Belushi was never truly prepared for college because he didn't have a computer to distract him from the overwhelming draw of alcohol and women that surrounded him during his college years. Here's a short little guide of things to look for when picking and choosing your new computer in preparation for the most awkward, eye-opening 2-4 years you'll ever experience in your life.
- First, admit that you really need a computer. Don't lie to yourself and think you can survive by jumping around public spots and live off web-applications. Though it is very much possible for all of your work to be allotted online now, having a central hub where you can immediately access your files without having to hunt for a wireless hotspot will save you time, so you can study.
- Apple or PC? It doesn't matter. Any student will tell you that as long as it gets the job done, you're good. However, we did notice that engineering and community regional development students have a tendency to use PC-only programs, so be sure to think about that before making the jump.
- Say "No" to hand-me-downs. College is the perfect time to invest in a new computer. Whether it be a Mac or a PC, a hand-me-down is like a slap to the face since you'll be relying on this machine for the next 2-4 years. Lag is the one of the most annoying things we can think of when using a computer, especially when you have an essay due in 2 hours.
- Go notebook. Desktops are great if you're gaming, but dorm life will mean you'll be running around a great deal and having a desktop becomes more of an inconvenience in the long run. Pricing wise, laptops have long surpassed the desktop in terms of value because of their portability factor, so the choice should be obvious.
- Check out the local bookstore. They have deals, trust me! Sometimes it's a free printer, free iPod, free gift cards, or even free software! Did we mention you can grab educational discounts now that you're a student? That means always cheap software and hardware, saving you hundreds.
- Do I need a mouse? It's all preference. Some people get used to the touchpad quickly, others do not. Mice are cheap, so definitely invest in one if your wrists begin to hurt because you're not used to moving your fingers that much. Remember, ergonomics is key!
- How many USB do I need? Think printer, mouse, and external hard drive. That's just three right there, so if you have a camera, iPod, and other USB powered items, you're going to need either a USB hub or 5+ ports.
- How big of a screen? We think Apple nailed it with the 13.3" screen as the standard for extra-portable laptops for students on the go. Computers with at 15" screen usually are much heavier, but anything under 12" strains your eyes over time. Both PC makers and Apple computers have many 13.3" models to choose from.
- Did we mention you need backup? Yes, you need a backup plan. Imagine if your laptop gets stolen, beer spilled on it, or suddenly decides it's a good idea to explode? Invest in backup, it'll make the nightmare afterward feel like a smooth sailing cruise to the Bahamas.
- How much should I spend? Depending on processor speed and the amount of RAM, the range will vary greatly. We suggest shopping around first and seeing what the speed/specs are for a computer around the $1000-$1200 range. These computers are for daily use and often have a little above the bare essentials to ensure the computer will last at least 3-4 years. If you're a big spender, the $1800-$2000 range should cover a computer with professional grade parts and might even have room for gaming. We don't suggest getting the "gaming" laptops because they are heavy, get hot, and are one of the greatest distractions you'll have while in school.
Now pack your bags, and get crackin'!