- Questions to ask yourself
- Desktop PC or notebook?
- How important is mobility?
- What will I be using the notebook for?
- How much do I need to spend?
- Specialised portable computers?
- Ultraportable notebooks
- Tablet PCs
- Palm/hand top computers
- Ruggedised portables
- Processor and chipset
- Intel versus AMD
- Intel notebook processors
- AMD mobile processors
- Other key components
- Questions to ask the retailer
CD/DVD: These days, a CD-burner/DVD-RW combination drive is pretty-much standard on all new value-orientated notebooks. It's only in rare instances or older machines that you encounter a DVD-ROM only notebook. That said, notebook vendors usually let you customise what type of drive you would like and this of course, will affect the price. If you can see yourself only requiring small backups here and there, then you can save money by going for just a CD burner or CD-burner/DVD-ROM combination drive. You could always get an external USB or FireWire drive at a later date. If your notebook has a modular (easily swappable/replaceable) drive, you could also order a new compatible drive from your vendor and swap it in yourself. If your notebook's drive isn't swappable it's what's known as a fixed drive, which means your better off getting the best drive you can afford at the time of purchase.
Media card readers: Many notebooks now feature built-in media card readers that are perfect for a variety of uses such as getting images from your camera into your notebook. Multiple formats are often supported, including Secure Digital (SD), MemoryStick, MultiMediaCard, xD, CompactFlash, Smart Media and MicroDrive.
External hard disks: A great way to meet big removable and transportable storage needs is to use an external hard disk. They can connect to your PC via USB, FireWire or even be a MicroDrive hard disk or PC Card hard disk (such as those made by Toshiba).
Other: Jaz, Zip, Rev or tape drives that connect via USB, parallel port or PC Card still remain options.
Just as you would not expect to buy a desktop that lacked the ability to check e-mail and surf the Internet, the same is true of a mobile computer.
Wired: All new notebooks now include 56Kbps modem (RJ-11) and 10/100 Ethernet (RJ-45) connections. Many notebooks feature Gigabit (10/100/1000) Ethernet.
Infrared: Some notebooks still feature an infrared port, primarily as it's still used in engineering and business practice and consumers can also do things like connect their mobile phone to their notebook using it.
Bluetooth: A notebook with support for this short-range wireless networking standard comes into its own when used with Bluetooth devices like mobile phones, printers, headsets and PDAs.
Wi-Fi: Wireless networking is all the rage at the moment with certified public access points becoming more common and home wireless networking kits booming in popularity.
Both AMD and Intel machines will include wireless networking. Centrino notebooks have it built-in as standard. Supported Wi-Fi standards you might find on your notebook are 802.11a, b and g standards, plus the new draft-n standard.