A laptop should work for at least three years to justify the amount you’re going to spend on it. But it can be hard to tell how durable these machines are going to be; reviewers like myself can use our instincts and information about the materials involved to judge how well-built a new device is, but without spending time with one (as my experience demonstrates) it’s hard to know for sure.
So go into the store yourself, pick the laptop up. Turn it over in your hands. Does it flex? Does it feel brittle? Does it feel like it could survive a drop? Should you really buy the thinnest possible laptop if there’s a sturdier-looking option?
Is a 360-degree hinge more important than a rugged design? How does it does it do with water? Look online for stress tests.
The more research you do, the more likely you are to end up with a lasting device.
And while you’re there, look for the second most important feature that will ensure you actually like your device over the long term: a comfortable, well-built keyboard.
It’s easy to lose track of the keyboard among all the fancy specs and features that go into laptops these days. And when we do think about keyboards we often think about the less-important, but easier to distinguish things: backlights, detachability, and attractiveness. But a keyboard should first and foremost feel good to your hands. That’ll change from person to person, but in general wide keys, spread-out keys, with a deep pressing motion will do you best. If your laptop’s keys are all clustered like little dots in the middle of the machine, it’ll likely start cramping your hands.
There are a lot of distracting features on laptops these days, but once you’ve found a few powerful enough for your needs your first task should be to narrow them by durability and keyboard quality.