Laptop Travel Tips

Travel laptops require more consideration on top of the usual factors involved in buying a laptop, such as performance, price and warranty. Getting a system that is light is critical. With widescreen models becoming more popular, whilst great for viewing, it just adds weight to the system. If you are not into watching movies or complex graphics, a smaller screen should be fine.

While the price of laptops compared to desktops has shrunk recently, you will still pay slightly more for a laptop. With laptops reasonably difficult to expand or upgrade, it’s a good idea to add more memory or get a bigger hard drive at the time of purchase. Your system should have at least two USB 2.0 ports, as this will be the main way of connecting to external devices.

If you are a frequent traveler and want to use your laptop while flying, there are some other design issues you might want to consider. Widescreen laptops can be a hassle if you are in the coach section, as there is hardly enough room to open the machine. A system with external controls for volume and Wi-Fi can also be good, to avoid annoying other passengers or interfering with the aircrafts navigational system. For really long flights, a second battery is probably the most cost effective way of keeping your system powered up.

As laptops are more likely to be damaged or stolen while on the road, it is a good idea to have a backup plan. Do a regular backup so if something bad does happen, you don’t lose too much data. The easiest way to do this is to buy a laptop with a built in DVD burner. One DVD disc should be more than enough to store your work data. You could also use a CD burner, but you would probably need to carry multiple discs. If you only have a small amount of files you need to backup, a USB flash drive would also do the job.

Laptops that are on the road regularly are more likely to break down. So invest in a good quality carry case to limit any potential damage in transit, and always keep your backups up to date.

Most warranties these days are only twelve months, so if there is an extended warranty available, it may be worth taking up if you are constantly on the road.

Laptop Bags Provide The Best Protection For Laptops While Traveling

If you want to bring your laptop with you on a trip, to work or school, you should think about protecting your laptop. You should not simply just shove your laptop into a regular bookbag or briefcase, where it can easily get scraped and possibly damaged. There are laptop bags that you can buy to provide proper protection for your laptop. Laptop bags are specifically designed for laptops with traveling in mind. This article will talk about the best new laptop bags released on the market for laptops.

Barcelona

The Barcelona is designed by Zegari. This is a very stylish and well designed laptop bag. There are two pockets outside with the front protected by a flap where you can place documents, papers, etc. There is a side pocket where you can slide your cellphone in neatly. The main compartment inside the Barcelona is well padded but with enough space to slide in your laptop. The Barcelona also have a comfortable adjustable leather shoulder strap.

Zephyr

The Zephyr is made by Tom Bihn and is brilliantly designed. The bag is made of ballistic nylon and you can order your Zephyr in a set of a variety of colors. The bag has 3 pockets outside for quick access to any objects you may need to pull out immediately. Inside of the Zephyr there are 3 dividers to organize different items. The inside is nicely padded to give your laptop a nice snug protection. The bag has a absolute shoulder strap that is very comfortable and will not tear into your shoulder.

Racer-X

The Racer X by Waterfield Designs is created originally for a Macbook and is a very good bag to use if you travel a lot, especially for business trips. The Racer X has a corporate look and feel to it. The bag have a black nylon exterior, and two separate compartments for a laptop and laptop accessories. The pockets are padded and your laptop will smoothly slide into the Racer X without a problem.

How To Upgrade Your Own Laptop For Under $175

Do you have an old laptop lying around just collecting dust that for whatever reason, you no longer use? It just seems so antiquated, and slow. All you want to do is get rid of it. The hard drive is too small, and the memory sucks, plus you’re already planning on getting a sweet newer laptop.

I was in the same predicament. I have a 2 and half year old Compaq Presario 2500 that’s seen better days. I was thinking of giving it away, or putting it to sleep in favor of a newer laptop. It was my workhorse for the longest time, and had seen some serious abuse and usage. I was ready to put it to sleep and move on when I decided to refurbish, and upgrade it.

Just like I did, you may not have to get rid of that old laptop just yet. I’m going to show you how I breathed some some new life into my old laptop, and I did it for under $175. Consider this a perfect time to polish off your tech skills. I will show you how I upgraded my laptop, and how you can too.

Unlike a PC, there are only a few components that can be easily upgraded in a laptop. The main 2 are the hard drive, and the memory. If you were skillful enough, you could replace the motherboard, and if you knew how to solder, then you could possibly fiddle with the processor as well, but we’ll work under the assumption that this is beyond your knowledge.

You won’t need any fancy tools to upgrade your laptop. All you’ll really need is a jeweler’s screwdriver set which you can get for under $10 from any hobby store.

Before you begin handling any of the internal components, make sure your laptop is turned off, and that you remove the battery. There’s no sense in getting shocked. Also, make sure to get rid of any residual static electricity by touching the chassis before you dive in.

I went to my favorite online hardware store, http://newegg.com, for my upgrade purchasing. I go to that website because it’s loaded with every type of computer hardware under the sun, and they have the best deals I’ve found. I had to really focus on the task at hand because once there, I’m like a kid in a candy store.

The hard drive is relatively easy to get to and replace on most laptops. However, I still had to check my laptop’s user manual for hard drive removal instructions. Originally, my laptop had come with a 40GB hard drive, but I wanted to double that. I found an 80GB Western Digital Scorpio hard drive at http://newegg.com , and for only 80. 99, this is the one I went with.

Next came the memory. Originally, my laptop came with a paltry 256MB of RAM. I wanted at least 1GB because my laptop had been moving glacially slow. I’m not sure how I dealt with it for all those years. Please note, that not all laptops can support a memory upgrade so you should make sure yours can before you buy anything.

To see if mine could, I went to http://ramfinder.com. You can go there too and see how much RAM your laptop can support. Fortunately, the Compaq Presario 2500 can support 1 GB so I went with two 512MB Corsair memory sticks, which I got from NewEgg for only $45.99 each.

Once I had the hard drive and the memory installed, I re-loaded the operating system, and all the drivers. The whole process from start to finish (after I had the components shipped to me) took about 45 minutes, and now I have a laptop that behaves like new but cost me only $172. 97. Considering a new laptop with equal components would have cost me between $700-$900, I think I did pretty good, and you will too. Just follow this simple guide and you can save yourself hundreds of dollars while extending the life of that old laptop of yours.

How To Select The Best Student Laptops

Laptops are the perfect educational tool for students. They can handle an innumerable amount of tasks and serve many different functions that allow students to consolidate all of their class assignments and home studies into one convenient location, which simplifies workflow and increases productivity.

The two most important things to look for in a student laptop are portability and battery life. This laptop will likely be carried in a backpack or shoulder bag from class to class, so you will definitely want a system that is light and easy to transport. There is also no guarantee that you will have access to an auxiliary power supply in your classroom or on campus, so you will most likely want a battery that lasts up to several hours per charge.

Desktop real estate can be limited in your class, so you want to make sure your laptop is compact and economical in size, preferably around 14″ X 10″ in general dimensions.

As far as individual specifications, you can get by with most base configurations. A 1.66GHz processor, 512MB of RAM, a 40GB hard drive, and a standard DVD/CDRW drive should suffice, but you may wish to upgrade certain components depending on whether or not you want to use your notebook for any extra curricular activities, such as gaming or multimedia production.

Unless you intend to do higher-level networking, or unless your school requires domain-based authentication to access the school network (check with your IT department), Windows XP Home Edition should more than meet your needs for an Operating System.

Lastly, you will need some office suite software to process and edit your reports and class assignments. Microsoft Office Basic will be able to handle most of your needs, however, if you plan on doing any slide-show presentations or website creation, you will want to go with Office Pro.

These are the main things you need to know and consider before purchasing a student laptop. This is just a general outline. Feel free to make additional customizations if you have specific requirements for school.

How To Select The Best Gaming Laptops

Most veteran PC gamers know exactly what they want in a gaming laptop, and those who have the time and money have probably already built their dream computer themselves, but if you are a little newer to the field, a little more fond of the smaller notebook footprint, or a little less comfortable with a do-it-yourself computer, you need to be armed with these basic facts before purchasing your gaming laptop.

The three most important components for any high-end laptop are the processor, RAM and graphics card. Since you are building a gaming rig, you will want to focus on your graphics card first and foremost. Make sure you load up the video memory with at least 256MB and remember to select a notebook that has a dedicated graphics card. Integrated graphics simply cannot handle any modern, 3D gaming.

The next most important component is your processor. Dual-core CPUs are the hottest thing out right now. Ideally, you want to stay within the top two or three fastest dual-core CPUs, in terms of processor speed, that are currently available at the time of your purchase. This will ensure that your notebook is fully optimized for all of today’s latest 3D games.

The third most important factor in the speed of your laptop is RAM. You will need at least 1GB to safely play most 3D games without any memory bottlenecking, although most hardcore gamers opt for 2GB or more just for the added punch and/or bragging rights.

The fourth and final tip would be to go with 7200rpm hard drives, as these will definitely speed up load times by adding some extra horsepower to your gaming machine.

With recent advancements in mobile technologies, laptops are now becoming more and more popular in the gaming community, as the prospect of a portable gaming rig that can produce desktop-like performance on the go is something that appeals to all gamers. Just remember to follow these four simple guidelines to ensure that your laptop will be able to meet or exceed all of the hardware requirements for your gaming sessions.

How To Select The Best Business Laptops

The corporate life is hectic, so it is important to have a fast, reliable, lightweight notebook that can maximize your daily output by keeping your projects organized and your workflow streamlined.

One of the first things you need to look for in a business laptop is wireless connectivity. A wireless networking card allows you to connect to the Internet via thousands of wireless networks (also called hotspots) located nationwide. This means more convenient and readily available access to your emails and business clientèle.

Another great option is a bluetooth card. This will allow you to connect and transfer data between your PDAs and your notebook, without the need for messy wires, which can add weight and clutter to your carrying case.

A third feature to look for in a business notebook would be VGA and S-Video outputs to ensure connectivity with any projectors you may need to utilize for video or slideshow presentations.

As far as individual specifications, you really only need a base-line configuration with integrated graphics to handle any word processing or basic programs like email clients, DVD software, web browsers etc. Unless you plan on doing an inordinate amount of multi-tasking or video production, it would be wise to put any extra cash into other accessories like office suite software, which can really help you manage your day-to-day workload.

Whether at home or on the road, a good business laptop can really improve the quality of your work life by providing you with all of the essential tools you need to efficiently manage your daily tasks. From planning your appointments and schedules to writing reports, sending email, and staying up-to-date with all of the latest business news and headlines, a business laptop is the only device that can effectively handle all of your work-related duties in one convenient, easy-to-use system.

Just remember to consider all of these important tips to ensure that your laptop can meet and/or exceed all of your business needs.

How to Prepare a “Bug Out” Laptop Kit

Can you imagine being away from your computer for an extended period of time? No internet, no email, no funny jokes, no games to play? Many people have found themselves in this position when the unexpected happens. In the event of a natural disaster, terrorist event or a bird flu pandemic, having access to your computer could be a lifesaver. Are you one of the many people who have all their personal and financial records stored on their computer with no back up and no way to access them in the event of an emergency?

Because we are so wired these days, a backup laptop computer should be considered part of your essential survival gear just as much as a 3 day supply of food and extra water. You can either choose to use your existing laptop or buy a used one specifically for use in the event of an emergency.

Now you could buy one of the laptops that are made to withstand extreme conditions but that will set you back several thousand and probably isn’t necessary. You can find a number of good used laptops online for a few hundred dollars. It doesn’t have to be the latest and greatest, it just needs to get the job done when you need it to. A good basic laptop with a cd rom and a good battery will do the trick.

Items you will want to add will include a wireless card for accessing the internet. While your internet access may be down you may be able to find a hot spot for access. Most laptops will have a built-in modem, if not you will want to add a modem card also. Cell phone connectors so you can access the internet via your cell phone. You may need to add internet access to your cell phone plan. Modem and network cables, you need to be able to plug and play. Power cable and ac adapters. A 12-volt adapter and converter. You could run your laptop directly off 12 volt or run it through a converter to charge the battery. A spare battery. Any other laptop accessories you feel necessary such as external mouse or even a solar battery charger. With this setup you should be able to access the internet either through dialup or wireless. You may also want a small external hard drive or flash drive. A portable printer is nice but not absolutely necessary. All needed software should be loaded along with a backup or emergency startup disk. Don’t forget to load in your favorite bookmarks.

You will need to decide what files you want to take with you. You should have a backup from your main computer of your personal and financial records. Burn these to a cd. You could have another cd with your household inventory complete with digital pictures. If your house is destroyed you have a record of the contents. Consider scanning in family photos so you have a backup of those. Don’t forget to have a copy of all your passwords for accessing online sites and accounts. Address book and email contacts will also be important. Any other or vital documents that would be hard to replace and are essential to recovery after any type of emergency should be backed up. Consider scanning in copies of your will, birth certificate, marriage certificate, titles and deeds. Because this information is private consider security software to encrypt it in the event it fell into prying eyes.

You may want to build a cd reference library of information that could help you survive a disaster and recover. Backwoods Home Magazine offers back issues on cd including one specific to survival. The Mother Earth News also has back issues on cd. Both would give you a wealth of survival and how to information. You might also include foreign language cds, learning cds appropriate for your children’s ages, games, if you can’t live without them and to pass the time. Reference books could include encyclopedias, yellow pages for your area, maps, cookbooks and anything else that will help you out.

If you have high-speed internet access at home, get a list of dialup numbers from them for around the country or consider an AOL account or other national provider. If you can’t access the internet one way you should be able to access it another way.

Now, the whole idea of this setup is to “bug out” with it. Grab and go in the event of an emergency. You will want to store it all in a good laptop case with easy access. For extra protection you may want to consider a waterproof case (good in the event of a flood) or a hard side case such as an aluminum one that photographers use to protect their equipment. Other family members should know where you keep it so if you are not at home and they need to leave they can grab it for you.

Before you pack it all away, test it out. Make sure your connections are working and it starts up without problems. Test it once a month and make sure the batteries are still charged. Try accessing the internet through dialup and a wireless hot spot. Work out the bugs before you need to use it in an emergency.

Having a backup bug out computer will help you when the unexpected happens and get you back on the road to recovery.

How to Keep Your Laptop Out of Thieves’ Hands

Here are six guidelines to help you avoid seeing your notebook PC disappear!

So there you are, rushing to catch a plane. You’ve got an important presentation on your laptop, along with sensitive company and personal information. And then, suddenly, it’s gone.

Either you’ve lost it, or it’s been stolen.

Airports and hotels are favourite places for thieves. Laptops disappear from both and that’s bad enough. But often, irreplaceable data has gone with them. According to Safeware, an insurance agency specialising in insuring high-tech equipment, in the US alone 591,000 laptops vanished in 2001.

None of this has to happen to you. But you have to be extra careful today. With the increased security at airports, losing track of a laptop is easier than ever. Here are six guidelines to help you avoid seeing your notebook PC disappear — or, if it does, help you find it or get a quick replacement.

Tips for Getting Through Security Checks

Oddly, some airports have collected stacks of laptops. They’re left behind by harried passengers in security areas. Most are reclaimed eventually. But some people never come back for their machines.

Obviously, you’ve got to allow yourself plenty of time when you fly. When I travel, I carry my laptop in a backpack. There’s lots of room in there, and it’s inconspicuous. I see fashionable businesspeople carrying laptops in expensive cases. They’re asking for trouble. Those cases say, “Laptop! Laptop! Steal me!”

Security people most likely will want to check the laptop. If possible, handle it yourself, rather than having them do it.

Don’t be afraid to speak up. You don’t need your machine damaged.

Be sure your battery is charged. The security people may well want to turn on the machine. Most important, don’t let it out of your sight. This becomes especially difficult if you are selected for a random head-to-toe check.

Once on board your flight, put the computer — safely stowed in your bag — under the seat in front of you. Try to avoid putting it in the overhead bin. Others will have more access to it there.

Have Sensitive Data? Encrypt It

If you have sensitive information on your computer, consider encrypting it. If you have Windows XP, you already have the tools needed. While the thief has your machine, these extra steps will make it much more difficult to access the laptop’s data.

Encryption will protect your business secrets, but it won’t retrieve your data. To do that, you’ve got to back up your information to another computer. If you run your own server, you can easily upload files to it.

You don’t have to back up everything on the laptop. Just copy the files you will need to the server. If your laptop should be stolen on your trip, you may be able to borrow a computer at your destination and download your important files. Finding time for backups is a pain, I know. But they can save you.

Make Your MP3 Player do Double-Duty

If you don’t have a server, or don’t want to back up to it, take a look at MP3 players. Some today have huge hard drives. They are easily hooked to a laptop through the USB or FireWire ports. The data can then be copied to the MP3 player. These things can copy any data, not just MP3s.

Trace a Stolen Laptop’s Location

If your laptop does get stolen, wouldn’t it be great if the system could do the high-tech equivalent of phoning home? There are programs that will report the location of a stolen laptop. They work when the laptop connects to the internet.

Security experts also say that engraving your name on the computer is helpful. That will make it more difficult to sell on so thieves may look elsewhere.

Set a System Password

Every road warrior should protect their laptop with a start-up password. This way, a system password prompt will appear each time you start your computer before Windows even begins to load. It will prohibit any access to the computer at all.

To create a system password, you’ll need to access your computer’s setup utility (also known as BIOS settings, which stands for “Basic Input/Output System”). Typically you do this by pressing Delete, Esc or F1 as soon as you turn on the computer. Check the manual though, as some computers are different.

Consider Laptop PC Insurance

If your laptop is expensive (and aren’t they all?) you might want to insure it. Some homeowners, renters and business insurance policies don’t cover computers, and if they do, there may be many conditions attached.

Today’s laptops are ripe targets for thieves. If you follow these basic guidelines along with some good common sense, you won’t have to give yours up.

How To Get A Free Laptop – Without Referrals!

As many of you have heard there are websites that give away laptops.

Certain of these sites require you to complete different offers and have from 3 to 5 people (referrals) who would also complete the offers – only that you get your free laptop.

Recently NBC interviewed the owner of one of the “Get a Free Laptop” sites. It was confirmed that you can get a free laptop through the site – without having to refer anyone else. The site offers you two (2) options;

1. You complete 2 silver offers, 2 gold offers and 6 platinum offers – you get a free laptop.

2. You complete 2 silver offers, 2 gold offers and get 20 offers completed by other people (referrals) – you get a free laptop.

So how does the whole “Get a Free Laptop” system works?

The owner of the website offering you a free laptop gets paid a decent amount of money by advertiser every time you complete an offer. Users do complete the offers because most of them are FREE trials, some cost you a dollar or two, all these offers could be canceled at any time – so you aren’t stuck paying for a membership you do not like to find useful. Advertisers pay a big buck for every sign up because they gain a potential lifetime customers, some of the offers are so great that you wouldn’t want to cancel.

It is a win-win-win situation for everyone. You get a free laptop and most of the time you don’t cancel your subscription to the offers since you find them to be very useful and at a great value. The advertiser is happy because he gained another customer, who might be referring the product/service to other people, of course if he’s happy with it. The website owner is happy because he got paid for you signing up, sent you a free laptop and now enjoys his profit – which is usually over 400$ per customer.

As stated in NBC interview, more and more people sign up for the free laptop. How to get a free laptop without referrals has in fact became a newest and hottest trend in the USA. As people want to be more mobile, personal computers lose their popularity and customers have a bigger appetite for laptops and notebooks, especially when they can get it at absolutely no cost, or almost.

You have to be cautious about these websites though, many of them are pure scam.

You will complete the offers and never hear from the site again. When signing up to one of these sites, make sure they provide the means of getting in touch with them for any possible inquiries on your part as well as a “Gift Status” tool, so you could verify that all the required offers are completed and your laptop is on its way. A sure way of getting a free laptop is signing up to verified websites, the ones you see on TV. NBC and CNN reviewed some of these offers and confirmed a few sites that are legit and do live up to their promises.

How To Find The Best Laptop Deals

Finding a special laptop deal or price is within every shopper’s reach. It’s mainly knowing where to look!

Simple as that statement may sound, many people in the market for a new or used laptop don’t know where to look for that special laptop or notebook deal. They simply don’t know how to proceed or what steps they should take to find the laptop deals that do exist, sometimes right in they very own neighborhood.

Simple shopping tips or advice that may take 100s off the price of a new or used laptop. Most of these shopping tips or guidelines fall within the realm of common sense. Common procedures that will reduce the price tag on your next laptop purchase.

Here’s a short run down on some shopping tips you can try:

Use The Internet

Your neighborhood is the whole world. We are no longer confined to a small shopping location or area. We have the whole world at our disposal because of the Internet. Use it!

Use the Internet to find online stores, information, special deals or offers. Use Froogle! Its a great starting point. Use online notebook guides to find the top rated laptops, many of these sites will also have special deals or links. These sites know their laptops – use their knowledge and expertise to find the right notebook computer for you.

Comparison Shop

Perhaps, one of the best ways to get a great bargain, is to Comparison Shop to compare different products and prices. Again, the Internet is ideally designed to give you mass amounts of data and information. It makes comparison shopping a real breeze. Use online sites like Pricerunner.com, PriceGrabber.com, NextTag.com, Shopping.com and don’t forget Google’s Froogle.com!

These comparison shopping sites will list the best laptop deals and prices for you. More importantly, they will also rate the service and support given by each of these online stores. Very important when you’re buying online. Make sure you check out the store’s warranties, return policies, service records and customer ratings.

Refurbished Laptops

The real special deals are reserved for refurbished laptops. Many times you can get a great laptop at a very reduced price by purchasing a refurbished laptop. Make sure you get a warranty or buy extra warranty – even then the price will still be worth your while. You can buy a refurbished laptop for a fraction of its original price. Check online for sites selling refurbished laptops or check your local dealer.

Make sure the dealer is legitimate, and watch out for stolen laptops. Be extra careful to get the needed warranties, bill of sales, etc. when buying a refurbished laptop.

Close-out Sales, Liquidation

Keep your eyes peeled for close-out, fire, and liquidation sales. Laptop technology is changing at a fast pace, many lines are discontinued to make room for newer inventory with the latest technology. Many of these close-out sales will offer great laptops at reduced prices.

Don’t Forget eBay

The shopping Mecca of the modern era – don’t forget to check out eBay. You may find some very special deals. Again, make sure you check out the seller’s past history.

Coupons

Mail-in rebates, coupons, online special deals – all these offer great savings to the observant shopper. Don’t buy a laptop until your have searched for coupons or discounts, special deals and the like. Dell is famous for its coupons. Don’t buy a Dell Laptop without using one of these coupons. You will save 100s off the price of your laptop.

Other notebook makers such as Toshiba, Apple, Sony… offer great online deals and discounts… search for these before you purchase your laptop.

Don’t Forget To Haggle

If you’re buying a laptop from your local dealer, don’t always take the sticker price as gospel. Ask for a special deal, you may be pleasantly surprised at the savings. This works best with independent dealers who can offer you a special deal. If you’re a regular customer, the better the deal you should demand!

In conclusion, just use some common sense before you buy your laptop. Use the Internet to check out and comparison shop for the best laptop deals. Use coupons and mail-in rebates whenever possible. Watch out for great close-out, or liquidation sales and don’t forget to check out refurbished laptops. Last, but not least, if you get the chance, don’t forget to haggle. It’s a centuries old technique that still works. It may just get you the best laptop deal.