Mark E. Buckley

Buying a Lap Top

Here are some basic realities on Lap Tops. This is not intended for the high power computer user, the business traveler, or the corporate executive. This is intended for a small business owner that would like to enjoy some of the benefits of owning a lap top.

First, your lap top should be your secondary computer. You should handle most of your business computing on a PC. A lap top should just be used as an extension of your office.

You should write down what you wish to perform with the lap top. It can be used to create estimates, write letters, research information on the internet, and more. It could be used to hold power point presentations, flyers, brochures, and other marketing materials. You could perform your bookkeeping on it, but I would advise against that. Keep your accounting system on your PC instead.

It is not really a LAP TOP.

It is a notebook. It gets hotter than heck. Find a TV tray or flat board of some sort to put it on. Don't put it on a pillow. You'll block the fan and over heat the thing.

Should I purchase more speed or more memory?

Neither. If this is your first lap top, buy the cheapest one you can find. The reality is that you will probably break it. If you don't break it, then you will download some sort of virus. If you don't get a virus, then it will probably be obsolete within a few years anyways.

If after owning the cheap lap top for a while, figure out how much you have used it. If you have used it frequently then go ahead and upgrade to a lap top with higher speed and more memory. It would be foolish, although probably very common, to spend a lot on your first lap top, and then barely ever use it.

Protect it

Install the best anti virus software you can afford. If you buy any software at all it should be for protection.

What software should I buy?

This of course depends on what you want to use it for. Generally you will want a word processing program, like Word, a spreadsheet, like Excel, an internet browser, like Internet Explorer, and an email program, like Outlook. I would delay purchasing other types of programs until you find that you need them. If it is a program you use a lot on your PC, then it might be useful to have it on your Lap Top as well.

The batteries do not last long.

The commercials make it seem that you can spend six hours on the beach typing the great american novel. The power cord must be hidden under the blanket. I rarely use my Lap Top without it plugged in. If I do forget to plug it in, the battery lasts less than two hours.

What brand should I buy?

No idea. I have used Gateway, Dell and Toshiba. They all seemed about the same.

Should I go wireless?

Remember the beach. You're limited by the battery anyways. I was wireless for a while. But I ended up using my laptop in my office 3 feed away from my modem. At other times I was 20 feet away in my family room. So now I hard wired everything into a hub and bought a 25 foot network cable. I can still use my Lap Top and sit on my porch, I just can't get on the internet.

Also if you do install a wire less network connection then your neighbors can steal your internet connection. This sounds very odd but it is true. There is also a security risk involved, but I don't completely understand what the issues are.

What type of printer should I get?

If you have a PC, I would attach the expensive printers to that. I have a laser jet printer as well as a combo printer-scanner-copier-juice-maker attached to my PC. My lap top just has the basic cheap printer attached. If I do create a tremendous piece of art on my lap top, I can just email it to my PC to print it out.

Should I have all your computers networked?

Yes, but it does not always work how you would think. You will want to share your internet connection with all your computers. At one point I could view my PC files from my Lap Top. I no longer have it set up that way. Generally that bit of convenience will not work once you install fire walls. I simply prefer safety over convenience. You can always email files from one computer to another.

Shoud I back up my files?

Yes. As I mentioned, you will probably destroy your lap top at some point. From time to time, print out your documents and file them in the appropriate folder. Back up your files on a CD. Keep your CD's and documents well organized. Make it a habit to delete files you no longer need. After you have deleted some files run your defragmenter to speed up your computer.

But I really want a wire less connection so I can do some of my work while I am in bed.

Instead of investing in wireless technology, you should seek therapy.


In summary, buy cheap, just buy what you need, and be prepared when it blows up.