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Only a handful are optimized for Chrome OS so far, but more will follow.

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It's enough to make you go back to a no. That's why we test and review dozens of traditional laptops every year, plus Windows tablets and 2-in-1 hybrids, and even Chromebooks.

This handy buying guide will give you the basic background info you need to add context to those reviews and to make a smart purchase. Of course, if you're looking to just jump right in, I've preselected a handful of my favorite current laptops to highlight.

If you ran into me on the street, I'd probably steer you towards one of these as a starting point. A big investment that will last for years: Inexpensive, without feeling cheap: Now that Chromebooks can run Android apps as well, they're more useful than ever. A perfectly balanced gaming laptop: Add to that support for virtual reality headsets and a brilliant OLED screen, and this hits almost every gaming checkbox I have. Most buying guides and shopping advice features tend to get bogged down in the specs, mechanically listing subcategories within subcategories.

Instead, I'll break out the most important things to know when looking for a new laptop, starting with my three cardinal rules. Some new ones even have touch screens and run Android apps, which gives you a lot more flexibility. Even gamers can spend less than you might expect. The first question I have when someone asks, "What kind of laptop should I buy? How many days per week do you plan on carrying your laptop around with you?

Daily or near-daily commutes mean you want something with a inch or smaller display, that weighs under three pounds and is at most around 15mm thick.

Those superslim systems usually trade a little power and battery life for portability there's only so much room in a 10mm thick laptop for a battery or cooling fans for a fast CPU, after all , but trust me, carrying a inch midsize laptop through an airport even once a month is going to get old real fast. For most of what we do on our laptops today -- websurfing, streaming video from Netflix, YouTube or Amazon, posting on social media, sending email or using office apps like Office or Google Docs -- budget laptops will work fine.

And with laptops that share similar processors, graphics cards or other components, our decade-plus of testing data shows that they perform, well, similarly. That means what you're really investing in is a design you like. That can include weight, thickness and screen size, but also covers the layout of the keyboard, how large the touchpad is, how thick the bezel around the screen is, metal versus plastic, or even the color or pattern on the back of the lid.

And there's nothing wrong with making design choices your no. A laptop is not only hefty investment, it's also a visual extension of your personality. You may carry it around with you all day, or even all over the country.

Of course you want something that's both comfortable to use and pleasing to look at. It's as much a personal accessory as a jacket or a pair of glasses. That's what Apple nails really well -- the parts inside of a MacBook are not that different from other laptops although the operating system is another story , but the human interface tools are fantastic, and the design has become a standard for what a lot of people think a laptop should look like.

I'm not touching that one with a foot pole. There are no online commenters angrier than Mac fans bashing Windows, or Windows fans bashing Macs. That said, there are a few general rules of thumb that can help determine which side of the fence is right for you. However, you get an amazingly seamless partnership of hardware and software, which is especially evident in how the multitouch gestures beat any Windows laptop, and how it's so easy to preview almost any file just by tapping the space bar.

That said, there's a lot less software you can install on a Mac, and games are pretty much out of the question. Under the latest version of MacOS, you have to go digging around in the settings menus to even install any software from what Apple calls "unidentified developers," which is anyone without its stamp of approval.

You can get a 10mm thick ultraslim system, or a giant pound-plus monster. Windows is great if you like to tinker with registries and drivers, you want more direct control over what your software and operating system are doing, or if you want a touch-based OS, as most Windows laptops have at least a touch option now.

On top of that, Windows 10 is much easier for a beginner to use than any previous version, and "running Windows" is no longer considered a knock against a PC. Not too long ago, these stripped-down laptops running Google's Chrome OS were basically just big web browsers with few other features.

They were cheap, they went online, and that was about all you could say about them. It typically involves two phases:. Depending on the lender, you may be able to get a reduced introductory rate on a HELOC for a limited time. Once the introductory period ends, though, the rate and your payments increase.

Some banks and lenders may offer a hybrid of an equity loan and a home equity line of credit that has fixed-rate interest. With this option, you can lock in part of the balance you owe at a fixed rate. The honest answer is it depends on the situation and how much the borrower is requesting.

But the standard application, processing, and approval window lasts around 2 to 4 weeks. If you have a financial adviser, they could help you streamline the process wherever possible. Which one should you get? Before deciding, make certain that you understand the differences between an equity loan and a home equity line of credit, as well as the various pros and cons.

A home equity line of credit would make more sense if you need to borrow a smaller amount over a longer period of time. For example, you might choose a HELOC to finance an ongoing series of modest home improvement projects. The results provide a rough estimate of how much you could expect to borrow, plus your loan ceiling. But a lot would depend on your credit score and the value of your primary residence. Since your primary home would serve as collateral through a home equity loan, you could benefit by bypassing a lot of the closing costs and insurance fees that mortgages bring.

If your credit and income are strong, interest rates tend to be lower on your second home through a home equity loan. Otherwise, interest rates could be higher to ensure that lenders are covered if the borrower hits a bump in the road — in which case the borrower is much more likely to cease payments on the second home than the first. If you own your home outright and are interested in using a home equity loan as a down payment for the second, you could have some more flexible options as well.

The bad news is the lender will deduct the remainder of your loan from the ultimate sale. Refinancing directly affects your primary mortgage. Cash-out refinances allow you to take out a higher mortgage and receive the difference in cash. What kind of credit score do you need for the best rate on a loan or home equity line of credit?

It may depend on the lender, your level of home equity, and other factors. The best rates on equity loans typically go to applicants with higher credit scores. Your lender may be willing to work with you even if your credit has a few minor dings or blemishes. In some cases, homeowners with bad credit may be able to get a loan or line of credit. Fortunately, you do have the power to raise your credit score. With some fiscal discipline and the right strategic steps, you could improve your credit score and, by extension, your chances of qualifying for the best home equity loan rate.

While some home equity lenders require minimum credit scores, not all do. Typically, lenders like borrowers to have a credit score anywhere from at a minimum.

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