5 Things to Consider Before Buying a Business Laptop

Although you might have missed a great opportunity with the holiday sale season, early in the New Year is still a fantastic time to buy computer hardware. Manufacturers are trying to make room for 2013 models while also extending some of December's sales to take advantage of customers with gift cards and money to spend. So if you're in the market for a new business laptop, there's no time like the present. But it's not a purchase you should make without doing some serious research. Even at the short end most people work with a new laptop for two years, and sometimes for as long as five or six years. So the decision you make on this one pricey purchase you'll have to live with for quite some time to come. So here are five things to consider before buying a business laptop.

First of all, what is the right operating system for you? The past two decades have been a constant battle between Windows-based PCs and Apple's iOS hardware and software. Apple has seemingly captured the hearts and minds of the public, and remains the ‘sexier' pick. But Windows is the system of choice in many business situations. So you'll have to determine which one fits your needs. If you're used to one operating system switching to the other will force you to take on a learning curve that could impact your productivity over the first few months with your new laptop. You also want a laptop that will integrate with your other business devices, such as a printer, smartphone and tablet, and allow you to keep using the software that you prefer.

Next, consider where you will be using that business laptop. If you generally work from home or from a dedicated office you might want to choose a laptop with a larger screen, especially if it is going to be your primary device. If you work out of coffee shops, work sites and client's offices, or if you travel frequently as part of your job you might want a smaller, lighter laptop. Contractors and engineers often work in dirty, dangerous conditions and need a sturdy laptop that will hold up in rough environments. Some recent laptops are actually tablet devices with detachable keyboards, making them incredibly portable. So remember where that laptop will be traveling when you make your decision.

Now you need to think about how powerful a device you need. In the end this comes down to the type of programs you'll be running. The more processing power a laptop contains, the more expensive it is. You want a bit of processing power to grow on, but there's no need to buy a device that's far above your requirements. So if your primary business needs for the laptop will be word processing and internet searching you can probably settle for a lower end device. If your requirements are more full-bodied you're going to need a stronger device. Perhaps you are a computer programmer, an architectural designer, a video editor or a graphic artist. In any of those scenarios you may need a laptop that can run several complicated programs all at the same time. Consider these needs when making your purchase.

At this point, consider how much memory you want on your laptop. Many people use a laptop as both their primary working computer and their personal computer. That means on top of all of the business files there's also thousands of songs, books, movies, photos and everything else people store on their devices. If you want everything to live on the same device, you might need a larger hard drive. However, modern laptops are now integrated into cloud storage systems that transfer information through broadband internet connections.

Finally, you should also consider what the manufacturer includes in the purchase price. If you seek out an Apple or PC wholesale shop they'll often bundle carrying cases, external hard drives, printers or free trials with online storage systems. You'll need to zero in on the main purchase through the other considerations, but this could be the element that puts one of your finalists over the top.

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