A quick overview
From powerhouse desktops to super portable laptops, there's a computer for every need. And with improving technology, they're getting faster and sleeker every day.
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Things to consider
When choosing a desktop or laptop, a 14- or 15-inch screen is a good choice for everyday tasks like checking e-mail, updating your Facebook status or printing directions. But if you're constantly on the move, you'll want to choose a 13- or 14-inch screen, because they're lighter and easier to carry around. If you plan to create huge spreadsheets, present slideshows or play games, then a 17-inch screen is recommended.
The latest in display technology is the touchscreen, which allows you to execute commands by simply touching the screen. There is no mouse required so your desktop stays
The processor "or CPU" is like the computer's brain. It executes all the tasks your computer performs, from sending an e-mail to editing HD video. It is critical to the overall performance of your PC. Some processors can complete tasks faster than others. So if you use your computer for simple tasks, like browsing online or using Word, a basic processor is perfect. But if you want to work on Excel spreadsheets, Powerpoint, edit photos, stream HD content online and edit HD home videos on the weekend, then you will need a superior processor.
Many processors now feature Integrated Graphics, which utilize a portion of a computer's system RAM to help process graphics.
- Intel®: Atom, Celeron
- AMD: Turion II
- AMD: C-series
- Intel®: Pentium, Core i3
- AMD: Athalon II
- AMD: E-series, A4
- Intel®: Core i5, Core i7
- AMD: Phenom II, Fusion A Series
- AMD: A6, A8
The hard drive is where your computer stores all your permanent data like your operating system, software programs, photos, videos, music and more. Hard drives range in size from 320GB to 2TB. For basic use, 500GB is fine. But if you've got folders and folders of photos, or plan on running lots of programs, choose at least 1TB.
SSD or "Solid-State Drives" are the latest technology in internal storage. They're smaller, lighter and faster than regular internal drives and have no moving parts so they're less susceptible to physical shock. Solid-State Drives can be found in the newest laptops, desktops and Ultrabooks.
There's nothing worse then when your laptop dies right in the middle of an important project. So if you'll be working out of the office, choose a longer-lasting battery. Some can last up to 9 hours. Also consider how you'll be using your laptop. Playing a DVD uses more battery power than other functions, but most models can play one full movie without having to be recharged. Some laptops accept an additional battery, which gives you twice the power, but adds weight and size.
Most laptops fall into this category and range from basic to high performance depending on the features you choose. But one thing is the same: all-purpose laptops are powerful enough for everyday computing with the added benefit of being portable.
Slim, light and great for on the go, Ultrabooks are a step up from netbooks. They've got more processing power and more advanced features than netbooks, like fast Solid-State Drives, but are smaller and lighter than laptops. And some models come with an optical drive so you can watch DVDs.
The tower desktop is the most common PC and offers the greatest range of features. Desktops tend to get the newest technology ahead of laptops, so they're great if you need super high performance. Lower-end desktops are usually less expensive than lower-end laptops while still offering basic everyday performance. Desktops offer the most connectivity options and are also highly expandable, so they can grow with you.
Rather than having a separate tower and monitor, all-in-one desktops combine these features into one space-saving design. Their compact size allows more flexibility in where you decide to put your PC and some even have a touchscreen display. Many come with a wireless keyboard and mouse, which cuts down on cord clutter.
Shop by use
A reliable choice for home users who need a basic everyday PC
Shop all everyday computers
- Best for:
- Web browsing and other common tasks
- Word processing and other basic applications
- Managing MP3s and videos
- Viewing and editing videos
- Playing video games
Specifically for business users
Shop all business grade computers
- Features include:
- Larger hard drives for increased storage
- More durable construction
- Faster processors for multi-tasking
- Ability to create and edit spreadsheets and slide presentations