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Laptop Buying Guide

A laptop is one of the best college tools you can purchase. It is handy for note-taking, studying, writing papers, and keeping in touch with friends and family. As one of the many important investments you’ll need to make in college, it’s imperative that you make the right choice in a laptop. Here are some categories to consider when you are making your selection:

1. Size:

Laptops range in size from 10” to 17” to various other sizes. Obviously, the smaller the computer the better the portability, but if you will be using your laptop as a desktop replacement then getting a mid-range sized laptop may be better.  13” and 14” laptops are great sizes for college students because they can be easily carried around, but they still have screens large enough for watching videos and surfing the internet. 15.6” laptops and anything larger are great for in home use but they can be troublesome to carry around.

* Netbooks are portable and affordable and are ideal for taking notes in class or for active lifestyles. However, they lack the processing power and storage data that much larger computers have.

2. Battery Life:

Netbooks are usually at the top of battery life lists. Some are meant for all day computing and can last up to 8 or 9 hours. But in buying a laptop, battery life is only important if you won’t be near an outlet all day. If you need a computer only for lecture notes, then a laptop with a couple of hours of battery life should do just fine.

*Tip: Laptop batteries lose their capacity to charge fully over time. To prolong the life of your battery, never leave your laptop charged in after it has charged to 100%.  And when you are near an outlet, try taking out the battery and just have the computer connected to the charger because there is a maximum to how many times a battery can be charged before it dies.

3. Processor:

Most college students technically only need a laptop for word processing and internet, but the entertainment factor of higher-end laptops is a welcome bonus. Computers with better processors are more adept at multi-tasking and are great for running multiple internet tabs and word documents at the same time. (But of course, the better the processor, the more expensive the price.)

4. Durability:

Try to get a laptop that is known to be durable. You don’t want to purchase a new computer every two years because the one you had before broke down. Invest in a padded laptop sleeve or case if you will be carrying your computer around and be careful with the laptop when you are out and about. Also invest in good anti-virus software and remember to do regular scans on your computer. If taken care of a laptop is meant to last you many years to come.

*Explore all your possible options by going into your local electronics store or researching laptop brands on the web.

These are just some of the factors you should consider when purchasing a laptop. Of course, you don’t even have to go with a laptop if it doesn’t fit your needs. Desktops are great if you can readily go home or to your dorm to access them and tablets are ideal for taking notes and quickly checking things on the internet. Pick what you think would work best for your college needs. Happy computing!

Photo courtesy of  Intel Free Press via Flickr (licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0)

Still need help buying a laptop? Check out the video below.

What do you look for when buying a laptop? Post comments below.

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