I am currently in college working towards my degree in Journalism and use a laptop for my assignments, research, and attending my online classes. I feel that there are more important things than brand names when it comes to finding the perfect laptop for college. In fact there are several things you want to look for, no matter which brand you choose.
The first and most important, in my opinion, is finding a laptop that has integrated wireless. If your campus offers wireless access, you’ll be able to use your computer all over the campus. You won’t be confined to doing your assignments in a library or computer room. You can go outside and enjoy the weather and scenery while working on one of the many essays you’ll be required to write. This is even a useful option if you still live at home. You can easily setup your own wireless network and be able to go all over the house and even outside instead of being stuck to whichever room you plug your laptop into a phone line. This insures that you’ll be able to find a quite spot to study or maybe just watch a DVD.
This leads me to the second most important thing you’ll need for your college laptop, a DVD drive. Not only will it be great to escape to your favorite DVD in-between classes, but more and more software is being released in DVD format. You will come across several classes in college that will require you to install certain software on your computer for use in that class. Usually this software is installed on campus computers, but do you really want to have to go to the library, etc. whenever you want to work on an assignment? I didn’t think so. Of course a DVD drive is also going to come in handy if you live on campus. You’ll be able to watch DVDs in your dorm room without taking up a lot of what little space you have.
The following list of items doesn’t require a lot of explanation, but are very important:
1. A 60G hard drive will insure that you have enough space for required software, MP3s, DVD player software, etc.
2. I would recommend at least 512MBs of ram. There will be times when you will be running several different applications at once and you’ll want to be able to access them quickly.
3. Check with your campus on whether or not you need a Mac or a PC.
4. Find a drive that is a CD-RW/DVD so that you can easily burn your assignments onto a CD. Sometimes instructors will require you to save all of your work throughout the year and then turn it all in on a CD.
If you want a recommendation on a brand of laptop to buy, please check out my article on the Compaq v5101us laptop.
A great laptop for college, that will have everything you need, shouldn’t cost more than $600. I would highly suggest checking the Sunday paper every weekend for great deals on laptops. Dell usually lists there sales on the back of the USA Weekend edition, which is included in the Sunday paper. Be sure to check the other sales papers though. Office Depot often has amazing deals and that’s how I found out about the laptop I currently own. Another great tip is to check and see if your state offers a No-Tax Holiday before the school year starts. Depending on the price of the laptop you purchase, you could save a couple hundred dollars and we all know how much college students, including myself, need a great deal.