The ideal school is chosen, student finances in place, and the fall semester looms for high school students and college scholars, among the most demanding of tech consumers. Here are five suggestions to help digitize a campusbound student:
Toshiba Satellite A300/A305 (about $800)—A laptop with enough power that doesn’t break the bank. Its 15-inch screen is pretty much the standard these days. If the PC will be used more outside the dorm than inside, a 14- or even 13-inch screen cuts weight, including Apple MacBooks ($1,100 and up). The Toshiba’s price includes an upgrade to Vista Home Premium and 2 gigabytes of memory. Get as much memory as the budget allows. With many choices in notebooks from many makers, Yahoo’s comparison site can help sort options.
Dell Studio Hybrid ($500 and up)—A desktop PC packs more power for less money, including this tiny Windows model that will add style to a crowded dorm desktop. The rounded look comes standard, with six colors as $20 upgrades or a bamboo sleeve for $150. The Hybrid is no gamer’s rig but comes with an HDMI connector and enough power to also serve as a DVD player and media center. Or for the budget-minded, get a small KPC from Shuttle running Linux for as little as $200 that can do everything studies might require—and more.
Samsung ML-1630 (about $175)—For printing focused on class papers and research, a black-and-white laser is a smart bet for its reliability and lower operating costs. The ML-1630 costs a bit more than some, but it is compact, quiet, and looks good, too. The multifunction Brother MFC-7420 ($200) is bulkier but still sleek compared with adding a separate scanner with document feeder and fax machine.
Seagate FreeAgent Go ($85 and up)—These drives can save carrying a laptop everywhere, letting students plug into computing centers or a friend’s PC while still running their own software. The FreeAgent Go lets users fire up a Web browser, E-mail client, and other applications from the drive itself, and encryption keeps data safe if the drive doesn’t make it home. Or for fewer data, try the thumb-size SanDisk Cruzer Pattern ($15 for 2GB) that can also run some applications, a password protects data, and the gadget comes with a handy clip for portability.
DocuPen RC800 (about $250)—The latest addition to student backpacks, these scanners are not much bigger than some pens and make taking notes quicker and easier. Just drag the device across a page to capture hundreds of pages of text or images that later download to a PC. The DocuPen models capture an entire page and are easier to operate than less expensive competitors that scan only single lines of text.