By Donald G Strong
Portable digital devices cover a broader span of options than ever before. Purchases can be difficult if the shopper does not follow a series of steps that narrow the choices on the market. Technical specifications are less important than the useful characteristics of the laptop or tablet. Informed shoppers will avoid the hype that emerges following new product releases, colorful advertising campaigns and the use of a device that belongs to someone else.
Spontaneous decisions will cause the shopper to spend too much money on a device that might be unusable in most settings. Follow these thoughtful steps prior to swiping the credit card to make a purchase.
Decision #1: How will the device be used?
Laptops, tablets, netbooks, ultrabooks, chromebooks and mac books have unique features that make each model useful in different situations.
• School work – Laptops, or ultrabooks, that are used in the classroom, dorm room or library should have a full-sized keyboard, high resolution display and not weigh very much. Mobility is the primary function for the student.
• Single work location – A professional who works in one office might prefer to have a laptop with a docking station. The tablet is difficult to maneuver because the keyboard is on the touch screen.
• Various work locations – Salespeople can use a tablet for sales calls with customers where videos play an important role in a sales presentation. Portability in a tablet with sufficient speed and memory is a primary factor in choosing the touch screen for ease-of-use.
• Music and graphics – Laptops, mac books and ultrabooks have the memory and speed to support the immense file size associated with videos, music and graphic design software packages. High-powered processing chips work fast enough to prevent hesitations while the user works.
• Video games – Any writer, or player, of high-intensity video games knows that processing power and RAM is required to play games. The weight of a gaming laptop is comprised by the 17-inch screen, quad-core processor and substantial hard drive. These laptops are for serious users who overwork any other type.
Decision #2: What is the appropriate size?
Not that long ago, the difference between the smallest screen and the largest screen was measured at approximately 5 inches. With the introduction of the tablet, the user has a choice of screen size that ranges from 7 inches to 17 inches. The user must realize that a 7-inch screen has uses that cannot be fulfilled with a large laptop.
Use of each device is an important part of the selection process. A visit to the nearest dealer is helpful because the salespeople can ask questions and allow the shopper to touch each different device prior to purchase. An online purchase can be supported with in-person research conducted in retail stores.
Asking a friend to spend some time with his portable device is helpful for the person who is uncertain which device would be best. Friends and family love to show off the personal collection of electronic gadgets. Each one has a plethora of unique strengths.
Decision #3: Which features are most important?
Prior to purchase, the shopper must determine which attributes will be the most important, decision-breaking choices. A product return of the wrong portable device is not a simple process. The informed shopper will spend sufficient time investigating the availability of each feature in combination with the overall design.
• Display type – A screen that is not readable outdoors in the sunshine will be an impediment for some users. The right type of screen will be readable in high-glare situations and automatically adjust to low-light locations.
• Storage space – Tablets that do not allow the user to add additional memory can have a short life when movies, music and pictures fill the only memory device inside the tablet. Insufficient disk space is the primary cause for devices that run slow.
• Convertible – A convertible offers the option to swing the keyboard around behind the screen for work in a standing position. The touch screen is used while the keyboard is out of the way.
• Touch screen – Tablets have touch screens as the only user interface, aside from a microphone for speech recognition. Laptops can come with or without a touch screen. The user will want to determine if the touch screen is required for the work to be performed.
• Operating System – Apple Mac or Windows is an important consideration for many computer users. A wide variety of options in countless portable devices is available for Mac and Windows users.
Decision #4: Is the device necessary or nice to have?
The purchase of a portable device can be fun and exciting, at first. In the Internet age, people who work with computers every day find it difficult to be without online access. Other people do not have sufficient reasons to purchase the most advanced portable device. The shopper must be honest about the uses for the device prior to making the final purchase. Users who buy the latest gadget find that sales to other people will recover part of the original price if the device is not used often. Other users will give the device away to a family member with a greater need.
Decision #5: How much is too much?
Price is an important consideration when purchasing a portable device. The shopper must understand the difference between price and value. Memory is the least expensive working feature of a portable device. The manufacturers will offer 8 gigabytes of memory in a laptop knowing that most users need less than 4 gigabytes. A higher price is charged for the device, and the manufacturer makes a healthy profit.
Buyers must realize that usable features are important, but buying extreme features can cause buyer’s remorse. Discussions with friends and family will reveal the mistakes each person made in the purchase of the latest techno-gadget.
Time to make an informed decision is the most important defense against regret following the purchase of a new portable device. The shopper is wise to narrow the choices before embarking on the mission to buy. Each person will have unique ideas for the ways a laptop, tablet or netbook could be used for work or personal use. The final decision should support the user’s needs for the next two years.