- August 19th, 2015
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Back-to-school shopping isn’t just about buying mechanical pencils and grid-lined notebooks anymore. These days, shopping for the new school year often means investing in a new computer. Whether you’ve got kids heading to college, high school or (gulp!) even primary school, a new computer may very well be part of your 2015 school shopping list.
Of course, buying a computer is considerably more complicated than picking packs of pencils and paper. It’s a major purchase that calls for comparing prices, warranties, screen sizes, and operating systems. This year, with the release of Windows 10, there are more issues to consider than usual.
1. Desktop or Laptop? Don’t forget the Slurpee factor
One major consideration is whether to buy a laptop or desktop computer. Laptops are portable and easy to tote around. Laptops are handy because they can be packed in a knapsack and taken to school, coffee shops, libraries and friends’ houses. Portability is particularly important for students who work collaboratively, students who have relatively small work areas (like a shared dorm room), or students who travel home on weekends and holidays.
Portability, however, comes at price. Laptops are prone to being dropped or misplaced. Also, they can completely ruined in a moment of carelessness, either because they were knocked off a counter top or because they were accidentally drenched by a giant cola-flavored Slurpee or 32-ounce cup of coffee.
Laptops are also easily stolen. In fact, millions go missing every year, through a combination of thievery and absent-mindedness. So if you go for the laptop option, make sure you protect it with a security platform such as Extreme Security 2016 that offers critical features in the case of a lost or stolen laptop, such as locating it on a digital map, remote file recovery and remote lock, to prevent intruders from accessing personal data.
Desktops are generally cheaper than laptops and offer better performance for the price. They also tend to more comfortable, as they can be fitted with ergonomic keyboards and mouse pads. A desktop computer that’s properly set up, with the screen set at eye level and the keyboard positioned for proper posture, can reduce the physical side effects of spending too many hours doing high-level math questions (or playing Minecraft). All in all, this is a much better for the body than lying in bed with a laptop propped on a pillow.
Desktops tend to be more much durable than laptops. They get toted around a whole lot less, so there is a much smaller chance that they will be dropped. They are also less attractive to thieves, for obvious reasons.
Desktops are also less prone to serious damage from silly accidents. If a keyboard gets drenched by a spilled Slurpee, it can be replaced at a reasonably low price. Ditto for a screen that gets broken by a wayward softball. In other words, if the student you’re shopping for tends to be clumsy, a desktop is probably your safest bet.
2. The Difference Between New and Refurbished
While you may never consider buying previously worn shoes, clothing or toothbrushes, buying a computer that has been previously owned has a much smaller ick factor. In fact, when it comes to computers, you can even buy previously owned models that have never been used at all.
The term for electronic items that are returned shortly after purchase and then resold in a relatively short time is refurbished. Refurbished computers differ from used computers, which may have been used for months or even years.
There are two types of refurbished computers; store-refurbished and manufacturer-refurbished. The latter type are better, as they usually have relatively good warranties. In fact, because manufacturer-refurbished computers go through a refurbishment process that new computers don’t, they are usually in pretty great shape.
Also, it’s worth keeping in mind that refurbished computers are not necessarily ones that have been returned because they were faulty. Refurbished computers may have been returned because the customer had buyer’s remorse, clicked the wrong picture when they shopped, realized the computer was too powerful (or not powerful enough). It could even be that the customer changed majors in university and realized they didn’t need a new computer after all.
On the one hand, if you love that New Computer Smell (is there such a thing?) then you would be giving it up if you buy a refurbished computer. On the other hand, if you want to save some money and don’t need to buy the latest model, a manufacturer-refurbished computer may be a great option.
3. Windows 8 or Windows 10? Wish we could just settle for 9.5
There has been a ton of buzz about Windows 10 recently, and for good reason. It’s the long-awaited new operating system from Microsoft, and if you believe the hype, it’s going to change the way we experience the world.
Every computer store worth its salt is selling computers running Windows 10, but most stores are also selling computers with earlier versions of Windows too. Of course, this means you need to choose which to buy. And while you may be tempted to buy nothing less than the newest operating system when you buy your computer, think twice before you make that decision. Here’s why:
- It’s still buggy.
It’s no secret that Microsoft is still working out the bugs in Windows 10. There have already been a couple of updates, and though these happen automatically, they do make you go hmmm.
- Not everything is compatible…yet.
Microsoft isn’t the only company that’s working out Windows 10-related bugs. Many software companies are still working on making their products Windows 10 compatible. If the student you’re shopping for is familiar with a type of software that’s not compatible with Windows 10, they’ll have to go without.
- Printer trouble, anyone?!
Just because you are ready to buy a new computer doesn’t mean you want to buy a new printer (scanner, etc.) But if you upgrade to Windows 10, there’s a real possibility that your old printer won’t work with it. Students are notorious for printing essays at the last minute; the last thing they need to find out at midnight on Sunday is that they can’t print the paper that’s due at 8:00 am on Monday because the printer isn’t updated.
- What’s the rush? You’ve got two semesters to upgrade.
If you buy any computer, new or refurbished, that runs Windows 7, 8, or 8.1, you’re eligible for a free Windows 10 upgrade any time until July 29, 2016. That means you can start with an operating system you know, and wait until mid-semester break to upgrade. Heck, if you like, you can even wait until the school year is over. So why rush?
4. Whatever Choice you Make, PC Security is Not an Option
Regardless of whether you opt for laptop or desktop, new or refurbished, Windows 10 or earlier, one thing is clear: your new computer needs protection. And we’re not just talking about making sure that it doesn’t get stolen, spilled on or broken. Computers need to be secured at their core with powerful antivirus and firewall protection.
We’ve taken the guesswork out of this issue with Extreme Security 2016. It’s our most powerful antivirus and security suite, designed for any desktop or laptop, and fully compatible with Windows 10. Not only does Extreme Security 2016 come with a 100% virus-free guarantee, but it prevents criminals from hacking your system with a powerful firewall, provides free online backup, enables super-important laptop security features, and includes free Android privacy protection. It gets an A+ in security, and that’s no easy grade to achieve.
Good luck with your back to school shopping! Though the items you’re buying are likely worlds away from those you bought when you were a student, we hope they bring great success.
What’s your biggest consideration when you go back-to-school tech shopping?