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Computers - General
Trying to chose a laptop for university and overwhelmed by all the choice- where to start?!
By DreamsontheWater Comments: 182, member since Sat Oct 03, 2009
On Tue Sep 03, 2013 12:35 PM
Edited by DreamsontheWater (216914) on 2013-09-03 13:46:36 Finxing the euro signs, which came out very strangely. :)
Edited by DreamsontheWater (216914) on 2013-09-03 13:49:01 Finxing the euro signs, which came out very strangely. :)

Hello everyone!
I'm starting university later this month, and I'm trying to choose a laptop but am feeling a little overwhelmed by all the choice and I don't know where to start looking / what to start looking for.
Please could you advise some things to keep in mind / places to start / features I should look out for while shopping? :)
Which brands would you recommend from experience? I'll be using it mostly for research, typing up assignments, and the usual internet use (: Youtube, email, etc.). Also perhaps for watching DVDs. I'm not into gaming, if that makes a difference.
Also, all the different RAM / memory / hard drive capacities have me out at sea. :/
We have an 7-8 year-old Acer TravelMate 4200 at home (which I am using now). We've been pretty happy with it, but it was our first laptop so we have nothing to compare it with.
I think maybe €400 - €500 (U.S. Dollars 526 - 658) is my limit, budget-wise. I'd like to go a little lower, if possible, but I do want something that is reasonably good quality and won't burn out on me.
I think I'll be getting it in a shop (not online)- I don't have a credit card.

Thank you very very much for any help. :)

9 Replies to Trying to chose a laptop for university and overwhelmed by all the choice- where to start?!

re: Trying to chose a laptop for university and overwhelmed by all the choice- where to start?!
By YumYumDoughnutPremium member Comments: 8688, member since Sat Jul 10, 2004
On Tue Sep 03, 2013 01:04 PM
This might be a bit over budget, but I love my MacBook Air.

It is super light and slim so I was able to throw it in my purse easily along with my books. I would recommend a light laptop because you need to be able to take it to all your study groups, take notes in class etc.
re: Trying to chose a laptop for university and overwhelmed by all the choice- where to start?!
By saaammiemember has saluted, click to view salute photos Comments: 440, member since Thu Apr 01, 2010
On Tue Sep 03, 2013 01:17 PM
I second the need for a light laptop.
I had a heavier one (Macbook Pro) and switched it for a Macbook air last year. Boy oh boy, what a difference those extra pounds made.

I know a few people with light ASUS computers (not sure what they're called) who are satisfied with them.
re: Trying to chose a laptop for university and overwhelmed by all the choice- where to start?!
By boleyngrrl Comments: 2550, member since Sat Apr 15, 2006
On Tue Sep 03, 2013 04:03 PM
If you're going to watch DVDs you cannot get a Macbook air. You would need a separate disc drive because there's no CD slot, and that would put you even more over budget.

I am a big fan of Macs though. I have a 13in pro (don't go too big with your screens--the bigger the screen the heavier the laptop) and I love it. I'm a science major and it does everything I need it to. I got it a little over 3 years ago and it still works as well as the day I bought it. The Apple store also gives discounts to students. Not great discounts, but good ones.

The more memory your computer has the better off you're going to be. It'll run faster, you'll be able to save more stuff on it, it's just generally going to be better. I have no idea what my Macbook's memory is though, honestly. I think I got the bigger option but I can't remember what that option was.

For less expensive options, I love HPs. They're great laptops and they last for years. I had one throughout middle and high school (5-6 years) and, except for the battery, it worked perfectly. You can get a great HP for around US$600--I'm not sure if you guys have Office Max, but they were running a deal on one for around $250 that the guy said would last 3 years.

My friend who is an English major has a Chromebook and loves it. I don't believe Chromebooks have Microsoft Word, though. They use googledocs. It hasn't seemed to affect her. I believe Chromebooks run around $299.

I hope this helps and good luck!!!!!
re: Trying to chose a laptop for university and overwhelmed by all the choice- where to start?!
By Gioiamember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 3024, member since Sun Jun 20, 2004
On Tue Sep 03, 2013 04:49 PM
I find that thewirecutter.com has the best reviews of any site out there. They pick the Hp g6t2000 as the best cheap laptop, and as an owner of the same model they link I can agree! I absolutely love my laptop, it is thin and light and I can't imagine needing anything more than this. Mine has the 2.3GHz i3-2350M processor, 4GB of RAM, 500GB hard drive and DVD drive, although the i5 may be a good option for you as well (upgrade to that is about $100 and I didn't think it was necessary because I have a desktop with an i5 that I use for playing most games if I want). The screen is the perfect size and I think the resolution is nice for watching movies/TV (although HP has better screens, this one is actually nicer compare to my dad's Acer anyway). I do a lot of things simultaneously on my computer (live streaming TV, playing games, surfing the internet, etc) and have never had a problem with speed. I have had mine for over a year, so I can't speak to any changes or updates they may have made. We got mine when OfficeMax was running a $100 mail in rebate. My parents bought it for me for my birthday, but I believe after the rebate they spent around $375-$400. So I disagree a bit with boleyngrrl, a good HP can be under $500. I wouldn't recommend anything cheaper than this one, though. They will either be heavy or slow.

While the MacBook Air gets good reviews and seems very nice, if you are anything like me, it is way out of your budget.

You may find this article helpful as well blog.laptopmag.com . . ., but read over the recommendations at The Wirecutter first! You will find people every once in awhile that don't like HPs, but they are consistently the best performing and the best rated for the price.
re: Trying to chose a laptop for university and overwhelmed by all the choice- where to start?!
By Chaconnemember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 6359, member since Thu Jul 12, 2007
On Tue Sep 03, 2013 10:44 PM
You need to analyze what you are going to use it for. If you are and engineering or science major you need a much more powerful computer than if you were an English major.

If what you are doing is typing essays, doing web searches, Email etc. Go with an inexpensive one. I bought my wife a relatively inexpensive Toshiba and I have used it myself quite a bit, particularly when we travel. It has 350 GB storage, certainly adequate for most uses. (my own computers, desktops which I build myself have never had more than 80 GB) 2-4 Gig of memory is fine for most purposes unless you plan on putting a person on the moon (The actual computers which DID put a man on the moon had far less capacity that any laptop today or even a smartphone.)

I am down on HP laptops. My daughter had one that simply stopped working and even HP couldn't fix it.

I have no experience with Macs. Choosing between a Mac and a PC is really a theological question...both have their TRUE BELIEVERS. I wouldn't have one simply because I can't build them and I don't wish to be subservient to just one company.

Laptops...and phones, and pads, according to most experts, have become simply a commodity. They all do the same things, they do them rather well. Beyond that it is just a numbers game...how fast do you need to go?, how much do you need to store? Are the creature comforts (screes size, keyboard layout) adequate? Are there enough ports. I'm not really impressed with notebooks except for their portability. They really would only work for me as a back up to a larger computer.

Jon
re: Trying to chose a laptop for university and overwhelmed by all the choice- where to start?!
By IvoryCiaramember has saluted, click to view salute photos Comments: 267, member since Sat Nov 20, 2004
On Wed Sep 04, 2013 02:39 AM
Lenovo makes great, durable, quality laptops. I bought a somewhat expensive gaming model but I know they have great lower-priced options. They do tend to be a little heavier than some other brands so that can be a downside if you're going to be carrying it along with textbooks or something. HP's are pretty good as well. While Macs are gorgeous, they're honestly not worth the price in my opinion if you're not using them for professional reasons (I say this as someone who grew up using Macs). You can get a Windows laptop with the same or better specs for a much lower price. Since you'll be buying in a shop I'd definitely visit a few different stores (if possible) and talk to the salespeople about your needs and price range. They should be able to suggest something that will work well for you :)
re: Trying to chose a laptop for university and overwhelmed by all the choice- where to start?!
By dance4ballet Comments: 1202, member since Mon Dec 03, 2007
On Wed Sep 04, 2013 03:14 AM
I'm in my last year of my undergraduate degree and all I can say is make sure it's LIGHT. My laptop is extremely heavy and I can never be bothered taking it, I just handwrite notes and use the computers at uni. Lugging around a heavy laptop sucks!

Also, if you currently use an Acer and switch to Mac, I believe it takes a little while to learn the new system.

MacBook air and MacBook pro are the common choices among students :)
re: Trying to chose a laptop for university and overwhelmed by all the choice- where to start?!
By Spiorad Comments: 2156, member since Sat Jul 22, 2006
On Wed Sep 04, 2013 10:59 AM
If all you are going to be doing is basic web browsing, watching some movies, and writing papers, you really don't need something that expensive.

Personally I am not a fan of Mac's for people who just need a very basic computer. They are ridiculously expensive for what you are getting. I'm talking about RAM, hard drive memory etc. You could get a PC that has 2-3 times the power of a Mac for around half the price. I hate being locked in to the Apple store, the "genius" bar and all of their parts. I also hate the track pad and how so many commands require the "command" button on the keyboard and other buttons. These are just small things that would drive me crazy if I ever got one.

Personally I love my HP computers. I've been dealing exclusively with HP for a while now and can honestly say that a few years ago I would not have recommended them. A few years ago they were going through a merger in the upper sectors and the new CEO was making TERRIBLE decisions. Nothing was working as it should, their laptops were just not up to par. But then they fired that CEO and brought in someone new and that gal made MAJOR changes. HP is now back on top for me.

I had a bit of an issue as I just ordered a custom laptop from them and it was taking forever to come in. After contacting them and letting them know how displeased I was, they ended up giving me $200.00 bucks back because of it. Overall I'm pretty happy with that.

Just a quick side note: DELL is going through some major hard times in the upper divisions right now. I would stay away from DELL's until it is resolved.

As for using it in class: What are you studying? I had a super slim laptop at first because I thought I was going to be taking all my notes on it, but then I didn't. I didn't like taking notes on a laptop in my science and math classes because it was tedious and slow to draw the graphs and diagrams. English and anthropology were a little better because they were more lecture classes and I type faster then I write, but for me I ended up just using a notebook and pen/pencil.

Also, some professors wont let you use electronics in class. This is becoming less common, but it still does happen. Basically because they don't want people just showing up to class and playing games and stuff the whole time. Just something to keep in mind.

Also, check with your university because at mine a lot of teachers will not accept electronic submissions for things saved on a Mac format. You have to make sure to change it when you save whatever it is to work on PC's. This is a small thing, but I have known several people who have forgotten to change the format when they save it and submit it like that and end up getting a 0. With so many students teachers really can't be hunting you down to make sure you save it right. Also, in one class a teacher said someone tried to submit their paper once purposely not saving it correctly because they had not finished it. They were hoping the teacher would say "Oh just resubmit it!" but she heard them bragging about it to someone else and now its just a "if you don't save it right, to bad" type of situation.


Whatever make and model you decide to go with my biggest piece of advice is GO TRY IT OUT. Seriously. You could find one that seems amazing, but then you try typing on it and you don't like the keyboard, or the track pad is weird and you don't like it. So go try it out and see which feels most comfortable.
re: Trying to chose a laptop for university and overwhelmed by all the choice- where to start?!
By DreamsontheWater Comments: 182, member since Sat Oct 03, 2009
On Wed Sep 04, 2013 05:31 PM
Thank you very much for all this help. I'm really grateful. :)

Unfortunately, I don't think I'll be able to stretch my budget as far as a Macbook (although they do look so shiny and beautiful!). Also, I'm not used to the Mac sofware and don't think I'm ready to switch yet. :)

Sorry, I don't have time to reply to you all personally- but it's all very helpful and I feel much more prepared. I'm planning to go shopping tomorrow, have a look around, and hopefully get my laptop!

For those wondering, I'm going to be studying European studies= French and Russian, history, history of ideas, and social science. I don't think I'll be using my laptop in lectures to take notes- I prefer writing- but more for assignments / essays / research.

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