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what college-bound laptop should I buy?

by JazznArt / December 31, 2008 9:40 PM PST

I promised a gift of a laptop to my grandson who has spent his life on an XP-driven PC and is soon going off to college. I need help in deciding what laptop to get for him at the most optimum cost (not necessarily the cheapest but not an expensive one either) and which will contain the software and features he can best use at college.

Many thanks.

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Something sturdy is best
by Steven Haninger / December 31, 2008 11:52 PM PST

While others will have brand loyalty as well, I like Lenovo for quality and durability. You might go with a T-61 series and a downgrade to XP (Vista is default) and include MS Office standard edition. Lenovo doesn't include a lot of junkware applications as do some other manufacturers. It won't be a gaming laptop but you might not want to encourage that with a new college student anyway. I'll guess this to cost in the $1300 range.

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Like any other purchase ...
by Edward ODaniel / December 31, 2008 11:59 PM PST

the best actual selection is based on the actual projected uses the item will be put to.

If all your Grandson is planning on doing and needing the laptop for is writing English papers and sending emails then any of the cheaper ones will do the job just fine.

On the other hand if he is majoring in computer sciences or math and statistics he will need a computer with a video card and adequate RAM to handle the demands of the language compiler or statistics applications etc.

If he will be doing a little of everything and a whole lot of gaming with the latest and greatest games he will REQUIRE a gaming laptop that will be much more expensive.

Find out what he needs out of the computer then shop for the best buy that matches those needs. You wouldn't, for instance, want to buy a Shetland Pony for a 300 pound rider who needs a Clydesdale. Wink

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A nod to the new Apple.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / January 1, 2009 12:56 AM PST

The new MacBook with the unibody frame and all the new tweaks plus the fact you have options to run Windows in more than a few ways means it could be one of the finer choices.

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I'd say Apple
by alakzam / January 1, 2009 1:48 AM PST

They will take a fair amount of abuse before they quit working, if he has an iPod or iPhone they will work even better with a Mac, and he would have the option of running either or both Mac OS X and Windows. Only drawback is they are a bit expensive, but not as overpriced as some of Apple's other status symbol devices.

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Multimedia features
by TechConfidence / January 1, 2009 3:54 AM PST

In a dorm room, it's desirable to have a multimedia-friendly machine. Take a look at this Dell Inspiron model from Best Buy:

It has a built-in webcam (handy for staying in touch with you and with friends), it can play HD-quality video (incl. output to an HDTV), and it should have good performance for the price (currently on sale for $650).

I'd add Office 2007 Home & Student edition (a big improvement over the bundled Microsoft Works), the free and excellent Skype for phone/video calls (if you don't have Skype and a webcam on your home machine, download Skype and buy a Logitech QuickCam), and a decent anti-virus/security app (Maximum PC magazine recently suggested Norton Internet Security 2009).

Best of luck!


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While most of that is good
by alakzam / January 1, 2009 4:53 AM PST
In reply to: Multimedia features

I would stay far far away from Norton Anti-Virus or Internet Security.

You really don't need much more than AVG Free or Avast and the built in Windows firewall or maybe Zonealarm's free version.

Expecting a suite of software to protect you from every possible threat out there is a bit like expecting the cruise control on your car to drive for you. It's up to the user to do the bulk of the legwork, like not going to shifty websites, not downloading strange email attachments, or giving out bank info to someone who sends you an unsolicited message in broken english about how they have all this money they want to give you in exchange for some really simple task.

Once you've got some basic virus protection going and a firewall to keep automated probes at bay, the rest is up to the user because computers cannot make qualitative decisions.

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gotta agree on Apple
by dustycat / January 1, 2009 4:27 AM PST

both of my kids run Apples and haven't have one single issue - one has the basic one and the other has the MacBook Pro.

One thing they are never dealing with - viruses. I don't know but Apples seem to have far fewer problems with this issue. My Dell, on the other hand, I feel like I run a military brigade to stop the intrusions - and I am dealing with another now.

The sales people at Apple seem to have some discretion on the prices of add-ons (protection plans, training, accessories, etc) to the notebooks so you might find you can "optimize" your purchase that way.

Nice of you to do this for your Grandson!

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