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If you have a child in college or even high school, you’ve probably already discovered that he or she will need a computer. It seems like just a few short years ago that laptops were way too expensive so the obvious choice was to buy that student a desktop computer.
Times have changed
Times have changed. Today's laptops are priced very competitively and come with nearly all the features you would find in a big desktop computer. They often have USB 3.0 ports and Bluetooth connectivity, along with a fast processor, an abundant amount of memory and a big hard drive. In fact, it's gotten to the point where it just doesn't make much sense to buy a desktop computer.
Won't break the bank
The best news about laptop computers is that they no longer cost an arm and a leg. Of course, you could spend $1000 or more on one of those upscale Apple or UltraBook laptops but it's not really necessary. There are some very good laptops available for $600 or even less that have enough features to please even the pickiest of students.
HP ProBook 444os
While this model is designed for business people, it’s also good for personal use. The 444os’ price starts at $480 and it has a keyboard designed to resist spills and metal chassis to survive any accidental drops. It comes with 6GB of memory and a 320GB hard drive, which should provide a sufficient amount of storage.
Dell Inspiron 15R
For about $100 more, you could choose this laptop from Dell. It comes with a 15.6-inch LCD screen, a hard drive with a capacity of 750GB, four USB 3.0 ports and 6 GB of memory. Its processor is an Intel Core i3, which is a second-generation processor. If it's not fast enough for your student, you could upgrade to a Core i5 and still spend less than $600.
Toshiba Satellite L755-S5166
While this unit has been around for some time, it's still a good buy at about $500. The Satellite L755-S5166 comes with a standard keyboard (with a numeric keypad), a 15.6-inch screen and a 640GB hard drive. Those in the know say that this is a not a very exciting laptop but is solid and budget-priced.
Dell Inspiron 14z
This Dell laptop starts at about $480, has a 14-inch screen and weighs the least of the five laptops described here at less than 3.25 pounds. The Inspiron 14z has a battery life of more than seven hours and comes with an Intel Core i3 processor. But, again, you could upgrade to a Core i5 CPU and still not break the bank.
Check for these other features
There are some other features you should look for in this category of laptops for less than $600. For example, it’s best if the laptop you buy has a DVD-RW drive, a memory card reader, and Bluetooth connectivity.
Unfortunately, most of the cheaper laptops do not have discrete graphics processing units. This means they probably won't be able to handle the latest 3-D games but should be sufficient for everyday multitasking and multimedia. On the positive side, these four laptops all have screens with high enough resolutions that they can play high-def video at 720p, along with HDMI ports that can provide video and audio to an HDTV.
A bewildering array of choices
While the four laptops described here are all good price values, there are others available that could be equally good choices. In fact, if you walked into a store such as BestBuy, odds are that you will see a bewildering array of laptops from which to choose. The important thing is to look for the computer's standard features, like a fast processor, a big hard drive, a good amount of memory and a long battery life. You should also check for extra features such as a bright, widescreen display, an HDMI port and a USB 3.0 port. And you can't really go wrong so long as you stick with a well known brand-name like HP, Dell, Toshiba, Sony and Samsung.
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