10 bits of computer jargon for buying a new laptop

Screen size
If you find yourself confused by measurements, bear in mind that laptop screens are measured diagonally. This is why they may sometimes turn out to be smaller than you might have expected.

Operating system
A total newcomer may be wondering what operating system to choose, but in reality this is a non-issue. If the laptop is PC it will have Windows; if it is Apple it will have Mac OS.


Unlike desktop PCs, laptops generally come with touchpads instead of mice as they are more convenient. If, however, you are unhappy with using a touchpad, you will be able to buy a separate mouse. A wireless mouse may be your best bet as it will not hamper the laptop’s portability.

Optical drive
In everyday speak, this is the CD or DVD drive – although these days, it will almost certainly play both CDs and DVDS unless your are buying an old model second hand. Although software can generally be downloaded now, meaning that CDs are not essential, you should make sure your laptop can run DVDs if you are a film buff!

TV card
If you buy a laptop with a TV card, then you will be able to attach an areal and watch television on the monitor. This is handy if do not have a television set at home and need a quick alternative, although bear in mind that laptop screens are generally not designed with television viewing in mind.

Solid state drive
Solid state drives are similar to hard drives, but more efficient: they are faster and hold more data. Ultrabooks and other high-end laptops often come with solid state drives, but you will likely have to skip this feature if you are going for a budget option.

Battery life
Battery life is something to bear in mind if you plan to travel a lot with your laptop and not have time to recharge it easily. Although most laptops will give you around five to six hours of battery life, certain kinds have half this amount. Also remember that there are specially-designed ultraportable laptops with seven to eight hours of battery life.

A modern laptop will have either an i3, an i5 or an i7 processor. An i5 will be good enough for the typical user – i7 is really for people who base their entire businesses around laptop usage.

If your laptop is wireless enabled, you will be able to connect to the Internet via Wi-Fi – but only if you are currently in a Wi-Fi hotspot. Most laptops on the market today will come with Wi-Fi capabilities. Also look into matters such as the type of fast fibre broadband.

A wide range of accessories can be bought for your laptop, from hardware such as mice to other items such as laptop bags and cooling pads. Just remember, however, that some of these accessories may get in the way of your laptop’s portability.