Image by laihiu via Flickr
There are a lot of laptops out there to choose from. I think, though, that the differences between them are probably not so significant. (Disclaimer: I'm not really super-qualified to opine about this topic since I only buy Apple laptops these days (and for the last, oh, 8 years or so), but I was recently asked for tips on how to think about choosing a laptop, and I came up with a few that I think should continue to be true for quite some time.) For the purposes of this post, I'm assuming you definitely want a laptop, and not a tablet computer (iPad or the like). That's a different decision and perhaps a topic for another post. I'm also assuming you're looking for something straightforward and consumer-grade -- that you're not, for example, a software developer or a serious gamer. All of that said, here are just a few decisions to make that can help guide your choice of laptop.
First choice: Mac OS or Windows OS? This is often a religious war and you can find an arbitrarily large number of online debates and discussions about this particular topic, so I won't spend a lot of time on it. Frankly, either could serve your needs perfectly well. (The thing I like about Apple laptops is that I don't have to decide - I run both Mac OS and Windows OS on my Apple laptop. And, to be blunt, I don't find this a particularly interesting debate. I think Mac OS wins hands down on virtually every parameter I care about except that the place I work for is a Windows shop. And since I started using computers back when all I had to work with was a command-line interface (not Windows or Mac), I find switching between Windows and Mac OS pretty straightforward.)