How Much Should You Pay For A New Laptop

6 08 2013


Image via Flickr creative commons from Chris Meium

As with all forms of technology, there are a large number of factors that can affect price, from the features on offer through to special deals being run by the retailer. In most cases, it’s not a case of how much people should pay for a new laptop computer, but more how much are they willing to pay and what features are they prepared to shell out for. It’s usually the case that the higher the specs on offer, the more expensive the piece of kit will be, although consumers are getting a fair bit of bang for their buck with models such as Samsung’s Chromebook. With this in mind, below are three price points – bargain, average and high-end – as well as the kind of features that you can expect to find on laptops that fit into these three categories.

Bargain deals

Well everyone loves a bargain and in the world of laptops, prices have come down considerably in recent years. Are you looking for a device that will serve you well as a second computer, perhaps something you can take on a train with you to watch DVDs or throw into a weekend bag so you can connect to the web on the move? At the bottom end of the range you’re probably looking around the £250-300 mark. The good news is that for this kind of money you can get some pretty decent computing power and features. Have a look at laptops from BT Shop and you should be able to find a machine running Windows 8, probably with around 4GB of memory and between 300 and 500GB of storage space on the hard drive. Starter laptops with decent features tend to be carrying a fair bit of weight – something to remember if you’re looking for a portable option. Remember though, if you want ultra-cheap and ultra-portable then you might well have to sacrifice a lot when it comes to functionality and battery life.

Middle of the market

If you have a bit more cash to spend, say around the £500 mark then you’ll have more options when it comes to specs. For starters, you’re likely to get longer battery life which will make using the device on the move a whole lot easier. It’s often the case that by spending a little more on a laptop you’ll be able to get your hands on a larger screen and a decent quality audio system which will make watching and listening to audio a lot more pleasurable. You might well be able to shave a little weight off by splashing out a bit more cash – again, very useful if you’re going to be carrying a device around on your back. There are plenty of bargains out there, but as is often the case, you get what you pay for.

High end

If you have the cash in the bank then you shouldn’t find it too hard to pick up a laptop for £1,000 plus. For starters, by spending in the region of a grand you are going to get a laptop that looks the business – think about that bushed aluminium steel! A comfy keyboard and crystal clear screen will be standard, along with a powerful processor such as the Intel® Core™ i5-3317U processor or the Intel Dual-core 2.80 GHz Core i7 model that has gone into the Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch. A light weight, solid build should come as standard and if you have the cash to spend then you’re likely to end up with a big smile on your face!


What can you do to protect your card details online?

10 03 2013


Image from Flickr Creative Commons via Images_of_money

The use of various forms of payment card to buy goods and services in today’s online world has become so widespread that the highest echelons of public bodies have seen fit to introduce guidelines to help ensure that people and organisations can do so safely.

For example, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development – a top-level forum used by national governments to promote policies designed to “improve the economic and social well-being of people around the world” – has looked in great detail into the increasing use of credit and other payment cards, with the aim of unifying laws designed to protect users when they pay for items bought online.

As the OECD points out itself, “under the laws of some OECD countries, you have no liability if your card is used online without your permission”. However, this exemption does not apply all countries, and this very inconsistency is one reason why it is best for the individual card user to take their own precautions.

Generally, online payments are protected by the fact that a website will use encryption technology when they handle such payments. Sites which do this are often denoted by a closed padlock in the area of the screen which also includes the URL, or webpage address. Encryption means that the card details transmitted between the buyer and the seller are concealed by a form of code which is designed to render the important information on the card – its individual number and the number of the bank account with which it is connected – unreadable by any outside source.

This form of protection is still considered adequate by a surprisingly high proportion of companies which accept credit cards online. But recent years have seen the emergence of a further level of security, which has been adopted by a number of payment card issuers. This entails the buyer negotiating a couple of extra levels of authentication besides that simply used when they make a payment simply by entering the card number.

The Verified by Visa system is the most widely used of such protection measures. Now used by more than 300,000 websites across Europe, it entails the user setting up a separate user name and password to that associated with the specific payment card they intend to use. Naturally, it can only be used in conjunction with cards issued by the Visa payment card company.

When they input the details of a card which is registered under the scheme, the user of this system will see a personalised greeting, so that they can be sure that the screen they are being shown is genuine. Then they will have to enter their Verified by Visa password in order to prove that they are the rightful holder of the card being used.

Such secure payment gateways are intended to provide two-way security – that the card user can be sure of the legitimacy of the retailer they are buying from, and that the retailer has an emphasis on protecting the data of its customers. In these times when making a card payment online can so easily be taken for granted, such measures designed to protect the card holder and their personal information should be taken advantage of by every cardholder.