How to Buy the Best Laptop for Your Back-to-School Needs

Tech Talker covers what features you should look for in a new laptop for school. 

Eric Escobar
4-minute read
Episode #233

These are all important questions to ask because they will determine the size and weight of your laptop. If you’re going to be taking your laptop to and from class, it will be important to keep weight in mind. You will want something slim and light. The MacBook Air are great for this. They are extremely light and slim.

Carting your laptop from place to place will also put much more wear and tear on your laptop’s moving parts. This is why I suggest that you get a solid state hard drive for any laptop that you end up buying. All Apple laptops have solid state hard drives, but they are often an added feature for Microsoft laptops. Solid state hard drives not only make your laptop much faster, but they won’t suffer the same damage that spinning hard drives because there are no moving parts. The lifespan of a spinning hard drive will be severely reduced if it’s bumping around in a backpack.

Additional Features

There are some other features that are definitely not required for a school laptop but are nice to have. If you’re going away for school, you’ll definitely want a nice webcam and microphone so that you can use FaceTime or Skype to keep in touch with family and friends everywhere in the world.

Another hardware feature that is often overlooked is a slot for an SD card. This is typically the memory card that is used in digital cameras. I won’t buy a laptop without this card slot because my wife’s camera uses one of these memory cards, and so do all of my Raspberry Pi’s. Without this slot, I would need to carry around an adapter any time I wanted to offload pictures or load a new operating system on a Raspberry Pi.

Lastly, I really like having a backlit keyboard. Even though I can type easily without looking at the keyboard I still like having lit up keys when I type at night. It helps me avoid fumbling around.

Where to Buy New Computers

Now that you have some idea of the questions to ask and things to look for in a laptop where do you actually go buy one? If you’re going to buy an Apple computer go no further than your nearest Apple store. If you go online and search Apple.com for “Refurbished Laptops,” the company sometimes has some great deals on refurbished laptops that seem like brand new (I have one and it works great).

If you’re going to buy a Microsoft laptop, I would check out a place that you can physically look and touch the laptop. My go to place is Costco, because of the great return policy. Next I always take a look on Amazon; there are some great deals and they have a great review system so you can find any of the quirks that the laptop might have.

Be sure to check out all my earlier episodes at techtalker.quickanddirtytips.com. And if you have further questions about this podcast or want to make a suggestion for a future episode, post them on Facebook.com/QDTtechtalker.

Until next time, I’m the Tech Talker, keeping technology simple!

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.


About the Author

Eric Escobar

Tech Talker demystifies technology and cutting edge devices so that even the most tech illiterate can understand what's going on with their computer or gadget — and what to do when something goes wrong.

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