College life has changed dramatically in the last decade. Many classes are being offered online, academic research has moved to the digital arena, and now many assignments are turned in through email attachment and online learning environments, like Blackboard. Modern college students are increasingly reliant on computers, and that means a laptop is most certainly in your future because a tablet won’t yet cut it. So, how do you decide which one to buy?
First off, you need to remember that heavy laptops can be a deal-breaker in college. If you plan on walking to and from all of your classes, you don’t want a whopping five-pound notebook swinging from your shoulder. Smaller, lighter models are likely a better fit living on campus. Lighter is usually better, but it’s not always in the cards.
Next, consider battery life. If you’re going to be gone all day long, you don’t want to worry about running out of power half-way through. Being tethered to a wall completely defeats the point of owning a laptop in the first place, right? Before you pull the trigger, make sure your laptop will be able to keep up with your busy schedule.
Lastly, keep in mind how much you’re willing to spend and what your priorities are. If you’re studying video production you need to invest in a powerful machine despite the expense. If you’re an English major, you can likely get away with a much smaller budget. Know what your college career is going to demand ahead of time, and shop accordingly.
MacBook Air – $1000 and up:
For general-purpose tasks like word processing, email, and web browsing, the MacBook Air is absolutely the best-in-class. Available in both 11-inch and 13-inch models, the Air is a thin and powerful laptop that helped define the “ultrabook” concept. With super-fast flash storage, a dynamically-clocked Intel Core i5/i7 processor, Intel HD 5000 graphics, and all-day battery life in such a lightweight package, it’s easy to see why the MacBook Air is the best laptop Apple has ever made.
MacBook Pro with Retina Display – $1300 and up:
The MacBook Pro is different machine from its smaller brother. As the “Pro” label implies, this series of laptops is for people in need of substantial horsepower. Made in 13-inch and 15-inch variants, the new MacBook Pros are designed from the ground up to empower people working in creative fields. With its excellent high-resolution Retina display, up to 1TB of flash storage, up to a quad-core 2.6GHz Intel Core i7 CPU, and roughly eight hours of battery life, this laptop is a perfect fit for anything from video production to design to programming.
Ranging from 3.46 to 4.46 pounds, this is a bit heftier than the MacBook Air, but that’s the sacrifice needed for the amazing screen and significant performance gains.
Tablets and laptops both have their uses in a college environment, and this slick model from Dell gives you the best of both worlds. This is a 12.5-inch laptop, but it benefits from a novel “flip-hinge” that quickly transforms the device into a touchscreen tablet. With 4GB of RAM, a 128GB solid state drive, a 1080p display, a lightweight body, and over eight hours of battery life, this ultrabook gives college students exactly what they need to get work done as efficiently as possible.
Lenovo ThinkPad X240 – $900 and up:
If you’re looking for an affordable and utilitarian ultrabook, check out this Thinkpad from Lenovo. You can grab yourself a low-spec model with a dual-core Intel Core i3 CPU, 4GB of RAM, a 500GB 7200RPM hard drive, a 12.5-inch display, and a pair of batteries for about $900. Even better, the stock model weighs in at just 2.84 pounds!
Of course, you can upgrade to an Intel Core i7 CPU, opt for a 256GB solid state drive, and swap out for a 6-cell lithium-ion battery, but that will dramatically raise the asking price and potentially increase the overall weight.
Dell Inspiron 15 – $280 and up:
Of course, not everyone can afford to buy high-end laptops for college. Fear not, you can still get the job done without spending a lot of cash. Take this Dell Inspiron 15 for example. For just $280, you get a 15.6-inch display, a dual-core Intel Celeron CPU, 4GB of RAM, and a 320GB 5400RPM hard drive. It does weigh in at nearly five pounds, but that’s par for the course. It’s certainly not the lightest, fastest, or most power efficient laptop on this list, but the incredibly low asking price makes up for its shortcomings. If you’re on a very tight budget for college and/or you don’t want a machine you need to worry about too much, this is absolutely the laptop you should get.
- Our Top 10 Home Computers (Updated) (technoteamblog.wordpress.com)
- Best laptop and ultrabook launches of 2013 (thinkdigit.com)
- The best laptops of 2013 (itproportal.com)
- Engadget’s laptop buyer’s guide: fall 2013 edition (engadget.com)
- 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display (2013) Laptop Review (trustedreviews.com)
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Posted By Mantosh Pal