With summer days once again drifting away, preparations for school begin. For students starting or returning to college, one piece of equipment is indispensable, the laptop. A few years ago you could just about get away with only a pen and a pile of notepads. You could furiously scribble notes by hand, try to decipher them at exam time and queue up at the computer lab to type your essays.
But the internet provides such quick and easy research as well as file sharing and cloud storage that a laptop is essential for any student that wants to keep up. Fortunately for students the range of laptops has never been greater and there is a machine to suit every price and power requirement.
A Chromebook is any machine designed to run Google’s Chrome OS. This is a much simpler, more streamlined OS than Windows. It’s also free. That means Chromebooks are less expensive overall. They do however rely primarily on Google Apps and cloud services for day to day use. This means you will need to have continual access to Wi-Fi to use it effectively.
The benefit to users is that they don’t need to pay for expensive software such as Microsoft Office for word processing and other tasks. The only difficulty will be in adapting to Google Apps where you are used to MS Office although it is not a difficult transition.
Not only are Chromebooks light on price and requirements they are also physically light. This makes them ideal for students whose back packs are already bulging with textbooks.
The HP Chromebook 14 features a 1.4Ghz Intel Celeron Processor, 4GB of RAM, SSD memory and a 14” LED display.
Certain courses will demand more from a laptop than others. Design, architecture, engineering and media courses will need a laptop that can run heavy duty graphics or editing programs. MacBooks are ideal for these courses as they are built specifically with these tasks in mind.
They are more expensive generally but they are an investment that will see you right through college and well into the first years of a professional career. Variants such as the MacBook Air are light weight designs that won’t weigh you down as you travel from lecture to lecture.
The Apple MacBook Air uses an Intel Core i5 processor, 4GB of RAM and Integrated Intel HD graphics. The 1.7cm thick body weighs in at just over 1kg.
Notebook / Tablet Hybrid
Students are bound to find a range of creative applications for touch screen tablets at college. Free hand notes, short presentations and scrolling through texts can all be done simply and intuitively with the tablet form. But whatever subject you are studying, typing out long essays is always necessary. A tablet with an attachable keyboard is the perfect solution.
There are a number of quality hybrid laptops that have a keyboard base with a detachable tablet screen. They are versatile devices and are particularly useful as e-readers and handy for pouring over reams of notes and texts without having to carry around heavy piles of jotters and books.
Tablet Hybrid option:
Asus’ Transformer Book features a detachable keyboard that includes an additional battery and memory. The device runs Windows 8.1 and with a Micro HDMI port can display on HD TV screens.