It may be hard to believe that your little darling is about to graduate from high school and go off to college. After all, it seems like just yesterday you were buying her Barbie dolls, spending hours reading picture books and having tea parties with all of her stuffed animals.
The time is fast approaching when your daughter will be on her own, responsible for attending class and finishing her assignments. What better way to prepare her than getting her a laptop of her very own? But with all of the options out there – literally hundreds – picking the best laptop takes a bit of research.
Which type of laptop will help her most with her studies? Which models are best for both schoolwork and personal activities, like social networking and, of course, video chats with you back home? Which laptops will last through four – or five – years of college? Should you buy a new or refurbished model? What’s the difference between an Ultrabook and a Netbook? Does her school of choice have any specific requirements, like a certain operating system?
Consider what features are most important. Durability and affordability matter, but your daughter’s needs may vary, depending on her chosen major. A graphics design student, for example, may prefer an Apple product to a personal computer. Read onward to learn more about choosing the right laptop for your daughter.
Plug and play
While some kids seem like they were born with their nose stuck to a screen, others might not be quite as tech-savvy. Evaluate your daughter’s level of comfort with computers; does she know her way around a PC? Is she competent with most software packages and apps? Is she a relatively new user, or has she been blogging since she learned to read and write?
Some laptops come with software packages built right in, a perfect option for beginners. More tech-proficient kids may want the option of installing their own software, so keep that in mind while you’re browsing.
Choose a laptop that’ll hold through at least four years of undergraduate – and possibly a couple years of graduate – studies. Toshiba, Acer and Apple are among the most reliable brands. Asus and Sony have a lower malfunction rate than many other brands.
How will it be used?
You want your daughter’s laptop to be functional across a wide range of applications, especially given that she’ll probably change her major at least a few times before she graduates. As a general rule, liberal arts majors can use either Windows or Apple operating systems. However, business students may want to have a Windows operating system, as most business environments use it. Likewise, some engineering software, like AutoCAD and Pro/Engineer, only works with Windows. Design students, on the other hand, may prefer a Mac.
The price is right
Last, but never least, how much money do you want to spend? While you might be attracted to a refurbished laptop for its initial low price, over time, a new model is likely to last longer, giving you more bang for your buck.
When you do finally find a laptop suitable for your daughter’s needs, ask if her college provides free anti-virus software; if not, download software that will protect her computer from hackers and viruses.