Category Archives: Notebook and Tablet Buying Guide

Great Netbook Gift Ideas: Why Netbooks Make Great Gifts and Great Purchases

Great Netbook Gift Ideas: Why Netbooks Make Great Gifts and Great Purchases

Great Gift Ideas: Netbook Gifts

As another holiday season looms on the horizon, thinking about what to get for that special someone and thinking about the possibility of a netbook as a great gift idea?

I recently bought myself an Acer Aspire One netbook and think it would make a great gift idea for someone who spends a lot of time on the computer or the Internet.

Let’s examine some of the functions of the netbook and what netbooks are good for as opposed to notebooks. As you research it, you’ll find that there are many similarities between netbooks and notebooks but each actually can have its own unique uses and situations where one might be better than the other.

As well, whereas the iPad is the current ‘rage’, the iPad is not so great for some reasons and a netbook might be the more appropriate choice or gift – and vice versa.

I urge you to do your research no matter what product you buy.  I actually spent at least a month testing out different netbooks in stores and comparing them to notebooks and laptops to see what all the fuss was about. I also compared them to the iPad and considered purchasing pros and cons there as well.

Have a read and I’ll show you what I found regarding netbooks and why I think netbook gifts make for great gift ideas!

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Source: Wikipedia

Great Gift Ideas: Netbook Gifts

What are netbooks and how do they differ from conventional laptops?

As you can see by the picture opposite, a netbook is pretty small. These are totally portable smaller versions of a laptop.

They’ve been around since about 2007 but since 2009, their popularity has quickly risen to the top. They are becoming one of the most sought after and on-line ordered portable electronic devices for many different age groups and across many different venues.

While netbooks don’t have as much ‘punch’ as a traditional laptop in some terms, when it comes down to it, for most of the applications that most folks use a netbook for, that really isn’t a factor.

New 7″ VIA8850 Mini Notebook Netbook Android 4.0 1.2GHz 1GB/4GB Camera Black
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Dell Inspiron Mini 10 1012 10.1″ (160 GB, Intel Atom, 1.66 GHz, 1 GB) Netbook…
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Classmate PC E09EI1 900 MHz Celeron M 512MB Laptop Netbook
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Why I picked a netbook instead of a laptop or iPad

They weigh next to nothing – about 1-2 pounds so setting them on my lap is ideal
You can connect to the Internet through Wi-Fi connections or connect via cable to a hub
It’s so thin and portable that it fits into your purse
They have long battery life (all brands differ so check that out)
The screen is completely user friendly and great for viewing
It really beats trying to access your email on your phone
It comes with a word processing program (Word Pad) so you can type on it
The keyboard is a full keyboard although it is a smaller version of a standard keyboard
There are USB slots so I can connect a keyboard or even a small hub
I can watch movies on it (downloaded from the Internet)
Plenty of storage is available (250 GB hard drive came with mine)
I can work on pictures and videos, store them or export to a portable USB drive
Networking is also possible so I can tap into my home or office networks
If desired, I can hook a monitor to the netbook for a larger view space
It comes with a built-in webcam
There are audio plug-in points so I can listen to tunes or Internet music with headphones

Click thumbnail to view full-size
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Source: Wikipedia
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public domain photo
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many styles and colors are available
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gaming on a netbook
Source: Audrey Kirchner
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small and compact
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my netbook
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surf the web
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keyboard of netbook
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desktop on netbook
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check email
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windows 7 starter

Great Gift Ideas: Netbook Gifts

Photo Management

The iPad for instance has no USB ports so that would be a poor choice for me since a lot of what I do with my laptop or my netbook is manage my photos. You can buy a camera attachment or dongle for the iPad but it will not let you drag files to it like a netbook will. Basically, a netbook is just a skinned down version of a laptop.


When I was comparing the many different computer devices available and comparing them to the iPad, cost was an important factor to me. I’m frugal by nature and while I am totally enthralled by the iPad, I think of it as more of a ‘toy’ or a ‘gadget’ than a real working part of my computer array. There are so many more things that I can do on my netbook than I could do on an iPad that it makes sense to go the netbook route in my case. Cost effectively, it also made great sense since the netbook I purchased was exactly half of the cost of an iPad – $300 compared to $600. There are also models that are cheaper than the one I purchased and there are more expensive ones of course, too.

Screen Size and Keyboards

Most netbooks are about 10.1 inches from point to point, left bottom to right top corner. However, they come in all different sizes – from 8.5 inches to even 12 inches. Pick the one that most suits your needs. Most have ‘standard’ keyboards though they are smaller than the traditional computer keyboard. If the size bothers you, you can connect your own regular keyboard via USB and same goes with a mouse.

Internet Connectivity

All netbooks come with a built-in wi-fi device and programming to allow you to connect easily to any wireless network that is accessible. However, be aware that some netbooks come with a plan that you must purchase for connectivity. Make sure you get one that doesn’t have a fee and that you can connect with anywhere. Netbooks also have an ethernet port so that you can easily connect to your home or office network as well.

Gaming like Facebook Games

I’m not sure how folks have time to play games on line but I know millions of people do! Because you can run Flash, playing internet games makes it happen on your netbook but not on the iPad. So if you’re into playing games like Farmville on Facebook the netbook’s your best bet.

Typing/Word Processing

I purposefully purchased a netbook for this feature most of all. Since I travel great distances from my small tiny town to do anything, I’m frequently in the car. I love using the time that Bob is driving us hither and yon to work on hubs or type off my letters to my mom! It saves me tons of time. Or while I’m waiting somewhere for an appointment, I can slip my netbook out onto my lap and type away. I have to say that the keyboard fits my hands perfectly but it could be because I have rather small hands. I have typed up many a hub in the past few weeks on my little netbook, saved my piece to the netbook and then copied it onto a USB drive and used that to upload to Hubpages later along with some pics. The program Word Pad while not the full version of Word is just as adequate and without all the bells and whistles, it seems to actually work faster and easier!  It still has plenty of options though such as Paint.

Installing software or other media

You can’t install software or other media on an iPad but you can on a netbook! One of the other nice features about the netbook. Most netbooks come with Windows 7 Starter software already loaded but you can upgrade for a fee if you feel you need more of the applications of the full install of Windows. You can also purchase netbooks with Windows XP already loaded. It’s all about what you need it for and what you want on your netbook.

Upgrading RAM

You can also upgrade your RAM on a netbook – not much – but you can add to it. You can also upgrade your hard drive. I preferred to get the netbook with the largest hard drive from the beginning so when I saw the 250 GB hard drive compared to most with 160 GB hard drives, I thought for the same price, it was worth buying the one at Costco over the other models I’d seen. The iPad is a done deal and no upgrading is possible.

Webcams and Video Chatting

Even the cheapest netbooks come with a webcam so video chatting over Skype or other chatting programs is possible. There is no app for that on the iPad.


Again, the iPad is a done deal. You can’t swap out the batteries where in a netbook, you can decide if you want a 3 or a 6-cell battery and swap them out easily to give you more battery time.


Lastly, setup was a breeze. I unpacked the netbook and even after following the directions on inserting the battery, I had already programmed my stats into my netbook and was up surfing the Internet within 10 minutes. It has such a basic system that it really would be hard to have trouble figuring it out.

Great Gift Ideas: Netbook Gifts

As you can see, netbooks have many pluses. If you’re looking for a great little laptop that’s really not a laptop, you’ll love the netbook. While it doesn’t have as many programs and applications as the traditional laptop, for the most part, the netbook is a great substitute for a laptop because it does many things that your laptop will do only is a smaller and more affordable version and isn’t overwhelmed with ‘stuff’.

Schools are actually starting to use netbooks rather than laptops because of the cost factor.  The applications that most schools need are highly accessible on the netbook rather than a traditional laptop or a desktop computer, easier for students to cart around and go mobile with and actually work faster in many cases on the apps they need them for.

It is expected that sales will skyrocket further simply because netbooks are so portable and are so cost effective over traditional laptops and computers.

The next step? The future will see the evolution of the Smartbook next – a mobile device that is somewhere between a smartphone and a netbook and will have features like an all-day battery life, 3G connectivity, GPS and a full keyboard. Smartbooks will probably be sold through mobile network providers like mobile phones are now sold and will have a wireless data plan.

If you’re looking for great gift ideas today though, netbook gifts are a great way to go!

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Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 (7-Inch, Wi-Fi)
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Apple iPad 2 MC979LL/A Tablet (16GB, Wifi, White) 2nd Generation (MC989LL/A)
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Samsung Chromebook (Wi-Fi, 11.6-Inch)
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Apple The new iPad (iPad 3) iPad2 Clear(Regular) Screen protector
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Case Logic LAPS-111 10 – 11.6 -Inch Chromebook/Netbook Sleeve (Black)
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Case Logic PLS-210 10-Inch Neoprene Netbook Sleeve (Blue)
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Samsung Chromebook (Wi-Fi, 11.6-Inch)
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Acer AOD270-1375 10.1″ Netbook (Intel Atom Processor N2600, 1GB DDR3 SDRAM, 320GB hard drive, Windows 7, Espresso Black)
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Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 (7-Inch, Wi-Fi)
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Acer Aspire One AOD270-1410 10.1-Inch Netbook (Espresso Black)
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Acer 11.6″ AO725-0687 Laptop PC with AMD Dual-Core C-70 Processor,Windows 8 Operating System-Red
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ASUS 1015E-DS01 10.1-Inch Laptop (Black)
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Kindle Fire HD 7″, Dolby Audio, Dual-Band Wi-Fi, 16 GB – Includes Special Offers
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What To Look For In A Gaming Laptop

What To Look For In A Gaming Laptop

The Black-and-White… And The Unwritten

Most people looking for a gaming setup nowadays know roughly a thing or two already of what they need. Usually, you can get obvious clues by looking at the recommended specifications chart listed on the back cover of your favourite, or yet unreleased, game. “Random access memory”, or RAM, is one of the easiest, obvious things to look out for. More RAM generally means better performance, especially with modern games heavy on resources. Then, you might also see things like “dedicated graphics memory” or something. What is the difference, actually? This article will help to demystify any doubts you might have about the hard specifications you may not always understand directly.

However, when you are looking to purchase a gaming laptop, some things are not always there in black-and-white. That is to say, there are issues that exist that are unquantifiable – they do not appear in your specifications sheet, but can ruin your enjoyment of your game if you are not aware. What are they? Read on. This article will teach you how to be a more critical consumer when it comes to purchasing a gaming laptop, looking at the stuff that really matter, and not be confused by those which are not so important.

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Source: Wikipedia

Random Access Memory (RAM)

You know the pop experiment where you try to name as many different fruits as possible, and most people get stuck at seven? Some maybe one or two more… Others one or two less. Of course, there are exceptions, but that is to show that on the average, most of us have a short-term memory capacity of seven items. That is something like what RAM is – short-term memory. Except that for computers, they do not go by number of items or concepts, but they encode all their memory in bits and bytes, depending on the specific information variable they are trying to store.

Everything in your computer needs RAM for everything is your computer could be storing, reading or writing data at any one time. Your games, especially, need to store enormous amounts of data when they run – how many bullets you have left in your rifle; how many bullets does the enemy have left; what speed is the next car travelling at; how much gold do you have and how much does the tower cost to build etc. Modern games e.g. Call of Duty; World of Warcraft; Need For Speed, with more complex variables and gameplay, need a lot more RAM than the games of old, like Pac-man, for instance, and these RAM requirements grow as newer versions of these games are written with increasing complexity. Thankfully, like I mentioned briefly earlier on, most games have got their RAM requirements stated so you do not have to do guesswork – even for games not released yet, with the Internet nowadays it should not be too difficult to find some information from the developer or other sources.

For instance, the popular “Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty” requires 1 to 1.5 GB of free RAM in the system, depending on your operating system (because remember, everything, not just games, even idle applications and processes need RAM; and Windows Vista sucks more RAM idle than say, Windows XP). If you are the kind who listens to your techno tracks using RealPlayer rather than the in-game music while you are gaming, then your computer will be using even more RAM as it goes along. Most laptops nowadays have easily 2 GB of RAM if not more, up to perhaps 8 GB for some models. Question to ask yourself is how much RAM do you need then? Personally, 4 GB is a good compromise between cost and performance, but if you want to future-proof your laptop for future games and heavy multitasking (I forsee for maybe 4 to 5 years?), 8 GB of RAM is a must.

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Source: Wikipedia

Graphics Processing Unit (GPU)

While RAM is short-term memory, graphics processing units is an umbrella term for some sort of imagination mechanism in your head that helps you to visualize vivid scenes and all. The faster it can do its work, the smoother your fantasy. For gaming, it means higher framerates, and lesser jerks. This can also translate to being able to play the game with higher detail levels without issues with sluggishness.

For most gamers, you are probably looking for a dedicated graphics card. This is in contrast to an integrated graphics card, which really just means that there is no separate graphics processing unit on the laptop, so everything is done by a small soldered-on graphics chip on the processor e.g. Intel GMA. These are smaller, cost less, use less power and all, but also mean that they are significantly less powerful than what you actually require for most games which may require more horsepower – you will understand more later.

The graphics card requirement is thankfully another hard specification usually found in black-and-white on the game boxes. However, sometimes it might simply say”ATI XXXX or better”. To compare across graphics cards of different brands or sometimes, even just across to a different series from the same brand, we need to sometimes do a little bit of further research into the exact capabilities of the graphics card.

Let me just say that I often go to Wikipedia to get information quickly regarding the above. Let us just assume now that I own, or plan to purchase a laptop with, a NVIDIA graphics card. Going to the Wikipedia NVIDIA GPU comparison page, and let us say that I have my eye on the GeForce GT 540M. A lot of the specifications listed there are mainly technical and only really interesting to people who have the know-how, but our focus is on the “API support”; “Memory Bus Type” and “Memory” columns. The “Processing Power (GFLOPs)” column can be a rough indicator of comparative graphics power prowess in case you are stuck between deciding between two cards.

For “API Support”, most games should state for what version of DirectX, or OpenGL they require support for. These refer to the programming routines game programmers use in creating the game. DirectX and OpenGL in a sense serve to translate whatever the programmer programs in software to the hardware so that your computer can run it. To my knowledge, these APIs are backwards-compatible, so if you have a DirectX 10.1 game, your DirectX 11-capable Geforce GT 540M will not have a problem with it. However, if the reverse is true i.e. running a DirectX 11 game on a DirectX 10 card, you might face sluggish performance in-game for some game graphics rendering routines might not have been implemented previously. There are similar charts on Wikipedia for other brands of graphics cards. Check again with the manufacturers’ website if Wikipedia’s reliability is a concern for you.

Also, some games may have more specific demands such as “Pixel Shader” or “Vertex Shader” versions. These are also available in datasheets online – if Wikipedia has it not, the manufacturers will have it. If the latter have it not, Google will have it. 😉

The last issue with graphics cards is with their available “dedicated memory”. This is just like RAM, but only for the graphics card to use – this means that if any information has to be stored to help with the graphics rendering e.g. physics information about car crash – where each particle should explode to, it will probably go here, rather than to the common RAM e.g. speed of car when it crashed. The advantage with having a dedicated memory store is that it is usually located closer to the graphics card, so less time is required for transfer, translating to lower latencies in-game. This is also indirectly why they are known as “dedicated graphics card” rather than “integrated”. The integrated graphics cards actually have to share a common memory pool with the usual processors and this can cause issues with certain graphics-intensive games that simply cannot run – hence the “ATI XXXX or better” specification. The “Memory Bus Type” on these graphics cards refer to the speed of RAM read/write operations – generally, the greater the number, the better: either DDR3, or GDDR5 perhaps.

Just something for your knowledge: The arrangement of your system RAM e.g. whether it is a 2 x 2 GB RAM or 1 x 4 GB RAM – can make a difference. Two RAM sticks in parallel can actually be faster than a single one on certain motherboards because of the capability of “dual channel” reading – technical stuff you can google further.

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Source: Wikipedia

Central Processing Unit (CPU)

The processor is actually not as important as the RAM or graphics card as modern games tend to be heavier on those requirements rather than pure non-graphics related calculations. From Call of Duty to Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, for instance, the most obvious improvements have been in the graphics department, then gameplay which is secondary.

Again, looking at the back cover of games will help you see what kind of processor you need already. Most games quote in terms of Intel chips rather than AMD, so I will focus on the former. Some things to note – the clock speed e.g. 2.4 GHz, is not directly comparable across processor families. That is to say, a newer Core i3 can be faster than an older Pentium Core with the same clock speed. How do you compare then? Usually, if the game does not specify, look at the year of its production, and research to see what processor family belonged to that year e.g. 2010 was when the Intel Core i series came out, and use that generation of chips as a benchmark. Maybe going like a step lower for newer processors for older games is fine e.g. 2.4 GHz instead of 2.6 GHz, but this is really just experimenting. If you can, get the same. Generally, clock speed has a certain threshold limit. Once you cross it, you are unlikely to see any further improvements in gaming performance unless you are a multi-tasker, so don’t just go getting some 3.1 GHz chip right away.

Multi-cores are another good-to-have thing – real-world performance is hard to quantify, but you can just multiply your effective clock speed by say, 10% – 20% more for every extra core you have. They do not actually scale 100% if you have not noticed. You might also have heard of complaints about game issues like frame skips on multi-core setups. My opinion is that those problems are bugs with the games rather than with the premise of multi-cores, and ought to be fixed. Any well-written, well-behaving game should not cause problems with multi-core chips, so you need not worry anyway.

Something you ought to know is that the Intel Core i series made things interesting. You might see CPU specifications of “Intel Core i5 2.66 GHz with TurboBoost 3.2 GHz”. This just means that you should take the effective clock speed to be 3.2 GHz, but the processor (with TurboBoost, a new feature with some of the i series) is smart enough to lower down the clock speed to 2.66 GHz without manual overclocking when you don’t need so much processing power, saving on electrical consumption. Anyway, Core i3 is simply entry-level. For gaming, Intel advises i5 or i7. To me, i7 is for multi-taskers.

Also, you may also hear, especially this year, of “Sandy Bridge” processors which are still labelled i3; i5 or i7 like last year – this is just referring to a revamped version of the CPUs that Intel has made. Just take them to be faster than the older Core i series.

Also, and this may be something you do not see on “hard specifications”, what is cool with the Sandy Bridge processors is that apparently they have made the integrated graphics chip so powerful, it actually can outperform certain lower-end dedicated graphics cards, without all the dedicated memory and stuff. Intel claims to support high-end games like Starcraft 2 with its integrated chip, so it can be interesting to the budget-conscious who do not wish to pay extra for a dedicated card.

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Source: Webweaver

Enough of What The Game Wants! Let’s Talk About What YOU Want

Well, whew, we are done with the brute horsepower stuff that a game demands from your potential laptop. Now, let’s look at some other black-and-white specifications that you, the gamer should demand from your potential laptop.

LCD screen size seems to be a priority for many. There is little point in having a powerful discrete graphics card and a fast CPU with loads of RAM, only to play your game in a measly 1024 x 768 pixels resolution, or worse. Luckily, most gaming laptops in the market are at least 15 inches and above, the more common ones being 17 inches actually. The larger the screen is, the more pixels they are able to pack. More pixels generally mean more detail and crispness. That is what a gamer wants to derive satisfaction from the game. Enough said.

Next, is the weight of the machine. Now, because of the LCD screen size, the dedicated graphics card and all, a gaming laptop tends to be heavier than its non-gaming oriented counterparts. This may or may not be a concern for you, depending on how much you need to move around with your laptop. Aesthetically, laptops can be heavier because of all the extra weight they build in for durability and looks i.e. think Alienware, and this again may or may not be desirable. On the issue of weight, I would say is up to you, but just remember to consider this in case it slips your mind and you end up with a giant you didn’t expect to have.

I also want to just mention hard disk space – the more space, the more huge games you can have on your laptop; so this is something to note, though really, nowadays the few hundred gigabytes that come with modern laptops would be enough for any game – the main competitor for space is the huge stashes of media files people have nowadays, all the digitally archived music and movies. Some resources might mention solid-state disks. While they are indeed really fast, to me, it is not as important as the other things I would have mentioned about. Plus, they are still way too costly for anyone but geeks. Gamers, save your money for buying the games!

What Is Not Written

Now, not everything is written down nicely for you. This is when I advise you to hands-on with the laptop if you can. Attend tradeshows, go into physical shops. If you are planning to get your laptop online, ask around and do your research.

While gaming laptops tend to be larger to help air the machine better, since the dedicated graphics card and all do produce quite a lot of heat compared to other mainstream models, the way the heatsink and other components are built can do with a little bit more thinking at times.

If you are using a normal laptop now, just stop what you are doing and rest your palms on your palmrest below your keyboard with the touchpad in between. There is a high chance that your left hand is feeling a tad more heat than your right hand. This is because of the way most laptops are built – the design seems to favour heat-generating components concentrating on the left of your laptop. You might not have always noticed it, but it is a problem you can allow yourself to be annoyed with. For gamers, that is where your palm is resting when you do WASD. Should you leave your palm resting there for hours gaming, it is going to heat up.

Good gaming laptops should circumvent that bad design and leave you with a both-sides cool palmrest. Indeed, this was what I observed during a quick walkaround of a gaming laptop booth – most of them had the left-side heat problem. Only the largest models seemed to avoid it. Minor nuisance for some people, major annoyance for others.

The other thing would be the sound. This is relevant for you only if you do not use a set of headphones or earphones when you game, preferring to use the internal speakers instead. It is hard to compare laptops based on sound performance without actually having heard them. Having some form of technology advertised on them generally helps, but it is really subjective. You want directionality; loudness; bass and perhaps voice clarity – these are things best judged by your own ears.


Bearing all that above in mind, I hope that my article has been useful in introducing some of the things you should be looking out for when shopping for a new gaming laptop. Should there be anything you think I should have mentioned or missed out, do inform me of such.

Over time, some of the concepts in this article may change because of newer releases of components and changes in technology, so you should still very much remain the alert consumer and stay updated of trends.

HP Pavilion g7-2240us 17.3-Inch Laptop (Black)
Amazon Price: $469.00
List Price: $629.99
ASUS Republic of Gamers G75VW-AH71 17.3-Inch Gaming Laptop
Amazon Price: $1,599.99
CyberpowerPC Gamer Ultra GUA880 Desktop (Black/Blue)
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Easy Ways 4 Transfering Files from a Desktop to a Laptop

Easy Ways 4 Transfering Files from a Desktop to a Laptop





More and more people must rely on using a laptop/portable PC in their ever-busy lives to keep up with their workload, and then find they have different copies of the same file on this PC and their desktop. The easiest solution is having all machines networked and storing all working files on the network’s file server(s). However, if you need to work at home and other locations using multiple computers, this may not be possible.


1-  Any portable storage media can be used to hold a copy of a file and move it between two compatible machines. Portable storage options include:

·        USB Flash drive/computer flash storage card/reader

·        Portable hard disk

·        Floppy disk (Not that you’ll keep too many files on a 1.44 MB 3.5inch floppy!)

·        Zip drives (Iomega – 250 & 750MB)

·        CD or DVD disks can be used, replicating old ‘sneaker net’ style file transfers (walking from one machine to the next with a floppy disk) before Local Area Networks were commonplace


2- Copy the file(s) you want to transfer from their location on one machine to the portable drive. Use whichever option for copying files you find easiest: Drag and drop using the mouse, cut and paste, or copy, using the menu options. Take the portable drive to the second PC, hook them up together, and copy the files to the new machine.


3- If all machines used have Internet access, you may decide to store files on a ‘webmail’ server using the Internet, by sending the files attached to an email message to your own email address. This may be possible using a commercial file repository contract, spare space on an existing web server using a ‘web disc’, or even simply mailing the file to yourself on a webmail account. Google presently provides users with space in excess of 6GB (approximately equal to 6,000 MB), a storage size you are unlikely to fill with text and numbers from word processing or spreadsheet files. You can then download a copy of this file any time you log on to whichever machine you’re using.


4- Whichever method you choose to move your files around, there is a risk of overwriting your latest work (version) with an earlier file. This means losing any work added after the date of the earlier file. Windows tries to safeguard against this by asking if you want to replace one file with another and informing you of the relative ages of the two files. Similar precaution messages appear on most windowed operating systems (e.g. Mac OS and Linux).


5- A tool to help you move files around between different machines is included in Windows OS from Microsoft, since Win 95 at least – the ‘briefcase’ application. This works like a standard windows folder and assists file transfers by automatically identifying the most recent version of files with the same name.


6- Any file has a date and time somewhere in the file information, and the OS can use this data to identify the latest version provided the date and time are correctly set on each system/machine.