Forget to mention I look for one that has a removable battery. Makes it easy to replace if it goes bad, and if I spill something on my laptop I can quickly remove all power from it to keep it from frying.
I'll try to answer these in order...numbering them to.
1: If it's not a full-sized keyboard, what exactly is missing? Important keys?
2: What do you mean standardized connector? Is this for adding additional, external, devices to something that's more or less bare-bones?
3: I'm guessing I should look for a laptop with the latest software packages, right? Like one with Windows 10... I heard there were problems with freezing, or something like that with Windows 10.
4: Should I even bother with all the other additions I could be offered at higher prices, like anti-virus, etc.? Most people I hear nowadays talk about just getting all that stuff free from Avast, or whatever.
5: What ports/connectors should I look out for in this modern day?
6:What do you mean 'latest generations hardware'? I'm guessing I should just look out for a relatively new model of a good make that seems to fit the bill, right?
7: Should I ever need to upgrade the laptop for any reason? Wouldn't it be best to just buy another one in a few years time? Sort of, in with the new, out with the old.
8: How can I tell the difference between something that has laptop parts and something that doesn't? What exactly are 'laptop parts'?
9: What do you mean have the SSD as the 'main drive'? Is it a standard nowadays to have multiple drives in one machine?
10:What's the advantage to reinstalling things from scratch?
1: It's mostly a personal preference. Some flash game do rely on the number pad, and other strategy games I like use them as shortcuts for various commands. I also love using it to type out numbers instead of using the top row keys.
Basically nothing that would effect standard use- USB, HDMI, VGA, Ethernet, headphone jacks, ect are usually never changed. The connectors they do change are ones that various parts connect to that'd you'd normally never have to change/remove. They make replacement parts, repairs, and upgrades more expensive and harder to do.
3: Newest operating system is good to shoot for. If they say something like "free upgrade to windows 10" that's also fine and is legit.
4: If you mean included software, then don't. If a laptop/desktop advertises included software it's usually never a good thing, and it's only included because the maker of that software paid the laptop/desktop maker to include it. Best to think of it as a pre-loaded add.
There's a lot of bad antivirus software- 99.9% chance they preloaded a crap one because the makers paid them. The best free anti-virus is commonly considered to be "Avast". The best paid anti-virus is commonly agreed to be "Kaspersky". You can look up reviews on Kaspersky for yourself.
5: USB 3.0 port (as long as it has one that's good enough), HDMI connector, 1/8" headphone jack and microphone jack (a combo jack is fine), Ethernet jack, DVD drive, and a SD card slot.
USB type C is starting to be used as a power connector- don't fret if it's not on a laptop as it's cutting edge new, but if it does it's a huge plus. SD card slots don't get included much, but it is useful instead of having to buy a USB adapter for it. Same for DVD drives.
6: I mean one that uses a CPU released within the current or past year- as of this post 2014 and 2015 CPUs, with 2015 being the preference. You can just google the CPU model to find out if it is.
7: For what you're doing it's not worth buying a new one every other year. Even a decent 450$ laptop from 2008 is still good for that if it has at least 4GB of RAM and is blazing fast if upgraded to a SSD. What you gain from buying a new laptop that often (for what you do) is slightly better battery life. (common battery life use to be 2 1.2 hours for 2008, now it's at least 5 hours.)
For upgrades. It is worth doing for the thing I just metioned^. CPU requirements, for simple tasks like you want, move slowly. So investing in some cheap upgrades in other areas of it can make it (seemingly) just as fast or faster then a new laptop would be two years down the line.
8: uhg uhhh this is a bit harder to answer without saying "just know what the model numbers mean", but i'll try my best. I haven't ever seen anything over 400$ use non laptop parts.
If it uses a Intel CPU, anything that isn't classed with a prefix of i3, i5, or i7. Avoid- Pentium, Celeron, Atom, and "Core m". With the last one make sure it's a prefix as they'll throw a "m" onto the end of some regular laptop CPU names regardless of prefix.
They make some Pentiums and Celerons that are still laptop grade (they're a cut down versions of a i3), but they also started classifying a lot of their low power tablet and mini server chips that get cut down as those to. It's not supper easy to look up if you don't know what you're suppose to be looking at.
For AMD. Their normal powered laptop part classes to look into have a prefix of- A6, A8, A10, and FX. The ones to avoid from them are- A4, E, E1, E2, C, and Z.
9: Higher end laptops will sometimes have multiple drives (starts at 550$ I think), but that's not what I'm referring to. What I am referring to is that some laptops have a really small secondary drive that's a SSD (4GB-32GB) that they'll use in conjunction with the main HDD. Then they'll proceed to claim that the laptop uses a SSD. While technically right, it doesn't give speed of what using a SSD as a main drive would do.
10: That software thing I mentioned in #4? There are very few laptops that don't come preloaded with a bunch of stuff like that. Microsoft has even said they were going to hand out certifications (in the form of a stick on the laptop) for laptops/devices that don't do this.
The reinstall is to get rid of all that preloaded software that can slow the computer down. It can be embedded pretty deep and the only way to be sure it's gone is to do a reinstall.
Think I answered everything.