Computing device type buying guide

With the most extensive computing range in the UK, we're confident that you'll find what you need right here. Our Computer Buying Guide has been created to help you choose just the right computer for your needs, taking the frustration & confusion out of your computer shopping experience.

There are various device types available according to your needs, whether you're a student, businessperson, creative type or casual home user - or a combination of these! It’s important to know their differences & why one will suit your needs better than another. It’s also important to know where each device type overlaps.

See the table below to help you compare & choose between computing device types.

 Ipad &
Tablets
 Chromebooks &
Chromeboxes
 Convertible
Laptops
 Ultrabooks &
MacBook Air
 Laptops &
MacBooks
 Desktop &
MacPro / Mini
 All-in-One
& iMacs
Instant power on
Battery life
Light & portable
Music & movies
Creating documents

What is a tablet?

Tablets are portable touchscreen devices offering a middle ground between Laptops and Smartphones. They are most suitable for music, movies or surfing the web. Popular Tablets include the iPad, Samsung Galaxy Note, Blackberry Playbook and the new Windows 8 tablets. An intuitive Multi-Touch system lets you use your fingers to navigate the screen fluidly and naturally, easily accessing and controlling applications and Tablet functions.

Why buy one?
Tablets are simple and intuitive. While not ideal work devices, they can start in seconds and are invaluable for travel, daily correspondence and entertainment applications like surfing the web and watching movies.

Which operating systems do they use?
The most popular Tablet operating systems are Google's Android, Apple's iOS and Microsoft's Windows 8.

Android Tablets include various Smartphones, the Samsung Galaxy , Motorola Xoom, Archos Arnova and others. They feature excellent built-in video and music players and a fast, fully-functional web browser. Owners of iPads, iPhones or iPods will encounter Apple’s iOS, which offers simple, intuitive usage and gives access to the Apple App Store. This Operating System also enables your Tablet to interact with your Mac so that files can be shared between devices. Owners of iPads, iPhones or iPods will encounter Apple’s iOS, which offers simple, intuitive usage and gives access to the iOS app store. This Operating System also enables your Tablet to interact with your Mac so that files can be shared between devices.

Windows 8 will feature on a range of new tablets and is designed for touchscreen use. Although similar to previous versions of Windows, it offers a simpler, more visually interactive system with all your news feeds and favourite apps on the home page.

We also offer a range of eReaders, designed just for reading eBooks, eMagazines and even watching films.

iPad & Tablets
Considerations when buying a tablet.

1. Processor

Your Tablet's processor establishes its abilities.

Single Core processors suit simple, everyday tasks.
Dual Core processors enable multiple applications.
Quad Core processors suit larger applications like console quality gaming. Most Tablet processors are built for long battery life whilst remaining fast enough to run multiple apps without slowing down.

2. AppStore

There are a number of app stores available and accessible via Tablet:

Apple’s App Store
Google’s Play store
BlackBerry App World
World
The Windows Store

All offer thousands of apps,and some also offer games, movies and music.

3. Storage

The storage capacity on a Tablet is far lower than that of a Laptop, typically ranging from 4GB to 64GB. However, many Tablets come equipped with a microSD card slot that allows you to expand the device's storage should you wish to.

4. Internet connectivity

All Tablets are built to be Wi-Fi enabled, and some also offer 3G compatibility, which allows you to access the internet wherever you are using a 3G SIM card (depending on device type).

5. Screen sizes to suit

10" screens offer natual use, high detail and legibility for reading and creating documents files. Not pocketable, fine in bag.

7" screens are light and easy to hold, but can crowd screen objects and are not pocketable.

5" screens are highly portable but can make browsing and typing more difficult. These are closer to mobile phones than laptops.

What is a convertible laptop?

A Convertible Laptop offers both a laptop and a touchscreen tablet in one revolutionary package. These highly portable computers can act as a Tablet but include a detachable keyboard for efficient typing and document creation. They are designed to convert from Laptop to Tablet in several different ways, including slider, yoga and surface models, where the keyboard and screen can be configured in different, model-specific ways.

Why buy one?
If you need both tablet comfort and Laptop functionality, a smart Convertible Laptop offers the best of both worlds, their detachable keyboards and compact designs making work and play simple. You get the power of a Laptop in a Tablet form that lets you take full advantage of the Windows 8 touchscreen interface whilst also being suitable for work. They are the ideal combination of complete comfort, flexibility and portability.

Which operating systems do they use?
Convertible Laptops run the new Windows 8, designed for touchscreen technology.

Convertible laptop
Considerations when buying a convertible laptop.

1. Processor

The processor defines your device's capabilities.

Single Core processors enable you to perform basic computing tasks, including web browsing, email, word processing and presentations.
Dual Core processors enable execution of multiple applications.
Quad Core processors are suited to tasks such as extreme gaming and high-end graphics applications. All processors enable your device to carry out basic tasks.

2. Hard drive

The hard drive holds all your files and programs - the bigger the hard drive, the more files you can store. Typically a 500GB hard drive can store up to around 125,000 photos.

For a more portable device, look out for those with Solid State Drives (SSDs). These typically offer lower storage capacity but faster startup times, whilst consuming far less power than a traditional hard disk drive.

3. Connectivity

All Convertible Laptops have built-in Wi-Fi capability.

Some also have 3G compatibility, with which you can access the internet wherever you are using a 3G SIM card.

4. Memory

RAM stands for Random Access Memory. It stores and handles all information that is currently running, such as programs andsoftware you have opened. The more memory you have, the smoother your Convertible Laptop’s multitasking performance will be. It is a key purchasing consideration.

Typical Convertible memory ranges from 2GB to 16GB.

5. Screen sizes to suit

10" screens offer natual use, high detail and legibility for reading andcreating documents files. Not pocketable, fine in bag.

7" screens are light and easy to hold, but can crowd screen objects and are not pocketable.

5" screens are highly portable but can make browsing and typing more difficult . These are closer to mobile phones than laptops.

What is a laptop?

Laptops are a portable alternative to Desktop s, offering compact power and storage. A wide, exciting range of Apple and Windows Laptops is avaialble. For a powerful model that turns on fast, consider our Ultrabook and MacBook Air ranges.

Why buy one?
Laptops are portable but offer Desktops power and functions - take your computing with you and save space. Choose a smaller screen for portability, or a larger one for entertainment, graphics and power. Higher-end Laptops offer webcams, HD displays, advanced processing and large storage facilities.

Which types are out there?
There's a Laptop for everything, from your everyday tasks to business and more advanced applications.
A MacBook is Apple’s unique laptop, operating on Apple's unique interface. The MacBook Air is slim, portable and powerful, with no disk drive. The high-spec MacBook Pro has fast processing and storage suited to heavyweight applications. Microsoft Office is available for MacBooks, so they suit admin and business tasks too.
Windows Laptops are commonly used for business and entertainment, from creating work documents, web browsing, movies and games, and advanced applications. A variety of models is available in different screen sizes, some with dedicated graphic s and increased RAM for more demanding tasks.

Which operating systems do they use?
Our Laptops come with the new Windows 8 Operating System, whilst all Macs come with OS X Mountain Lion as standard.

Macbook
Considerations when buying a laptop.

1. Processor

The processor is the brain of the Laptop. Quality and type impact directly on Laptop performance.

Single Core processors enable basic computing tasks: internet, email, word processing and presentations.
Dual Core processors enable multiple applications.
Quad Core processors suit tasks such as extreme gaming and high-end graphics applications.

2. Memory

RAM stands for Random Access Memory. It stores and handles all information that is currently running, such as programs and software you have opened. The more memory you have, the smoother your Laptop’s multitasking performance will be. It is a key purchasing consideration.

Laptop and Macbook memory ranges from 2GB to 8GB..

3. Hard drive

The hard drive holds all your files and programs - the bigger the hard drive, the more files you can store. Typically a 500GB hard drive can store up to around 125,000 photos. For a more portable device, look out for those with Solid State Drives (SSDs). These typically offer lower storage capacity but faster startup times, whilst consuming far less power than a traditional hard disk drive. You can also subscribe to a Cloud service to back up as much data as you need to, constantly and safely.

4. Graphics

If you like playing games, watching high definition movies or editing photos, choose a Laptop with a dedicated graphics card. This card means that the visual performance of the computer is not run by the central processor, but by a standalone, dedicated card that devotes its abilities to delivering cleaner, smoother and faster visuals for your Laptop or MacBook.

5. Screen sizes

Windows Laptops and MacBooks vary in screen size, from 11” sizes for portability, right up to 15" full-size MacBook screens and 17.3” full-size Windows Laptop screens for enjoying all your digital media to the full.
Some MacBook Laptops feature stunningly clear Retina displays - with 5.1 million pixels, they are the world's highest-resolution screens.
Choose the Laptop that best suits your visual and practical needs.

What are the Ultrabook™ & MacBook Air?

Slimmer and lighter than conventional Laptops at less than an inch thick, Ultrabooks™ and MacBook Air Laptops are perfect for mobile business and media users with their compact screens, super-fast startup time and extended battery life of up to 9 hours. They have no optical (DVD/CD/Blu-Ray) drive, so can be built lighter and slimmer. Powered by Intel Core™ processors, they combine the best features of Laptops and Tablets in a convenient yet totally powerful computing device.

Why buy one?
Designed to be smaller and lighter than regular Laptops while maintaining very strong performance features, the Ultrabook™ and MacBook Air are perfect for those seeking an ultra-portable and ultra powerful device. Your Ultrabook™ or MacBook Air includes a solid state hard drive and smart Intel Core™ processor that offers fast startup, fast browsing and computing performance when and where you need it. With a compact design and dynamic performance, an Ultrabook™ or MacBook Air is the ultimate in portable computing, and feature webcams, excellent graphics and internet connection facilities. Ultrabooks™ and MacBook Air Laptops are not only practical but beautiful to look at, with their super slim build and stylish finish.

Which operating systems do they use?
All Ultrabooks™ currently run of the latest Windows Operating System, Windows 8. All MacBook Air Laptops currently run OS X Mountain Lion.

Ultrabook
Considerations when buying an Ultrabook™ / MacBook Air

1. Processor

All Ultrabooks™ come with a Visibly Smart 2nd generation Intel processor, while MacBook Air Laptops use dual-core Intel Core i5 and i7 processors, offering speedy computing and the ability to run demanding applications comfortably.

2. Battery life

Since your Ultrabook™ or MacBook Air is equipped with an energy efficient screen and hard drive, you can expect a battery life of between 5 and 7 hours minimum.

3. Fast boot up

Both the Ultrabook™ and MacBook Air come ready to operate. With instant switch–on and fast boot up times of less than 10 seconds, they're ideal for those who don’t like waiting around.

4. Light & portable

At less than an inch thick, the lightweight Ultrabook™ and MacBook Air are perfectly portable for computing on the go – business or pleasure.

5. Touch or non-touch

Some Ultrabooks™ now feature a fluidly interactive touchscreen, whilst others have advanced, natural track pads that provide all the benefits of a touch interface on a non-touch screen device. The MacBook Air currently does not have a touchscreen, but combine s high-resolution screen with a mutli-touchtouchpad for smooth, easy computing.

Why buy a Chromebook or Chromebox?

What is a Chrome device?
Chrome devices are designed specifically to be accessed via the internet and come in 2 different formats. They do not have a conventional desktop or Operating System but use Flash, the internet video and animation program. Chrome devices feature Cloud* computing, making it easy to store and access your files anywhere

Why buy one?
Chrome devices offer sophisticated web access, rapid startup time, a long battery life, and built-in Wi-Fi that allows you to easily go online at home or in public hotspots. You can chat over the internet, edit photos and videos and create work documents , or even access software on your other Windows devices. Models including 3G use a SIM card to give you an internet connection anywhere, anytime. You can print remotely using the built-in Google Cloud Print function and a Cloud-connected printer. You can access the Chrome Web Store to download and install a wide range of apps, from document and photo editors to games. Use the free Google Docs service, an internet-based set of products that lets you create, edit and save documents, which you can instantly share with other people, directly from your Chrome device.

What types are there?
Chrome devices include Chromebooks and Chromeboxes. Chromebooks are a combination of Laptop and Cloud device. Available in 3G and Wi-Fi types, they feature a comfortable keyboard to control internet windows and use apps from the Chrome Web Store instead of traditional programs. The Chromebox is a standalone internet computer operated by externally-connected monitor, mouse and keyboard using its 6 USB ports. Its small size and Wi-Fi connectivity enable flexible placement and portability. Both can also operate in an offline mode so that when you resume your internet connection, the work you've done is automatically and instantly backed up to Cloud storage.

What operating system do they use?
All Chromebooks and Chromebox run off the Chrome OS, a web-based operating system made by Google. Click here to find out more about Chrome OS.

Chromebook
Considerations when buying a Chromebook or Chromebox.

1. Battery Life

With a long battery life of up to 8 hours, you can take your Chrome device out and about without worrying about running out of power.

2. Connectivity

Built-in dual-band Wi-Fi makes it easier to connect to wireless networks, whilst 3G-enabled Chromebooks allow you to connect on the go, even when there are no local wireless connections. Both can operate offline mode.

3. Fast boot up

Since the Chrome OS runs applications off the Cloud in the Chrome browser rather than the hard drive, your Chrome device starts up in 8 seconds and resumes instantly. It also does not slow down over time due to the lack of traditional software, so you can stream HD movies and other content without a problem.

4. Automatic updates

Your Chrome device automatically updates itself: all of your applications will stay up-to-date, and you'll get the latest version of the Chrome Operating System without having to lift a finger. Any work you've done offline will be automatically stored in the Cloud when you connect to the internet.

5. Storage

Chrome devices have a 16GB solid state drive*, so you can save and find files far quicker than with a hard drive. Storage is lower than Laptops or Desktops because Chrome devices use Cloud technology, so your files are stored safely and permanently online. You can access them securely from anywhere and expand your storage space as you need.

What is an All-in-One PC?

All-in-One PCs and iMacs are sleek, stylish and packed with great features. With all their components fitted into the screen, they are the perfect space-saving and cable-free computing choice. Many feature a touchscreen (in Windows 8 All-in-One PCs) and spectacular HD screens, ideal for watching films and graphics work.

Why buy one?
All-in-One PCs and iMacs offer the same power and functionality as Tower PCs and iMac desktops in a far more compact, less space intrusive frame than Laptops or Desktops. Most feature far more powerful processors than their laptop equivalents.

What types are there?
The iMac features quad-core Intel processors and offers incredible graphics from its beautiful widescreen LED-backlit display. iMacs are ideal for movies, video and photo editing, 3D modelling and much more.

Our All-in-One PCs come with Windows 8, most featuring full 10-point touch functionality (use all 10 fingers at once to type or interact with the screen, usable by two people at once) which makes using the Windows 8 system simple and easy. Some also feature TV tuners so that you can use it as an extra TV!

Which operating systems do they use?
Our All-in-One PCs come as standard with Windows 8, the latest release of Microsoft’s operating system whilst all iMacs come as standard with OS X Mountain Lion, the latest release of Apple’s operating system.

iMac
Considerations when buying an All-in-One computer.

1. Processor

The processor is the brain of the computer. Its quality and type impact directly on performance.

Single Core processors enable basic computing tasks such as internet, email, word processing and presentations.
Dual Core processors enable multiple applications.
Quad Core processors suit tasks such as extreme gaming and high-end graphics applications.

2. Memory

RAM stands for Random Access Memory. It stores and handles all information that is currently running, such as programs and software you have opened. The more memory you have, the smoother your PC's multitasking performance will be. It is a key purchasing consideration. The memory in All-in One PCs and iMacs ranges from 2GB up to 8GB.

3. Hard drive

The hard drive is where all your files and programs are stored - the bigger the hard drive, the more you can store. Typically, a 1.5TB hard drive can store up to 375,000 songs, or 300,000 photos, and a drive of around this capacity is advisable for complex multimedia editing or high-level gaming.

4. Graphics

If you like playing games, watching high definition movies or editing photos and videos, choose a desktop computer with a dedicated graphics card. This card means that the visual performance of the computer is not run by the central processor, but by a standalone, dedicated card devoted to delivering cleaner, smoother and faster visuals.

5. Screen type

A high quality monitor can make all the difference to your computing, whether you watch films, play games, edit photos or create advanced digital art. A Tower PC gives you the option to personalise your experience with a monitor that’s right for your needs. Choose from HD, LED, LCD, IPS or 3D screens in sizes from 15" to around 27" according to what you require.

What are desktop computers?

The most powerful consumer computers available, Desktops are unrestrained by battery life or portability, packing immense functionality, power and storage. They are more comfortable to use than Laptops with a separate monitor, keyboard and mouse. Screen sizes are also larger.

Why buy one?
Tower PCs, the Mac Pro and Mac Mini have numerous advantages; with faster processors than Laptops, extra USB ports for connecting mice, keyboards, printers and flash drives, and more display ports to connect a monitor and/or TV screen.

Which types are available?
Windows Tower PCs can form the central entertainment hub of your home, especially when coupled with quality speakers. With large hard drive storage, they are great for saving movies, music, photos and documents, and are a popular choice for video game enthusiasts.
Apple Mac Pro Pro is Apple's Tower Desktop. Its large storage, powerful processors and graphics are designed for heavyweight professional applications like photography, video editing, 3D graphics and technical computing, though it's also suitable for enjoying movies and music. it can be expanded by connecting a monitor, keyboard, mouse and other tools to the hard drive tower via a USB connection.
Apple Mac Mini is the highly compact equivalent in a standalone box format, making it efficient and space-saving. It's suitable for professional use and connects via USB to keyboard, mouse and multiple external monitors for fluid multitasking, and other peripheral devices. It features ultra-fast Thunderbolt processing for better graphics, smoother operation and large storage.

Which operating systems do they use? All our tower PCs come with Windows 8, the latest release of Microsoft’s operating system. The Mac Pro and Mac Mini come with OS X Mountain Lion, the latest release of Apple’s operating system.

Desktop PCs
Considerations when buying a desktop computer.

1. Processor

The processor is the brain of the computer. Its quality and type impact directly on performance.

Single Core processors enable basic computing tasks such as internet, email, word processing and presentations.
Dual Core processors enable multiple applications.
Quad Core processors suit tasks such as extreme gaming and high-end graphics applications.

2. Memory

RAM stands for Random Access Memory. It stores and handles all information that is currently running, such as programs and software you have opened. The more memory you have, the smoother your PC's multitasking performance will be. It is a key purchasing consideration. The memory on desktop PCs and Macs ranges from 2GB to 12GB.

3. Hard drive

The hard drive is where all your files and programs are stored - the bigger the hard drive, the more you can store. Typically, a 1.5TB hard drive can store up to 375,000 songs, or 300,000 photos, and a drive of this capacity is advisable for complex multimedia editing or high-level gaming.

4. Graphics

If you like playing games, watching high definition movies or editing photos and videos, choose a desktop computer with a dedicated graphics card. This card means that the visual performance of the computer is not run by the central processor, but by a standalone, dedicated card devoted to delivering cleaner, smoother and faster visuals.

5. Monitor

A high quality monitor can make all the difference to your computing experience, whether you want to watch films, play games, edit photos or create advanced digital art. A Tower PC gives you the option to personalise your experience with a monitor that’s right for your needs – choose from HD, LED, LCD, IPS or 3D technology.

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