task) and too big (and thus heavier).
You’ve got a few choices when it
comes to operating systems. And many
laptops include touch screens and/or
screens that rotate into tablet, tent or
stand modes (called “;-in-;s” or “
Chromebooks are another popular
pick (see “Pop pick” below).
Mobility and power are important
qualities for college-level computing.
Today’s laptops and ;-in-;s can last more
than ;; hours between charges, in some
cases. And many PCs support “inking,”
which means you can use a stylus on the
screen to jot down notes or equations.
College students should first assess
their needs. Some courses—such as animation, video editing or video game programming—could require more horsepower than an entry-level computer
provides. Or a course might require one
operating system over another, depending
on the software needed. In other words,
do your homework before you buy.
Lots of smart
by MARC SALTZMAN
ere is some good news for stu-
dents (and parents) facing the
inevitable computer upgrade:
There’s never been a better time
to buy one. More options—in size and
shape, brand and specs—are available
than ever before, and you’ll find attrac-
tive back-to-school deals. Here’s a guide
to help you decide what’s best for you.
Kindergarten to sixth grade
A stationary desktop computer might
be best for younger students. They’re
affordable and can be kept in a high-traffic location in the home, such as a
kitchen or family room, so mom and dad
can keep an eye on where kids are going
online. Because they’re not designed for
on-the-go use, desktops are also less
prone to damage. The larger (and perhaps curved) keyboards and external
mice are also ideal for younger users.
All-in-one desktop computers are a
good idea too, as the guts of the machine
are built in behind the monitor instead of
a separate tower, providing a cleaner look
and reducing desktop clutter.
Middle school and high school
Tweens and teens spend more time
out of the home, so portability is important. Laptops are perhaps more suitable
for this age group. Decide on what screen
size makes the most sense, with ;; or ;;
inches as a popular sweet spot between a
display that’s too small (harder to multi-
Costco has a wide variety of computers in
the warehouses and on Costco.com to meet
school, home and business computing needs.
Also available at a great value are accessories
such as printers and more.
Using Google’s Chrome
OS platform, Chrome-
books are a;ordable
laptop computers, which
is why they’ve been
embraced by many
educators and school
ship with Google apps—
like Gmail, Google
Docs and Google
an internet connection is
required to get the most
out of a Chromebook.
Since Chrome OS and
Google’s apps focus
heavily on the cloud,
download new up-
is a leading high-tech
reporter and is the
author of more than 16
books. He’s on Twitter
Saltzman will answer
selected questions in
this column. He regrets
questions cannot be
in the subject line.
Q&A Marc Saltzman
P.O. Box 34088
Watch a video o;ering tips for
buying the right PC. (See page 13