Choosing a Computer

Choosing a Computer

Forget the Mac or PC debate—you can make that choice on your own. The important thing is figuring out what type of machine you're going to need. It's unlikely that you'll want to head off to college with a desktop machine—unless you're studying video editing, music production, or something like that—so we'll concentrate on laptops.


First things first: You're going to need to figure out your optimal screen size and resolution. Most students can get by with a 13" screen and should, because it generally provides a decent resolution (at least 1280x720) and it's not too much trouble to carry around. If you're looking to drop some weight, you can consider options like the MacBook Air or DELL Adamo, but you'll be paying considerably more for considerably less in those cases. If you have cash to burn and just plan to use your machine for typing papers and taking notes in class, a pricey compact notebook might be right up your alley.


Say you're going into graphic design; you're probably going to need additional screen real estate. A 13" screen probably won't cut it in your case, and you should consider something larger. On the other hand, most laptop displays aren't ideal, and if you're looking for a large screen and a better panel (for color accuracy, viewing angle, etc.), you may be better off purchasing an external monitor instead of paying more for a larger laptop screen for the best of both worlds.


Your situation is going to dictate the type of machine you need, and there are too many variations to cover here. Instead, here are some important things to consider when choosing a machine for college:


Does your schoolwork require a fast machine? Ideally you'd like your computer to last you the four years you're at college, but if you don't need the fastest machine on the market don't get it. There are plenty of other things you can buy with the leftover money (or you can just save it).

Are you doing any graphic design, video editing, or other type of media work? Figure out if the software you'll need for your classes makes use of your GPU. If it does, make a good graphics card a consideration when choosing a machine.

The size and weight of a laptop becomes especially important when you're carrying it around all day.

Laptop battery life can be a huge issue if you're spending long hours in class. If your class schedule is scattered, you may have time to charge in between. Maybe you'll even be blessed with outlets in the classroom so you don't have to worry about running out of juice. More than likely, though, you'll need your battery to last you at least four hours. Try to choose a laptop that's rated for quite a bit longer to ensure you'll get the battery life you need. But if that level of battery(such as dell Inspiron E1705 battery and dell Inspiron 6000 battery) life just can't be possible you can always look at purchasing additional batteries or external power sources. Before you do that, however, try to get the most out of the battery you already have. We've looked at several ways to extend your laptop's battery life: maximizing your Window's laptop battery, 15 ways to increase battery life, extend your battery(for example dell Inspiron 9300 battery) life with the right browser, and five tips for increasing your laptop's battery life.

Getting a traditional laptop isn't your only option. Being champions of portability and battery life, netbooks and iPads are other possibilities for certain kinds of students. While I enjoy both, I personally don't see either being the best choice for students—at least exclusively. Even 11.6" netbooks are still a bit cramped with screens packing in enough resolution to make the average person's eyes tired. The iPad is also geared more towards consumption than productivity, so it isn't necessarily an ideal choice for a student. But if you're fortunate enough to be able to afford a supplementary device used primarily for note-taking and reading, reserving your main laptop for the real work, you might not want to rule out either device.


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