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Should I Buy a Laptop?

What Kind of Computer is Best for My Family?


Mother and daughter working on a laptop computer

Mother and daughter working on a laptop computer

Photodisc/Getty Images

Laptops are designed to be moderately to highly portable, with a built-in keyboard and monitor. Best for students, low-to-moderate travel, casual gamers, mobile employees.

Compare with Desktops and Netbooks


  • Portability
  • Relatively lightweight
  • Full-size keyboard/monitor
  • Can still get a fairly robust machine for gaming and system-intensive tasks like video editing
  • Sturdier design


  • Relatively expensive for the specifications
  • Portability increases likelihood of it being broken, lost or stolen
  • Difficult/impossible to upgrade, making it a lower value over time
  • All-in-one design makes repairs more difficult/costly


  • Do buy a slightly better model than you need now since it is difficult/impossible to upgrade later
  • Don't buy a significantly better model than you need now since a laptop lifespan isn't as great as a desktop machine.
  • Don’t add bells and whistles that you don’t need. It will unnecessarily inflate the cost.
  • Do perform regular maintenance on it to remove dust and dirt and protect your investment.

Guide Comments

Laptop machines are a wonderful mid-level solution for users who need portability and power. Although not as portable as ultralight machines and more expensive, the value is actually higher on a laptop due to the increased computing power and specifications. Laptops are a great choice for travelers, students and families who want an additional quality machine at home. They are also an excellent choice for families who like to watch movies and TV online.

Compare with Desktops and Netbooks
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