electronics or computers
you purchased at
Costco? Email them to:
Or mail to:
Q&A with Marc Saltzman
The Costco Connection
P.O. Box 34088
Seattle, WA 98124-1088
or fax to: (425) 313-6718.
“Marc Saltzman Q&A”
in the subject line. Marc
will answer selected ques-
tions in this column. We
regret that unpublished
questions cannot be
a leading high-tech
to more than three
on radio and TV and is
the author of 15 books.
He’s on Twitter at
STUDENTS WILL HAVE enough weighing on
their minds this fall, so they shouldn’t have to worry
about which tech tools are best for taking notes, writing essays and researching homework assignments.
Fortunately, there’s no shortage of options.
Here’s a look.
Laptops and desktops
If you prefer a straightforward Windows-powered computer, you have a lot of choices, including a variety of laptop models from your favorite
manufacturers, with varying specs and screen sizes
(typically, 11 to 18 inches). The latest laptop trends
include thin and light designs, long battery life and
touch-screen displays. Prices typically start at $300.
If you don’t need a mobile computer, desktop
computers are also adding touch screens. Instead of a
separate tower and monitor, the trend is toward an
“all-in-one” design, where the computer is built in
behind the screen to take up less space in the home
or dorm room.
Sometimes referred to as
“convertibles” or “hybrids,” these
Usually powered by
Windows 8 and an Intel proces-
sor, 2-in-1s let you get rid of the
keyboard when you no longer need
it. With some models, the screen
twists back or folds down, so you can just
use your fingertips on the screen for a lean-back
experience as opposed to a lean-forward one.
Some 2-in-1s let you detach the screen altogether. A college student, for example, might keep
the keyboard in a dorm room and take only the
screen—serving as a tablet—to the lecture hall as an
easy way to take notes.
Aside from versatility, another great thing about
2-in-1s is you can pick up one starting at about $300
for an entry-level model. The high-end versions
(some topping $1,000) feature faster processors,
more memory and other bells and whistles.
Instead of a Windows-based machine, for a
variety of reasons many students are considering
a Chromebook-based laptop powered by Google’s
Chrome OS (operating system).
Costco offers a variety of
computing devices for back to
school, along with accesso-
ries such as backup drives,
in the warehouses and
With prices starting at $199,
Chromebooks are certainly more
affordable than other laptops, yet
you still get fast performance,
good battery life, a familiar clamshell design and an 11- to 14-inch
screen, on average. Some even
offer 4G (cellular) connectivity
along with Wi-Fi.
The software will be a little
different than what you’re used
to, though. Be aware that you
can’t run most popular programs,
such as Microsoft Office, i Tunes,
Skype, Quicken or Photoshop on a
Chromebook, nor can you easily
send work to a printer without jumping through a few hoops.
That said, Chromebooks do come
with a bunch of preinstalled Google
apps—such as Google Docs, Google
Drive and a Chrome browser—
some of which require an Internet
connection. Speaking of the Internet,
purchasing a Chromebook usually
gives you an additional 100 gigabytes
of cloud storage via Google Drive.
Ranging in size from 7 to 10
inches, with some exceeding 12 inches
(measured diagonally), tablets offer a
number of advantages over laptops: They’re
extremely thin and light; they boot up right away
and last all day on a single charge; using your fingertips on a screen feels natural; and downloading apps
(software) is simple and affordable.
Tablets are also more conducive to reading
e-books (including digital textbooks) than a laptop;
plus, they usually have a front and back camera for
taking pictures, shooting video and video chatting.
There are a few different operating systems
to choose from among tablets. Brand-name tablets
start at $200, but you can expect to pay more
for bigger screens, more storage and cellular connectivity for on-the-go access to the Internet.
While tablets are popular among students, they
don’t fully replace a laptop. For many people a physical keyboard is faster, more comfortable and more
accurate than a touch-screen (virtual) keyboard. A
wireless keyboard can help out here.
Also, laptops offer a larger screen (better for
multitasking) and more storage, on average. As such,
many people find that a tablet is a supplement to a
laptop or desktop, instead of a full replacement. Take
a look at your individual needs, then choose the
right device to be at the head of your class. C
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