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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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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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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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Article: 10 Hottest Ultrabooks

Ultrabooks are going to be the big story this year.  Their thinness, lightness, and power make them perfect laptops for college students.  As such, it is going to be critical to separate the wheat from the chaff.

As we move forward through the year, I will be looking for the best ultrabooks options.  In the meantime, here is an introduction.

10 Hottest Ultrabooks
http://blog.laptopmag.com/the-10-hottest-ultrabooks

Ultrabooks are the biggest thing in laptops for 2012. Why? Because they’re 0.8 inches thick or less, weigh less than 4 pounds and (generally) cost less than $1,000. Plus, they’re designed to wake from sleep in about 2 seconds, similar to the MacBook Air. It also doesn’t hurt that Intel is investing $300 million to spur this category. But with seemingly every PC maker under the sun debuting an Ultrabook — or several — there’s a lot of models from which to choose. Here’s our roundup of the hottest Ultrabooks so far, including ones we’ve reviewed and some we can’t wait to get in our labs.

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Article: Sony VAIO: Z with Dock, SE with IPS, and an Ultrabook Concept

The major thing we can take away from CES is that this year is going to be all about the marketing of “ultrabooks.”. Don’t let the designation fool you though.  Not all ultrabooks are made equal.  Apple still holds the torch on quality and service.  Sony is the sort of company which is likely to provide high quality PC options.  Take a look at this concept.

Sony VAIO: Z with Dock, SE with IPS, and an Ultrabook Concept
http://www.anandtech.com/show/5430/sony-vaio-z-with-dock-se-with-ips-and-an-ultrabook-concept

Like all the major OEMs, Sony had an ultrabook concept on display. I use the terms concept loosely here, as while Sony didn’t commit to anything the ultrabook push by Intel pretty much guarantees that the 13” VAIO ultrabook will see the light of day this year. The Intel booth, incidentally, was largely devoted to pushing ultrabooks with over half of the public area devoted to singing the praises of the devices. As for the Sony ultrabook, it’s not too hard to guess at the hardware inside (Ivy Bridge ULV), and the design is flat (e.g. no sloped keyboard) and looks stylish. We were unable to physically handle the preproduction/concept device, but we hope to have a unit for review when the time comes.

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