TECH TALK: Some Things to Consider When Buying a New Notebook Computer

John Vrooman | November 24, 2015

John Vrooman
John Vrooman

If you are in the market to purchase a new notebook computer, I suggest you keep the following in mind as you evaluate your options.

When it comes to the speed of your computer, one bottleneck that slows down a computer is the speed of your hard drive. To address this issue, please seriously consider getting an SSD (Solid State Drive) instead of a traditional hard drive. I know many of you are currently suffering from very slow boot up times, slower overall performance and slow shut downs. Computers that have SSDs typically do not suffer from these problems as much as those that do not have them. Additionally, since SSDs have no moving parts, they are also more rugged and run cooler (which usually means your computer’s fan(s) don’t have to run as much either. Cumulatively, all the above can translate into longer battery run times between charges. Once you experience the improved computer performance that an SSD can provide, you’ll wish you made the switch much sooner. (Yes, in many cases you can swap out a traditional hard drive for a new SSD, so that’s an option that’s also available to those who want the benefits of an SSD, but don’t want to purchase a new computer).

Not all software has been optimized for use on super high resolution screens as yet. Yes, if you are savvy enough, you can typically overcome most high resolution display issues, but I recommend you simply try to avoid purchasing a notebook that has a really high display resolution, and instead opt for models that have a more moderate screen resolution. In addition to not having to worry about screen scaling issues (really small icons, really small text nor having to fiddle around with display settings), computers that have lower resolution screens typically cost less and use less battery power. So I suggest that if you have the option to customize a computer during the purchase process, selecting a lower screen resolution option would be something to consider.

If you find yourself computing, or wanting to compute at times when there isn’t a lot of light available, you may want to consider looking for a notebook that has a backlit keyboard. Having the ability to illuminate your computer keys can really be helpful or necessary when you’re in a low light situation.

CD/DVD Drives

These days most people really don’t need a CD/DVD drive very often. If this is the case with you, I would suggest you consider not worrying about whether or not your computer has one built-in. Instead, you can pick up an external CD/DVD drive that can connect to your computer through a USB port.

Similar to getting an external CD/DVD drive, you can also get external network Ethernet adapters that also connect to a computer through a USB connection. If you rarely need or want to connect to a wired network connection your next computer probably doesn’t need to have a built-in Ethernet connection.

Tips for Windows Users

If you are a Windows user, I would recommend that you get a computer that has a touch screen. Windows 8 and Windows 10 are touch screen friendly operating systems. Over time, more and more apps (software) products are being developed that take advantage of touch screens. If your computer doesn’t have a touch screen, then you’re not going to be able to take advantage of these things.

Consider getting a docking station or USB hub if you think you will need to regularly connect multiple devices to your computer. A lot of new computers only have a few USB ports, and by using a USB docking station or hub, you’ll find it easier and more convenient to connect multiple peripherals, gadgets, etc. to your computer.

Personally, I would encourage you to consider getting a notebook computer that can in some way be converted into a tablet computer (removable screen, fold over screen, or twist and fold over screen for example). When you have a computer that can also be some sort of tablet computer, your computing options and capabilities are expanded. So I say, ”Go for it.”

Yes, trying to find a computer that has all of the above may be challenging. Also, it’s likely that you’ll discover that the price for a machine that offers all/most of what was mentioned above is probably going to be pretty expensive. However, if you do get a computer that offers what’s suggested above, you will almost certainly find yourself 1) happy with it, and 2) able to use it in more ways/situations than you have ever used a notebook computer before.

I wish you lots of luck with your new notebook computer shopping efforts, and I am confident that you will enjoy the results!
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If you have comments, suggestions, tips, questions or just want to say “Hi”, you are invited to contact me at (I always enjoy hearing from you!)

John Vrooman is an experienced Realtor who enjoys staying on top of real estate, technology, marketing, new media and small business trends and developments. John curates information from a wide range of resources and enjoys sharing tips, thoughts and discoveries with a something for everyone approach. He is an Associate Broker with Better Homes & Gardens Rand Realty’s White Plains office.


John Vrooman
John Vrooman keeps an eye out for cool new hardware, software, apps, gadgets; SaaS solutions; social media developments, trends as well as personal/SMB productivity and related solutions. He gathers information for his column from a diverse range of resources and he enjoys sharing his discoveries with others. He has been authoring this column since August 2000 and welcomes feedback from his readers.