Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The High-Tech Student

Hello fellow readers and welcome back for another post by yours truly Malcolm Wong (@malcolmwong1). This week I'll be discussing something that's central in all our lives. *drum roll* - TECHNOLOGY.

As students the most central piece of tech gear is our laptops/notebooks and we coincidentally demand the most out of them. They are our mobile work stations and entertainment hubs. There are many options out there for laptops the key is to get something that fits your lifestyle and needs. The top 3 things you should look for as a student getting a computer for school are mobility, functionality and of course price and quality. I have selected notebooks that I think

Before I start my review of a few laptops I want to make a few things clear. I think those cute little netbooks are absolutely, positively USELESS! In my opinion they are too small to be functional and don’t have the power to do much of anything and for a little bit more you can get a tablet which out performs the netbook in EVERY aspect. I’m also a firm believer that you get what you pay for in terms of quality especially when it comes to laptops. Furthermore, when it comes to the Mac vs. PC debate I believe it comes down to a personal choice. I have chosen to review 2 types of notebooks with a Mac and PC options for both types – a total of 4 notebooks.that students should consider through these 3 criteria.

I’m going to start with the infamous Apple MacBook Pro. At a starting price of $1249 not including taxes it’s probably one of the most expensive choices. However, it has many redeeming qualities that may justify paying the price. Out of the Macbook Pro choices I highly recommend the 13” model not only because of its size and portability, but because of the price! – Let’s face it Apple products are really expensive and as students money typically isn’t a big part of our lives. With the recent update to the MacBook Pro line the 13” gains quite a bit of value with bigger hard drives and the top of the line dual core i5 and i7 processors. Another amazing quality of the MacBooks is the long lasting battery usually around 6-7 hours – the longer your battery lasts the longer you can stay mobile. The Macbook Pros come equipped with enough ports and slots for connecting the other digital devices in your life. A 13” Macbook Pro is great if price isn’t your biggest concern as it packs plenty of power and functionality into a small device – it also looks pretty cool.

If you’re not an Apple fan or a the $1249 price tag has you thinking twice then maybe the Acer Aspire S3 notebook is for you. Starting at $899 plus taxes the S3 is part of the new generation of notebooks dubbed the “UltraBook”. It is far cheaper than the MacBook Pro and packs a similar punch. To describe an “UltraBook” think of a hybrid between a High performance laptop and tablet. The S3 is just a mere 2.98 pounds that’s 2 pounds lighter than the 13” Macbook Pro. Not only is it light but it EXTREMELY thin – I’m talking about 0.51 inches thin. Featuring similar specs as the Mac Pro 13” it’s packs a big punch in an extremely small and THIN package. PCs are notorious for having TERRIBAD battery life I assure you this isn’t the case with these PC UltraBooks. The S3 changes all of it with a 7 hour battery. The most interesting part of the S3 is that instead of a DVD drive it has a solid state hard drive to run your most essential applications with super performance in addition to a Hard disk drive for storage – can you say AWESOME? Plus, who really uses the DVD Drive on their laptop any more?

Another Apple product that is starting gaining popularity is the 11.6” MacBook Air. At a first glance the Air looks – in a word, unappetizing for a student; Minimal storage, a low end processor and a starting price of $999. When you factor in how portable this little notebook is due to the flash memory then it doesn’t seem so bad it sort of makes up for the lack of everything else and the price tag. However, with the lack of, SD card slot and storage (unless you buy the more expensive bigger models) I don’t believe the Air could take centre stage of your tech arsenal – mostly because it can’t much of anything. If you’re looking for something light weight, for internet browsing and note taking then it you could consider it; at a tiny size of 11.6 inches in diameter there’s not much else you can do with it. The moderately high price point coupled with its low level of functionality in my opinion isn't a great combination. For a smaller price you could snag a tablet and a Bluetooth keyboard and accomplish the same things. The 13” model for the Air starts at $1299 – for that price why not get the 13” Macbook pro or something else. To me the Air is just full of hot air.

The last notebook I think students should consider is the brand new 13.3” Asus Zenbook. At a starting price of around $999 it is on the more expensive side but it has more features to show for it. The Zenbook is equipped with a 128GB solid state hard drive double the storage than the base MacBook air. Despite being larger and being made entirely out of metal, the Zenbook is about the same weight and dimensions as the Macbook Air. It uses the same processor as fully upgraded 13” Macbook Air which is another way your money goes farther with the Zenbook. It also has more options for connectivity such as Ethernet, USB 3.0, and an SD card slot as well as a micro HDMI port. The Zenbook is much more functional than the MacBook Air and a better buy overall especially when looking for something extremely portable.

I know a lot of the notebooks I recommended are a tad on the “expensive” side. I’m well aware that you can pick up a laptop for around $500. However, I’m going to stress again that you do get what you pay for. I’m not just saying that, I’m telling you this from experience. I know plenty of people who have been through at least 2 moderately priced laptops ($600-700) and they haven’t even graduated yet. I’m still using the same notebook I got at the start of my 2nd year (Paid $1200) and it still runs like new.

Anyways, my advice is there and you can take it or leave it. I hope you enjoyed this week’s post. I’d like to hear some your thoughts on these notebooks or your favourite tech gear just put them in the comments below! Look forward to my post next week on the Money-Student relationship! Till next time!

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