Back To School 2012 “edition” Laptops, Tablets, Smartphones galore

It’s that time of the year again, giving your parents a stroke with the bill of how much books cost, getting your AB pencils ready and of course, buying the latest electronics.

With the economy in the recession I’m rounding up the best value laptops and where to get the best deals and bargins which benefits you.

First up with the Laptops:

An obvious choice is the MacBook Air from Apple, updated with a faster processor, better graphics and cheaper price point there is no reason not to go with this slick, ultrabook portable computer. With 11″ and 13″ screens and fast computing, the future is here. The best part is the Laptop only starts at less than €1000/$1000. An anticipated Laptop Apple has recently released is the Retina Display MacBook Pro but clocking in at over €2000/$2000 it seems maybe it’s for those with a trust fund unless you need serious power. Either way if your leaning towards a regular MacBook Pro, go the extra mile and just get the retina model. I personally believe that the future of portables at Apple will just be the 11″ MacBook Air, 13″ MacBook Air and 15″ MacBook Pro with Retina. In a few years though all Apple products will be retina most likely.

If your going PC with Microsoft Windows this year here a few budget options that offer decent performance. Dell is offering a MacBook Air competitor with the Inspiron 14Z, it’s not as thin as a MacBook Air, the retina MacBook Pro is thinner but at €729 you can’t go wrong. It features a basic i3 Processor which will be enough for eMail, Notes, YouTube videos and features a 500GB hard drive. and for those who still want it, a DVD drive. It’s really for that college student who is mostly doing non-media tasks and perhaps shares a dorm and can have time to watch what they want, again thanks to that DVD drive.

HP offers the Pavilion DV6T-7000 Entertainment notebook for the hipster people who think Apple isn’t hip enough. Featuring Beats audio it offers good performance for only $629 after savings. (I added the $50 extra Graphics card upgrade which will make the computer a lot faster) With the extra graphics card upgrade this Laptop can do some gaming, wont be cirque du Soleil performance in Crysis but it will run it, just lower the resolution a bit. In fact at that price, that’s probably the best performance laptop money can buy but you lose out with it being heavy and chunky.

If money means no end to you, then check our HPs MacBook Pros…. Oh I’m sorry, I mean their Envy line. Starting at $1299 it offers an Apple like design but is a Windows PC, featuring a 750GB Hard drive, Intel i7 Processor, 8GB and a 1080p screen, you can’t really go wrong.

If your going to law school or perhaps accounting you may want to look smart in Lenovo. The Thinkpad E320 starts at €528 however for that price, the specs are really…. Basic, only 2GB of DDR3 memory, Intel graphics and an i3 Processor your paying for the brand name and the business features it offers and is known for such as a finger print reader and the infamous ball trackpad in the center of the keyboard. They have a step up model at €821 which is decent but it’s still €821.

A big trend recently is of course taking tabets to school. Being light and slim, it’s fun features and with recent advancements, being able to get work done on it they are taking a big chunk out of the Laptop market from the consumer home stand point. Without a doubt, check out the iPad starting at $499, €479. With it’s retina display and fast performance it is the only tablet out there that has all the media on it and the performance. The media comes from the iTunes and App store, which without a doubt has the most useful apps on the market and iTunes is available in more locations than Google Play, You can buy Music and rent Movies in Ireland, do more with TV Shows in the UK & United States and offers the iBook store and the upcoming iTunes U college education program.

However, if Android is more you thing, check out great budget tablets like the Kindle Fire and the newly released Google Nexus 7, both starting at $199. The Nexus 7 offers pure Android experience however the Kindle Fire offers more content such as more Music, Movies, TV Shows and Magazines. If your more of a power user, check out the latest Asus Transformer Prime, it’s a hybrid laptop with the addition of an extra Keyboard clip on. It turns this fast performance tablet into an Android running laptop.

Of course with every computer, one must now have a smartphone. The flagship product is of course the iPhone 4S (However hold your horses, there may be a new one out this fall). If you prefer Android check out The Samsung Galaxy S3, The Galaxy Ace, the HTC one X and Google galaxy Nexus phones. They offer the best performance out there. Kind of pricy so check out their 12-24 month contract plans. A good piece of advice is to find a contract which offers tethering or Mobile Hotspot. That would allow the person with the phone to connect their Laptop to the internet using the phones internet connection. Most will charge an extra fee however most countries outside the US include it as standard.

 

Now we know all about what to buy, how do you save. What’s great about College time every year is that everyone can benefit from it… Well anyone with access to someones college ID card. Apple offers their Mac educational discount and a €80/$100 Apple App store giftcard which can be used to purchase Apps on the app store or buy Music, Movies or TV Shows. For the first time, they are making the iPad an option with a discount and a €40 gift card for apps etc. Many PC manufactures will offer their own discounts so check their websites, Lenovo reduced the Thinkpad Edge 320 of over €400. And Dell is giving discounts starting from €100, to €150 and more depending on the model.

If finding discounts may seem to hard for you, go to your local electronic retail store and check out what’s on offer and compare it to the models mentioned above and see if the specs are worthy, also check out Groupon and Living Social for your area as you never know, a Laptop deal may pop up on it one day. Komplett for Europe offers deals every week and a Laptop always makes the cut. If your in Ireland or other parts of Europe, a new website is http://www.discountcodes.ie/ which finds bargins on everything from clothing to books, electronics and of course Computers. You can use this as a comparison site for all the PC Manufactures. For example check out: http://www.discountcodes.ie/dell for the latest Dell offers for back to school.

 

If I was to offer advice to those purchasing computers for Education this fall, is to definitely keep tablets in mind as they are getting faster all the time, with more apps and services, mostly cheaper than Laptops and are thinner and lighter it can only benefit you.

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