In the modern era, a computer – especially laptop – is the essential tool for aspiring writers. Indeed,
No Performance? No Problem!
Often, people are all about performance when they are shopping for a laptop. Yes, for manufacturers, it’s very easy to list the components, such as processor and storage drive, on the few bullet points in the laptop ad. From this specification list, a savvy shopper can decipher the laptop performance – just by looking at what components the notebook includes. While the performance department certainly is important for many user demographics, for writers it is not too essential.
You see, the programs authors typically use are Microsoft Office, Word, WordPad, WordPress, perhaps some Photoshop. They might have a few tabs open simultaneously, along with their text editor, to find information about the subject at hand and write it down at the same time. The product of this process is often an article the writer can be proud of, but the performance required for any of these tasks is not high at all. Essentially, it’s about text and light photo editing – things that don’t reserve much system resources. A laptop with Intel Core i3 processor and a solid-state drive suffices well, as far as performance is concerned.
High Quality Keyboard Rocks
The keyboard is the medium with which your thought process will be put to a written form, and ultimately published on a book or in the Internet. You will be typing a lot, and for that simple reason you should get a keyboard that you like. However, the keyboard preference is very subjective – some people like one keyboard while others don’t find typing with it easy at all. In general, you’d want to look for some more expensive models ($500+ price range) to ensure the keyboard is sufficient to your needs.
However, one thing that is almost an universal sign of bad keyboard is the lack of feedback. When you are typing, there is a small spring inside the key that pushes it back when you release your finger. Depending on how this spring and its mechanism are constructed you can either feel the key giving some resistance or not. If the resistance is there, you will for sure know the key has been pressed. However, if the spring is lazy and doesn’t push back when you are pushing it down, you might get doubts if the keystroke was actually registered by the system. Personally, I absolutely hate typing if the keyboard feels flimsy and provides no feedback!
Your Eyes Must Like the Display
Logically, there is no reason to choose a laptop that has poor display, unless you have very tight budget and still want some sort of notebook. Picking a laptop with quality screen is always a good idea, be it an author, power user, digital artist or gamer that is in the shopping mood. To put it simply, it is very pleasant to look at a screen that has high-resolution, accurate colors, no input lag and wide viewing angles. In addition to being an enjoyable experience, it can also be beneficial for your health: with a good-looking display, your eyes and head won’t likely start hurting.
The laptop screen size for writers is a subjective thing. Some prefer a big screen, some a smaller one. However, no matter the actual display diagonal, I very much recommend a resolution of 1920×1080 pixels. This also goes by names of 1080p and Full HD. The image will look sharper than on lower resolution screens. Also, because icons, text and everything will appear smaller, you can also find place for several documents opened at the same time. A good example is having Microsoft Word and browser both taking 50% of the display – writing happens in the Word application, and finding information is convenient with the browser, simultaneously.
Pay Attention to Battery Life
If you never leave your house with your laptop battery life doesn’t mean much to you. But if you frequently go somewhere else to write, you definitely want the laptop to last more than an hour or two. This is achieved by choosing a notebook with strong battery. The best laptops today have battery life more than 10 hours, the top ones hovering around the 12-13 hour mark. That surely is an impressive amount, but a writer can probably do with a little shorter duration. In my estimation, a battery life of 6-8 hours is enough. With that, you can write a piece or two even on longer flights, bus trips or trains.
You might want to glance through the advertised battery life. Manufacturers like to provide the estimated duration for the battery, but this will often be measured in the best possible environment for the manufacturer – so it’s usually not applicable in real life situations. A better way to find the battery life is to read user reports that give some actual information as opposed to perhaps questionable motives of the ad copy.
If Only You Can, Do This…
Go to store and try the laptop with your own hands, in person. This is especially important for the display and keyboard part, as the quality of those articles is often seen only with your own eyes and felt with your hands. This is something that doesn’t occur to many of us because Internet has become the essential shopping arena, and going to brick and mortar is seen as obsolete. But believe me, checking out the local computer store is a good idea when you’re after a decent writer laptop. Internet won’t tell you everything!
The tips laid out in this article point you to the right direction when choosing a great writer’s laptop. Quite honestly, the ideas here are generally good for choosing a notebook for any kind of productive, non-demanding use. For writers, the important parts are the keyboard and display, with battery life following close. Performance is not that necessary for those interested in writing, as the software used by authors and editors requires very little “oomph” from the system. Thus, a writer’s laptop can be acquired rather cheap in comparison to power user and gaming notebooks. Now it’s your time to hit the stores and find out the perfect notebook for your writing passion!
About the author:
Akseli Niemelä is an Internet entrepreneur and programmer. He also writes for the technology blog Tech Editorials.