Installed Old Harddrive In New Computer Cannot See Windows 10 Top 10 Tips For Choosing a Budget Laptop

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Top 10 Tips For Choosing a Budget Laptop

Choosing a Budget Laptop – Tips for Canadian University Students

One thing all Canadian University Students will need these days is a laptop. The main advantage of a laptop over a stationary PC is its size and portability. For many degree programs, a laptop may be an indispensable tool for most, if not all, of your classes. In the modern digital age, most professors or classroom lecturers use PowerPoint or Adobe formats for their class notes and presentations. Most provide students with copies through class websites for download and printing, and many classes even require them as daily class material. While printing out notes or presentations and following them is a perfectly fine way to manage your classes, using a laptop puts everything in one place.

Just imagine sitting in class, following along with the notes and typing your remarks or memory aids just below each slide. At the end of the hour, hit save, close the laptop, go to the next class, and rinse/repeat. While this may seem obvious, it’s the less obvious benefits that are driving more and more students to switch from the old paper and pen system to the digital one. While you’re attending class, you can be catching up on e-mails, using Wikipedia or Google for further explanation on topics you’re not 100% sure about, or even participating in discussions of real time for the notes themselves you are covered! I had a professor who encouraged the use of the laptop not only for managing digital notes, but also to participate in a live Twitter feed that he would create each day. Instead of raising his hand and asking a question out loud risking embarrassment and ridicule, he would have the students tweet the class Twitter account and answer the students’ questions that way. I have never seen such a useful and wide-ranging classroom discussion as I did in that class, even if it was partly digital! Anyway, on to the tips!

Tip #1 – Choose size wisely!

While 16″+ laptops are easy to look at and very comfortable to use, they really aren’t that practical for a student who intends to use them in the classroom. Here’s why: Many lecture halls and classrooms try to pack in as many desks and students as possible. As a result, personal space isn’t as plentiful. Some classrooms have long tables with chairs that can accommodate a large laptop, but most definitely don’t. Most lecture halls have chairs. with an attached surface that is sometimes as small as 12″ wide! They’re built with sheets of paper and whiteboards in mind, not 16″ supercomputer laptops. So beware of larger “fun” laptops and always keep in mind what you’re actually buying this laptop for. I’ll I recommend going no higher than 15.1″ and even then they can be a hassle at times. Try to go as little as you can tolerate.

Tip #2 – Battery life

For most students, a day at school can be 6 hours or more. While much of your time is spent racing from class to class or eating lunch or coffee, the rest is spent sitting in class likely using your new laptop. This is where having a laptop with great battery life really pays off. If you buy from an electronics store, ask the salesperson how long you can expect a full charge to take on average. Try to find a laptop that has a battery capable of at least 2 hours. Apple laptops are famous for their long battery life that often lasts 4 hours or more, but they are also famous for being quite expensive and probably won’t be an option for anyone choosing a laptop with budget. If you’ve found a laptop you like but find it has poor battery life, buying a spare battery is always an option. If your salesperson is working on commission, see if he or she will throw one in for free. If all else fails, tuck the power cord into your backpack and keep your laptop charged during breaks between classes.

Tip #3 – Memory

There are two types of memory in a computer, RAM and Storage (hard drive) memory.

  • RAM is what your computer uses to load programs, play videos, music, etc. The more space it has, the more projects it can work on at the same time and the faster it can access each of them. More is always better when it comes to RAM, so don’t try to cut costs on this feature, but don’t break the bank on big bucks either. 4GB should be plenty.
  • Storage memory is what your hard drive is. It’s where all the things you install and save are stored. If you plan to use your laptop for music, videos, games, etc., you’ll want as big a hard drive as you can get. If your laptop is only going to be used for casual web browsing, emailing, IMing, essay writing, etc., then this is definitely a feature you can minimize to save some $$. I would advise getting at least a 100GB hard drive as Windows, Microsoft Office and other essential programs can really add up to memory usage over time.

Tip # 4 – Processor speed

This again depends on the intended use. If you want to play movies and games, you’ll need a processor that’s strong enough to handle it. But if you are just doing random tasks like web browsing, emailing, etc. then this is another feature where you can cut costs to save a lot of $$. Don’t go lower than 1.6GHz though, that should be your minimum.

Tip #5 – Onboard Sound and Video

Don’t let a salesperson talk you into buying a laptop that has independent audio and video adapters, as these add to the overall cost of a laptop in a big way. A sound card and a video card can often double the price of a decent laptop. Again, unless you’re doing some heavy gaming or video editing, these aren’t necessary and you’ll never fully use them. It’s like buying an automatic machine gun when all you need is a slingshot.

Tip #6 – Pre-installed software

Make sure your new laptop has at least Windows 7 and some productivity software. If it doesn’t have Windows 7 or Microsoft Office, you’ll probably want to try haggling with your retailer. If he tries to sell them to you at full price or even a slight discount, don’t, DON’T buy from him. Students receive great discounts through their campus computer and software outlets often in the 80% off range. For example, I can get a full version of MS Office Home and Student Edition for $60 and Windows 7 Professional for $99. They are regularly priced at $160 for Office and $329 for Windows 7 Pro both at Future Shop. (Written: Jul 12, 2010) This is another great area to save a lot of money on a student laptop.

Tip #7 – Everything else is just extra

As for all the features I haven’t covered, consider them fluff or extras. Digital card readers, fingerprint scanners, built-in webcams, auxiliary ports, etc. these are all things you don’t need to consider. If the model you choose has them and they don’t add much to the bottom, great. If a salesperson tries to convince you that you will be struck by lightning if you don’t have them, walk away. Never forget what you’re buying this laptop for, and don’t let words like “premium add-on,” “limited-edition model,” or “media-friendly” fool you into opening your wallet any further than necessary. Over the life of your laptop, you might only use those features once or twice, so they’re definitely not worth the $100 or $200 they’ll add to the price.

Tip #8 – Shop Around!

Don’t let commission salesmen manipulate you into buying right away. “This sale ends tomorrow…” is the oldest line in the book. What they’re not telling you is that this sale ends, but a newer, even better one starts right after it. Never feel pressured to take advantage of what appears to be an incredible deal. If they can afford to sell you that laptop at that price today, they can afford to do it again tomorrow, or even next week. Be sure to compare prices with other stores such as Future Shop, Best Buy, Wal-Mart, Costco, London Drugs and Staples. Then check online at Canadian sites TigerDirect.ca and NCIX.com to compare how good the deals really are. You’ll often find better deals online while checking out the deals you’ve found in store, so keep an eye out for those “online only deals.”

Tip #9 – Accessories

The only accessories I would recommend are a small mouse and a laptop skin. Note: not a laptop bag, but a zippered rubber skin, they are much cheaper. It’s like a wet suit for your laptop. That’s all you need to keep it safe from bumps and scratches, and it fits nicely in your backpack. I also recommend a mouse for those times when you are in the library or at home and have little space to spread out. Touchpads are great for portability and convenience, but nothing beats navigating a real mouse you can hold in your hand. Look for small wireless mice designed specifically for laptops. Some of the best ones combine a data storage key along with the plug-in USB component of a wireless mouse giving you a great place to keep documents, resumes and anything else you might need. quick access from any computer.

Tip #10 – Guarantees

Many electronics stores and computer outlets offer their own store warranties with the sale of an item. For PCs, these can be a good thing if the price is right. They will often tell you how any problem big or small will be taken care of free of charge if you buy a warranty. What they don’t tell you is that there is almost no limit to how long they can keep your laptop for a repair. Major electronics stores in Canada have central service offices where they send their warranty repair requests. In plain English, you’re stuck without a laptop while it takes for your computer to be shipped, repaired, and shipped back to the store you dropped it off at. Depending on the repair and parts availability this can take up to 6 months in some cases!! Personally I think warranties are a waste of money as I have never encountered a problem so severe that I couldn’t fix it myself. But I’m sure everyone has heard a story of someone who bought a computer only to have it die the next day, so it’s really all about budget and personal choice. For me, I’d rather save $50-$100 and pay a local repair shop for faster service if anything goes wrong.

Conclusion

I hope you found these tips helpful! I write from experience as a Canadian University student who owns a Hewlett-Packard G10 laptop that I bought with the Future Shop gift cards I received last Christmas! I was able to make it $200 cheaper using the tips above, so they definitely work! If you think I missed something or if you have any feedback, let me know in the forum or comment below. Happy laptop shopping!

** Original article location here

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