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A basic, inexpensive laptop is perfect for most

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When it comes to laptops, additional features--and the price you pay for them--are virtually limit-less. You've probably seen inexpensive models as low as $300 at places like Walmart and Staples. And you've probably seen models that cost thousands of dollars. So are the pricier models worth it?

LOZO's opinion: for most casual users, a basic, inexpensive laptop should suffice--so don't pay for the upgrades! That means, if you're surfing the web, doing some office work, networking, playing music, videos and some games--a basic laptop should be fine. If your needs are more extensive, then certain upgrades might be necessary.

To get the best bang for your buck, buy a laptop that has the features you truly need (and not everything under the sun). Here are a few of the most important criteria to consider. Each of them will affect the cost of your laptop, so know what you need and choose accordingly!
  • Memory: The price of add-on memory is dropping all of the time. Translation: it's not always necessary to soup-up a machine with the biggest hard drive and most RAM because you'll have the option to pick up more RAM later (usually at a lower price).
  • Video: If you're planning for intense gaming or watching Blu-ray movies, you'll want to get want to get the best video capabilities out there. For an average user, though, a basic video card should suffice.
  • Screen size: Larger screens cost more money, so it's good to ask yourself if you really need one. For most users, a small screen is just fine. Plus, smaller screen models are more portable and use less battery life (another cost saver!). If, however, you're a designer or an avid photographer who does lots of photo-editing, you'll probably need a larger screen. Likewise, if you're using your laptop as an alternative to a desktop computer (or even your TV), you may require a large screen. Of course, they can also be a pain to lug around when you're on the move.
  • Processor: Even the basic processor speeds offered today can do the job for most. Think twice before spending a lot to upgrade, since in a year or so they'll all be "outdated" anyway. 
  • Software, Printers, Batteries & Other "Extras": Unless you're getting a great package deal, don't feel any pressure to buy extras like software, printers or even an extra battery at the time you buy your laptop. You'll always have a chance to add something on later, most likely at a lower price, and you'll then have a better idea of what you actually need. 
Finally, if your needs are really basic and you want to spend the minimum, then a netbook or mini-computer might be right for you. If this is the case, stick with the really cheap ones. There's not much benefit to paying as much on a netbook as you would on a basic laptop, since you'll be giving up performance and upgradability without saving much dough.

A LOZO expert posted this tip.

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