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Why buy your laptops from John Lewis? First, because John Lewis offers a two-year warranty on all electrical equipment. Second, because you know it only sells good-quality products. And third, because its prices are always competitive. Here, I reveal which of the John Lewis laptops you should buy.
Heaven knows you have lots of choice. Typically, the John Lewis website offers around 150 models to choose from, with dozens on show within its shops. To help out, I offer some general buying advice based on my years of reviewing laptops for UK magazine PC Pro, and some specific guidance based on usage (eg best John Lewis laptops for older students).
The three golden rules of buying a laptop
There are three golden rules when it comes to choosing any laptop:
- Make sure it’s fast enough for your needs
- Choose the right operating system for you
- Does it have the features you need?
Is it fast enough?
For most people, the processor is likely to be fast enough, whether it’s made by AMD or Intel. Generally speaking, an Intel Core processor is a safe choice, but that will push up the price.
Instead, make sure you check how much memory (or RAM) it has. I wouldn’t buy a Windows or Apple laptop that had less than 8GB of RAM. If you’re buying a Chromebook, 4GB is plenty.
Likewise, a 128GB SSD (solid state disk) is enough for a Chromebook but not a great choice for either a MacBook or a Windows laptop. Choose 256GB minimum. Also, avoid hard disks: yes, they offer much more storage, but they’re slow, clunky and more likely to go wrong.
Incidentally, this is a great way to filter out lots of laptops that aren’t suitable for you if browsing on the John Lewis website. It has filters down the left-hand side for “Storage Capacity” and “Memory RAM”.
If you want a system that can run games and advanced graphics applications (eg for a Graphics GCSE laptop where your child will be running Adobe Photoshop) then you should choose a laptop with a “dedicated” graphics chip rather than “shared”. Again, use the filter down the left-hand side of the John Lewis website.
Choose the right operating system for you
Chromebooks offer the best value but don’t run familiar applications such as Microsoft Word or Microsoft Outlook. (They do run cut-down “app” versions of those programs, but they won’t look as familiar to you and don’t have all the same features.) For some people, though, Chromebooks are absolutely fine. They’re also inherently more secure than Windows laptops. Read more about Chromebooks here.
Windows laptops have the benefit of familiarity and also run the programs you’re most likely to use. I’m also happy to recommend Windows 10 as an operating system – it’s not perfect but is now as easy to use as Apple’s (in my opinion). For 90% of people, Windows is a great choice.
Many people will only buy Apple MacBooks, and for good reasons. For one, MacBooks hold their value better than Windows laptops, so you can buy one new and sell it on for a decent price in three years’ time. That’s because they tend to run smoothly for many years, whereas the same can’t always be said for Windows laptops. They’re more expensive (as a rule) than Windows machines, though, and macOS can be confusing if you’re not used to it.
Does it have the features you need?
If you’ll be carrying your laptop everywhere with you, then you need great battery life and a lightweight design. If it will sit mainly on your desk, you might prioritise a larger screen. Just two examples of the kind of things you need to think about when choosing a laptop.
If you head to the John Lewis website and click on the “Features” filter, these are some of the key choices you’ll be offered:
Convertible. This means the screen rotates 180° so that you can use the laptop as a giant tablet.
Touch Screen. All convertibles will have a touch screen: it means you can write or draw directly onto the laptop screen.
Gaming. A handy filter that will only show laptops with fast, dedicated graphics chips.
Full HD. This refers to the resolution (or number of pixels) on a screen. Specifically, it means a screen has 1,920 x 1,080 pixels, which is enough to guarantee a sharp image on any screen up to and including 15 inches.
Built-in Webcam. A potentially useful filter for those who want to use their laptops for making Skype calls, but don’t use it because almost all laptops include webcams. Right now, John Lewis believes that only four out of 155 do…
Superfast AC Wi-Fi. Again, a useful filter if only John Lewis had been clever enough to implement it properly. At least half of the laptops it sells have “Superfast AC Wi-Fi”, which refers to the standard 802.11ac. Cheaper laptops may include the older 802.11n standard, but that’s still fast enough for most people.
Best for business travellers
Dell XPS 13 9380, £1,270 or £1,499
The Dell XPS 13 is a classy, powerful, slimline laptop that also offers terrific battery life. The 13.3in screen is top quality and this version has a Core i7 chip that will blast through most every task. The only thing this laptop doesn’t have is a dedicated graphics chip for gaming. Choose the more expensive £1,499 version for its larger SSD and 16GB of RAM.
Best convertible to buy from John Lewis
HP Spectre x360, £1,200
If you have less than £1,000 to spend, then you’ll be perfectly happy with a 13in HP Envy x360 – this AMD version is something of a steal for £750. However, the one I’d recommend is the more sophisticated Spectre x360 as it has a superior screen, it’s faster, and it has better battery life. Note that there are both 13in and 15in versions of the Envy and the Spectre, but as a convertible we would recommend the smaller editions.
John Lewis laptops: best for older students…
2018 Apple MacBook Air, £1,229
For older students, you need something lightweight that schools, colleges and universities will be happy to see in their class. They’ll also need to be fast enough to last for a few years. As a rule of thumb, then, you can’t go wrong with an Apple MacBook. You can buy this 2018 MacBook Air for under £1,000, but it only has a 128GB drive; that’s why we’re recommending the more expensive 256GB version. Sorry.
… and best for younger students
HP Chromebook 14, £200
There are almost 20 Chromebooks to choose from on the John Lewis website right now, but the HP Chromebook 14 wins our vote for three key reasons. One, it only costs £200. Two, it won’t feel sluggish thanks to an AMD processor. And three, it’s portable while still including a decent-sized screen.
John Lewis laptops: best for gamers
HP Omen 15, £1,800
This HP Omen 15’s key attraction is its mobile GeForce RTX 2070 graphics chip, which is the second most powerful card you’ll find in a laptop. Then there’s the fast core specification and 144Hz 15.6in Full HD screen. With single games consuming 100GB of storage space, we also appreciate the 1TB hard disk to keep the nippier 256GB SSD company. Admittedly, it’s expensive at £1,800, but that’s typical of such heavyweight gaming machines.
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