Guide to laptops and iPads

Technology moves fast these days and keeping up with the latest gadgets can be tricky to say the least, yet many of us would feel lost without our laptops. And now, with the iPad rapidly increasing in popularity, making a decision as to what to buy is even harder.

Here is our guide to the buying the right product.

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If you are looking to purchase a computer for work purposes then a laptop is probably the answer. These portable computers have the advantage of a physical keyboard rather than a touchscreen and often pack a more powerful processing punch than computer tablets such as the iPad, making them ideal for the travelling business person.

Which laptop?

Laptops range greatly in price but if you are simply looking for something to get the job done, the Acer Aspire 5551-P32G32Mn is ideal. With a 15.6 inch screen and integrated AMD graphics card, basic photo and video editing are a doddle and the dual-core AMD processor means standard office tasks are taken care of easily. At around £400, it's ideal for first-time buyers.

If, however, you are seduced by sleek design, the Apple MacBook Air will no doubt catch your eye. It is by no means the cheapest laptop on the market (prices start at around £850) but at its thinnest point, this slim machine is just 3mm and it weight just two pounds, so it's perfect for long day's lugging. With just 128GB of storage though, it may not be ideal for everyone but it does boast an impressive six hours of battery life.

A better alternative for business users may be the Sony VAIO Z range. Though the battery life leaves a little to be desired, it is second to none when it comes to performance, thanks to the Intel Core i7 processor. Built-in 3G also means keeping in touch with the office or clients is easy. Prices, however, are on the high side, starting from £1749.

Which tablet?

If your primary requirements are multimedia based, then a tablet computer is for you. These handy portables are ideal for storing and editing photos, watching video, reading e-books, gaming and, of course, browsing the internet.

Last year, the Apple iPad was the must-have gadget and the brand led the way in terms of mainstream tablet products. In 2011, the iPad 2 is expected to address some of the problems that plagued the hugely popular original, possibly with improved processing speed and memory, as well as the addition of a camera.

But Apple's competition is snapping at their heels. The RIM BlackBerry Playbook boasts front and rear-facing cameras, with a 1GHz dual-core CPU and 1GB RAM, it will be smaller and lighter than the iPad – but it may not hit the market until after the iPad 2.

Already available, however, is the Samsung Galaxy Tab – this seven-inch tablet (as compared to the iPad's nine inches), Samsung's tablet uses Google's Android operating system and does everything the Apple gadget does as well as take pictures and record video. It's more expensive though and it might just be worth waiting for the iPad 2 before making a final decision.