For students heading to college this fall, laptops are a must. But with so many options, how do you know what’s best for you? Consumer Reports says the first thing to do when shopping is check with your school. Often schools have specific requirements when it comes to computers. Most colleges will say you can buy either Windows or Apple. But some specific schools within colleges, may use applications that run on only one or the other.
Consumer Reports’ laptop expert says price is the next thing to consider. Mac laptops tend to be expensive. You’re probably going to pay a thousand dollars or more for anything Apple as to offer. But, according to a Consumer Reports survey, they are the most reliable. Windows laptops offer a much wider range of pricing. You can pay as little as a couple of hundred dollars. Or you can pay as much as a Mac, or even more.
Then there’s the size. Consumer Reports says 13-inch laptops offer a good compromise between screen size and weight for students on the go. Recommended 13-inch models include the MacBook Pro for $1,300 and the $1,000 Dell XPS non-touch. If you’re looking to spend less, the 14-inch Acer Aspire is a Consumer Reports’ Best Buy at $700.
The small, thin and lights are great. They’re cool. They’re easy to carry. But if you’re pulling an all-nighter writing that term paper, you’re going to be looking for a larger screen than what those little guys give you.
When shopping, Consumer Reports suggests looking for back-to- school discounts for students. Apple offers discounted education pricing on laptops and other items, Microsoft offers discounts of 10 percent or more and many individual computer-makers offer them as well.