If you're still using Windows XP or -- God forbid -- Vista, it's about time you crawled out from under your rock, wiped the gunk from your eyes and caught up with the rest of us. Windows 8 may be on its way like a runaway train, but Windows 7 is still where it's at. Here are five of the best laptops that run the operating system, as well as some general buying advice.
Which laptop you go for will very much depend on how you intend to use your new machine, as well as the state of your bank balance. It's important to think about exactly what sort of tasks you're going to be undertaking, so you can decide whether you need a massive gaming beast or a more modest affair.
If all you need from your laptop is the ability to check a few emails and browse the odd website on the go, then you should consider going for a netbook. Running Windows 7 Starter, netbooks are smaller and less powerful than most laptops but will cope with simple tasks, like emailing and Web browsing.
If you need to be on the move but require more power than a netbook provides, an ultra-portable laptop will be a better option. They're not as small as netbooks but they're still easy to carry around, and most are sturdy enough to face life on the road. Most often packing an Intel Core i3 or i5 processor, and around 4GB of RAM, they can easily tackle more demanding activities, such as heavy multitasking and high-definition video streaming.
If your wallet's particularly fat, you could even go for one of the new wave of ultrabooks, which offer powerful performance in an incredibly slim, light and sturdy body.
If kicking back with a movie is more your thing, a 17-inch laptop with a high-definition screen and Blu-ray drive will suit you well. Many of these machines come with Intel Core i7 chips, which provide serious power, allowing you to do some light video editing and even tackle some 3D gaming. Such laptops are heavy and their battery life is generally rubbish, but they're designed to stay put in your room, rather than go with you on your adventures.
Hard-core gamers will need a dedicated gaming machine. It should have a high-definition screen, a powerful Intel Core i7 processor, and at least 6GB of RAM. It will also need a dedicated graphics card, with a minimum of 2GB of dedicated VRAM, to help it properly tackle the latest titles. The specs in these machines mean they don't come cheap, but, if you need serious power, it's worth the investment.
There's a tonne of choice in the laptop world, so make sure you check out our reviews section and think carefully about your requirements before parting with your dosh.