Today, students of every age have one need in common: access to a computer. The computer is essential for child development, but laptops have become the ultimate learning tool for students offering the most convenience, power, connectivity and versatility in one portable package.
With a little planning and research, confident purchases are nearly as easy as buying school supplies. If a new laptop is on your back to school shopping list this year, the online shopping experts at FatWallet.com offer these tips to help you meet your budget when looking to buy the right student student laptop and help you save even more during their annual cash back sale.
Laptops vs. Tablets
- While tablets are extremely portable and have their uses, they can’t match the efficiency and versatility that laptops offer for everyday school work. If your budget allows for both, students can use a tablet in tandem with a laptop (or desktop computer) but today’s laptops are designed to meet all the demands of researching, writing, printing and communicating while offering much more streamlined designs for portability-most often leaving the tablet for fun and games. Plus, many schools do not allow tablets and it can be difficult to find tablet versions of textbooks.
- Choosing the right size and weight for your student laptop is important. It be light and easy to carry in a backpack, but large enough to house acceptable power and plug in options. Models that are 15.6 inches or 17.3 inches provide big enough screens for work and study, while still weighing in the very portable 5- to 7-pound range.
- A 250GB hard drive with 4GB DDR Ram is standard on today’s models and adequate for the majority of school use. Adding a hard drive with 7,200 RPM to increase performance cost effectively. If your student finds out that he or she needs more memory, adding it yourself is an easy and cost-effective DIY upgrade.
- Today’s student use laptops for a variety of graphic-intensive applications, like HD video streaming and light 2D gaming. Most newer laptops have plenty of power for both and unless gaming is the ultimate goal (let’s hope not), you can save between $100 to $200 by opting out of the dedicated graphics card.
- Most dual and quad-core laptops provide plenty of battery power for a normal students’ daily activities without the need to lug a power cord along. And now, since students use iPods or smartphones for email, music and other simple applcations like social media, they’ll use less laptop battery power. Four to six-cell lithium-ion batteries are vwry efficient and standard.
- You can save money on the initial purchase by opting out of bundled anti-virus protection, extended warranties or even the Microsoft Office Suite. There are several free, high-quality anti-virus and office productivity software available online. As far as warranty, it will most likely be a longer one when you buy directly from the brand versus a box store. An extended warranty isn’t that necessary since most defects generally show up before the original warranty expires.
- Deal hunters reap the biggest savings. Student discounts (will need a student’s school ID) provide extra savings from many of the major computer makers and software brands, like Apple, HP, Dell, Lenovo, Microsoft, Adobe and Sony. Plus, stack those savings with timely bargains, cash- back rewards and exclusive online coupons from tech deal sites like FatWallet.com. The website works with most major sellers like HP, Dell, Best Buy and Newegg to help increase back-to-school savings.
Credit is King
- Using a credit card for laptop purchases provides all the consumer protections associated with credit card use, some card companies include additional cash back savings, and using a Visa or American Express card will extend your warranty an extra year.