COLUMN: The necessary back-to-school technology
FOR BRANT NEWS
Unfortunately for many students, the school year is quickly creeping around the corner and the only thing on their mind is holding onto every ounce of summer that is left.
While returning to class in September is inevitable, having the right technology to get through the year is a necessity.
A recent report from the National Retail Federation states that the majority of college students’ budgets will go toward purchasing electronics. Cisco Systems predicts that within the next two to three years there will be one electronic device per student in elementary schools.
Long gone are the days when back-to-school supplies were simply a set of sharpened pencils and binders filled with blank paper.
Although tablets, cell phones, iPods and noise-cancelling headphones are great to have, laptops offer the necessary combination of work and entertainment features to support daily productivity at school.
Due to the large size of the laptop market – with numerous brands and an even greater amount of individual models and designs – purchasing the right laptop can be overwhelming.
Notebooks, Ultrabooks and Chromebooks are three popular variations of laptops designed to cater to the individual needs of various consumers.
The average notebook (traditional laptop) has a large screen, numerous input and output ports such as HDMI, as well as disc drives for CDs and Blu-ray discs. These are useful features, but may not be needed on a daily basis.
For students who want the performance of a notebook without the extra ports and overall larger design, a slimmer Ultrabook may be the direction to go.
Ultrabooks pick up from where the netbooks of 2007 left off. Although Ultrabook is a term trademarked by Intel, the term applies to the slim, high-powered laptops on the market.
Ultrabooks are portable and powerful with a sleek design and all the necessary components to ensure high performance, which is a perfect combination if you have either a desktop computer at home or a wireless printer, as students and printing assignments go hand in hand.
Putting the lack of ports aside, Ultrabooks are perfect for daily usage and offer relatively impressive battery life, but their prices tend to be on the higher end.
Chromebooks, introduced by Google in 2011, are laptops designed specifically for internet usage.
Chromebooks are lightweight, portable and with an average price of $200 to $300, they are affordable.
Chromebooks are strictly web-surfing devices, so things like Microsoft Office applications and iTunes are not available. But for those who want a device to search the web quickly with an 18-second computer startup time and eight hours of battery life, Chromebooks offer hours of entertainment possibilities.
They also offer access to Google applications like Google Docs, which enables the user to take notes and write up reports similar to the experience of Microsoft Word.
With a plethora of options available, it is important to review the features that are most important for your needs and find a model and brand that meets the criteria before a purchase.
My recommendations are:
- Notebook: Acer Aspire E1, $430.
- Ultrabook: Apple MacBook Air, 11-inch screen starting at $870, 13-inch screen starting at $1,000.
- Chromebook: Samsung Chromebook Series 3, $249.
Brantford’s Daniel Edwards writes about technology for Brant News.