In today’s college classroom, a laptop is no longer a luxury. In fact, its almost become an expectation. Professors assume that students have access to a computer meeting all of their academic needs, and whether that’s found in the comfort of your backpack or in a nearby computer lab is entirely beside the point.
But the convenience and opportunity of using a laptop is nothing to sneeze at. A good laptop will make you a more efficient student, and one capable of doing many more things during your college studies. The trick, then, is making sure the laptop you purchase is ideal for what you’ll be using it for. Since college students pursue a wide range of fields and professions, everyone’s likely to have different ideas of what features are most desirable in a portable computer. Whatever your leanings, here’s a guide to help you sort out what you want and find the best laptop.
Your laptop’s size will directly affect its portability. If you’re someone who figures to be constantly on the move — say, for example, a young student journalist — a larger laptop could be burdensome. On the other hand, someone like a designer or computer engineer may prefer or even require a larger screen, and thus a larger laptop. Size will also affect the weight of your computer, which can get tedious after a day hauling it around on your back.
Better designs are worth the investment
The design might be an afterthought to you, but it can affect the quality and longevity of the product. Does the exterior seem flimsy and weak? Are there weird aspects of its design, such as an oddly shaped power cord port, that would make the laptop difficult or awkward to use? Design plays a large role in your comfort with using the computer, so it’s worth your attention. Other points to consider: Computer thickness and mouse pad size.
Invest in specs
If you buy a cheap, already outdated computer, you’re going to fall behind the times very quickly. Be on the lookout for a laptop offering great specs that figure to remain relevant well into the future. Some of the most important aspects are the type of data storage drive – solid-state drives are much preferable to hard drives – as well as storage space and processing speed.
Make sure you have plenty of battery life
Unfortunately, not everywhere you go will have an outlet handy for your charging needs. Brace against this harsh reality with a computer offering a good supply of battery power. Aim for at least 5.5 hours of life, but know that many computers out there today offer six to eight hours, and sometimes more.
Be comfortable with the keyboard and mouse
Keyboards come in different sizes and layouts, and mouse trackpads can vary greatly in how they function from one computer to the next. You’ll want to know that whatever computer you buy will be an easy adjustment. A little transition is much preferable to the realization that you can’t comfortably work on your computer.
Explore both Macs and Windows options
Most people have a strong opinion endorsing one versus the other, but don’t rule out one type of computer until you’ve given it a full review. You might find certain advantages that one has over the other, and it might be enough to sway you in an unexpected direction.
Choosing a laptop isn’t a life or death decision, but it might feel that way when you’ve hit crunch time and your computer, for whatever reason, if failing to help you get through your studies. Ultimately, it’s a personal decision that you’ll want to consider carefully before making the investment. You’ll be spending a lot of time with your computer while in school, so it’s worth the extra time taken to survey the market and find the model that best suits your needs.
Lindsey is a professional writer living in the Indianapolis area and she writes on behalf of Sears and other deserving brands. Currently, Lindsey is completing work on her master’s degree.