• sheila

    This is a very sensible advice on buying laptops. I was also shopping for a laptop for my kid more than a week ago, and instead of doing the normal legwork searching the local stores, I did a little looking on the internet. You see, I’ve become an avid fan of online shopping because of the nice perks you get from online stores: free shipping, cash back rewards, great discounts, and, above all, one stop comparison shopping through a discount portal like http://www.savingswatch.com. That’s where I got hold of a nice, light, branded laptop for just $449! The $110 mark off on the tag was just as irresistible as the fact that it was already a power-packed 2.0 dual core computer with a whopping 3GB DDR2 memory, and with all the hardware you’ll need. I would really suggest a site like that if you’re looking for great deals online.

  • Ben

    A few things to consider before abandoning the idea of a Mac: You are purchasing more than the hardware and branding. The Mac OS is quicker, more secure, and more powerful (for those who are power users) than Windows. Another option to get this security, speed, and power is to opt for a computer running Linux. This gives you the benefit of of the low hardware prices from Windows computers plus the security and power of a great operating system. Linux is Free and Open Source Software, so updates and upgrades are free forever and odds are all software you will need to install is free as well, which can also help with savings. Both Mac and Linux are essentially invulnerable to viruses and malware, so you can rest assured that your child will stay safe that way. The only downside I would point out with Linux is that it isn’t overly popular just yet. You can get tons of support from online forums and what not, but campus tech support might not officially support the operating system. I suggest doing your research into these operating systems before making a final decision.

    As a disclaimer, I am a computer engineering student at the moment and made the switch to Mac/Linux a couple of years ago, part way into my studies, and I will never turn back to Windows. Due to my computer background, I may be a little more prone to adapting to the new systems than the average student, but most people from this generation adapt quickly to technology anyway. I suggest finding a Mac/Linux friend to walk you through the basics if you do decide to make the switch.

  • Mike

    I will attest that refurbished Apple products are as good as new. Also don’t forget about netbooks. I use a netbook to take notes, and write papers for law school.

  • http://www.artificialrobot.com Sean

    Interesting piece, but I have to agree with Ben that you shouldn’t just discount the Apple laptops so quickly. You can get the small white macbook for $999 now and it is a great computer both in terms of quality and size. For a bit more money you can get the aluminum macbook which offers a bit more power.

    I think one thing to consider is the student’s major too. If they are going to be majoring in Computer Science then a mac may be a great option given that it is running a BSD variant, so you get the power of Unix with a nice interface. However, if they are majoring in Comp Sci then they may want more power. Then again, if they are majoring in Comp Sci they probably know exactly what they want/need.

  • http://madsaver.com Mac

    Good advice, especially the bit about staying away from stores like Best Buy. Overpriced & old models. But a nice place to browse, nonetheless. For those that need (want) a Macbook, a recent refurbished model IS the way to go for a student. No need to get anything better. Another idea is to get a desktop replacement (17″ screen) as they can also use it as a tv.

  • Elizabeth I

    I really appreciated this article. I used it to check out a few models and I just purchased a Dell Insperion 15. I am eagerly waiting for it to arrive.

  • Winston

    I wish somebody had told me to stay away from HP. The dm3 laptop that I just bought is really frustrating to use. The cursor keeps jumping around for no apparent reason and after a while of use, the laptop becomes really hot. I was thinking about buying a Mac, but I just couldn’t get past the higher price and the fear of possible software incompatibility. And since none of my friends or family members have used a Mac before, I couldn’t give it a test run.

  • Tonei

    Also keep in mind Apple’s education discount, which knocks $100-$200 off of the price of a laptop. A new entry-level MacBook with the student discount is also $899.

  • http://madsaver.com Mac

    If you can afford to wait, do so until the next Black Friday. For the past several years, the prices really do hit rock bottom starting on that day in November. Even Mac’s have deals in place. And most of the deals can be had online, so there is no need to camp out all night to get the cheap lappie.

    Saying that, no student needs a $1000 laptop (macbook), but it does give the added ability to run either the Mac OS or Windows via BootCamp.

  • http://www.PennyAuctionWatch.com PAW

    Just went over my comments on a post & saw you left one, thank you! Your users may want to check out bid to buy penny auction sites with minimal risk, I recently got a 11″ toshiba netbook for about $120 on this one: http://www.pennyauctionwatch.com/2010/04/bigdeal-auction-competitive-shopping-reviews/

    • http://www.PennyAuctionWatch.com PAW

      sorry meant to say readers :-D hehe forum lingo. Thanks!

  • Hank

    Great advice on buying a laptop although not everybody is going to want a mac. still nice write up. http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/3002540/tips_for_college_freshman_strategies.html?cat=4

  • Steve

    Interesting comment about don’t buy from Comp USA but Tiger Direct is a good place to purchase a lap top. Since Tiger Direct owns Comp USA I would think they would have similar inventory. Is this correct?

  • Mark

    Price comparisons sites are the best for finding the lowest prices. For Macs, I have been using Apple Sliced lately – you can usually save a couple hundred dollars on a new Mac.

  • Rey

    Way to rag on Toshiba without doing your research and finding that they are one of the most reliable and affordable brands of laptops on the market, and yet you sing praises to Acer…

    • Erik Folgate

      I can only speak from personal experience, Rey. I’ve never owned a Toshiba, but i never will because I’ve had several family members have major issues with Toshibas. I’d even go with HP over Toshiba.

  • http://pennyauctionlist.com Penny

    Erik – thanks for the post. I’m not sure about Gateway laptops, but I agree on all other points.

    As referenced in a comment above, penny auctions are an alternate option for getting a cheap laptop. If you learn how penny auctions work and bid wisely, you could end up scoring a high-end laptop for significantly less than retail. However, make sure you play on a site that offers a “Bid-to-Buy” option or you’ll be out the money you invested.

  • Ankita

    Hey,I am planning to buy a new laptop..I majorly work with just windows.Can I get a apple mac and install windows?or willit be good decision to just buy Dell or Sony

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