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Back To School: Notebook Deals for Forward Looking Students



Jake is a Senior business student in Ohio looking to replace an aging budget notebook from Freshman year with something that will get through the rest of his college career and roll right with him into his first post college job.

With many consumer notebooks puttering along after 2 or 3 years of hard use Jake isn’t alone in his need for a new notebook in the fourth year of school, or his desire for a notebook that will make the transition into the business world. While most jobs will give you a computer of some kind when you get hired, it doesn’t hurt to have a professional looking notebook to bring to the office or on trips, especially if you are provided with a desktop.

Jake would like to keep the purchase price under $1,000, which is doable considering his needs.

Jake wants a notebook to fit the following criteria;

  • Able to handle web browsing and the Microsoft Office suite.
  • Capable of multimedia playback
  • No need for Alienware style graphics
  • Open to a range of notebook sizes

We have chosen a mix of consumer ad business notebooks, but because Jake wants a notebook with lasting power we will focus primarily on business notebooks which are built to last longer than consumer notebooks.

Notebook Specs Sale Savings Who Is it for?

Lenovo ThinkPad X220

12.5″ Display, 2nd Gen Intel Core i3 2.1GHz processor, 4GB RAM, 320GB hard drive, ultraportable $721 $763 For students that want a portable long battery life notebook that will transition from class to the office with ease, the X220 is a great choice. We gave the X220 an Editor’s Choice awardat when we reviewed it, and at $720 it is a great deal.Recommended upgrades – Add the Camera for $30 Beware only 320GB hard drive and expensive upgrades through Lenovo.

MacBook Pro 13

13.3″ Display, 2nd Gen Intel Core i5 2.3GHz processor, 4GB RAM, 320GB HD Facetime Camera, Aluminum Frame $1,099 $100 Discount + $100 App Credit While higher than Jake’s budget, the MacBook Pro 13 is a good option to consider since it comes out to around $999 after you account for the $100 in App store credit. With 7 hour battery life and the latest processor, this is a notebook that will last several years and typically holds its value longer than a Windows notebook.Beware 320GB hard drive and Apple High priced upgrades

Lenovo Thinkpad T420s

14″ Display, 2nd Gen Intel Core i5 2.5GHz processor, 4GB RAM, 320GB, DVD Drive $976 $803 The ThinkPad T420s is the top pick on this list for a notebook that is built to last. Pack in a fast processor, matte display, plenty of RAM and the great compromise between weight, size and screen size and you have one of my favorites.Recommended upgrade – 720 webcam for $30

HP Pavilion dv6

15.6″ Display, 2nd Gen Intel Core i3 2.1GHz processor, 6GB RAM, 500GB Hard Drive DVD Drive, webcam $571 $100 This is a cheapest consumer notebook we found that stood out for Jake. The internals are well priced and it comes with a 15.6″ display that most consumers want.At the current price you don’t get a free Xbox 360, but if you want one we recommend bumping up to a full 1080P display so you can fit two documents side by side with ease and enjoy full 1080P movies.

Dell Inspiron 15R

15.6″ Display, 2nd Gen Intel Core i5 2.3GHz processor, 8GB RAM, 750GB Hard Drive, DVD Drive, Webcam $699 $308 + Free Xbox 360 The Dell Inspiron 15R series offers a pretty impressive value, especially with a free Xbox 360. This notebook also has a switchable lid so that Jake can keep things fun in school and switch in a business black lid when he graduates.

One thing you don’t want to do when selecting a new notebook in your senior year is to try and buy one for the job you think you are going to have, especially if this means maxing out the specs for creative work. With technology changing at such a rapid pace, you’re better off buying for your needs now and upgrading if you need to when you get a new job.

As a student, don’t forget to take advantage of student only deals. Right now Jake and other students can get student pricing on a collection of notebooks from HP, Dell and others as well as a free Xbox 360 with the purchase of Windows notebooks over $699. This doesn’t apply to all of the notebooks we mention, but it is worth checking out. Apple also offers a discount and a $100 App Store credit to students.

Be sure to check with your credit card company before you buy a new notebook as you can often double the manufacturer warranty for free if you pay with your credit card. American Express and many MasterCard cards offer this service. To find out the details, cal the number on the back of your credit card and ask about the warranty extension program.

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