Many graduating seniors will be receiving laptops as graduation gifts before going off to college. Here are some “myths” about laptops and some other items to consider before selecting the best laptop in your price range.
Myth: More RAM will always speed up your PC.
Facts: It doesn’t hurt but it doesn’t always help. For basic usage (Microsoft Office, web browsing, streaming, social media and email) 8 to 16 gigs of RAM will likely be plenty. Special applications for graphic design, video or audio editing may require more.
Myth: A CPU with more cores is always faster.
Facts: Each “core” in a multicore processor allows the computer to better allocate its processing power to multiple applications or processes running at once. If one is only running one program at a time more “cores” won’t increase the power or speed of the computer. For basic usage, a faster CPU with less cores is probably preferable.
Myth: You always want the fastest CPU and graphics card you can afford.
Facts: Fast CPUs and power graphics cards will run hotter and run down a laptop battery faster. For many students, longer battery life will probably be more important than having the fastest computer. Unless the student is a gamer or using specialty software that requires more resources like a graphics card or a powerful CPU, buying a laptop with the most powerful components may be a waste of money that could be spent on an extended warranty or other necessities.
Mac (Apple) vs. PC (Windows)
The average student probably doesn’t need an expensive Mac Book Pro or other Mac laptop. Those going into graphic design, audio or video fields may want to invest in one however. Consumers should also know that much of the popular software in these fields now runs on PC (Windows) and there are many fine high-end PCs that compete with Mac laptops for power and speed. Students with special computing needs should consult with an advisor in their program before buying a computer.
These days a table or hybrid is a real option that many students may prefer for portability and cost. Google tools like Google Docs as well as Microsoft 365 both run on iOS, Android and Windows tablets and hybrids. These tablets will also run all your student’s social media and streaming apps. Bluetooth keyboards and keyboard cases are available to make the devices easier to use for schoolwork.
There’s a new phone around called the Graalphone. But it’s much more than a phone. It’s a tiny laptop, it’s a tablet, it’s a smartphone, it’s a 3D camera.
As a tiny laptop it has a 7-inch screen, a real keyboard, and a Windows based PC. As a tablet it’s an Android OS tablet. The tiny smartphone has a 5-inch screen (not so tiny). As a camera, it’s 2D or 3D with Zoom 5x and Xenon flash.
It will be available later this year. The Victor crew will keep you posted…
Why not get both in one? Microsoft just came out with Surface Pro 3. It claims to be both a laptop and a tablet. As a hybrid, it runs Windows 8.1 Pro. There are different price points based on the type of processor/RAM/storage. They range from Intel Core i3 to i7; 4-8 GB RAM; 64-512 GB Storage. The prices range from $799 to $1,949.
The Keyboard/Cover is considered an accessory and has to be purchased separately for $129.99. It’s height is .4″, width is 11.5″, depth is 7.9″ and weight is 1.8 pounds. The display is HD touchscreen and diagonal screen measurement is 12″. It comes with and SD card slot, front facing webcam at 5.0MP. The Camera is 5.0MP. It has 1 USB port.
I thought you might like to consider some of these tablets for Christmas this year:
From Amazon: The Kindle Fire HDX 7″
This is the 3rd generation Kindle Fire. This is the one you see on the TV commercial where the guy pushes the Mayday button and a customer service rep pops up in the corner. The rep can walk you through problems or even take over your tablet. You can download the Amazon Kindle Freetime app that allows parents to control the time limits and apps if you let your children use it. The drawbacks are, you don’t get full access to the Google Play store, you have to download apps from Amazon’s appstore. You won’t find some of the popular apps like Gmail, Google Maps, Google Drive. There is only a front-facing camera. $230.
From Google: Google Nexus 7
This runs the newest version of Android, 4.4 Kit Kat. It has a rear and front camera and is preloaded with standard Google apps. $229.
From Samsung: Galaxy Tab 3 7″ Kids
This tablet was designed specifically for kids. It comes in fun colors with a rubber case to protect it. I thas big buttons, limited access to settings, and kid-type apps preloaded. It has front and back cameras. $190.
From Apple: iPad Air
This is the latest iPad (5th generation). It is thinner and lighter, faster with better video. There are a few versions – based on size (16GB, 32GB, 64GB and 128GB) and connectivity (Wi-fi or Wi-fi and LTE). Prices start at $499.
From Apple: iPad Mini with Retina Display
Very similar to the iPad Air in a smaller package. Starts at $399.
Jody‘s crew was out and about looking for what’s coming out new before the end of the year. Here is what we found:
Lumia 2520 tablet. This runs Windows RT operating system. It has a 10-inch HD screen with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 800 processor, a 6.7 megapixel camera, a keyboard. It has LTE and wi-fi. Cost is about $499.
Lumia 1320 and 1520 smartphones. Both run Windows Phone 8 and have 6-inch screens. The 1520 has a full HD screen, LTE and quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor, 32GB storage, expandable to another 64GB with a MicroSD card, 20 megapixel camera. Cost is $749. The 1320 comes with dual-core processor, 720p screen resolutio, 5 megapixel camera, LTE. Considered a lower end, will cost $339. Because of their larger screen size they are considered “phablets”.
Asha 500, 502, 503 phones. These are lower end phones that Nokia hopes to better compete with Android. The 503 has 3G for $99. It comes with a 3-inch screen and 5 megapixel camera. The 502 has a 3-inch screen as well but no 3G. It will be $89. The 500 will cost $69 for a 2.8-inch screen and 2 megapixel camera. All 3 have wi-fi and hold 2 SIM cards.
iPad Air. This iPad is thinner and lighter than previous models. Prices range from $499 to $929 depending on capacity and connectivity options. It comes with a 9.7-inch LED backlit Multi-touch display, A7 chip, FaceTime HD camera with 720p HD video, 5 mega-pixel photos, 1080p HD video recording. You can get this in wi-fi or wi-fi + cellular.
iPad Mini. Has all the great features of the iPad Air in a smaller size. The price varies from $399 to $829 – just $100 cheaper than its iPad Air counterparts for same size and connectivity.
Sidenote – This is for sale but Microsoft has a 383-inch screen Surface 2 Tablet in Trafalgar Square, London. Read about it here.
Google Nexus 7
The newest Google Nexus 7 has a 7-inch full HD screen.
Its pricing starts at $229 for 16GB.
It’s screen displays 30 apps at a time.
You can have user profiles and restrictions.
Screen resolution of 1920 x 1200.
5-megapixel rear camera.
Android 4.3 installed.
9 hours battery life.
Lighter, thinner, not as wide but taller than its predecessor.
Some people have bought the Microsoft Surface tablet thinking they were getting Windows 8 when they really got Windows RT. So what’s the difference? Windows 8 is a full OS like you would have on any laptop or desktop. Windows RT is a mobile OS that works with apps rather than programs. If you want a full Office Suite on your tablet, then you want Windows 8, but if you can settle for an app, you can use Windows RT. Some other differences are price, size, weight, thickness, connectivity. You can find a full comparison chart here.
So depending on what you want to use a Surface tablet for, you can find the correct one to purchase.
Do you want a tablet or a laptop? Why not get both … all in one device. An Ultrabook convertible is both: a laptop when you need it or a tablet when you want it to be.
Intel provides the guidelines for an Ultrabook convertible for manufacturers to build.
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