Technology Choices for Today’s Student
Getting ready for school in the digital age demands having the right gear. Fortunately, there are great devices available that can help you make the grade. Below is a selection of software and hardware what can make homework less work, and provide students with some fun just before finals arrive.
Tablets are popular. For class work, more robust options are a better alternative. Offering a compact size, a keyboard larger than most in its class, Toshiba’s Mini NB505-N508GN (toshiba.com) packs a stylish exterior with enough muscle to get down to business. Sporting a 250 gig hard drive, one gig of ram and a long-lasting battery, it can handle office applications smoothly. At $250, this is an excellent value that makes for an outstanding netbook for homework. It also runs a version of windows 7, great for security and connections to other computers.
If your needs are more demanding, Lenovo’s IdeaPad S205 (Lenovo.com) is a solid selection. Something of a hybrid between a netbook and a notebook, and running Windows 7 64 bit, performance is not a problem here. With a keyboard large enough to making typing a breeze and a huge 500 gig hard drive, there is a certain luxury level here. Popular among business users that demand performance, Lenovo has a reputation for creating solid mobile computers. This mini maintains that tradition and does not disappoint.
The web is great for storage. When you have a lot of data to access, it can be slow, even with a high speed connection. That is why usb flash drives are still a necessity. Should you need more than a few gigs, Lexar’s Echo MX line (Lexar.com) provides from 8 to a whopping 128 gigs in a device that measures less than three inches long and one-inch wide.
If you need more room for larger files, Seagate’s Go Flex Slim (Seagate.com) provides an elegant solution. About as thick as a pencil, this sleek black mobile storage device is Mac and PC friendly. Able to handle USB 2 and 3, this 320 gig drive is ideal for holding Powerpoint files, notes and other data. With backup software included, and priced at less than $100, this represents a superb backup and storage solution for those on the go.
Handwritten note taking is part of academic life. The problem has been how to make notes digital. Coming to the rescue is IOGEARS Mobile Scribe Digital Pen with Memory (iogear.com). This pen holds a gig of information, and works with any paper–no need for special surfaces. It downloads your notes to your computer, and then turns them into editable digital text that any word processing program can use.
For game designers, film makers and assorted artists, software is expensive, and most students are usually struggling to pay bills. Thankfully, one major company is offering a helping hand. Autodesk (autodesk.com), makers of Maya and Auto Cad along with a slew of other extremely high-end software, makes available applications—gratis– to students with proof of enrollment.
On the subject of affordable software, Xara (xara.com) has been providing affordable innovative graphic design software for years. They are celebrating their 30th anniversary. Xara Photo and Graphic Designer 7 merges photo editing and design into one powerful package. Xara Designer Pro 7 includes about anything you could need in graphic design, web page design and photo editing into one comprehensive program.
The desktop is not dead. For heavy-duty use, they are still grade-A performers. If you believe that owning one means thousands of dollars, Acer (acer.com) provides real value in the Predator G3 line up, starting at $799. Sporting the second generation Core I processors from Intel, a huge 1.5 TB hard drive, 12 USB ports, 8 gigs of ram and a second hard drive that does not require tools or opening the case, this is the ideal companion for image and video editing. Under heavy loads, it is virtually silent, making it ideal for video conferencing with teachers.
If you are looking to get work done and be entertained at the same time, Dell’s XPS 8300 (dell.com) is just the answer. From syncing with your television to assorted multimedia options, this system offers stellar looks and enough power to get those assignments in on time.
If you do a lot of writing, a quality keyboard is a necessity. Better known for their storage solutions, Verbtim (verbatim.com) has produced an excellent wireless keyboard and mouse combo. The appropriately titled “Wireless Slim Keyboard and Mouse,” with its 2.4 Ghz, translates into a connection that remains connected. Forget a huge base, one extremely tiny connector fits into a usb port keeping your desktop clean.
Technology has reached a level that even a modest computer can produce excellent sound. To get the most out of your system, you need well-crafted speakers. Logitech, known for their exceptional mice and keyboards, has also produced excellent speakers over the years. Continuing that tradition, the Z623 (Logitech.com) has been receiving great reviews from pundits, and with good reason. This THX certified 2.1 system features two speakers and a sub-woofer that delivers potent bass, no doubt a result of its 200 watts of power. The sound has to be heard to be believed. Logitech proves that a 2.1 system can create thundering bass, vibrant mid tones and sound quality that can make games and movies come to life.
By Kurt von Behrmann