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Laptops for students

At the beginning of the academic year, thousands of university students take the plunge into the arcane laptop market. Moore’s law states that computer performance will double every 18 months so perusing the many options requires an understanding of what capabilities one wants and the compromises one is willing to make, between processor speed and price for example. So here is a sample of some of the most attractive laptops on the market.

For the cash-strapped student, the Lenovo G530 laptop may be the most attractive option, priced at £199 from ASDA. With 1GB of RAM, and a basic graphics card, this is not a suitable laptop from gaming or for those who desire a high-end model. However this no frills machine is suitable for internet browsing, DVDs and music, boasting a good battery life. The low capacity 160GB hard drive could easily be boosted by an external hard drive, an inexpensive solution. The Lenovo has a 15.4 inch screen, 2.0GHz Intel Celeron processor and Windows 7 operating system- a list of features which make this laptop a very economic choice, so long as you don’t mind the somewhat limited capabilities.

The Toshiba NB550D netbook is an easily portable machine with an astounding 10hrs battery life for all day use. First of all, as with most netbooks, the standard 10.1 inch screen makes this too small to use as main machine. Netbooks are also commonly woefully underpowered, but this impressive model boasts AMD’s Fusion technology allowing for good graphics. Watching HD videos, editing photos on the move and a strong inbuilt speaker system will all keep you entertained in lectures. Internet browsing and office tasks run smoothly enough. There is a good 250GB hard drive and an SD card reader, but no optical driver for CD and DVD use.

Apple offers the MacBook air, a typically aesthetically attractive notepad from the titans of popular design. The sleek aluminium body houses a 1.8GHZ dual core Intel i5 or i7 processor and 4GB RAM, all facilitating fast internet browsing and office tasks. The powerful HD graphics card, 256 GB hard drive and 13.6 (or 11.6) inch screen ensures multimedia activities are not diminished either. However all these capabilities come at a cost, to the student’s wallet, this is one of the more expensive laptops on the market.

To save money, refurbished laptops may well be a smart choice. Refurbished laptops are pre owned laptops that have undergone some reconditioning process, often sourced from corporate environments or customer returns under 3 months old. There is a stigma attached to buying pre owned laptops which does not exist with pre owned cars, even though the financial risk is vastly smaller with second hand laptops. Refurbished models don’t alter your consumer rights greatly and technicians undertake a thorough process including full testing, upgrading, cleaning and software reinstallation. Thus refurbished laptops can be an excellent market to browse providing one is not searching for the latest models.

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Aryan Safavi

Former Sci and Tech editor 2011-2012.
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