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How to read a laptop advertisement


When shopping for a new laptop it’s important to know what your needs are and to be able to quickly determine if the laptop you want to buy meets those needs. Laptop stores and online stores usually give you a short list of features to grab your attention and help you make a quick decision when shopping for a laptop. It is also important to note that unlike a desktop computer, a laptop’s most parts cannot be upgraded at a later stage, therefore other than memory and storage drive, you are stuck with what you’ve purchased. It is essential that you are able to read the Ad and understand what each feature entails and if it will deliver the performance you expect.
Consider the Ad below as an example:

laptop advertisement


Example: Was R3999, Now R3500 (South African Rands)

The attention-grabber is the price. There will often be a “Was” and “Now” price. It is irrelevant what the price was, but what is important is the current price and if you can afford it. It also follows logic that when comparing between shops and the product is similar in every way, the lower price will make more sense.


Example: Acer Aspire 3

Like any other product, brands are not equal in quality and price. While some brands focus on building cheap and affordable laptops, other brands focus on best performance and quality at a premium and some stay in the middle. Most often the price is in line with the quality and target market for the manufacturer, therefore better laptops and brands tend to be more expensive, but there are exceptions. When considering a brand try to go for a brand that has the most product offering in your area or country, because it is more likely to get replacement parts and value for your warranty. Other popular computer brands include HP, DELL, LG, TOSHIBA, SAMSUNG, LENOVO, ASUS, VAIO, et.

Operating System (OS)

Example: Windows 10 Pro

The operating system that comes pre-installed is an important consideration, especially when it comes to accessibility to software packages that you use. There are various types of OS, but the most popular are Microsoft Windows, Apple Mac OS and Linux. They have their advantages and disadvantages. The decision should really boil down to what exactly you want the computer to do. If you are a casual user who only needs Microsoft Office for writing various documents, play movies, music, view images, browse the web, send emails and print; any latest Windows PC or Apple Mac will do. Even though Linux variants can do most of the above, it is more challenging to add the popular Microsoft Office suite in them because of their focus on Open Source and free software. Linux is ideal if you want to use free and open source software, free of commercial licences and subscriptions. One such software is Libre Office which is a free alternative to Microsoft Office. Some software only runs on Mac and other software only runs on Windows, it is important to find this out if you want to run specialist software.

Pre-installed Software

Example: Office 2016 Pro Plus

Some laptop deals come pre-installed with software, such as the popular Microsoft Office. It is entirely up to you if you require such software, but if you already have a subscription from a previous purchase, then it is not required. However, you might get a much better deal if you purchase a laptop that already comes with your desired software rather than buying it separately. Software alone should not be the determining point, because the pre-installed software might function well in the laptop, but the laptop might not perform as well with other resource-intensive software. Other type of software that might come pre-installed with your laptop are Antivirus, Computer games, Media players, Web browsers, etc. It is important to note that some of the pre-installed software might be trial copies and require you to pay for a licence.


Example: Intel Celeron Dual-Core Processor N3350

The processor is at the heart of the laptop’s computing and resource management power. The faster the processor the better the performance. The clock speed determines how many operations a processor can complete in one second, measured in gigahertz (GHz). Some processors feature more than one core, and therefore can perform more than one task simultaneously. The most popular brands are Intel and AMD. While Intel processors tend to be more expensive, AMD tends to be slightly cheaper. Within each brand there are models which offer different performance and usually with an increasing version number, for example Intel Core i5 is better than i3.


Example: 4GB DD3L 1600Mhz Ram

Memory/RAM is the amount of temporary memory available in your laptop. The RAM holds all the information in memory that is currently being worked with. Basically, the bigger the memory the more applications and software you can run or keep open at the same time without your laptop slowing down. When the computer starts up, the operating system gets loaded into the RAM and so is every program you run, even background and utility programs.

HHD or SSD Storage

Example: 500GB 7200RPM

Hard drives store information permanently on a computer and it remains there even after shutting down. The Hard Disk Drive (HDD) is a widely used form compared to Solid State Drive (SSD); it is cheaper but accessing the information takes longer. If it’s performance you are after, especially with a gaming laptop, you should look for an SSD, which is as fast as USB memory. However, SSD is much more expensive and doesn’t make sense for all types of units. The size of storage is measured in Giga Bytes (GB), and the bigger the size the more information you can store, such as music, movies, documents, images, software, etc.

DVD Reader/Writer

Example: DVD Rom.

If you work with DVDs and CDs a lot, you must get a laptop that can read them. Nowadays most people rely on USB storage because its fast, portable, smaller and can store large amounts of information. The move is also towards cloud storage, whereby all the information is stored online and retrieved in real-time as needed. Therefore, you can get by with a laptop that doesn’t have a DVD Reader/Writer.


You’d be hard pressed to find a laptop that doesn’t have WiFi. WiFi allows computers to connect with each other and the internet wirelessly. Many public areas such as coffee shops, shopping malls and airports offer free internet over WiFi. It is therefore essential that your new laptop is WiFi capable.


Bluetooth is another type of wireless connection, but with a much shorter range. It is useful for connecting all sorts of devices to the laptop wirelessly. Types of devices that can interface with a laptop wirelessly, include smartwatches, smartphones, wireless speakers, printers, etc. However, most wireless devices can also connect to the laptop via a WiFi network, which can be setup in a home. Before mobile WiFi hotspot, Bluetooth was used to connect a mobile phone to a laptop and use it as a modem to connect to the internet.

Display Size & Type

Example: 15.6 HD LED Display

Size is important depending on your needs, usually measured in inches, diagonally across. If you want a portable laptop, a smaller screen size will be ideal, but if you also watch movies or you multitask with more than one program open, you will need a larger screen. With a larger screen, it’s also possible to have a number keypad that’s not overlaid on other keyboard characters and a larger screen size also allows a larger touchpad area.

Something else to consider is the quality of the display. Displays have elements, the size of dots called pixels, and the more pixels you have, the better the quality and detail of the picture. You want to aim for a larger screen resolution if you work with graphics and images a lot. Some screens have a screen resolution defined by High Definition (HD), Full HD, Retina etc. There are different display technology such as Light Emitting Diode (LED) and CCFL. LED screens are more reliable, less expensive and consume less power.

Graphic Cards

Example: Intel HD Graphics 500

Graphic cards are responsible for interpreting image signals and rendering them on the display. The better the graphics card, the smoother the image is. Graphics cards come in different qualities and generally better graphics cards are more expensive. If your work entails video production, graphic design or you are into gaming, you need a good graphics card.


HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) is a type of connection via a cable, that transmits both video and sound in one cable from the computer to a display, such as a projector, LCD screen, monitor and modern TVs. HDMI replaces the type of analog cables that had three cable; two for audio and one for video and puts everything in one compact cable and transmits in HD.


A warranty is a manufacturer’s guarantee that they will replace parts or the whole laptop in case of faults or failure during a specified period, which could be one year. Some shops offer an extended warranty, and it is up to you how much cover you want. Most laptops will come with some form of minimum warranty.


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