Lower end could be right end

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Finding the ideal computer for their major might be easier than students think.

By William A. Peters

sac-ranger@alamo.edu

With classes transitioning away from paper media to digital media, every student needs to have access to a computer or word processor of some sort to be successful in college.

This college gives students access to computers and other technology on campus so they are equipped and able to perform their assignments. However the convenience of having their own computer, laptop or tablet is invaluable.

When looking for a device, most students won’t need to spend $700 on a laptop. Oftentimes a simple tablet with keyboard or net book can do the job, said David Smith, computer support tech at this college’s Tech Store.

“You need something that’s going to write reports,” he said. “You need something to look up research online. It’s got Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, so you can pair it with a speaker, listen to music while you type up something.”

Laptops with only two gigs of RAM are a thing of the past; now they are equipped with a minimum of four gigs, Smith said.

He described the RAM in these laptops as “plenty to have the browser open to be able to have Microsoft Word or Microsoft Excel open and listen to music at the same time.”

The lower-end laptops and computers won’t meet some students’ majors and needs because to excel in their classes they need programs that demand more from a device.

“If you have a specific program — you are doing art, you are doing theater, you’re doing, like, video editing — that’s when you are going to need your Core i7,” Smith said. “That’s when you are going to need your strong processor; you’re also going to need your 12-16 gigs of RAM, and obviously you are going to need to hold all those videos on your computer to be able to edit them.”

To get more bang for their buck, students should know desktop computers are actually cheaper than laptops. A computer monitor is no longer required thanks to HDMI and compatible TVs.

Communication design sophomore Ryan Rayfield built his computer for class at the cost of $600 six months ago. It wasn’t necessary, but he enjoys the convenience of working on his own time rather than at school.

“You wouldn’t be able to go there any time because of classes,” he said of Longwith Radio, Television and Broadcast building. “They are also closed sometimes.”

“If I’m running behind on the project, I can take it home,” he said.

Rayfield creates logos, branding, websites and packing design for his classes.

Having the desktop has additional advantages.

“It is much harder to change out parts if you need a new graphics card or something,” Rayfield said of laptops. “You can’t open a laptop up and replace something.”

But the portability of a laptop can be worth the extra cost, Smith said. “It only takes one time taking it out with you for the laptop to be necessary.”

Being able to take off to find some peace and quiet to accomplish some studying is invaluable.

With technology increasing and software targeted for the common user, the freedom, versatility and ease of use of a laptop-tablet hybrid will fit most students’ needs.

Hybrids with good battery life can be found for under $200 on the lower-end models.

Smith can be found in the Tech Store, which is open 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday, to help students find the perfect piece of technology to aid them in their studies.

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