Computers are an essential tool used in all classrooms. By the time a student reaches middle school, they need their own laptop or tablet. This guide will help students find the best laptop to fit their needs and budget.
Budget laptops are great for students tight on funds, or who only need a laptop for basic functions, such as writing papers and doing research online. Just remember buying a budget laptop inevitably means making compromises in some areas. If you must go with a cheaper model, make sure you’re not giving up features that will make you regret your purchase.
The Chromebook doesn’t run a conventional operating system, such as Windows or OS X. It’s essentially a laptop that runs a web browser — Google Chrome. It’s slim, light, durable and has long battery life.
This is an excellent option for students who do cloud computing. Using apps, such as Google documents, allows work to be done and files to be stored online.
The VivoBook runs on Windows 8, has an 11-inch touchscreen and excellent portability for a reasonable price. The slim sleek design, made from brushed-aluminum makes it an stylish device to carry. And, with it’s Intel Core i3-3217U processor with 500GB of memory, it has the power to run daily tasks.
The Vaio Fit 14 is an excellent mainstream laptop with a brushed-aluminum lid, instead of plastic. It’s thin and relatively lightweight at 5 lbs. It boasts a 14-inch touchscreen, with a Dual Core i5-3337U processor and 8GB of RAM.
Before purchasing a laptop, check to see if you qualify for a student discount. Most computer companies and stores offer discounts to college students, faculty and schools. Computer manufacturers, such as Apple, Dell, Lenovo, HP and Microsoft have student discount programs, offering discounts on devices and software. They also run promotions for free products or gift cards with purchase. For example, Microsoft has offered a free Xbox with purchase, and Apple has offered a free iPad or iPhone with the purchase of a Mac. The promotions are temporary, but the discounts on computers remain the same. Stores that carry computers and laptops, such as Best Buy, Staples and Wal-Mart also have student discount programs.
Most discounts are for college students, and can vary depending on the university you attend. However, Lenovo offers discounts to college students, K-12 students and their parents, faculty and schools. This is an excellent program since students of all ages are required to use technology. With the cost of laptops and computers rising, it’s always a good idea to shop for the best price available.
Hybrids, Convertibles and All-in-Ones
With the influx of various types of technology available, students can easily find themselves owning a desktop, tablet and laptop. Instead of sinking money into every type of device available, consider purchasing a hybrid. These are exactly what they sound like, laptops that transform into tablets, and vice versa. Some are tablets with snap-on keyboards. Some are laptops that fold on hinges, enabling it to stand like a tent or flat like a tablet. While others look like actual Transformers, allowing the screen to be twisted, set at different angles on a pedestal and folded flat to be used as a tablet.
The Surface Pro 2 is a tablet snap-on keyboard, available with touch or type keys. It also has a tilt, shift kickstand that allows the user to position it for better viewing. It runs on Windows 8.1, with up to 64GB of storage and 2GB RAM. Unlike the iPad, the tablet has a full-size USB port, mini display port and micro SD card reader.
The Yoga 11S can fold over from a typical laptop stance to a stand position, to a position with the keyboard behind the screen. It runs Windows 8.1, has HDMI, SD card and USB ports and an impressive Intel Core i7 processor with 8GB of RAM. Plus, it has a 256 SSD for storage.
The Duo 13 is an excellent hybrid, or all-in-one, device for students. It has numerous features that make it perfect for use in the classroom, working on projects at home and entertainment. The sliding keyboard stays attached to the 13-inch tablet screen by a hinged pedestal. The screen can be placed in a normal laptop angle, up on the pedestal or slide flat for tablet mode. The difference between the Duo 13 and the Lenovo Yoga is the keyboard is protected by the screen when in tablet mode.
It comes with an electronic stylus pen. The pen can be clipped to the side or an “inkwell” holder slides out to hold the pen, making it an excellent tool for taking notes in class. It runs on Windows 8, with an Intel Duo Core i5 (Haswell) processor and 4GB of RAM. It also has full-sized ports placed in the back of the device.
Powerful Laptops for Students in Audio or Visual Arts
Students in audio or visual arts, such as graphic design and video editing, need a powerhouse laptop. Speed, high resolution, plenty of RAM and ports to connect external equipment are a necessity. For optimum performance a device should have a Quadruple Core Intel i7 processor, a large retina display and at least 8GB of RAM.
The MacBook Pro is available in a 13-inch and 15-inch display. Both of which feature Intel Iris Graphics, which boost performance by 90 percent. It can handle both everyday tasks and graphics-intense creative apps.
The Apple team created a premium audio package to match the visual display. The thin unit houses high quality speakers with wide dynamic range, optimal balance and crisp quality.
It has a Quadruple Core Intel i7 processor, 16GB of turbo, super fast 1600MHz Memory, long lasting battery and 1TB of flash storage.
The VAIO Pro 13, made from flexible carbon fiber, is the lightest ultrabook at 1.06kg (lighter than the MacBook Air and the Microsoft Surface Pro with keyboard attached). Aside from its lightweight credentials, it boasts a full HD touchscreen, which harnesses Sony’s TV tech smarts to give it an edge over rivals.
It has a 13.3-inch, 1920 x 1080 touchscreen display, 1.5GHz Dual Core i7 Haswell processor, 4GB RAM, 128GB PCIe SSD drive, Windows 8 Pro and an NFC enabled touchpad.
Laptops for Gamers
Serious gamers shop for completely different specifications in a laptop than the average consumer. If compared to cars, everyone else is searching for more of a Mercedes Benz or Mini Coupe type laptop, while gamers are all about the street racing hot rods. Instead of portability, comfort and long battery life, gaming laptops focus on excellent graphics, turbo fast processors and tons of storage. If it also has super cool LED lights, that’s even better.
Gamers should look for laptops with high-performance GPU, a Core i5 (budget) or i7 processor and inexpensively upgradeable Solid State Drives (SSD). Once these basic factors are covered, get the best display with your budget to really enjoy the graphics.
The Stealth isn’t as bulky and heavy as most gaming laptops. It’s mostly made from brushed aluminum and the gunmetal-grey finish is paired with sleek design. The MSI’s lid and base gently contour toward subtle curves at each edge. It has little details, such as milled speaker grilles and air vents. Status LEDs are on the front edge, as well as multi-colored LEDs backlighting the keyboard.
It features an Intel i7-4700HG processor; 2.4Ghz Quad Four processor; Full HD 17.3-inch display; 140 degree viewing angle; Windows 8 and GeForce GTX 770M mobile graphics processor, which offers 3GB of extra memory.
Alienware has a flashy, spaceship-like design that is sure to please any gamer. It is bulkier than most models, making it an excellent desktop replacement.
It features an Intel 3.7 Ghz Core i7-4800MQ processor; 16GB of DDR3 RAM; NVIDIA GeForce GTX 770M (available with a GTX 780M with 4GB GDDR5) and a 64GB SSD.
Another option for students to get a laptop with the specifications they need without going over budget is to purchase one that’s been refurbished. This can be an excellent way to save a great deal of money, while getting a premium machine. The main factors to consider are the legitimacy of the company, if original parts where used (if necessary) and what type of warranty or guarantee comes with it.
Before shopping for a laptop decide how much you want to spend, what your needs are and how you will be using it. Will it be your main computer or a secondary computer? Will you be using it more for work or entertainment? Use a gamer’s mindset and buy a laptop that has components to fit your needs, instead of getting distracted by all the bells and whistles.
It’s also important to visit a store and get your hands on a few laptops. Pick them up to check their weight and durability. Make sure the keyboard is comfortable for your hands. See how quickly each laptop responds when different programs are opened. Then check expert and customer reviews before making your final decision. People, especially students, spend a significant amount of time on laptops. It’s important to do some research and choose the right one to fit your needs.