What to look for when buying a laptop depends largely upon you. You need to know and understand your needs, your abilities and your budget. You need to have an idea of what you want in terms of performance as well as price. You need to know whether a high powered laptop that comes with all the bells and whistles will bring the best out of you or just confuse you. You need to know as much as you can, because with knowledge there is power and freedom.
So you can see that buying a laptop is no simple task to be taken lightly. You should do ample research, talk to people who are more knowledgeable than you yourself, and come up with a list of models that fit your knees. Or you can just go on eBay when buying a laptop and go for the one that comes in the shiniest colors like, I'm pretty sure, most Apple users do. That is why we make fun of them, though, so bear that in mind.
Either way, it's clear that laptops have moved from "luxury" to "necessity" in this day and age. And as a result, buying a laptop should be taken seriously.
So let's break potential buyers down into five groups: The student, the gamer, the home user, the business traveler, and the photographer. You may fit into more than one of these groups – I myself fit into two and have a friend who fits into three – and if so, that will slightly complicate things. But computers are a mature science, and when buying a laptop you'll be able to customize the specs of whatever gear you're looking for to fit your needs.
The student's utmost needs are twofold: Portability and reliability. If you're taking your laptop with you to class, you do not want to lug around a huge machine that burns out its charge in 90 minutes. So keep it small, and look for something with a long battery life. You'll probably end up turning to a netbook.
The gamer, on the other hand, is looking for performance. This means at least 4 gigs of ram, but 8 is even better. You'll also want a top-end graphics card and at least a 17 in screen.
The photographer's needs are similar to the gamers, except that professional photographers almost universally use Apple while gamers almost universally use PC's. In either instance, bigger tend to be better.