So Many Online Sellers - Why?
You will notice there are 1000's of ebayers selling laptops - why is that? Most commendable ebayers are actual company's be it self employed or fully Ltd, therefore they can take advantage of distribution company's (the guys that buy in bulk direct from the manufacturer), who only sell to business and not the end user / buyer.
Be sure to fully research your seller, not only their ebay feedback but other areas too. Do they have their own website?, Do they trade locally?, Have they any testimonials from non ebay buyers? Secondly how easy is it to get in touch with these people should yo have a question. Sellers that only advertise 'ask seller a question feature' are to be suspected. If you can't email or phone them they probably don't want you to get in touch with them and they haven't the resources to deal with ebay callers. If they are that difficult to get hold of what are they going to be like afer the sale?
Baffled By Specifications?
The easiest way to explain how the speed of a PC works is this. Imagine a warehouse and outside is the lorry waiting to take away an order. The Shelving and Racking in the warehouse is your hard disk, how fast the warehouse workers can pick the order and take it to the lorry is the processor, how much they can carry in one trip from shelving to lorry is the RAM or Memory. From this little example you can see that having a fast processor and next to no RAM isn't efficient, it means your warehouse guys have to keep going backwards and forwards to fullfil the order (run a program).
But I Don't Know What Is Fast And What Is Slow
Okay their are 2 main suppliers of mobile (laptop) Processors, Intel and AMD. Intel Centrino processors tend to be the bottom of the market, with AMD Sempron / Athlon in the middle and Pentium Mobile processors probably the top end of the market. With a processor you may (or may not) know that processors come in many different speeds from 1.4GHz up to around 2.2GHz. This is one way to ascertain speed, there are two othe features of a processor that contribute to speed, the first being the BUS speed. The BUS determines how fast it can transfer info to the RAM and speeds of this tend to be around 266MHz to 800MHz with the norm being around 333MHz to 400MHz. The last factor of a processor speed is called Level 2 Cache (L2 Cache) this a a 'holding' area of the processor that keeps info for quick access later, and speed ranges of this can be from 128Kb to 2Mb with the norm around 512Kb to 1Mb.
RAM works similar to the Level 2 Cache as described above, but the beauty about it is, it can be upgraded for very little cost. Upgrading your RAM is the cheapest easiest and best way of increasing the speed of your laptop and this will be more noticeable the more you put in. RAM in new laptops range from 256Mb up to 1Gb. As described above the BUS speed also must be included and is important to the speed of the RAM. For example a 256Mb 333MHz RAM will be slower than 256Mb 400MHz RAM.A laptop will mostly only have 2 slots inside to put RAM so if you have 2 x 256Mb RAM (or 512Mb in total) you will need to ditch one of them if you wanted to upgrade, also to watch out for is what's the maximum you can upgrade to if need be? The norm is around 2Gb so each slot will take no more than a 1Gb stick (as there are two slot to put your RAM in).
Graphics are important whether you are gamer or not, all laptops need some degree of graphics capability, usually measured in RAM Mb with the bottom end around 32Mb Graphics up to 256Mb Graphics and the norm being around 64Mb to 128Mb. The higher the number the more capable it is of grpahics intensive games and using intricate graphics (pictures / movies) development software. The main thing to look out for is 'is it shared' or does it have its own graphics card. The 'shared' or 'integrated' type pinch Mb's from the Laptop RAM or memory. So for example a laptop with 'integrated' graphics of 64Mb, will reduce the Laptop RAM from 256Mb for example down to 192Mb RAM it is also less effective than a graphics card that has its own RAM. Suppliers of Graphics Cards that have their own RAM and aren't shared tend to be ATI and nVidia and are best advised for gamers, shared graphics is ok for gamers as long as there's plenty of RAM memory and defintely recommend for poeple only using laptops for work / internet etc.
Does a laptop have a CDRW (CD Copier) or DVDRW (DVD Copier)?
Is the Screen Widescreen or XGA (better quality for gaming, watchin DVD's etc), or is it a normal TFT Screen?
Has the laptop got wireless broadband integrated (Wi-Fi)?
How Long Does The Batery Last For?
How Many USB Ports does the Laptop have?
Does the Laptop Have a Memory Card Reader (popular for digital cameras)
Does the Laptop have digital TV integrated or a connection to allow you to plug in your Sky / Cable ariel?
Obviously the more of the above features, coupled with the 'Speed Specifications' of your Laptop will determine how expensive your laptop is. Not only that ALL laptops should be covered by manufacture Warranty for at least 1 Year, and totally recommended that throughout the life of your laptop you always have a Warranty to fall back on should the worse happen. After around 12 months, nobody will be able to fix your laptop, the parts will be virtually impossible to find, and should you find someone it will probably cost more than its worth. So after your 1 year runs out make sure you renew it with an extended warranty (typically 3 year collect an return)
Computers and Laptops if looked after properly should last many years and not 2-3 before you are resigned to getting a new one. But just like a car, they need maintaining, servicing and good house keeping will keep your laptop running smooth. The best way to do this is to source a PC company who provide such a maintainance service (for example we offer the NewLife Service), and back this up using software on your laptop and making sure you regularly do a disk clean, delete temporary internet files (found in control panel and internet options) and defrag.