Back to School 2013 - Laptops

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It’s already that time of a year again. The ritual of returning back to school, and in conjunction the trip to store to stock up for school. And if you’re headed off to college you’ve got the literal laundry list of clothes, socks, underwear (never forget the undies).

From my college experience I have to say that a capable, durable laptop is key to a student’s success.  When you’re working towards a deadline it’s vital to be free of PC troubles. I can honestly tell you the frightening experience of a slideshow/video crashing on my laptop in the middle of a presentation is utterly embarrassing.  Or losing an entire 27 page paper on the Influence of French Existentialism on the American Civil Rights Movement. That actually happened.

In my selection process I did not want to choose the “cheapest.” I’ve done exactly that and I found myself back at the store buying a new laptop a year later. 

Samsung ATIV Book 8

The Samsung ATIV Book 8 is perfect for the student on the go without sacrificing any performance. The ATIV Book 8 brings plenty of power featuring a 3rd Gen Intel Core i7 core processor, with 8 GB of RAM and a 1TB drive.  The ATIV Book 8 also comes with a backlit keyboard, HDMI-out, a 15.6-inch touchscreen display and one of the best battery-life performances of all laptops. Plus it’s under an inch thick and just around 5lbs. You will be set with this portable but spec-hearty unit that has more than enough capacity to last through your college years.  If you are, however, working on a smaller budget the ATIV Book line also offers the Book 4 and Book 6 for alternatives.

MacBook Pro

The MacBook Pro likewise is a perfect pairing of mobility and performance. The MacBook Pro comes in 4 basic configurations that can have additional RAM or hard drives configured. It comes in 13.3-inch or 15.4-inch variations and sports Intel Core i5 or i7 processors (configurable up to 3.0 GHz dual-core Intel Core i7). Like the ATIV you can throw any task at it and should perform admirably.  Whether it is basic note taking or video the MacBook Pro can perform without any hiccups.

MacBook Air

Another great option is the MacBook Air, though not as heavy on the specs, it’s certainly speedy enough for most tasks, super durable, energy efficient (up to 12 hours of battery life) and super light at 2.38 pounds for the 11-inch variant.  You can also install Parallels or Bootcamp to run Windows 8 on the MacBook Air.  While some Apple purists may cringe at this, it is certainly vital if you’re in a class that requires a program only available on Windows 8.

Microsoft Surface Pro

The Microsoft Surface Pro straddles the line of PC and tablet bringing a full-fledged laptop but can be used like a tablet. The Surface Pro is ultra portable, and like a “real” PC runs a full-fledged version of Windows 8. An added benefit of the Surface Pro is its microSD slot that allows you to expand your storage capacity fairly easily. While tablets are great for most uses, when it comes to a Microsoft Office, photo or video editing, presentation building, you want a full computer at your disposal.  The Microsoft Surface Pro has both, so you will never feel like you’re missing out on one experience or another.

Office 365


As a heavy user of Microsoft Office, I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am that with an Office 365 subscription you are guaranteed compatibility across platforms, on the latest version of Office.  I can’t tell you how frustrating it can be to have a file not be compatible because I’m running an older version software.  Remember when my 27 page paper crashed on my laptop? I would have been saved if I had SkyDrive saving my documents on Microsoft’s robust cloud services.

Stay tuned for more in our back to school series, we’ll discuss tablets, smartphones, and more.