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Smartphones, Tablets and LapTops for College

If you’re heading off to college buying the right computer requires an investment of time as you consider what’s available, what you really need and what you can afford. While there will be plenty of on campus access to computers having your own desk top, laptop or tablet, or smartphone makes it easier to research and write papers and that’s not be mention relaxation and social networking uses. The top two factors when considering laptops, tablets, and/or smartphones center on your use requirements and your budget.  Before you make your purchases and head off to college consider how you will connect your laptop or tablet to the rest of the world. Wi-Fi is a must for easy connectivity to the college network and the Internet. And Bluetooth is recommended for pairing your computer with devices such as wireless headsets, iPods, and game consoles. According to a study conducted by, six out of ten students won’t consider a college unless the education institution provides access to “free” Wi-Fi services on campus.

Do I need a laptop?

Laptops are constantly evolving and changing. The traditional 15-inch laptop is the most popular size with14-inch and 16-inch versions gaining popularity. But as students require low prices and portability and a laptop that can be carried from class to class is key, many students choose low-cost Netbooks.   In 7 Essential Tips for Picking a Student Laptop Mark Spoonauer, LAPTOP Editor in Chief recommends:

1. Choose The Right Size
2. Pay for Premium Design
3. Get Specs for the Long Haul
4. Consider an Ultrabook
5. Go for at Least 5.5 Hours of Battery Life
6. Pick a Good Keyboard and Touchpad
7. Consider Both Macs and Windows PCs.

Do I need a Smartphone?

The reality of college life is that many class updates, assignments and note-taking are done by email.  The growth in smartphone use has skyrocketed on college campuses which may give you pause to wonder if you need a smartphone. For a college student without a laptop, a smartphone may be a legitimate need.  You may need a computer that’s just as mobile on the college campus as you are. In fact, the majority of college students rely on smartphones. Some of the factors to think about in choosing a smartphone include:

  1. Hardware design and features
  2. Manufacturer brand name
  3. Network technology – GSM, CDMA, 4G
  4. Operating system and interface
  5. Included/available software
  6. Wireless carrier
  7. Cost

The Apple iPhone, RIM Blackberry; Androids; Windows OS phones with and Palm with 4% (n=10) were the most popular choices revealed in Smartphone User Survey: A glimpse into the mobile lives of college students.  Jessica Dolcourt, Senior Associate Editor, reviews Samsung Galaxy S3, Motorola Droid Razr Maxx, Apple iPhone 4S, HTC One S and LG Optimus 4X HD in detail in Best Smartphones – CNet Reviews.

Do I need a Tablet?

Tablets are an increasingly popular mobile-computing choice. They are are thin and light and boot-up in an instant. You can take notes, email, create documents, capture images, create slideshows, video chat — anywhere, anytime. But touchscreen keyboards aren’t great when it comes to typing out reports and research papers so adding a physical keyboard is a must for college students. Check out the features, hardware, display, ease of use and pricing in 2012 Best Tablet Side-by-Side Comparisons and Reviews.

Do I need an Ultrabook?

Smartphones and tablets are more capable than laptops when it comes to sensor detection but the gap may be closing quickly with this next generation of Ultrabooks. Not aptly named, the Windows 8 user experience is like learning to use an whole new operating system. Windows 8 tablets will be with us on October 26 and and the speculation is creating quite a buzz.  Ian Paul of PCWorld points to Eight Windows 8 Tablets to Watch, so if you don’t purchase a tablet for college entry, your parents may tuck one into your Christamas stocking.

4 thoughts on “Smartphones, Tablets and LapTops for College

  1. Thank you, that is a great help for lots of students who probably just want to buy the latest tech. This helps us to think more carefully about what will actually help us with our education.

  2. My Sprint Android smartphone, which I bought to use more as a purse-sized computer than a phone, will function as a mobile wi-fi hotspot (for an additional $20 a month). My son has a Verizon smartphone, also Android, and often uses it as a wi-fi hotspot for his laptop. Don’t know if either carrier carries iPhones, however. So many options these days!

    (tt, hope you’re feeling much better.)

  3. Your analogy regarding the smartphones are correct. I now use my iPhone as my laptop. It allows me to blog and it loads faster than my laptop. I can print, record and use it to blog. The WordPress app is wonderful on the iPhone. The only problem is we pay about $250.00 per month for (4) iPhones. This includes unlimited 3G. I can also make the IPhone into a wi-fi hotspot, my friends can use the wi-fi from my phone.
    AT&T is the only carrier I know of that allows the iPhone to be used as a remote wi-fi hotspot. I love At&t. Expensive, but worth every dime. I can go to my kids games and every parent can get wi-fi from my iPhone (when I turn on personal hotspot).
    At&t has several articles about this on their website.
    Great post. Getting ready to by a tablet for the hubby for travel.

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