So a little over a month ago, my USMCR enlistment contract (finally!) expired (*). By way of celebration, I’ve decided to replace my bare-bones, 2005-vintage laptop with something a bit more up-to-snuff. Alas, having not followed tech stuff for many years now, I’m not entirely sure what I ought to be looking for in a laptop. Here’s what I do know:
- Functions/Usage: I mainly use my current laptop for ‘Net surfing, word processing, Excel calculations, and occasionally CAD. Historically, it’s also doubled as my audio (CD/MP3) & video (mainly DVD) player. Generally, it’s also ended up being a desktop replacement, such that it sits at home for months at a time; however, occasionally I do take it with me for travel, etc.
- Screen Size: I’m thinking 15″-17″. I’m not that picky about this, since I’ll probably be getting a flat-panel monitor along with this thing.
- Manufacturer: I’ll probably be sticking with Dell here, but I’m willing to be convinced to try someone else. I’m most concerned with reliability & quality.
As for the other specs, however, I confess I’m rather clueless. E.g.,
- Operating System: For better or worse, I’m inclined to stick with Windows, since it’s what I’ve used for years, and I’m a creature of habit in that regard. Still, while I know to avoid Vista, I’m not sure if I should stick with XP, or go for Windows 7. If the latter, should I choose 32 or 64 bit?
- Processor: Intel alone seems to have about a zillion varieties, and I’m not sure which to choose. Or should I go with AMD?
- Cache: I’m assuming more is better, but how much is good enough?
- Memory/RAM: Ditto.
- Hard drive: Ditto.
- Video Card & sound card: For each of these, is there a particular brand I should be going for (or avoid), or will pretty much anything do?
- Ports/interfaces: Besides USB, are there any other types of interfaces I ought to have? E.g., Firewire, Mini Card?
- Service plan: are these any good, or are they basically a waste of money? If the former, how long should I get it for?
- Wild card: anything else that I missed, that I shouldn’t have?
Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
(*) No, I’m not reenlisting. I went in pretty sure I wasn’t going to make a career of the Corps, and I saw nothing over the following 8 yrs to make me change my mind. The patriot in my figures I’ve already served my time. Plus, my girlfriend would be none too pleased.