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by JB Burke

Q. My tower computer is six years old and it's beginning to give me some problems. Boot-up is slow, applications take longer to load and it occasionally locks and needs a reboot. What would you suggest for a replacement? I just need something for everyday use.

A. The trend today is toward laptop computers, so I suggest you consider that. There are several reasons why a laptop might be your best bet. First, it will take up a lot less space than your current tower computer. That will probably lead to fewer messy cables behind your computer desk as well. Just about everything you need will be built into the laptop.

Your first thought may be that you don't need the computer for travel, and that's fine. Many of the laptops available from HP, Dell, Toshiba and others are not really built for travel anyway – they are too big and heavy to be lugged about comfortably. The laptop you choose should have plenty of memory (I suggest 4GB+) and a large hard drive, generally 500GB and up – probably bigger than what is in your 6-year old tower system. It will also have at least a DVD/CD reader and probably a DVD writer as well. Screen size can be 15" to 17", but if you have a desktop flat screen monitor you may be able to attach that as well – check the type of output on the laptop vs. what the monitor requires. The laptop will have USB ports to attach your external backup hard drive (you should have that for sure) plus your printer. If your printer has an old fashioned printer connection, then you'll probably have to replace that anyway, because Windows 7 on the laptop may not support it.

Costco, Sam's Club, Staples, OfficeMax and Best Buy all have good selections of laptops. And of course many are available if you are an online shopper. Prices generally range from $500 on up, and even at $500 you may find what you need. I suggest you get an extended warranty with a laptop – repairs can be more expensive.

Published: Courier 4/15/12 - Page 5C