For all the convenience and computing power that smartphones and tablets offer, sometimes a full-fledged computer is still the best tool for completing tasks at home or even on the go. Today’s laptops typically have faster processing speeds, more storage capacity and longer battery life than their recent predecessors. Many have also taken cues from tablets to become more versatile, with touchscreens and designs that let you turn a clamshell laptop into a tablet.
The best laptop for you depends on how you spend your screen time. But no matter how you use a computer, you can find a solid choice for $600 or less. For a child or teen, a Chromebook—a basic laptop with fewer features that relies on the Chrome web browser— is a solid option with an attractive price tag of about $200. Adults who mostly surf the web, check e-mail and social media, and use word processing and spreadsheets can pick up a midrange machine for $300 to $500. And if you’re looking for an all-purpose workhorse, you can find models that pack enough power and speed to run multiple applications without delays, come with higher-resolution displays, and use solid-state drives starting at about $600.
One thing that hasn’t changed: Shopping for a laptop still requires wading through an alphabet soup of terms, such as RAM, SSD, GB and other specs, to compare memory and speed.
Narrow the field.
Start by considering style and size. Before you lo