8 Secrets About Laptops and Computers for College Students
Posted Jul 14 2010 11:28am
My older son was faced with a really difficult decision last week.
Should he replace his 3 year old laptop before going back to school or try to get by one more year?
He bought a really shiny, black, 17″ screen beauty from HP for his Freshman year in college. It was a deal that made sense at the time. As a computer science major and online video game developer, he needed a machine that had very high performance. Except for its size (too big to fit on an airplane tray table), his choice of computer fit him perfectly.
A number of his friends thought it was a great deal at the time, too. He has discovered that they all have had the same problem with a defective video card that causes the computer to overheat. Based on how it is acting, it looks like my son’s laptop will just quit at any time.
If you don’t have the extended warranty, HP won’t do much about it. So one by one, all of his friends have replaced their HP laptops with computers from other manufacturers.
This isn’t intended to be a gripe fest about HP. After having problems with a defective part, I swore I would never buy Toshiba again. I love the HP laptop I have currently but yearn for a tiny netbook like my younger son’s Asus EeePC whenever I have to haul the HP around.
So what are the lessons here?
1. Don’t overbuy. Get the minimum computer for your needs. Because computers are constantly improving, you will want to buy a new one in a few years. This article by Walt Mossberg tells you what to look for.
2. Do get the extended warranty with accident coverage, if possible. It is easy to get caught in an unexpected downpour and get everything drenched. Most backpacks are water resistant—up to a point.
3. Backup, Backup, Backup. My son chose to buy an external hard drive for backup. He brings it home for holidays and backs up his files onto one of our servers here as an extra precaution. That external drive does make the TSA folks at some airports nervous, though. You might want to explore online backup options so there is less to carry or ship to school.
5. Desktop or laptop? My son discovered his first semester at college that he really preferred to take notes by hand rather than on his laptop. He could have gotten by with a desktop if he did all his work in his dorm room. His laptop did come in very handy for video gaming parties (his passion). That’s the reason he has chosen to replace the defective laptop with a new one from Asus.
7. Computer and identity theft are problems on many campuses. Even if you have been backing up your data, having your computer stolen is a major hassle. There are simple things you can do to prevent getting ripped off. This article from eHow.com gives you basic safety tips. Some campuses also have ID programs that help thwart theft. Ask about them.
8. And, one last tip: Buy the laptop before you buy your backpack. And bring the laptop with you when you shop for the backpack so you get the right size.
Hope you have a fun-filled school year!
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