Mossberg’s Mailbox

‘N’ Versus ‘G’ Wi-Fi

Published on May 12, 2010
by Walt Mossberg

Q:

I’m wondering about wireless specs for a laptop. I suspect the “n” version of Wi-Fi is best but “g” is adequate. Any advice would be appreciated.

A. It depends on how and where you intend to use your laptop’s wireless connectivity. The “n” version of Wi-Fi can be much faster than “g” and can have much greater range. However, the speed difference won’t matter much if your sole use is connecting to the Internet with a typical home or public hotspot service, since the maximum speed of these services is almost always well below “g” and “n” capabilities. But if you are streaming video at home or backing up large files wirelessly among computers and networked hard disks on a home network, you’d be much better off with “n,” assuming all devices involved support it. The same goes for range. In a small apartment, it likely won’t matter. In a large home, it could.

Q:

I’m thinking about getting the updated Apple MacBook Pro 13′ with the Intel Core 2 Duo Processor. I very much like size and weight of this laptop, but is it wise these days to invest in an Intel Core 2 Duo instead of the newer Intel chips? I mainly need it for “Office Work” (email, Internet, Word, Excel, etc.).

A. As I said in my recent PC buyer’s guide, Intel’s newest processors can give you extra speed for demanding scenarios and then ratchet down to save battery life under simpler situations. But there’s nothing wrong with the older Core 2 Duo, or competing processors from AMD (AMD), for mainstream tasks. I wouldn’t hesitate to buy a laptop with a Core 2 Duo for the kind of tasks you anticipate, or even heavier use.

As for battery life, Apple (AAPL) rates the Mac model you’re considering at up to 10 hours of use between charges. In my harsh battery test, it got 7 hours. In normal use, I’d guess it would easily exceed 8 hours.

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