Monday, August 17, 2009

Finding a Laptop for College

laptops for collegeAs the school year quickly approaches and parents and students begin the crazy time-consuming job of preparing everything to head off to college, a laptop is likely at the top of the shopping list. As a college student, I can definitely say that I don’t know where I would be without my laptop. I literally use it for absolutely everything. Whether I’m taking notes in philosophy class, writing a research paper for rhetoric, or just listening to music back in my dorm room, my laptop is constantly by my side.

The hard part in this situation is finding just the right laptop to suit all your college needs for the next four years or so. You don’t need crazy amounts of memory or hard drive space, but you do want a reliable, quick, easy to use laptop. In this guide to finding the perfect student laptop, I will try to cover all the basics you’ll need to know before heading out to your local Best Buy or Circuit City to begin the hunt.

Ok, so the first aspect we’re going to consider is the design. You’re probably going to be lugging your laptop all over campus with you so you are not going to want it to be super heavy. One easy way to minimize the total weight of the laptop is to get a smaller screen. Yeah its nice to have a big screen, but is it really necessary? I would recommend that you get a laptop with a screen that is no bigger than 14 inches. This way you still have a nice size screen, but you still have plenty of room in your backpack for your books and you won’t be weighed down by a really heavy piece of equipment.

Another important pat of the design of your future laptop is they keyboard. I personally feel that a full size keyboard is necessary. The whole point of having your laptop is to do research papers, essays, reports, and of course chat with your friends, so you’re going to be using the keyboard quite a bit. I feel like any keyboard that isn’t full size is just too cramped to do serious typing on. Having a full size keyboard, in my opinion, is worth even paying a little extra for if necessary.

Next we need to consider features. Recently, features that used to only be included on high-end laptops are now being featured on really cheap laptops too. Things like multiple USB ports, DVD burners, webcams, and media card readers are now coming standard on laptops priced around only $300. Concerning memory and hard dive space, I would say that the minimum would be 1GB of memory and 160GB of hard drive. Those are petty basic and can be found in most laptops.

Battery life is also an important part to consider when choosing your laptop. Having a long battery life is important if you plan on hauling your laptop around to all your classes to take notes. Most laptops will offer a battery option that you can choose from. Although it will add some weight, I would recommend always going with the bigger better battery.

The next step that you will be faced with once you’ve selected your perfect laptop will be concerning warranties. Most laptops are backed by a 1-year complimentary parts and labor warranty. The choice that you will have to make is whether to get an extended warranty past that first year. A standard warranty does not cover things such as spilled drinks or drops on the hard floor. For accidents such as these, you’ll have to take out a separate accident coverage plan. These warranties just keep adding up and can cost over $250 for maybe three years of coverage. I personally did not take out any sort of extended warranty and have been perfectly fine. I bought my laptop completely on my own, and I realize that if I ever endangered it or somehow destroyed it that I would be unable to afford to replace it. This fact makes me think twice before sitting my pop can down or tossing around my laptop.

Buying a laptop is something that you definitely shouldn’t do without first doing the proper amount of research. It’s a lot of money to put on the table, so you should consider all your options before making a commitment. Hopefully these tips and recommendation can give you a hand during your search for that perfect laptop. I wish you the best of luck during your hunt!

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