Laptop Features You Can Skip If You Are On a Budget


Buying a laptop.

There are many kinds of laptop in the market. In fact, we are flooded with laptops with amazing features. You may be bewildered by them, but one of the big factor we need to consider is your budget. If you just need a laptop for everyday tasks, you can pass on these features.

Here is the list of laptop luxuries you can skip:

  • Backlit Keyboard – Most laptops come standard with this kind of lighting. If you are the touch typist type, you do not need lighting to write in your keyboard. If you like games, then this will help you play in the dark. Yes, it is so cool, but not good for your eyesight, and totally unnecessary. Aside from this, you may have to pay extra.
  • Higher than 1080P screen – You can save money by not getting a laptop with a “full HD.” True, that a screen of a 3840 x 2160 (4K) resolution can give you sharp images, but if the display is small like 13 to 15 inches, the sharp resolution will not matter. This is only ideal if you have a bigger computer monitor. Pushing more pixels demands more electricity and will affect battery life on your laptop. You can allocate your battery to more important things.
  • Core i7 CPU – is needed for intensive tasks like transcoding videos or giant spreadsheet formulas. But if you are not doing that kind of job, there is no need to spend more. An Intel Core i5 processor balances price and performance.
  • Discrete Graphics – When all you do is research and browse the web, you can pass on high-end video cards. If you do not do professional-grade video editing, 3D modelling or play the current games, then you do not need this feature.
  • Infrared Camera/RealSense 3D – this feature works with Windows OS, and it is called Hello.  It logs you in your laptop via your facial recognition. It is nice but again, not a necessity.
  • Fingerprint Reader – it allows you to log in via Windows Hello. Putting your finger on a sensor is easier than typing your password. The latter is safer. Besides, Window 10 still needs to have a password.
  • Touch Screen on a Clamshell Laptop – if what you want is 2-in-1 that either flips back or detaches itself to become a tablet, a touch screen is necessary. But, on a standard clamshell laptop, it is not necessary. It also lessen the battery life span by a few hours and this may cost extra. (Read more on: why it is not a good buy.)
  • More than 256GB of Storage –Well, it is good to be able to multitask and launch app faster compared to a mechanical hard drive. However, based on the cost per gigabyte, SDD is more or less, 5 to 10 times more expensive as compared to hard drives. With the different services like the cloud storage, most people do not need more than 256 GB of storage.
  • 16 or more GB of RAM – Most people only need 8 GB unless you are a graphic designer, or a professional video editor. Also, it could be costly to configure your laptop to more than 8 GB.

Kinds of Batteries

blur, charging, close-upToday, despite the many new gadgets, laptops are very much used by people who moves around. People in sales and students needs the flexibility and freedom to do their school work anytime and just about anywhere. The problem is laptop batteries quickly lose its charge capacity, which leads to its replacement. The life span of a battery depending of course on how the battery is charged and discharged.

Here are the different types of batteries:

  • Nickel cadmium (NiCad) is used by many electronic gadgets like cell phones, computers, old motherboards, and cordless phones. It is a highly known rechargeable battery that loses its charge faster when it gets older. This is called the “memory effect.” This happens when the battery thinks it is fully charged but is not. For example, the battery thinks it is 100% charged when in fact, it is just say 70% charged. This will result to shorter gadget usage.  NiCad battery is made of nickel, in the form of Nickelic Hydroxide and Cadmium. Moreover, this heavy metal battery is not environmental friendly. If you are buying a new battery, look at the sticker. If it is not NiCad, then you do not have a problem.
  • Nickel Metal Hydride Batteries (NiMH) appeared in the market in the 1980s to replace the toxic NiCad batteries. Instead of cadmium, it uses hydrogen as its active element. It contains no toxic metals that makes it environmentally friendly, and has a higher energy density. Its capacity is more or less two times the capacity of NiCad. NiMH is also receptive to “memory effect” but in a lesser degree. It is more expensive than NiCad but it is more superior and good for our environment.
  • Lithium Ion (Li-ion) is the most common rechargeable batteries in newer laptops. Li-on is lighter compared to NiMH batteries and can provide an increase when it comes to the total charge capacity. This is good when it is crunch time. Compared to NiMH that automatically discharge 30% power in a month’s non-usage, Li-on loses 10% to 15% of its total power making it a better battery. This is the type of battery is ideal to be used in laptops and other mobile devices. The best part? It is environmental friendly.

Laptop batteries degrade, but you can do your part to make sure they last longer by following a few simple steps:

  • Make sure your laptop battery is in the right temperature. The guide is, when you are working and you are uncomfortable, your laptop is the same too.
  • If you are not using your laptop, make it a habit to drain your laptop battery from 40-60% once a week.
  • Make sure that you also discharge and recharge it once or twice year. Experts advise us to remove the battery when you plug in your laptop to avoid overheating.

Lessen the work your battery does. That is the key to a prolonged battery life. If you want to learn more, you can check out the tips on how to care for your laptop battery, and the guide on extending your laptop battery life.

How to Care for Your Laptop Battery

Charging the batteries

Charging a device.

It is not enough to know how to extend your laptop battery life. You also have to know how to care for your laptop battery. You have to know what is harmful, and what is not. Back then, laptop batteries are nickel-metal hydride (NiMH). Most laptop batteries now are lithium-ion (Li-Ion), and these lithium-ion batteries last about 4-5 years at most. Refer to the guide below on how to treat your batteries well:

  • Remove the battery when A/C is plugged in. In normal circumstances, inserting the battery in your laptop is fine because as soon as it hits 100%, your battery will stop receiving charges. If it is suffering from excessive heating, it is best to remove your laptop battery. This may be happening because you are opening too many applications simultaneously, playing heavy games, or anything that tires your hard disks. The heat is your battery’s number one enemy especially if the battery is lithium-ion.
  • If the battery has been inactive for a long time, make sure it has around 40-50 % charge left. You will still need to check it from time to time. If it is not recharged, a depleted battery will stay dead forever. Yes, it can die by simply staying dormant.
  • In storing batteries, keep them in a dry cool place. You can store them in a fridge, but make sure that the battery is isolated from other harmful elements.
  • Avoid extreme temperatures. Your battery might have stayed cool, but you left your laptop in the car afterwards. Do not leave your laptop in any place where it can get very hot. Like what I said above, batteries hate heat and exposing it to too much heat is one way to kill the battery faster.
  • A common misconception about this is that you need to fully discharge a lithium-ion battery. No, you do not need to do that. Waiting for your laptop to shutdown, or reach 0% should be avoided at all costs because this wears the battery. Always use your laptop battery without bottoming it out and avoid letting it discharge below 20%, or whenever your system warns you about the batteries.
  • Moreover, you do not need to reach 100% when recharging the batteries. The ideal maximum charge limit is around 80-85%. Not charging the battery to 100% will help by lessening the battery degradation with time. The good thing for older laptops is you can replace the battery. For newer models like the Chromebooks, Ultrabooks, and MacBooks, the batteries are built-in. Warranties may be null and void if you decide to open the laptop yourself, and replace the battery.

Remember that not all laptops are the same, and they serve different purposes. Thus, these batteries are not made of the same specifications. The recommended practice is to perform partial discharges and frequent charges. Just rinse and repeat the last two tips. (This works for tablets with lithium-ion batteries too.) If you decide to buy a spare battery, make it sure that it has as much capacity as your original battery. Check the mAh rating of the batteries.

Extending Your Laptop Battery Life

woman working on a laptop

How to extend battery life?

As they say, diamonds last forever. I cannot say the same for laptop batteries though. After one to two hours, they start to fail you and before you know it, you need to find an outlet to charge them . When you are constantly on the go, this list of tips will help you save some precious running time.

  • You have to remember that the hotter the battery, the faster it deteriorates. It is important to always keep your laptop cool. You can also buy a cooling pad to lessen the heat. Don’t know what to look for in a cooling pad? Follow this buying guide.
  • Do not multitask. In our desktop computers, we are so used to running various tasks at the same time, and opening various applications and services. These consumes battery life. Close unnecessary applications that you can resume when you arrive home. Reserve your remaining battery life for the important ones.
  • Learn to use simple applications. This is related to the tip above. If you plan to do something like writing a proposal. Draft it in a notepad first rather than typing in Microsoft Word. Choose a simple text editor over a RAM heavy application. Games are also RAM heavy. If you want to save your precious battery life, do the intense gaming later.
  • Edit your power options. Set your power plan to energy saver or power saver. Avoid high performance plans. This favors performance, but may use more battery life. Put your computer screen to sleep or turn off display when not in use. If you are in a well lit room, there is no need to set the laptop’s brightness to its highest configuration.
  • If you are not using your laptop for a long time, shut it down. Enabling standby mode will still drain the battery life. When you are ready to resume, that is when you turn your laptop on.
  • Turn off any wireless connection that is not in use. This applies to your Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth connection. If you do not plan to connect to the internet (or to another device), then, switch it off to avoid draining the battery.
  • You can also disable unused ports. You temporarily disable certain ports like USB, VGA, Ethernet, and so on. These ports also drain battery life. For Windows users, you can check your Device Manager for more specific ports.
  • Defragment your hard disk. You do not have to do this on Mac as it automatically defrags when necessary. For Windows, if your hard disk is 10% fragmented, your better defrag. (You can check this guide if you need help.) The more fragmented it is, the more your hard disk needs to work. Thus, consuming more battery life than it should.

Do not expect batteries to go on forever. Batteries are only for back up purposes. When you are on the road, and traveling, it will allow you to check some files, review a presentation, and so on. To be honest, it is more of a hassle than what it is worth. So, know your priorities because batteries will eventually wear off.

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