One must-have for a student heading to college is a laptop.
While the average laptop nowadays is pretty powerful, not just any model will do. Like buying a pair of jeans, getting the right laptop for your college needs matters just as much, or even more.
Lucky for us, The Guardian has come up with four points to consider before making that crucial purchase:
1. Is it suitable for your course?
The needs of a design student will vary greatly from an MBA student. The best way is to speak to your university or seniors to find out about any special requirements or specific software needed, especially students in technology, engineering, programming and other courses.
Take note these courses will need a powerful PC with at least 8GB or 16GB memory, and will naturally cost more – when in doubt, it’s better to have more power than less. Take note of any student discounts your university may have or deals like Apple’s Education, where students are eligible for special pricing.
However, if you are taking general courses, you could probably make do with low-end hardware, such as a tablet, Windows 10 laptop or even a Chromebook.
2. What are you going to use it for?
There are two factors to consider here – location and portability.
If you are living on-campus and near to most of your classes, you will have an easier time transporting a heavier laptop than your classmate who lives 30 minutes away and takes the bus. If you will mostly be using the laptop in your room, you can opt for a model with a bigger screen and smaller battery life.
When shopping, keep these four specs in mind: screen size, weight, battery life and price. Know yourself, your course and your university well to choose the best specs for your needs.
3. What is your experience with laptops?
— CGS Computers (@CGS_Computers) June 20, 2017
It is generally advised you stick to the platform you have a good deal of experience using, be it Apple Macintosh or Microsoft Windows. Check with your lecturers whether it is a course requirement that you use any one platform as most educational and business software run on Microsoft Windows.
So, if you’re a Mac user now, it would be good to stick to it and pay a one-off £64.99 for Parallels Desktop for Mac so you can run Windows on your Macbook.
4. How much post-purchase support would you need?
HP and Dell offer three years of reasonably priced on-site service to make those computer crashes a little less painful to deal with. For Mac users, it would be prudent to get Apple Care, so you can get technical support via phone as well as other hardware and software support from their team of experts.
For international students, be wary of your laptop brand’s presence in the country you’re heading to. While it may be easy to fix a Huawei tablet in Beijing, it may not be as easy when you are in Manchester, United Kingdom.
Apart from support, insurance and backup matter, too. Gadgets can get stolen and important assignments can be accidentally deleted. Always have multiple backups – one to an online cloud drive such as OneDrive, Google Drive, Dropbox and another on USB thumb drives and external hard drives. You’ll thank yourself for these little extra steps when you accidentally deleted an essay a few hours before the deadline.
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