I am a huge fan of almost everything Google touches, and the brand new “HP Chromebook 11” (http://goo.gl/m0jgjh) is no exception. The first thing you notice is how attractive this device is, which is no surprise coming from Google. The lightweight, portable laptop is perfect for anyone on the go, featuring an 11” screen which you can keep on for 6 hours of continuous use – but never fear, once your battery runs low, Google’s newest chromebook charges with microUSB, the same connector used by most smartphones. So, feel free to charge your shiny new chromebook by plugging into your best friends laptop (although, it won’t charge super-fast this way). The chromebook is truly all fun and games, running Google’s very own chrome OS, which is virtually impervious to malicious attacks, and syncs up to all of Google’s services, such as chrome, drive, docs, Google music, your handy android based smartphone, and your Concordia email. Keep in mind the chromebook is not a full-fledged computer. The reason it’s so resistant to viruses is that you cannot actually install traditional programs, such as iTunes or Photoshop, so by no means is this a computer replacement. Think of it as your best buddy for school or on the go, but for more serious business, you’re going to need something that supports third party applications. Pick up Google’s newest for around 299$.
These days conventional, midrange laptops are a dime a dozen; yes, while your old MacBook may have cost you many, many dimes at the time, this is old technology – reliable, but dated. So, if old faithful is what you’re looking for I still have few pointers on what to pick up. First off, the processor is everything. I see so many people obsessed about how many “gigs” their computer will have, but ram is such an insignificant piece of the puzzle, especially since it can be upgraded so easily. I can’t stress enough how much more of an influence the processor will have on the speed of your computer, especially since this is virtually not upgradable. There are two major processor makers: Intel and AMD. For Intel you’ll find the i3, i5 and i7 processors, and for AMD, they’re christened the A6, A8 and A10. These are just fancy code names for beginner, midrange, and high-end, respectively. Since you probably want your computer to last as long as possible, it’s a good idea to stay in the mid to high end of the spectrum. Don’t fret about whether your laptop will have a disk drive or not, you’ll close a lot of doors that way, besides, you probably haven’t used one since 2004. Don’t forget about the screen. You’ll have to carry this thing around with you, remember. Look for something 15” or smaller – and if its touch screen, all the better. You’ll pick up a conventional laptop for about 600$ to 800$ (unless it’s a mac).
It should be clear I am not the biggest fan of this fruit bearing company, however, I feel it’s necessary to explore this option. Very rarely (if ever) have I actively encouraged a customer to buy one of these machines, but they still do. My response to this is simple: The MacBook itself, is nothing but a conventional laptop and A LOT of solid marketing. What you are buying is not just a computer, but the software with it, primarily an operating system. Which is fine, but to get your money’s worth just ensure that this is a software you are in love with. The most common MacBook for students is properly dubbed the “101” (1100$ - http://goo.gl/5B7Gcg) which is truly nothing special and is quickly becoming outdated by today’s standards. For an extra $250 you can upgrade to the “864” and enjoy such benefits such as a high definition display and a solid state drive, a much better value comparatively.
Some of the best devices aren’t laptops or tablets… they’re hybrids. It’s a fun tablet when you want it and a powerful laptop when you need it, complete with touch screen, solid state hard drive (for faster load times), long battery life, and most importantly a keyboard. These devices are called convertible ultrabooks. When I was at [big box retailer’s] summit in Toronto last fall, some of the most amazing presentations came from the makers of Yoga 2 Pro (http://goo.gl/csdITI), the Flip (http://goo.gl/kMKNAm), and the Surface Pro 2 (http://goo.gl/NqB2ZU).
Lenovo has a reputation for greatness. With all of IBM’s engineering behind them they are one of the most reliable laptop manufactures on the market. Out of everything they had to offer the “Yoga 2 Pro” blew me away. While the yoga has been on the market for quite some time the Yoga 2 had some sweet additions. Its hinge allows for the bottom of the laptop to be folded completely behind the screen, converting the laptop into tablet in one quick motion. The display on the Yoga 2 is breathtaking, featuring a 13” monitor with 2K resolution (3200 by 1800), and 10 point multi touch technology for a full tablet experience, and the screen is absolutely beautiful. At $1200 bucks, the Yoga 2 is an excellent value.
The next contender is the Dell XPS 12 Convertible Touch Ultrabook, also known as, the Dell Flip. The 12” 1920 by 1080 touchscreen flips around within its frame on which it’s mounted from a single point on each side. You can then close the device like a laptop in which the back of the screen would lay on top of the keyboard. It’s a wonderfully built and portable device with a powerful i7 processor. The Flip retails for 1200$.
Last but not least, my personal choice, the Surface Pro 2. The surface line of products are a Microsoft tablet creation, marrying software and hardware in the same package. While nothing technically rotates or swivels like in our last two examples, the Surface has a kickstand on the back with two angles for optimal viewing. An essential add-on for the surface is the backlit Type Keyboard, which connects to the bottom via super strong magnets, that folds around the back of the tablet when not in use. The most valuable piece of the Surface Pro 2 is the Wacom tablet built into the touch screen. The Surface comes with its own special stylus which, when combined with full 1080 touchscreen, mimics the feel of writing with pen and paper. This is essential for science students who are required to draw complex molecules or equations on the fly. Pick up 128GB surface for a cool grand.