Looking for the right laptop or tablet can be difficult, no matter who you are. There’s dozens of outlets selling them, all at different prices, not to mention the knowledge required to be able to properly compare the specifications of one notebook to another. Even for someone like me, who is fairly well-versed in computer hardware, can find difficulty when it comes to shopping for laptops; especially when trying to find a model with just the right specifications and features for my needs.
Meet PortablePicker. A cousin to one of my favorite tools for PC builders, PCPartPicker. PortablePicker is a website devoted to helping its users find the best laptops and tablets for their needs. PortablePicker browses laptops from all different manufacturers and sellers (like its PartPicker cousin) and allows the user to filter them by price range, RAM capacity, processor types, graphics chips and more. Essentially, all the important parts of your laptop hardware.
I’m going to be totally upfront: I love PortablePicker just as much as I love its PartPicker counterpart. That being said, however, there is still room to criticize, and some things you need to know before getting started. Let’s begin.
How To Use
Fortunately, PortablePicker is pretty simple to use. Once you open the site, all you need to do is click “Find A Laptop” or “Find A Tablet”. The bar on the left of the screen will allow you to sort devices by the following factors:
- Price. Allows you to select the price range you want to shop in. You can also sort devices by Price, Popularity and more above the actual list.
- Manufacturer. The device manufacturer. Had a bad experience with some manufacturers, or a particuarly good one with a few? Feel free to filter.
- Screen Size. Ever-important for laptops and tablets alike, though screen size is also directly proportionate to the size of the keyboard on laptops.
- Weight. Self-explanatory.
- CPU Cores (Laptop Only). The amount of CPU cores in the laptop. Note that there is more to performance than cores.
- CPU Speed (Laptop Only). The CPU frequency in the laptop. Note that there is more to performance than frequency.
- RAM Capacity. The amount of RAM in the machine, which ties into multitasking.
- Storage Capacity. The amount of storage inside the machine, which allows you to store games, apps, movies and music.
- Resolution. The screen resolution, the higher the better (but more expensive).
- CPU Series. The series of CPU. Espeically important for telling apart devices at different power levels.
- CPU Family (Laptop Only). The family of CPU. More recent families will be more power-efficient and perform better. For laptops, you’ll want Broadwell or Skylake from Intel, as well as Carrizo, Beema and Kabini from AMD. Note that AMD’s APUs have very powerful integrated graphics at the cost of power CPU power per core. I recommend Intel + a discrete laptop GPU for higher-end hardware.
- GPU Chipset (Laptop Only). Allows you to sort by graphical capabilities. You’ll want the latest Intel HD and Iris Graphics for Intel processors with no extra GPU. For Nvidia, stick with the GTX 800 and 900 series. For AMD, stay with Radeon R-series, preferably higher end.
- Storage Type (Laptop Only). SSDs are faster at the cost of less storage. HDDs are slower with the benefit of a lot more. Some laptops combine these technologies for the best of both worlds.
- Operating System. The OS you’ll be running. Windows for desktop apps, Android and iOS for tablet-only usage.
- Touchscreen (Laptop Only). All tablets have touchscreens, but not all laptops. If you want that, pick it.
- Webcam (Laptop Only). Not all laptops have webcams. Check this if you want one.
- Color (Tablet Only). Want a pretty tablet? Choose your color.
- Cellular (Tablet Only). Want mobile data on your tablet? You know what to do.
Now that you know what all of this actually means, finding your ideal machine should be easy. Let’s get into some opinions.
I love PortablePicker for what it is, and how easy it makes shopping for the right device. It’s a one-stop shop for all you could possibly need, and easily better than sorting through Amazon or Newegg for laptops or tablets. It checks every retailer to ensure that you can get the best deal in your area, too.
However, it is a new website at the time of writing. While I don’t see many bugs, there are many devices that lack a picture without heading to the storefront (an obvious issue), and for the most part, it seems PortablePicker is only showing off recent devices made in the past few years, as opposed to PartPicker, which can allow you to shop for components over a decade old, albeit at the cost of a much higher price tag.
It also has the problem that is shared by the likes of Amazon and Newegg, or really any online platform used to search for laptops or tablets. The knowledge barrier here isn’t insignificant. It’s not the tool’s fault that computer hardware can be complicated for newcomers, but I feel like it’d be silly of me to skim over the fact that using this still requires knowledge of what to look for to begin with.
Hopefully, though, my How-To should help you with that. I also have a Hardware Buying Guide series for desktop components, with some wisdom that can be applied to shopping here, too.
PortablePicker is a wonderful new platform for shopping for laptops and tablets. That being said, however, there are a lot of complexities in shopping for computer hardware, and while it’s not PortablePicker’s fault that these exist, it can be difficult to use all of these powerful tools if you don’t really understand what to do with them.
That aside, the actual issues with the site are fairly minor. While PCPartPicker is easily the best in its class for finding hardware and making builds (something I can find fun in my off-time), PortablePicker is currently a lot more barebones and clearly the newborn child of the family.
With any hope, PortablePicker will grow into something just as formidable- if not more- than its PartPicker counterpart.
What do you think, though? Comment below and share your thoughts. Let me know if you need any help too.