Friday, August 22, 2008

Back-to-School Technology Guide

Smaller, faster and less expensive are the trends in portable computers this year. Apple announced this past year the super-slim Macbook Air, and computer makers on the other side of the aisle were quick to match. Look for ultra-portable options from all the key players, including the HP 2133 Mini-Note...

HP 2133 Mini-Note PC -- "Honey?? I shrunk the laptop!" Once you get this (large) paperback-book sized notebook in your hand, you likely won't be able to set it down. Sporting an impressive 8.9" screen, I was especially drawn to the durability of this sub-notebook -- the thing just feels like it can be tossed in a backpack among the school books and gadgets. I will say, use caution when buying -- there are a few different models, the basic configuration comes with an Open Source Linux installation, if you're hoping for a Windows Vista-based machine, it's $100 more. Take a look for yourself here.

On the Apple side, there are two products worth mentioning. The first, my favoritate, is the super-slim Macbook Air. You've probably seen the launch commercials where it slides, no kidding, out of an envelope. It's eco-friendly and made from recycled parts. The keyboard is perfect for long hours of note-taking, and the brilliant display perfect for unwinding with a movie.

Both of these options are best as a second machine. While both are completely capable and run full versions of their respective Microsoft Office software (check with your school for academic pricing), you may consider taking a full-sized computer with large music-storing hard drive and standard keyboard for those all-nighter typing sessions.

Other must-haves?
Top-of-the-list: An external USB hard drive. Western Digital makes my favorites for around a hundred bucks. Cheap insurance against lost, stolen, or malfunctioning computers. Plug it into the campus computer lab and you're back up and running.

Finally, textbooks are an expensive part of any back-to-school budget. There's a great website that lets you rent the essentials, and it works a lot like Netflix. For more information on check 'em out online. They'll even let you keep the books if you decide you can't give it up at the end of the quarter!

Listen to this report, originally broadcast on KXL-AM Friday Aug 22: kxl_techexpert-backtoschool_20080822.mp3 (MP3)

Got questions? Feel free to drop me a line (techexpert (AT) brianwestbrook (DOT) com) and I'll do my best to steer you in the right direction! Happy studying! :-p

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