Computer Purchase Recommendations for Teachers Part 2: Laptops

Photo of a Dell XPS M140 Laptop.Image via Wikipedia
In my first look at computer recommendations, I discussed what components are the most important and where you may want to splurge and cut back. Since technology and prices are constantly changing, it doesn't seem too useful to give specific configuration/price recommendations in a dated post. However, I'll try to offer some general cost analysis advice as well as offer a few links to get you searching in the right places. First up - laptops.


Apple Macbooks - Design and User Friendliness at a Price.
With Apple products, there's a limited selection, fewer places to purchase from, and only a certain number of configurations to select. Currently, Apple laptops come in two main flavors:
Personally, I use a 13inch MBP (Macbook Pro) and it's a great size in my opinion. The Pro does have twice the memory, though you could double the  white Macbook for $90. In either case, for standard usage, you don't need to spend the extra $300 for the faster processor, but you might consider a larger hard drive (twice the size for an extra $135) if you're going to store music, photos, and videos.  You can probably find more options for printers, but if you wanted to pick up everything at the same time, you could bundle a printer. Lastly, teachers don't forget to either order through education (http://store.apple.com/us-k12) or show your school ID at the Apple Store, for some minor savings (about $50-100).

PC Laptops - More choice, More power, More savings
Despite the above tagline, many are opting to spend more on a Macbook, and I'll be the first to admit that I often turn to the MBP over a PC laptop. However, the advantages of a PC need not be ignored. So, where does one turn for the best laptops? Some things to consider:

Netbooks ($300-$500)
If you are looking for a full featured laptop and a potential desktop replacement, a netbook is not the right choice at this time. If you're looking for a portable device good for basic word processing and Internet browsing, or a possible second laptop for basic functionality, then a netbook can offer some value. Pay particular attention to the screen size, the keyboard size, and trackpad. Most likely, you'll inherit an Intel Atom processor which gives you fair battery life, but will not break any speed barriers.

Laptops ($800-1200)
In this price range, you're likely to find a mainstream laptop that features the same important components discussed in our first post: a quality processor (Intel Core, not Atom), ample RAM, and a large hard disk. For laptops, the screen size and weight become factors, as you'll want to consider what you're willing to toe around presuming you're going to travel with the computer. Popular brands include the usual suspects: Dell, Toshiba, Lenovo, and HP, but up and comers like Asus or Acer should not scare you away and may ultimately be the best deal.

I've included a few Amazon recommendations as well as the following sites that I often refer to for my research. I'll try to update this post frequently with additional recommendations, though feel free to leave a comment if you find something that has worked for you.

Sites for Research:
http://www.laptopmag.com/
http://www.pcmag.com/home/
http://www.cnet.com/

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