We're not all looking for the same qualities in a laptop, and the kind of programs you want to run determine your demands in the categories that follow. First, consider why you're buying a laptop. Is it to make PowerPoint presentations, take notes and do other simple business tasks? Or do you plan on watching HD movies, playing video games and video chatting with your friends?
Figure out how much you can afford to spend on a laptop and find the best system in that price range with the features you need. Our first example above, for business use, would be a pretty cheap laptop -- you can easily spend less than $1000 on a model that will run Microsoft Office and other productivity software. Another factor to consider: Do you want a Mac or a PC?
While Apple's laptops are pricier than many PCs, there are only a few Apple notebook models to choose from. Apple's extremely light MacBook Air models start at $1000 and are fast, capable machines, but lack disc drives unlike the larger, more powerful MacBook Pros. The least expensive 13-inch MacBook Pro starts at $1200, while the 15-inch jumps up to a pricey $1800.
If you're looking for a PC, there's a whole lot of hardware to be familiar with before you pick out a winning system. First up: battery life.