How to Buy a Laptop
Mossberg offers his annual shopping guide
By Kevin Spak,  Newser User
Posted Apr 29, 2010 1:31 PM CDT
In this Sept. 4, 2009 photo, Jeff Buzhaker looks at HP and Compaq laptop computers at P.C. Richard & Son appliance store in New York.   (Associated Press)

(Newser) – It's time once again for Walt Mossberg's annual computer buying guide, in which the Wall Street Journal 's tech guru runs down the bare minimum the average person should know when buying a laptop. His advice:

  • Processors: Intel has a shiny new wave of Core chips, the i3, i5, and i7 models. They're faster, and the i5 and i7 have nifty power-saving features, but there's nothing wrong with older chips for bargain shoppers. Speaking of which...

  • Cost: You can get a good “thin and light” PC for $500-$800, or, if you don't need much power, a netbook for as little as $300. Macs are still pricey, with the entry level at $999. Speaking of which...
  • Windows vs. Mac: PCs are cheaper, and even longtime Mac fan Mossberg admits that Windows 7 is “quite competitive” with Snow Leopard. But Mac has its own advantages, like high reliability scores and “handsome” hardware. Speaking of which...
  • Stats: You'll want 4GB of RAM, and a 320GB hard drive, unless you're a netbook shopper. Try for a 64-bit architecture, too.