the information on the Dell website. Happy shopping!

Used Dell Laptops For Sale

Dell are a very well known manufacturer of laptops. If you are on a budget, it's possible to get a very good deal by hunting around for cheap, used Dell laptops.
But as with anything you buy which is used, there are a few things to look out for before handing over your hard-earned money on any cheap Dell laptops which are for sale.
Namely, you must be sure that the system is in a good condition and hasn't got a history of previous faults. Clearly if the system is in a poor condition and/or has a history of breaking down, any money you spend could be wasted. Unfortunately this is always a risk when buying a used Dell laptop (hence why the system will be on sale for a much cheaper price than if it was brand new!).
As a result, the following list outlines where you can find used Dell laptops for sale, and discusses whether it's safe to buy and what to look out for in each case:
  • eBay: Used systems on eBay can be unsafe to buy, however if: the seller has good feedback, the description states the laptop is in a good condition and has no previous faults, and if you pay via PayPal (which offers more protection than - for example - paying via cheque), your purchase should be safe. This is because if - after receiving the laptop - it has faults, you should be easily able to return it and get a full refund. So there's little risk IF these conditions are met.
  • Local newspaper adverts: Checking the local classifieds can be a great way to get a very good deal. Purchasing via this method can also be safe as long as you check the laptop (by turning it on and trying it out for at least a few minutes) before handing over cash. If the seller isn't willing to let you try out the system before you pay, walk away from the deal. Any good seller will be happy to let you do this and you have to ask yourself - if they don't let you try before you buy - what's wrong with the laptop?
  • Swap meets/flea markets: This can be tricky. You can get very cheap used Dell laptops, however if there's anything wrong with the system (i.e. if it breaks after you buy it), you might not be able to find the seller again. Hence be sure to test out the laptop before you buy it, and only buy if you are satisfied that it works okay. If in doubt, don't go through with the deal since there will probably be very little recourse if the system is found to be faulty at a later date.
  • People you know with laptops they no longer need: If any of your friends, family or colleagues have old Dell laptops which they no longer need, ask them if they are interested in selling it. Be sure to test the system first, although this method is usually very safe since your friends, family and colleagues (hopefully!) won't try and cheat you by selling you a faulty system. They might also sell the laptop for quite cheap considering that you know them and since they no longer have any use for the laptop.
  • Factory Refurbished: Dell sell any factory refurbished systems at a heavily discounted price via their Dell Outlet. This method is completely safe (in short, this is because any Dell refurbished products must pass fairly strict quality assurance tests after being fixed before they are put up for sale). Hence consider checking the Dell Outlet from time-to-time and sometimes there will be a refurbished Dell laptop for sale at a very good, discounted price.
As the above list shows, there are a range of different places where you can find used Dell laptops. As long as you ensure it's safe to buy (via testing, checking seller feedback, buying from the Dell Outlet, etc) then you can usually get a brilliant deal on used Dell laptops.

Refurbished Dell Laptops For Sale

Everyone who owns a computer or laptop will have heard of Dell since they are one of the biggest technology companies in the World.
Because they are one of the biggest computer manufacturer around, people often believe that Dell are expensive to buy from (using logic such as 'Well, they've got so many customers that they can easily get away with charging more than their competitors.').
And this is a valid argument, however it thankfully is not true. It is possible to get great deals on Dell laptops for sale if you know where to look.
More specifically, the Dell Outlet offers some brilliant deals in the form of refurbished Dell laptops for sale.
When hearing the term 'refurbished', some people will naturally become guarded and cautious because this term immediately conveys the impression of faulty or prone to break laptops.
Although this is also (thankfully!) not true. This is because there are three types of laptops which are sold by Dell as refurbished: Certified Refurbished, Previously Ordered New and Scratch and Dent.
Briefly, each of these terms are explained below:
  • Certified Refurbished - These are systems which got returned to Dell, before being fixed and run through a full and proper testing procedure to ensure it meets all Dell quality control specifications. In short, they were faulty previously, but they are now completely fixed and tested as much (if not more so!) than new Dell systems are tested.
  • Previously Ordered New - Includes some cancelled orders, along with cases where the customer returned the laptop without ever opening and/or using the product. (Yep, this means that you can get discounted Dell laptops even if the original buyer didn't even open the box it came in!)
  • Scratch and Dent - This is where the outside physical case of the laptop might be slightly scratched or dented, but it doesn't have any internal issues. In other words, it's perfectly fine apart from a few cosmetic issues. If you don't mind a few cosmetic issues, this is a great way to get a good bargain!
Hence - as you can see from the explanations above - the term 'refurbished' really does not need to worry you because the laptops are either barely not new, or were faulty but then completely fixed and tested before being resold. And so if you are on a budget, finding a refurbished Dell laptop for sale could be a great way of getting a good deal.
To illustrate this point: we went to the Dell Outlet and picked out a laptop in just a couple of minutes. We then compared it to the price of the same model on the Dell store. The below are the results:
The Dell Inspiron 15 Laptop - Outlet vs Standard price compared
So it's $40 cheaper and it's not even a truly refurbished product (since it's 'Scratch and Dent'). And this was only after searching the Outlet for a couple of minutes maximum. Look around a bit longer and you can no doubt find a much better deal than this, too!

Best Buy Laptops

With so many different laptops on the market, it can be difficult to determine which purchase represents the best value for your money.
The 'best buy laptop' for you will depend on your requirements. For example, if you are a college student and you want a laptop, you should probably aim for a system which has a large amount of storage, however the overall speed of the system might not be as important. Whilst if you are looking to mainly play computer games, a good video card is essential.
And if you are on a budget, then the best cheap laptop for you might be an all-round decent laptop which comes at a price which you find affordable.
Whatever your requirements, there will be a suitable system out there for you. This is because laptops are very popular nowadays, and there are dozens of different types and ranges to choose from.
This section has articles to help you choose the best system for your requirements. Check the list below for articles which will help you choose your 'best buy' laptop.

What Are The Best Laptops For College Students?

College students are usually on a budget hence it's important to get a great deal on laptops for when they go off to college. However it's also clearly important not to get a really slow laptop (this is especially important when it's deadline time; students clearly wouldn't want really slow systems when coursework is due in urgently!)
This article looks at the best laptops for college students. Fortunately the average student's requirements for a college laptop aren't too big and so it is possible to get a good laptop for a fairly low price ($350-$500). However this does depend on the individual student's needs.
For example, a typical student will probably need their laptop mainly for word processing (i.e. typing up coursework and documents), watching video, listening to music and surfing the internet. These requirements are fairly standard and don't require an expensive system - you could get a laptop for these purposes for around $300-$500.
However other students might want to use their laptops to play computer games and as a result a more expensive laptop might be needed (one with a dedicated graphics card). On the other hand, a computer science student (who might need to do programming) would probably need a laptop with a good processor and a good amount of memory (RAM).
As you can see, the best laptops for college students vary depending on the specific needs/requirements of the student. Hence this article will cover the best laptops for different college students.

An Average Student

As mentioned above, a typical student won't need a massively powerful laptop because the programs they will tend to use don't have any major resource requirements. Hence as long as the system has fairly modern hardware (for example a dual or quad core processor and 2-4 GB of RAM; with an integrated graphics card) it should be sufficient. It is worth pointing out - however - that a typical student will probably need a fairly large hard-drive since they might have lots of music and/or video on their system. Hence aim for at least a 320GB hard-drive in such a system.
It's easily possible to find such a system (i.e. a dual or quad core processor system with 2-4 GB of RAM, integrated graphics and a 320GB+ hard-drive) for between $300 to $500. Check our best laptops for under $500 article for more information in this case.

Student who plays PC games

A student who plans to play computer games on their laptop will need a slightly more expensive system. This is because a system with a dedicated graphics card will be needed to play the latest games. Also aim to get a machine with at least a 15" screen - playing computer games on a screen smaller than this can be a little tricky at times.
What we'd suggest is to find a $300-$500 deal (like the system mentioned in the "An Average Student" section above) from a retailer which allows you to customise the system. Then add in a dedicated graphics card (this might cost $100-$150 extra for a decent graphics card). This is because 'gaming laptops' tend to start at around $800, however it's perfectly possible to get a good gaming system for $400-$600 by finding a budget laptop and then upgrading just the graphics card.

Computer Science student

A computer science student will probably be programming (roughly speaking, creating software) using their system. As a result, a laptop with a good processor and amount of RAM would be good here. Unless they plan to play games, integrated graphics will be fine though. A system with 4 GB of RAM and the latest line of processors (Intel Core i3, i5 or i7) should be sufficient.
You can get such a system (i.e. with an Intel Core i3, i5 or i7 processor, 4 GB of RAM and integrated graphics) for around $600 if you shop around, and this should be sufficient for a typical computer science student.

Art/Graphics student

It's possible that a student doing art and/or graphics design will need to use graphics design software such as Adobe Photoshop. However - despite popular belief - a dedicated graphics card isn't necessary in this case (it can sometimes help, but for 2D design an integrated graphics card is fine). A good processor and amount of RAM is more important in this case.
Hence we suggest that - for an art/graphics student - you consider finding a system which meets the same criteria as a computer science student would need (see "Computer Science student" above). Namely, a good, modern processor and at least 4GB of RAM.

Best Laptops Under 500 Dollars

Finding laptop computers for under 500 dollars ($500) can be a tricky task, especially since only a few years ago their average price was $650-$750. Fortunately finding best laptops for under $500 dollars is fully possible.
This is because an increasing number of retailers - both online and offline (in 'brick and mortar' shops) - have broken into the budget laptop market in the past couple of years. And as long as you realise that you won't be able to get every feature you want for a sub-$500 laptop, you should be able to find a good deal.
The various tips below give some pointers to remember in your hunt for a good deal, and also suggest some retailers to check out who have some very reputable budget ranges. Then we give a couple of specific examples of best laptops under $500 dollars to get you started.

  • What exactly do you need?: Work out your exact needs for a new system and then don't spend more on upgraded components and extras. For example, if you are mainly using your laptop for word processing, then a good processor and memory (RAM) would be useful, whilst the hard-drive size wouldn't be as important (and you wouldn't need a dedicated graphics card). By making these kinds of choices before shopping, you'll be less tempted to spend more and upgrade your system when you don't need to.
  • Coupons and Discounts: All major retailers usually have dozens of different coupon and discount codes floating around at any one time. Using a search engine to find these coupon codes is fairly simple too: if you are interested in (for example) a Dell XPS laptop, search for "Dell XPS laptop coupon code" and you'll find hundreds of websites which have coupons or discounts available to you. This can be a great way to get the exact same system for a lower price!
  • Shop Around: This sounds obvious, but many consumers tend to make a purchase straight away when they visit a reputable retailer and see a 'good deal'. However it's important not to rush into buying. We suggest that when you find a system you like the look of, you search around other retailer's websites to see whether they have a similar system at a lower price. The computing business is a very competitive industry, hence chances are good that a competitor might have a similar system for a lower price! See the bottom of this list for three reputable retailers to cross-check to potentially get a better a deal (But unless there truly is a brilliant deal offered by one of them, don't only search on there three retailer's websites and nowhere else. At the very least, hunt for some coupon codes before purchasing.)
  • Three laptop retailers: Dell, HP and Toshiba are all very reputable laptop manufacturers, who all have sub-$500 laptop ranges which are of a high quality. We suggest that you hunt around on their websites - taking into account the above tips - to get started on finding a great laptop for under $500.
We have visited Toshiba and HP and selected two sub-$500 laptops and compared them to help you get started in your laptop research. Please note that the systems are correct as of 28th August 2010. Also remember to follow the above steps and to hunt around for coupon codes and better deals once you find a system that you like.

Toshiba Satellite T215D-S1140 Laptop - $469.99

  • 11.6" Screen
  • AMD Athlon II Neo K125 Processor
  • 2GB RAM
  • 250GB hard-drive
  • HDMI slot - a HDMI slot allows you to connect your laptop to an external digital display device, for example a television (naturally the TV must also have a HDMI slot). This can be a very useful feature since you can watch video (which is stored on your laptop) via your TV.

HP G62t Laptop (Basic version) - $479.99

  • 15.6" Screen
  • Intel Dual Core P6000
  • 2GB RAM
  • 250GB hard-drive
  • No HDMI slot
Overall the choice depends on your specific needs. The HP has a better processor and bigger screen than the Toshiba, although it is slightly more expensive and the Toshiba comes with a HDMI port too (which HP charge $15 extra for). The HP with a HDMI slot would be almost $495, which is $25 more than the Toshiba. If your budget is high enough, then the HP might be a better deal. Although if your budget is a little lower and you want the HDMI feature at no extra charge, the Toshiba is a great deal. Happy shopping!

What Is The Best Laptop To Buy? A Simple Guide For Non-Techies

Anyone who is not a computer whiz will know how overwhelming it can be when it comes time to buying a new laptop computer.
A trip to your local electronics shop or an online retailer will quickly show you that there are (what seems like!) about a million different choices to make, and each system has a whole list of specs that will cause your head to spin.
If you don't know how to buy a laptop, this article will give you some simple tips that you can use, in plain language for an ordinary low tech human being!

Get Your Budget Planned Out

The first thing you'll want to do - before you even start looking at models - is to decide exactly how much you are wanting to spend. You can get a laptop for several hundred dollars, or even several thousand. But there's no reason to buy something complex and thus pay extra for features that you don't really need.
Decide exactly how much is the maximum you'll spend, and stick to it when you do your laptop shopping. This will ensure that you don't go over budget buying little add-ons that you don't really need!

The Complicated World Of Computer Specs and Hardware

Specs (i.e. the system's hardware: its computer components) are the most daunting part of buying a laptop. Basically, the key things you will want to worry about are usually the processor, memory and hard drive
The processor is the engine of your computer. Recently, most laptops have dual or quad core processors (which can technically process 2 to 4 times quicker than older, 'single core' processors). Hence whilst laptops with dual or quad core processors are fairly standard nowadays, be sure to double check that any laptop you are interested in does indeed have one of these.
One thing that confuses lots of people is memory (also known as RAM – Random Access Memory). For many people, 2GB is plenty of memory to do all the things that they need to do. If you're going to be running resource intensive applications though (such as video editing, gaming or audio creation), you will need more than 2GB of memory. For regular home use, 1GB is the absolute minimum, but thankfully most models do come with 2GB or more. Especially with Windows Vista or 7, 1GB of memory isn't much and thus we do recommend that you find a system with at least 2GB.
The hard drive stores all your computer's data – so everything from installed software to your pictures and music. Most laptops come with at least 250GB of hard drive space and this should be sufficient for the average person. However if you plan on storing lots of pictures, music and/or video files, looking for a larger capacity hard drive might be a good idea.
One more thing to think about is battery power. Lots of people use a laptop as their at-home computer, but if you plan to take it with you wherever you go, you'll want to make sure it has lots of battery life.
Also keep in mind that certain things will drain your battery faster, such as watching lots of DVDs or running resource intensive applications (such as games). Naturally though, this isn't a problem if you are at home since you can plug your laptop into the mains power and thus not worry about depleting your battery.

Check Out Reviews Online

Equipped with your budget and the specs you need, you've still got the problem of the millions of laptop choices! To expedite your search, a great way to find a good brand and model is to look at laptop reviews online. By typing in "laptop reviews" into a search engine like Google or Bing, you will come across lots of sites that have customer reviews of laptops they have bought. Skim through some of these and you will get some ideas.

Pick A Techie Friend's Brain

Now that we've covered the basic specs and narrowed your search online, how do you ensure you're on the right lines? A great way to do this is to ask a friend, family member or co-worker who's into computers. We all know that computer fanatics are never hesitant to talk about their favorite computers and laptops! So ask them for a recommendation, but be sure to find out why they like it too. Remember that you want something fast and suitable for casual use.

Take A Trip To The Electronics Shop

Especially if you have never bought a laptop before, it can be important to try out the laptops you are thinking of buying. Go to your local computer shop and play around with a few. Look at the specs and ask the sales clerk lots of questions. Just remember - you are just browsing. Don't make any impulsive decisions. A laptop is a major purchase, and it's something that you'll keep and enjoy for hopefully a long time, so make sure you get one that you really like.
If you don't know how to buy a laptop, use these tips and find the right one for you. You don't have to be a computer expert to find a good, high quality laptop that will bring you joy for years to come.