The Best Laptops and Tablets for Students
Desktop Replacements: Dream Machines
A big investment with mind-blowing returns, desktop replacement laptops add portability, yet handle number crunching, graphics rendering or massive gaming sessions with ease. The multimedia marvel HP Envy 17 is a critical hit, with a Radiance Full HD Infinity display, a DVD burner, Beats Audio (complete with subwoofer) and a surprisingly long battery life. Dell's XPS 15z offers a base model with 500 GB of space and 6GB memory, but it's the optional Core i7 processor that really juices things up, and it rates a 4.5 out of 5 from PCWorld.com. For a more rugged desktop replacement, look to HP's Elitebook 8560W: Offering an optical drive, 720p webcam, and six to eight hours of battery life, it'll rock in the business world, too.
Check out the sleek Samsung Series 7 NP700Z5A for 8GB of RAM and a 750GB hard drive housed in a lightweight 5.2 pounds. Gotta game? Super-pricey but worth it to hardcore gamers, the Alienware M18X offers a massive 1T of storage and a processor that can max out at 4.0GHz. At the top of the desktop replacement heap we see the latest edition of the 15-inch MacBook Pro. With a new quad-core Core i7 processor, improved battery life and OSX Lion, Apple could conceivably re-brand it as a lightweight desktop computer.
Portable and Ultra Portable: The Kids Are All Light
These lightweight laptops are easily toted, taking up less backpack space than a couple of textbooks. Toshiba's Portege Z835 (a well-reviewed update to their equally respected R835) features a forward-looking solid-state hard drive, and its battery life is best in class. One more Ultrabook that gets kudos (including an Editor's Choice pick at PCMag.com) is HP's Folio 13. Priced at under a grand, it's Bluetooth capable and features an excellent keyboard. Another newer entry from HP, the Envy 14 Spectre, earns praise for its awesome audio and battery life, showy glass casing and WiDi-ready features.
The MacBook Air 11 MC968ll/A is Apple's latest update to their justly famous line of ultraportables. Armed with third-gen Intel Core i5 and i7 processors (and at 2.34 pounds and not much thicker than an iPad), this baby aced Cnet's benchmark tests, with performance levels close to a 13-inch MacBook Pro. The downside? Apple isn't known for inexpensive products, so if you're looking to save some cash to spend on tuition, consider the Asus Zenbook (model UX21E or UX31E) for a fully loaded Ultrabook considered a challenger to the MacBook Air 11.