Aside from the cost of tuition, new tech is probably the most expensive part of starting college. If you’re in the market for a new laptop we’ve got a few tips to help out.
Remember, price isn’t the only factor: certainly, you don’t want to spend too much on a laptop, and we regularly see Chromebooks or other similarly barebones units for $250-$300. But if you actually need more power, more storage and more programs than your bargain computer can accommodate you might find yourself upgrading to something bigger, better and more expensive. So our suggestion? Really assess what you need in a computer before you start shopping. If your area of study is likely to have special requirements (like graphic design or field biology) you may even want to ask the professors in your future program if they have tech suggestions. Similarly, you might hear that your programs require a basic word processing program and not much else.
Don’t forget to consider the cost of accessories: Tablets, we’re looking at you. While going ultra lightweight and portable with a tablet is tempting and the tablet itself might be around the same price as a laptop, remember that you’ll have to buy a keyboard and a case at the very least. Very good Bluetooth keyboards can easily run $100 and that might be enough to break your student budget. (And if you are planning on taking notes and writing papers using only the onscreen keyboard, well, good luck.)
Don’t buy if you don’t have to. Your laptop from high school or last year might be in decent shape and if that’s the case, go ahead and start the school year with that! Sure, when you were off to grade five a new year meant new outfits, a new backpack and an unbelievably clean pair of shoes, but you’re older now (and a laptop costs a lot more than a basic backpack). So use your old machine as long as you can (ensuring that you backup frequently to a cloud service or an external hard drive, of course) and pull the trigger on a new machine later.
Above all? No matter when or what you're buying, don't forget to check RFD for the latest deals!