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How to Choose a Home Office Laptop

written by: John Peterson•edited by: John Garger•updated: 1/20/2010

If you are setting up a new home office then you will definitely need a laptop. The problem lies in choosing one for your particular need.

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    A laptop can be the hub of your business and can store everything you need. It can help you, your business, and your life go more smoothly by allowing you to store your bank information, schedules, passwords, tax returns, and receipts all in one place. The best thing about owning a laptop though, is that it is mobile. If you need to work onsite with a customer, all of your information can go with you.

    When choosing a laptop make sure you get one that will serve your business needs. The major brands like HP, Apple, Lenovo, and Dell are a huge hit in the market, a market which has got quite competitive in recent years. Laptops have also become more stylish in their appearance and have smaller, thinner form factors. You'll want to find one that suits your tastes, but it's also important to figure out how much processing power and memory you will need to power the software applications you will work with. You may want to consider speaking to a computer associate in a large store before making these decisions. The professionals often have a better idea of what you'll need than you do.

    Other questions to ask before buying a laptop include:

    What kind of battery life does the system have?

    Do you need a rewritable CD or DVD drive?

    Do you need a big screen or small screen?

    Do you need extra ports such as FireWire or USB to connect to your home peripherals?

    What are the wireless options?

    What is the laptop's weight?

    Some of the best features include thinness and weight, built web cameras, and powerful processors. A good measure of laptop performance and battery life can be found at the Industry standard site called “BAPCo”. Here you will find results from the latest laptops and processor options broken out in Battery Life run time as well as performance. Once you’ve chosen a laptop model, it’s good to double check this (BAPCo) site for battery life and performance information. This information can make or break a purchase.

    My recommendations for a strong work-horse laptop that will power word processing, email, spreadsheets, and light photo imaging will have at least a 1.7 GHz class processor, 2GB memory (to power the new Vista OS), 14 inch screen (to reduce eye strain), 100GB hard drive, Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n, DVD drive, SD memory card slot (to transfer your digital camera pictures), and multiple USB and FireWire ports to connect your peripherals. If you are looking to splurge on one feature, I would buy as much system memory as possible. To protect your investment, I would also recommend a 2 year extended warranty.