What to look for when buying computer hardware and software

We have been spoilt for choice with the latest products from a number of the big names in the tech world, and I have taken a look at a number of their hardware and software releases, starting with high-end gaming gear and following up with choices appropriate for the everyday informal user.

 

For those of you who are looking for gaming laptops, the only answer is Alienware, who Dell have owned since 2006. The Alienware line of laptops are the most powerful gaming laptops they have ever produced, and the majority of devices come with an NVIDIA graphics card which allows for fast operation and seamless graphic movements. For speed, laptops in the Alienware range come with vast amounts of DDR4 RAM which can be upgraded and are coupled with lighting quick Intel processors. They are ideal for anyone looking to set up a real gamer station but will set you back around $1000 on the low end and $3000+ for

 

As any serious gamer knows, robust peripheral devices can make or break your game performance, and that is why Logitech’s devices which won awards at CES 2018 make the perfect accompaniment for any setup you may have. Their unique charging system eradicates the need ever to dock or recharge a mouse again and is trying to break down the barriers of high-performance gaming. It also comes with a choice of cloth or hard surface and uses the patented Lightspeed technology to remove wireless lag. Logitech mice are the best in class and coupled with its revolutionary charging system can cost anywhere from $100-$300. Logitech also offers a fantastic range of ergonomic mice which are essential for anyone who uses a computer frequently but is looking to avoid wrist related injuries. Their ergonomic range is purpose-built to reduce the change of muscular strain, it works by helping to decrease hand movement and the overall pressure on the wrist – it comes in at under $100 making it a great mid-range purchase.

 

Anyone not looking for such a significant gaming setup also has plenty of choices, Dell’s XPS range focuses primarily on high-end hardware, and they typically come with an abundance of powerful features. Laptops in the XPS range come with a 15-inch screen, and the other features such as processors, memory, and storage are entirely customizable and depend on your budget – which based on the specifications can range from $1000 to $2000 – even features like a 4K screen can be added.

 

For the more price conscious, Dell Outlet is a fantastic way to get the high-quality that Dell is renowned for at lower rates. Dell’s Certified Refurbished products which have been returned to Dell and retested to guarantee quality, offer customers the chance to get the latest products at a discount. Dell Outlet also supplies systems that have been ordered but then canceled, or shipped to a customer but never opened. Incredibly, with all purchases from Dell Outlet, you receive free 3-5 day shipping, same as new warranty and support, and are covered by their 21-day return policy.

 

If you are seeking something that is incredibly robust, has a great battery life, and is built with user-security in mind then look no further than Lenovo’s flagship range, the ThinkPad line of notebook computers. Lenovo has pursued a high-value strategy, and this has paid off, particularly in the business market where people need high performing laptops with long battery lives accompanied by best-in-class keyboards. The ThinkPad notebooks come at a premium and can easily cost over $1500, so it is essential to make sure the laptops fit your specifications. The design of the Thinkpad range makes them incredibly robust and would be great for anyone seeking a laptop with a long lifespan.

 

2-in-1 laptops, which operate as both a laptop and a tablet, have seen a significant rise in popularity recently. For normal 2-in-1’s the keyboard is not detachable but comes with a hinge that allows the screen to rotate around which is then used as a tablet. Lenovo is one of the biggest players in the market and has won various awards for their 2-in-1 designs. Unlike its competitors, Lenovo includes incredible features such as a 4K touch screen, an SSD hard drive, and an industry leading stylus with their 2-in-1’s which put them at the high end of the market and can typically cost up to $1000.

 

It is impossible to mention 2-in-1 laptops without bringing up Microsoft. In recent years Microsoft has successfully forayed into the hardware market with its Surface line of products which are seen by many as the tablets that the iPad failed to deliver. The Surface 2-in-1 detachable range which has the touch screen responsiveness of a tablet while providing the capabilities of a laptop utilizes a keyboard that can be removed from the primary device. The Surface products target the lower end of the market and range from $400 upwards, come with up to 128GB of storage, and can last over 2 hours when fully charged. Luckily, no Wifi means no problem because some of the Surface range come with an LTE configuration that also stocks the purpose-built Windows 10 Pro. The Microsoft 2-in-1 range is perfect for anyone looking for a tablet with some laptop capabilities, rather than the Lenovo which is better for anyone looking for a powerful laptop with tablet capabilities.

 

No computer setup is complete without additional storage devices to take the strain off your primary machine and make sure that your important data is backed up. Western Digital has a range of physical storage devices to suit all consumer needs, ranging from small internal and external storage devices to tools that offer personal cloud capability for the home. Western Digital’s low-end range start at around $30 for a 1TB drive that is small and easily portable. On the other end of the spectrum is their Home range which can cost up to $900 for a dual drive 20TB and is suitable for people looking to build a vast storage network at home. Thankfully, Western Digital has developed software that accompanies its Home range and gives users access to their content wherever they may be, and it also utilizes proprietary software to make sure that data on your phones and tablets are also backed up. It can be used across most devices and is not limited to a specific operating system making it the perfect way to achieve digital harmony.

 

For software to accompany a great hardware setup, the Office 365 range is one of the best collaboration tools in the world, allows multiple users to work on a single file at any given time, all comes with conferencing software and storage. Also, unlike some of its competitors, Microsoft developed Office 365 so that users have full functionality both online and offline.

 

Office 365 is offered in a wide variety of price points to suit all consumer needs, but most packages require a minimum commitment of a year. The entry-level packages start at $5 per user and come with a massive 1TB of storage and a 50GB mailbox. The more expensive plans will get you unlimited storage as well as access to a host of security features and access to Microsoft’s Business intelligence tools. What sets Office 365 apart from its competitors is access to free updates as well as the use of its industry-leading cloud-based SaaS services such as Sharepoint, Exchange Server, and Skype for Business.

 

If you focus is more business orientated, Lenovo offers a variety of software solutions to suit all corporate needs that includes cloud storage solutions, Internet of Things software – which ties in with their Smart Home hardware products, and a variety of analytics software that is perfect for anyone trying to capitalize on the use of Big Data. For the consumer, it works well because support is provided through the entire purchasing process, moving from hardware to software solutions seamlessly.

 

All the products discussed can be purchased from their respective websites, but another great option is to buy online through Office Depot. As a retailer, one of the most significant advantages that Office Depot has it that it stocks a wide variety of different brands which means that it is easy to purchase everything you need under one roof. It also has a fantastic deals section which includes anything from office printers to antivirus software and can offer over 20% off on specific items. Their e-commerce site also allows you to compare the specifications of different brands allowing you to make an informed choice, as well as that they offer free next business day delivery.

 

Websites:

Office Depot

Dell

Microsoft

Logitech

Lenovo

Western Digital

 

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