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Top 10 Tips For Choosing a Budget Laptop
Choosing a Laptop on a Budget – Tips for Canadian University Students
One thing all Canadian University Students He will need these days is a laptop. The main advantage of a laptop over a stationary PC is its size and portability. For many degree programs, a laptop can be an indispensable tool for most, if not all, of your classes. In the modern digital age, most teachers or lecturers use PowerPoint or Adobe formats for their class notes and presentations. Most provide copies to students via class websites for downloading and printing and many classes also require daily classroom materials. While printing out notes or presentations and following them is a perfect way to manage your classes, using a laptop puts everything in one place.
Imagine sitting in class, following along with notes and writing your remarks or memory aids right below each slide. At the end of the class, hit save, close the laptop, go to your next class and rinse/repeat. While this may be obvious, it is the not so obvious benefits that are causing more and more students to switch from the old paper and pen system to a digital one. While you’re in class, you can catch up on emails, use Wikipedia or Google to learn more about topics you’re not 100% sure about, or even participate in real-time class discussions about your notes. you’re covering up! I had a professor who encouraged the use of the laptop not only for managing digital notes, but also to participate in a live Twitter feed that he set up every day. Rather than raising their hand and asking a question out loud, risking embarrassment and ridicule, he had the students Tweet the class Twitter account and answer the students’ questions that way. I have never seen such a useful and extensive class discussion as I did in that class, even if it was partially digital! Anyway, on to the tips!
Tip #1 – Choose Your Size Wisely!
While 16″+ laptops are easy to look at and very comfortable to use, they are really not that practical for a student who intends to use them in class. Here’s why: Many lecture halls and classrooms try to pack in as many desks and students . As a result, personal space is not that abundant. Some classrooms have long tables with chairs that can accommodate a large laptop, but most certainly not. Most reading rooms have chairs with an attached surface. which is sometimes as small as. 12″ wide! They were built with sheets of paper and clipboards in mind, not 16″ supercomputer laptops. So beware of larger “entertainment” laptops and always keep in mind what you’re really buying this laptop for. “And even then they can be a hassle to sometimes Try to go as small as you can tolerate.
Tip #2 – Battery life
For most students, a day at school can be 6 hours or more. While most of your time is spent running from class to class or getting lunch or coffee, the rest is spent sitting in class probably with your new laptop. This is where having a laptop with excellent battery life really pays off. If buying from an electronics store, ask the salesperson how long you can expect a full charge to last on average. Try to find a laptop that has a battery capable of at least 2 hours. Apple laptops are famous for their long battery life that often lasts 4 hours or more, but they are also famous for being rather expensive and probably won’t be an option for someone choosing a budget laptop. If you’ve found a laptop you like, but find it has poor battery life, buying a replacement battery is always an option. If your salesperson works on commission, see if they’ll throw one in for free. If all else fails, put the power cord in your backpack and keep your laptop charged during breaks between classes.
Tip # 3 – Memory
There are two types of memory in a computer, RAM and Memory (hard disk).
- RAM is what your computer uses to load programs, play videos, music, etc. Think of it as a craft workbench. The more room it has, the more projects it can work on simultaneously and the faster it can access each of them. More is always better when it comes to RAM, so don’t try to cut costs on this feature, but don’t break the bank by going big. 4GB should be enough.
- Storage Memory is what your hard drive is. It’s where all the things you install and save are stored. If you plan to use your laptop for music, videos, games, etc., you’ll want as big a hard drive as you can afford. If your laptop is only going to be used for casual web browsing, e-mailing, IM’ing, essay-writing, etc. so this is definitely a feature you can minimize to save some $$. I would recommend getting at least a 100GB hard drive as Windows, Microsoft Office, and other essential programs can really add up in memory usage over time.
Tip #4 – Processor Speed
This again depends on your planned usage. If you want to play movies and games, you need a processor that is robust enough to handle it. But if you just do casual activities like web browsing, e-mail, etc. so this is another feature that you can cut costs to save a lot of $$. Don’t go lower than 1.6GHz though, this should be your minimum.
Tip #5 – Sound and Video on board
Don’t let a salesperson talk you into buying a laptop that has standalone sound and video adapters, as these add to the overall cost of a laptop enormously. A sound card and video card can often DOUBLE the price of an otherwise adequate laptop. Again, unless you’re doing heavy gaming or video editing, these aren’t necessary and you’ll never fully use them. It’s like buying an automatic machine gun when all you need is a slingshot.
Tip #6 – Pre-Installed Software
Make sure your new laptop has at least Windows 7 and some productivity software. If you don’t have Windows 7 or Microsoft Office, you probably want to try negotiating with your dealer. If he tries to sell to you at full price or even slightly discounted, don’t, don’t buy from him. Students receive great discounts through their campus computer and software outlets often in the range of 80% off. For example, I can get a full version of MS Office Home and Student Edition for $ 60 and Windows 7 Professional for $ 99. They are regularly priced at $ 160 for Office and $ 329 for Windows 7 Pro both in Future Shop. (Time of writing: July 12, 2010) This is another great area to save a lot of money on a student laptop.
Tip # 7 – Everything else is Just Extra
As for all the features I haven’t covered, consider them fluff or extras. Digital card readers, fingerprint scanners, built-in webcams, auxiliary ports, etc. these are all things you don’t need to consider. If the model you choose has them and they don’t add much to the bottom, great. If a salesperson tries to convince you that you will be struck by lightning if you don’t, walk away. Never forget what you’re buying this laptop for and don’t let words like “premium extras,” “limited edition model,” or “media-friendly” fool you into opening your wallet further than you should. you need During the life of your laptop you may use these features once or twice, so they are definitely not worth the $100 or $200 they will add to the price.
Tip #8 – Shop around!
Don’t let commission salesmen manipulate you into buying right then and there. “This sale ends tomorrow…” is the oldest line in the book. What they don’t tell you is that this sale ends, but a newer, even better one starts right after. Never feel pressured to capitalize on what appears to be an incredible deal. If they can afford to sell the laptop at that price today, they can afford to do it again tomorrow, or even next week. Be sure to compare prices with other stores such as Future Shop, Best Buy, Wal-Mart, Costco, London Drugs and Staples. Then check online at Canadian sites TigerDirect.ca and NCIX.com to compare how good the deals really are. You’ll often find better deals online while price-checking deals you’ve found in-store, so keep an eye out for those “online-only deals.”
Tip # 9 – Accessories
The only accessories I would recommend are a small mouse and a laptop skin. Note: not a laptop bag, but a rubber skin with a zipper, they are much cheaper. It’s like a wetsuit for your laptop. It’s all you need to keep it safe from bumps and scratches and it fits nicely in your bag. I also recommend a mouse for those times when you’re in the library or at home and have some space to spare. Touch pads are great for portability and convenience, but nothing beats navigating with a real mouse you can hold in your hand. Look for small wireless mice designed specifically for laptops. Some of the nice ones combine a data storage key with the USB plug-in component of the wireless mouse that gives you a great place to store documents, resumes, and anything else you may need quick access from any computer.
Tip #10 – Warranty
Many electronics stores and computer stores offer their own store warranty on the sale of an item. For computers, these can be a good thing if the price is right. They will often tell you how any problem big or small will be taken care of for free if you buy a warranty. What they don’t tell you is that there is almost no limit to how long they can keep your laptop for a repair. Large electronics stores in Canada have central service offices where they send their warranty claims for repair. In plain English, you are stuck without a laptop during the time it takes for your computer to be shipped, repaired and returned to the store where you left it. Depending on repair and parts availability, this can take up to 6 months in some cases!! Personally, I feel that warranties are a waste of money as I have never encountered a problem so severe that I couldn’t fix it myself. But I’m sure everyone has heard the story of someone who bought a computer only to have it die the next day, so it’s really all about budget and personal choice. For me, I’d rather save the $50-$100 and pay a local repair shop for faster service if something goes wrong.
I hope you found these tips helpful! I’m writing from experience as a Canadian University student who owns a Hewlett-Packard G10 laptop that I bought with Future Shop gift cards I received last Christmas! I managed to get $200 cheaper with the tips above, so they definitely work! If you think I missed something or if you have any comments at all, let me know in the forum or comment below. Happy laptop shopping!
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