In the market for a new laptop?? The industry standards have changed as laptops have advanced and completely changed with the evolution of more powerful smartphones and tablet machines taking some of their business.

Buying a laptop today is a completely different search than it was 6 months ago, so if you’re looking for a laptop for your own personal work, school or business, I suggest you look at these features and make your decision wisely.

Price: The most important factor in any purchase, technology especially, is setting your price point.? With laptops today, you can either make your decision to go Windows or Mac, with the latter being more expensive for their sleeker look and individual OS.? Both platforms are not limited by software choices, as Mac was handicapped before, and have plenty of software, apps and platforms programmed for their specific needs.? For a laptop today, a higher end with all the bells and whistles can run you up into the $2K range while a more budget friendly $1K laptop will fit about 95% of most needs.

Operating System: I bring up the point of Mac OS X and Windows just because it still is a huge debate.? Buying a Mac is a more friendly out of the box experience, while Windows is a definite solid choice since Windows 7 made its debut.? I think Windows still has more native support anywhere you go, but Apple computers (with the ability to install a dual boot Windows operating system) are making huge pushes to grab the market share, especially on college campuses.? They are a much more attractive choice to people who do not want to worry as much about viruses and trojans, but Windows 7 has security tools that would make it a very good choice as well.? Once again, if your budget would like to stay on the lower side, a Windows PC would be almost half the price of a similar Apple computer.

Hardware: This is where most people make their mistake of buying a computer that has way too much hardware for their needs.? Hardware on a laptop is getting cheaper, but is still a huge markup of the price and cost of a laptop.? The new Apple Macbook Pro computers have quad-core processors for their 15″ and 17″ laptops.? That is outrageous and completely unnecessary for 99.9% of the people buying that machine.? Not only is most software still getting the hang of running in dual core mode, there are very few applications that will be able to utilize that type of processor which will end up running more hot and draw extra battery for no reason.? The Core i5 and i7 CPU that are in most laptops (Windows and Mac) are PLENTY of power unless you are doing hardcore video editing…etc.

Do not worry about getting a huge hard drive at 7200rpm in your computer.? A 500GB+ hard drive spinning at 5400rpm will be perfect and lighter on your battery, not to mention people do not need to store much on the laptop drive if you have an external drive or decided to build a cheap home server that you can even use to back up your Mac using time machine.? Windows PC’s have native support for backup so it makes it even easier to do so on a server.

I suggest 4GB of DDR3 RAM.? If your computer only has 2GB, do not make the upgrade from the computer retailer.? You can purchase RAM separately and install it yourself for a fraction of the cost.

For the graphics card, most people should be fine with integrated graphics or what ever card comes with the laptop standard for web browsing, light HD video watching/streaming and a little gaming.? If you are a gamer, go with the upgrade to one of AMD’s new 6800 series or NVidias mobile line.? Something upward of 256MB or 512MB should be solid for most games and movies.

Screen/Laptop Size: Most people are shying away from the big 17″ laptops because that really is not the definition of a laptop anymore.? A 15″ screen is considered to be the jumbo laptops today with more 11″ and 13″ screen size laptops taking the majority of production.? The smaller the screen size = the lighter the notebook in weight which is great for transporting and carrying around.? Most screen resolutions and graphics cards are powerful enough to support multiple windows on one screen, and have video out to a monitor when you need the extra screen space on a desk/dock.

Overall Thoughts: I was pretty disappointed when I saw the new Macbook line announced.? Not only did they have the same battery life, they were the same size with just more powerful parts inside, which is completely unnecessary for laptop users.? If you really need something that powerful, build a desktop for a much cheaper cost.

IBM’s new Thinkpad T420 can get up to 30 hrs of battery life on a 9 cell battery which is amazing.? The MacBook Air is incredibly thin and light (like a netbook) with perfect power for its purpose.

To users out there who want some extra power, build a desktop and keep that for your big computing needs.? Buy a cheap netbook or a really cheap laptop from Dell which will have perfect power to get you through the day.

The game for laptops today is cheap, ultra slim and light.? Someone recently told me, “If people need that extra processing power, such as a quad core can offer, they can go out and buy it.? We have that option today, unlike recent years past.”? However, for most of you users out there, make your laptop something that is very slim and very light.? Spend the extra money on a nice monitor for the extra screen real estate and a cheap server that you can use to backup your data and do some extra cool things with.? You’ll be saving your back, wallet and find a whole new appreciation for the new wave and generation of laptops.