Time to turn in your old workhorse for a new laptop? Here's our guide to the essential features to look for - whether you're considering an ultraportable or an all-purpose model.
Long battery life
You can find laptops both midsize and ultraportable laptops that last six hours or longer on a single charge.
Large memory capacity
Today's laptops usually offer at least 2GB of RAM, but 4GB is better - and of course, the larger the memory capacity, the better.
Comfortable keyboard and responsive trackpad
When you spend hours typing on your laptop, a comfortable keyboard is critical. Look for full-size frequently used keys that have a good spring to them, and a long and comfortable palm rest to support your wrists.
For an optimal laptop user experience, look for a large, well-positioned trackpad that's easy to interact with and has a smooth surface. The trackpad buttons should not be too tiny or excessively stiff.
Additional considerations for ultramobile workers
Laptops that target business users generally do more to accommodate high-mobility computing.
If you spend a lot of time out and about with your laptop, look for features that promise great durability, such as a metal or carbon-fibre chassis in place of the more typical ABS plastic. Also look for models that take extra care to protect the hard drive against shocks or bumps (such as Sony's G-Sensor shock protection in its VAIO S series or the 'Active Protection' system in Lenovo's IdeaPad and ThinkPad laptops).
Built-in security features
Hardware security modules, biometric (for instance, fingerprint scanning) log-ins, and other security components - such as Intel's antitheft technology - will help you work on the road more safely.
USB pass-through charging
Ultramobile users tend to carry around a lot of gadgets and cords. A USB charge-through port functions the same way as a regular USB port, except that it can charge your portable devices even when the laptop is turned off. Though this isn't an essential feature, it can come in handy when you're on the road.
Built-in 3G mobile broadband
You have other options besides built-in 3G mobile broadband for on-the-go internet access - for instance, visiting Wi-Fi hotspots, using a mobile hotspot device or feature from your smartphone, or tethering), but none are as convenient or simple to use. Most modern laptops come with a mobile broadband option that permits you to select (or later switch) the wireless service provider for mobile data service on your laptop.
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