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Looking at Laptops for College? Consider an iPad in Addition.

So while this website is all about finding laptops for college students, I do want to take a moment to breifly talk about the iPad.

First off, I want to make it clear that I do not think the iPad is a replacement for laptops.

There are certainly a number of activities you can do on the iPad which are as easy to do, and in some cases easier, than a laptop – but that is the point of the device.  There are things which are a bit clumsy on laptops – and desktops for that matter.  Some activities which i prefer to do on my iPad vs my laptop include email, web browsing, and brainstorming big projects (via mind mapping…which is really cool on a tablet).

What is important to note is that the iPad is forcing a transformation in the way we interact with our technology and digital information.  This is something which can’t be avoided, no matter how much you might decide to ignore it.

So with all that being said, while you are busy trying to find laptops for college use – consider also an iPad as part of your repertoire (who knows, maybe you can combine the two and spend less on a laptop).

  • Using the iPad – Research, meetings, and fun – Over the last few months many students and several of my administrative colleagues have acquired iPads and have been asking how I use the device to best effect. This post is an answer to that request and I hope it will be useful for …
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Laptops for College Students in Writing and Research

In two previous articles I wrote about finding laptops for college students who are studying creative arts and who are in the scientific fields of study – in both these cases, you have certain requirements which put some limitations on your choices (assuming you want to acquire a quality laptop. In this article, I’m going to go over what you might consider for someone in a non-scientific field or otherwise where you don’t have heavy requirements.

For the most part, your decisions here are not going to be complex. You want to ask yourself if you are the student (or ask the student), what sort of activities will you be doing with the laptop? Are you simply going to be writing papers and carrying it around with you to the library for example?

It is important to go through and look at what sort of activities you will need the laptop for. It really all comes down to the programs you need to run. If you require the frequent use of a program that is processor heavy, then check out the laptops for students in scientific fields article. If however your answer is that you are going to write paper with it, you have a whole wide world of choices.

In this case, I would recommend something small and light. My favorite (which should be no surprise) is the Apple 13” Macbook Air. If your primary activity is to write papers, then you have an opportunity to go with a system that is much lighter than otherwise – when you get a light laptop, you sacrifice either performance or quality. The Macbook Air represents the height of both, which is why it is on the higher end. If that is too expensive for you, then I recommend the Toshiba Portege Z835-P360.

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What we can Expect from Ultrabooks

The concept of ‘The Ultrabook’ is going to be a driving force in the marketing of laptops over the next year.  Its important to have an understanding of what Ultrabook really means.  When you get down to the details, Ultrabook has no technical meaning – it’s simply a marketing term applied to thinner lighter laptops.  It’s a way for PC laptop companies to fight against the Macbook Air.

The article below goes into some detail about what to expect from Ultrabooks as we move forward.

Some of my initial thoughts:  The Ultrabook is in response to the Macbook Air.  This is a good thing in that its a sign of companies trying to drive some sort of innovation with respect to competition.  There are some drawbacks.  First off, it may seem like the Macbook Air is expensive – but as I always say, you get what you pay for.

I have personally inspected some of the new Ultrabooks, and there are a lot of these thin and light laptops that are ridiculously flimsy.  When you open some of them, the screen back even bends slightly – that is just poor craftsmanship to me.  Apple’s Macbook Air is perhaps disturbingly rigid – check out this video of a Macbook Air being used to cut an apple.  I certainly don’t recommend using your laptop for this, but it demonstrates the physical quality of that system to be sure.  The Ultrabooks that you find at a lower price are likely to be flimsy, or otherwise of poor physical quality.

With that being said, check out this article:

What Do You Get With an Ultrabook?

A new category of thin and light Windows 7 laptops called ultrabooks has emerged in the past few months, but questions remain about whether the time is ripe to buy or to wait for Windows 8 models with features like touchscreens.

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Consider Ultrabooks for Students

The major theme of this coming year in the world of laptops is going to be the Ultrabook. This is really just a marketing gimmick – the ultrabook is nothing more than a thin, light, and powerful laptop. The ultrabook concept was conceived primarily due to the availability of very powerful laptop processing capabilities that have come out due to Intel’s Sandy Bridge cpu architecture, as well as the quickly increasing availability and affordability of solid state drives – as well as the prevalence of cloud computing.

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Image via IntelFreePress

That is certainly a lot of things, and they are all important to think about for students! The Ultrabook is in essence a response to Apple’s Macbook Air – which has proven to be an extremely powerful tool in a very light, durable, yet thin package. So pretty much every laptop manufacturing company is now coming out with thin, light, durable, yet powerful laptops and dubbing them “ultrabooks.”

Let’s briefly touch upon Intel’s Sandy Bridge cpu architecture. Sandy Bridge is simply the name of the processing circuitry architecture that Intel released in 2011. The reason it is so important is because they combined some interesting technologies to provide a very efficient integrated CPU circuit that is especially suited for small mobile applications – such as thin and light laptops. Without getting into the technical mumbo jumbo of it, the numbers of the CPU don’t mean as much anymore (2 GHZ vs 3GHZ for example). The technology platform has outgrown the need for speed, and now takes advantage of efficiency of information exchange in other ways.

The affordability and availability of solid state drives is a direct result of flooding in Thailand in the second half of 2011. This flooding shut down the most major hard drive manufacturer’s warehouse plants – resulting in a swift restriction of availability on HDDs. Prices of traditional hard drives shot up, and people started drifting towards SSDs which were starting to become available on a consumer level. This caused manufacturers of SSDs to push up production, and several new iterations of this technology have been released in the past 6 months. It is now feasible to be creating a laptop with an SSD for under $1000, this would not have been dreamed of 1 year ago.

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Image via IntelFreePress

Finally, the most influential element of the entire picture is the vastly increasing pervasiveness of ‘The Cloud.’ ‘The Cloud’ is simply a term served to describe the ability to have all of your information stored on web based services, made readily available through those web based services wherever you may have an internet connection within the world. This means that you don’t need to rely as much on storage or information transfer devices such as dvd drives – thus the Ultrabook is able to drop a thick and heavy dvd drive and be thinner and lighter without losing much functionality.

So what does this mean for students? Educational institutions are often embracing new technology swiftly – this is either due to the average relative age of those who are in those institutions, or that the institutions themselves are always advancing with new knowledge. The fact remains that it is prudent to consider the newest technology, which takes full advantage of the newest available hardware and software resources. Having a computer that fully integrates into the cloud, is easy to transport everywhere is going to be a true gift for someone who can flourish in that type of environment. So consider ultrabooks for students – it’s the way the world is turning.

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Article: Top 8 Laptops Under $500

Top 8 Laptops Under $500
http://blog.laptopmag.com/top-8-laptops-that-cost-less-than-500

The price of Windows laptops continues to decline, with the average system costing just $456 in December 2011. However, you don’t have to settle for something that’s underpowered or poorly made when you opt for a bargain notebook. You can get a second-generation Core i3 processor, 4GB of RAM, and 500GB hard drive in this price range, which is plenty of power for everyday computing. Here are the 8 best laptops you can get for under $500 right now.

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What to Expect from Laptops in 2012

We are now fully into the 2012 cycle of things, and it is time to look over what we can expect from the next year. I like to do this at the beginning of every year because it is important to understand what sort of technology is around the corner before we buy. What can we expect from Laptops in 2012?

If you are looking to buy a laptop right now, you should consider what is just down the road. This past month showed us CES, which is brilliantly placed in January to give us a glimpse of what we can expect from the year ahead. The most prevalent topic through CES was that of the ‘Ultrabook.’

This is a topic which you should make yourself familiar with if you intend on buying a laptop this year. The world Ultrabook is going to be tossed around the marketing table like nothing else. It has become a buzzword which simply describes a laptop that is thin, light, durable, and powerful. The Ultrabook was started by Asus as a way of combating Apple’s Macbook Air.

The reasoning for this is that Apple’s Air laptops are supremely durable, light, thin and still pack a powerful enough punch to get most people’s work done. In fact, the only reasons to pick a Macbook pro over a Macbook air are if you really absolutely need a 15” or greater screen, if you need more power because you are doing production activities like photo editing, video editing, or other intensive tasks – and if you like a heavier computer. The Macbook Pro is not a light machine – but this has been the norm for high quality laptops until the Macbook Air came out.

The other component which makes the Macbook Air so fantastic is that it is ridiculously durable. If you have ever played around in the store (or own) a really thin and light laptop, you will likely have noticed that the half of the system with the screen built into it is rather flimsy. I have experienced some of these laptops where the screen will actually bend back when I open the laptop – this is horrendous design in my opinion and should be avoided. The Macbook Air is solid and will not bend. This is due to the case being manufactured from one solid piece of aluminum – a process no other company uses.

I explain all this because it is likely that the Ultrabook’s being produced will be touted as thin, light, and powerful – but I guarantee there will be “Ultrabooks” out there which are flimsy. While I haven’t had the opportunity to play around with Asus’ new Ultrabooks, I think it is important for you as the researching consumer to find a store which has laptops on display, and physically hold them – feel their durability, weight, and size.

Another thing we can look forward to for laptops in 2012 is a Macbook pro update. Having said all that bout Macbook pros being heavy – there are rumors abound that this year’s Macbook Pro refresh will lead to a design very similar to the air. So we could possibly be seeing a Macbook Air with the size and performance of a Macbook Pro.

What does all this mean if you are looking at laptops for college? Most of these Ultrabooks and Mac systems will be in the upper tier of pricing – starting around $1000. For the most part, you get what you pay for, so it isn’t as if these are expensive for no reason. There is extreme value in having a system which is very light, very thin, and supremely durable – especially for a college student who is moving about a lot. Ultimately, this is what we can look for over the next year – and perhaps we may even see some budget range options for these types of systems.

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Article: Sony’s VAIO Lineup Gets New CPUs, Built-in 4G LTE

I’ve always liked Sony’s laptops to a point…i currently own a Vaio that is about 6 years old.  It’s still in relatively good position, except that Sony stopped supporting driver upgrades for it almost 3 years ago.  Yes it’s old, but if I could update to Win 7 everything would be fine.  With that being said, the quality of new Viaos is excellent.

Sony’s VAIO Lineup Gets New CPUs, Built-in 4G LTE
http://blog.laptopmag.com/sonys-vaio-lineup-gets-new-cpus-built-in-4g-lte

Sony announced today that it has refreshed its VAIO lineup of notebooks with new CPUs, software updates, and a few new color schemes. The notebooks set to see improvements include the VAIO Z, S, E, and C series. The top-of-the-line VAIO Z series gets arguably the best update of all, an optional built-in 4G LTE wireless card. Sony has also added a new Carbon Silver color scheme to the Z’s already existing Carbon Gold, Carbon Black, and Carbon Black Premium color options.

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Finding High Quality Laptops on a Budget

Regardless of what you need a laptop for, and how badly you need it – often it all comes down to price.  This is especially true for students, who are likely already piling on mountains of debt through loans – and if that isn't the case then the family has likely spent every last penny sending the student to college.  This means that a laptop often goes overlooked – these days that is a shame.  There is so much mobile computing capability, and usefulness out of that capability that going through a college program without a laptop is just a shame.

The good news is that finding affordable laptops is not that difficult.

  • Finding High Quality Cheap Laptops For Students « Educational … – Finding a high quality cheap notebook computer for a student is not as difficult as it once was. Laptop prices have been dropping so steadily anyone can now find an affordable student laptop. This entry was posted on Friday, November 26th, 2010 at 12:35 am and is filed under Educational Technology.

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Laptops for College from College

Laptops in college are very important tools.  The ability to be mobile with your computing capability is the crux of this – being able to go to class with your work, go to the library, work with others in various different areas, are all important things to be able to do.   One of the limitations of course is the cost – laptops are not cheap.  While you can work with a limited budget and get a portable computer for around $200, some people just don't have the money.  If that is the case then I recommend looking into your college to see what sort of programs they have – some colleges like this one have programs to provide their students with laptops, and that is pretty cool.

  • LAPTOPS FOR STUDENTS … – Gadsden State Community College – Many Gadsden State Community College students attending the Valley Street Campus received a teaching aid to help them reach their educational goals. Dawn Bush, instructional technology specialist, said that 100 students have been allowed to borrow laptops. There will be additional laptops available for the fall semester.

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Laptops for College Students in Scientific Fields

Previously I wrote about choosing laptops for college students who are in creative fields. I showed that you want to take certain specifications into account when you are choosing your laptop for creatives because they are going to need to be able to do certain things – these require more power in a lot of cases. Today I want to talk about choosing laptops for college students who are in mathematic/scientific fields – math, biology, physics, chemistry etc.

So we begin with looking at the different types of uses that your student may have for a laptop within a scientific field. Research, writing, calculating, and presenting are likely to be activities which the student will undertake often during their time at college. In addition, I find there are a higher number of people in these fields who are computer savvy than in other fields – so this actually opens up a few options for us as well.

Just as when we were looking at laptops for creative students, we ask ourselves – how much power is needed? In this particular case, you aren’t necessarily going to need as much graphical processing power. If your student is further along in their studies of physics, math, or chemistry, then you may find that they are conducting research which requires extensive calculations. Greater power in the central processing unit (CPU) can improve calculation times for these situations. On average however, you shouldn’t need to go to the extremes in performance that you need for creative students.

RAM is also not as big of an issue here. This day in age, you want to run at least 4 GB RAM in a laptop. The reason for adding more than this amount of ram is if you do a lot of heavy multitasking, or run programs/files which are huge. For the most part, students of the scientific/mathematic realm will be doing a lot of heavy calculations – but the programs/files are not that large. Much of the weight of calculation falls upon the CPU and not the RAM.

The video card is also not terribly critical – however again, if you are further along in your studies, you may find that you are running theoretical scenarios which utilize high end physical calculations. There are graphics cards which can provide extra calculations for particle and fluid physics – but for the typical student this won’t be that necessary.

We find that for students of a mathematical/scientific nature are only going to be looking at CPU power as the defining factor. In some cases, a quad core CPU in the laptop can be beneficial – again if you are expecting to be doing a lot of research which requires extensive theoretical calculations. If you are an undergraduate this is likely to only fall in your senior year. Prior to this, you should be fine with a higher end dual core CPU. The rest of the specifications fall into place – 4 GB ram is sufficient, and most laptops with those two specs will come with a video card that is perfectly adequate.

2012 is going to be showing us the year of the ultrabook, so this will open up a lot of viable thin/light alternatives. One of the major themes of this will be the prevalence of SSDs and smaller screens. SSD prices have been dropping rapidly with newer more powerful SSDs being released on a swift basis. This means that regardless of the type of laptop you get, I recommend getting one with an SSD. You will have a significant performance boost in usability while lowering the weight of your system and reducing the chance of damage by movement.

 

With all that being said, here are a couple excellent options of laptops for college students in the scientific fields:

ASUS Zenbook UX31E-DH72 13.3-Inch Thin and Light Ultrabook (Silver Aluminum) Laptops for College Students in Scientific Fields

Acer AS5755-6828 15.6-Inch Laptop (Glossy Black) Laptops for College Students in Scientific Fields

Apple MacBook Air MC965LL/A 13.3-Inch Laptop (NEWEST VERSION) Laptops for College Students in Scientific Fields

Apple MacBook Pro MD313LL/A 13.3-Inch Laptop (NEWEST VERSION) Laptops for College Students in Scientific Fields

 

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