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Testing a Laptop At The Store
You want to purchase a new laptop and upon visiting the hardware store, you come to know that there are two or three machines that fit your budget. However, you feel uneasy when it comes to actually choosing the right laptop for you. Does that sound familiar?
Well, a simple way to ensure you make the right decision is by doing some simple in-store performance tests. Here are some of the tests you can try:
Make use of a stopwatch to find out how long it takes for the laptop to boot. The boot time is the time between pressing the power button to turn on your laptop and when the system is ready for use.
You will spend most of your time looking at the screen, after you've purchased the laptop. Hence, it is important to make sure the laptop screen offers good viewing angles. So, you need to look at it from various off-center positions, since that's where you'll notice the most apparent visual shortcomings. Notice whether the colors look washed out, dim, or somehow changed while looking slightly from the side.
The next thing you need to do is to check how good the display is in terms of picture quality. A good way of doing so is run a Google search for a “LCD color test” and open a standard monitor test image. This will provide a good reference while you adjust the brightness settings and then observe the patterns to gauge the color range in a laptop. Another thing you can do is to take the laptop outside and see whether you are able to use it outdoors or not. Does the color appear unrealistic? Is the display excessively reflective?
The only way you can test the keyboard of a laptop is to check how comfortable it is to type on it. Since there are different kinds of keyboards that come with different sizes of keys, typing experience can vary significantly. What you can do is to open a notepad or word processing program and start typing away. Check whether you are able to type quickly without making mistakes.
There are usually plenty of preloaded apps on most modern laptops. You can simply launch a couple of apps and see how long they take to open up. Try to launch applications that are also available on the other laptops you have shortlisted for comparison. Make sure that the apps you launch are actually installed on the hard drive and not something that requires connecting to the network.
Open several windows and websites and try navigating across them. Try every function of the touchpad. Look at the responsiveness of the cursor. Try double-clicking to open folders. Right-Click on the desktop (or inside a folder) to call the context menus, and see how quickly they open. When you are typing, your palms can accidently touch the touchpad, which may cause the cursor to jump around. This is a simple sensitivity setting that can be adjusted, so don't think of it as a shortcoming.
You may not be able to fully check the battery life of the laptop in a store. However, you can check the estimated battery autonomy on each laptop by moving the mouse over the battery meter located at the system tray.
Another simple and highly effective strategy is to check online for reviews of the laptops you're considering. Since most computer stores are connected to the Internet, this is something you can easily do directly from the test units available to you.
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