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					                                                                                                                       14/11/2011 03:53

                Student Laptop Guide: What You Need,
                What You Don’t

                                                                                                 What You Need

                     ooking to buy a new laptop for Your Student?
                     Our list of priorities will help you find just the
                     right one.                                                               1. Long Battery Life

                                                   Your laptop is           If you’re a college student, you’ll be carrying this
                                                   hopelessly ou-           thing around all day, taking notes in class and fi-
                                                   tdated. Maybe            nishing up assignments at the last minute. A 4-hour
                                                   you’re accusto-          battery won’t cut it.
                                                   med to using the
                                                   family compu-                                 2. Low Weight
                                                   ter at home, and
                                                   will need one of
                                                   your own as you
                                                   head off to col-
                                                   lege. Or perhaps
                                                   you’re a high
                                                   school student
                                                   who just can’t
                                                   take another
                                                   year of sharing
                                                   your computer
                                                   with relatives.
                                                   Whether you’re
                                                   a parent pur-
                chasing for your child or a student spending your
                own limited funds, you should look for a few key            Your bag will be heavy enough with all those books
                things when buying a laptop for academic life. With         in it. Although an extra pound or two doen’t seem
                our list of what to consider and what to avoid, the         to make a big difference at first, it adds up quickly.
                dizzying array of choices just might seem less ove-         Look for something under 4 pounds–your shoulders
                rwhelming.                                                  will thank you.
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                Student Laptop Guide: What You Need, What You Don’t

                                3. Good Keyboard                                              6. Security Software

                                                                            Laptops are stolen all the time at schools, even from
                                                                            students who are really careful. Look into software
                                                                            that will help you recover a missing laptop and keep
                                                                            your private information safe, such as GadgetTrack,
                                                                            Hidden, or LoJack. You definitely want to run a good
                                                                            antivirus program, such as Avast or Microsoft Se-
                                                                            curity Essentials, as well.

                                                                                                     See Also:

                                                                            What You Don’t Need 1. Quad-Core Processor

                You’ll do a lot of typing on this machine. It isn’t         There’s nothing wrong with a quad-core processor;
                just about writing papers, either: Online chat, Fa-         for most of what a student uses a laptop for, however,
                cebook, Twitter…95 percent of what you’ll be using          two cores is plenty. A dual-core CPU typically uses
                this laptop for involves more typing than anything          less power and costs less, while providing plenty of
                else. Find a laptop on which you can type quickly,          performance for writing, researching, goofing off
                comfortably, and accurately.                                online, and editing photos.

                    4. High-Definition, Low-Light Webcam                               2. Powerful Discrete Graphics

                For video chat, duh! It’s fun with your friends–and         A good graphics chip is useful for a lot of things,
                if you’re off at college, your parents will appreciate      from better video quality to faster web browsing. A
                the ability to see your smiling, hung-over face every       powerful discrete graphics chip is practically man-
                now and again. Nearly every laptop has a built-in           datory for playing modern top-shelf 3D games, too.
                webcam, but not all are created equal. Look for a           Unfortunately, they come with a bunch of draw-
                high-def webcam that works well in low light.               backs: They generate heat, they eat through your
                                                                            battery, they make the system bigger and heavier,
                         5. Warranty or Protection Plan                     and of course they cost more. Stick with a high-qua-
                                                                            lity integrated graphics offering (such as AMD’s) or
                We don’t often recommend extended coverage                  a modest discrete graphics chip.
                plans for technology, but students are notoriously
                rough on laptops. Notebooks get tossed into bags and                          3. Solid-State Drive
                dropped, accidentally kicked by clueless roommates,

                spilled on by clumsy classmates, you name it. Choo-         SSDs are a lot faster than traditional hard drives,
                sing a durable laptop is a good start, but make sure        and arguably more durable. They also offer a lot
                that you aren’t without your second-most-critical           less capacity and can add hundreds of dollars to the
                piece of technology (next to your phone) the day            cost of a laptop. We love SSDs, but the typical college
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                before a big assignment is due.                             or high school student doesn’t need one. A student


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                Student Laptop Guide: What You Need, What You Don’t

                needs the capacity to hold lots of music, videos, and
                photos in a laptop that’s affordable enough not to
                bankrupt you if it has to be replaced.

                                  4. Touchscreen

                Touch is all the rage these days, and it’s even popping
                up on a few laptops. But laptop software optimized
                for touch isn’t commonly available yet. A touchs-
                creen is a costly–and mostly useless–feature on a
                laptop right now, especially for budget-conscious
                students. Maybe Windows 8 will change all that
                next year. For the time being, however, save the
                touchscreens for your phones or tablets.

                                   5. 4G Wireless

                A 3G cellular modem dongle can be a good way to
                obtain emergency Internet access when you can’t
                get on Wi-Fi, but a student certainly doesn’t need
                WiMax or LTE. Access plans cost enough already
                without the extra amount for 4G speed. Students
                taking a break from homework can wait to watch
                a YouTube clip or Netflix movie until they get back
                on Wi-Fi.
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Description: Looking to buy a new laptop for Your Student? Our list of priorities will help you find just the right one.