The sad part about getting a good deal on a laptop, especially during back to school time, is that too often you have to spend another $150 to $200 bucks to convert all of the trial software to full versions a month later.
While savvy students can use Open Office or Google Docs to get most of their schoolwork done; like most of corporate America, the focus on many college campuses is on using Microsoft Office. In fact, where I teach it’s a requirement for business majors to know how to use Excel and Access.
It was with this in mind that Best Buy introduced its new “Next Class” line of laptops which are priced between $649 and $799. These laptops were all designed based on feedback from college students and come with full versions of Microsoft Office and antivirus software.
Last year Best Buy surveyed college students and found out that they have six major criteria when it comes to laptop happiness.
- Extended battery life
- A lightweight, portable design for easy transport
- Unique design that is personalized, yet professional
- Full virus protection
- Pre-loaded with Microsoft Office software
- An affordable price point
These criteria led to the development of four laptops aimed squarely at college students and manufactured by HP, Toshiba, Dell and Sony. While all of the laptops include 3-6 hours of battery life, weigh between 5-6 pounds and offer a 14″-15.5″ screen, they do differentiate themselves quite a bit when it comes down to the actual system specifications. Thankfully the detailed comparison chart is available at BestBuy.com making it easy to find the one that fits your needs.
While I’m partial to the HP DV4, which I mentioned in my last post about 3 types of laptops for students, the Dell and Sony models also make for a decent back to school laptop once you factor in the costs of the extra software. The Toshiba M505, which is the cheapest of the Next Class laptops, doesn’t make my cut for a back to school laptop since its battery lasts at least 2 hours less than the rest of the lineup.
Overall, I’m sure geeks across the nation will rejoice at the fact that their peers have antivirus installed and running when they return to the quad this fall. Too often in my experience, users think they are protected because of an icon in the lower right corner when their subscription has expired months, if not years, ago.