Black Friday \nThis year, Black Friday falls on 26th November. Research suggests that around 33% of UK adults are planning to splash the cash in 2021, down 6% from 2020 and 9% from 2019’s figures, but despite the economic turmoil of the past two years, British shoppers are projected to spend almost £5 billion on discounted goods from some of the tech worlds best known brands. \nBritish households have become accustomed to tightening their belts during the pandemic, but the average shopper is still likely to spend £275 on average, just £20 less than last year. The majority of this will be spent online. Only 15% of shoppers are willing to make the trip to the High Street and visit a store for their purchase, with the rest splitting their time between online orders and in-store collections. \nShoppers in the Capital are far likelier to spend this year, with 46% of Londoners intending to take advantage of cut-price goods. \nFigures are elusive for the specific kinds of products that people are looking to buy, but with the rapid rise of home working practices, and the increasing need to interact with colleagues, friends and family online amidst travel restrictions and COVID-19 regulations, it’s safe to assume that IT technology will feature heavily in household purchases across the UK. \nIf you’re looking to for a new laptop to connect with the world around you, here’s a list of the top 5 models you should be looking out for in the sales, to get the most bang for your technological buck. \nTop 5 laptops to buy online \n£500 or less \nASUS VivoBook X415JA \n£479.00 inc. VAT direct from Currys \n\nMonitor: 14″ \nProcessor: Intel® Core™ i5 \nMemory: 8GB RAM \nStorage: 256 GB SSD \nOperating system: Windows 10 Home \n\nFor anyone operating on a tight budget, ASUS’ tried and tested VivoBook range is a cost-effective, reliable choice that doesn’t compromise too much on performance or storage. \nAt just 1.4kg, the entry-level X415JA is a great all-around laptop that combines a compact, sleek design with fast charging times, a USB-C ports and multiple standard USB ports with which to connect your devices. \nThe X415JA’s 14” NanoEdge display utilises the latest in IPS technology to ensure you’re able to work, stream video and browse the Internet in crisp, ultra-smooth high-definition. \n£500-£1000 \nLenovo ThinkBook 14 Gen 2 \n£700.60 inc. VAT direct from Lenovo \n\nMonitor: 14″ Laptop \nProcessor: Intel® Core™ i5 \nMemory: 8GB RAM \nStorage: 256 GB SSD \nOperating system: Windows 10 Pro \n\nFor those with a bit more cash to spend, Lenovo’s ThinkBookGen 2 – one of the most popular laptop ranges in the world since their introduction in 2019 – is a slightly toned-down version of their highly successful ThinkPad range, aimed at large businesses and corporate customers. \nBuilt with a stylish, two-tone grey design, aluminium ThinkBooks are renowned for being sturdy and reliable – the only piece of plastic on a ThinkBook is the monitor bezel! \nA great addition to the Gen 2 model is a full-sized SD card reader, allowing for greater flexibility connecting to the Internet, when you’re out and about, through a mobile broadband package. \n£1000-£1500 \nDell XPS 15 \n£1,499.00 inc. VAT direct from Dell \n\nMonitor: 15″ Laptop \nProcessor: Intel® Core™ i5 \nMemory: 8GB RAM \nStorage: 512 GB SSD \nOperating system: Windows 10 Home \n\nComing in at a whopping £500 less than a 16” Apple MacBook Pro, the Dell XPS has established itself as the best 15” laptop available on the market. \nRenowned for its reliability and speed, with its ultra-fast 512GB SSD, the UK version of the XPS benefits from double the standard storage space of certain other international versions. \nIn terms of functionality, for the home user, there isn’t anything that this laptop can’t do – apart from make the tea! It’ll handle everything you throw at it with ease, it looks great, and for models with a built-in Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650, it’ll let you enjoy medium-spec games without the need to upgrade your hardware. \n£1500-£2500 \nMicrosoft Surface Laptop 4 \n£2,299.00 inc. VAT direct from Microsoft \n\nMonitor: 13.5″ \nProcessor: Intel® Core™ i7 \nMemory: 32GB RAM \nStorage: 1TB GB SSD \nOperating system: Windows 10 Home \n\nSince its release in April 2021, the immensely powerful Microsoft Laptop 4 has become the go-to option for laptop users with a decent amount of money to spend. Centred around portability and performance, the Surface Laptop 4 features a compact 13.5” design with a sizeable amount of memory and storage, and an impressive 19-hour battery life from full charge. \nPerfect for hybrid workers, the Surface Laptop 4 features a crisp PixelSense display alongside a slim, sleek design that makes sustained use easier, whatever you’re doing and wherever you’re doing it. \nGaming laptop \nAcer Predator Triton 300 PT315-53 \n\nMonitor: 15″ Laptop \nProcessor: Intel® Core™ i7 \nMemory: 16GB RAM \nStorage: 512 GB SSD \nOperating system: Windows 10 Home \n\nTop of the list for lots of shoppers this Black Friday, and in the run up to Christmas, will be an affordable yet powerful laptop able to run graphically demanding games without any noticeable drop-off in performance or useability. \nWeighing around 1.7kg, the Acer Predator Triton 300 PT315-53 is significantly lighter and more portable than standard gaming laptops. The Predator’s customary sleek design features a glass touchpad, a powerful i7 processor, DTS X Ultra Audio and a secure fingerprint sensor to ensure that you get the most out of your gaming experience – be it online, or offline. \nHow to stay safe online \nOnce you’ve made a purchase, it’s important to protect not only the laptop itself, but the data that’s stored within it. Cyber criminals are constantly on the lookout for ways to access sensitive personal information, in order to steal your money and your identity with little chance of being caught. \nIn no particular order, here are the top 5 ways to stay safe online in 2021: \nPassword security \nPassword security is the most importance aspect of protecting yours and your family’s online identity: \n\nAvoid using predictable words and phrases that are easily guessed – such as an address, a pets name or a sports team \nAlways use long, complicated strings of text and numbers, ideally from an online password generator such as https:\/\/passwordsgenerator.net\/ \nChange all the passwords you use on a fairly regular basis, including login information for online services, and your Windows password that allows you to access your laptop \nNever store your password in a text file on your computer \nUse a secure password platform such as LastPass, to manage your login information\n\nSoftware updates \nSoftware vendors release regular updates to their software platforms that not only improve useability and make them look nicer, but close any backdoors that exist for criminals to gain unauthorised access to your data, also known as ‘exploits’. \nIf a piece of software that you use recommends that you perform an update, it’s highly advisable that you click ‘Yes’, instead of ignoring. Windows updates in particular are a very important aspect of keeping your laptop secure. Always ensure that these are applied automatically whenever they are released. \nEmail security \nLast year, cybercrime cost the UK economy approximately £27 billion. The majority of these attacks originate via email. \nConsumers need to be constantly on the lookout for emails that appear to be from a trusted source but are in actual fact sent by hackers posing as everything from banks to UK Government departments, delivery companies such as Amazon, credit card companies or even friends and family. So-called ‘phishing’ emails contain links to malicious websites that harvest your data and provide access to bank account information. \nThe key is to be critical – if an email looks suspect, or you weren’t expecting it, think twice about doing what it asks you to. \nFake WiFi hotspots \nFake WiFi hotspots are a growing problem across the UK. To piggyback onto a person’s Internet connection, Hackers broadcast wireless networks in public places – bars, cafes, cinemas, gyms etc. – that have a similair name to legitimate networks. Once a user has connected to the fake network, the network captures their login data and browsing history, before sending it on to a hacker. \nWiFi users shouldn’t make an assumption on what network they should be using in a public place, and only ever connect to officially published wireless network information on display at the venue, as verified by staff. \nUse a VPN, if necessary \nVPNs – also known as ‘virtual private networks’ – offer a way for users to mask their identity online by re-routing their Internet traffic through a server that guarantees anonymity and makes it much harder for hackers to connect to a device, or identify who a person is. \nHere’s a link to some of the world’s leading paid-for VPN service providers. \nFor extra guidance, or to schedule a no obligation chat, contact us today!