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It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when you walk into your local computer and office supply store: so many laptops, so many supplies, so many things you think you need… Should you go with a laptop or a tablet? The three subject notebook or the one? What’s a Chromebook? Add the pressure to get your supply shopping right on the first time while staying under your budget and it can be a stressful process.
But there’s good news: this post is a guide to the best tech today and some recommended supplies for starting law school right! Read on for our advice on how to get the right gear at the right price.
Windows Laptop Recommendations
Best Premium Laptop:
Dell XPS 13inch Ultrabook
With its revolutionary “infinity” screen with minimal borders, the Dell XPS Ultrabook is a slim, powerful, laptop with up to 18 hours of battery life. It comes with Windows 10 and has everything you would expect in a premium laptop, including a durable aluminum build and backlit keyboard. The XPS starts at $800 and can also come in a 15 inch model.
Best Budget Laptop:
Acer Travelmate B
The Acer Travelmate distinguishes itself from other budget laptops by coming with an HD touchscreen. With up to 500GB of built in storage and a fast quad core processor, it’s great for productivity. But perhaps the best thing about the Travelmate is that all this is packed into an ultraportable form factor – and for under $300.
The Microsoft Surface
The Microsoft Surface was perhaps the most well received hybrid entry into the Windows market, and for good reason: the Surface is a tablet that can truly replace a laptop. The main reason for this is that it runs a full version of Windows 10 and a keyboard is central to its design. Add an accurate touchscreen and a well-designed stylus and the Surface becomes the most versatile Windows device on the market that every buyer should seriously consider.
Microsoft has just updated the Surface with the Surface 4 which comes in a thinner, lighter, design than the previous model, as well as packing more power on the inside. The Surface 4 starts at $799, but you could also get the same overall experience with the Surface 3, which starts at $499.
A few years ago, after expanding their suite of productivity services, Google introduced a laptop running ChromeOS, which is basically just a launcher for services like Google Chrome, Google Doc, Google Drive, etc. While many questioned the idea, it turned out to be a pretty smart one: why not make a laptop that does only what people need it to do, like use the internet, create documents, and manage photos saved online?
Today, many companies have produced cheap laptops running ChromeOS and dubbed them “Chromebooks”. These simple laptops do and store everything online through Google’s services, but users can edit and save documents for offline use as well. The greatest benefits of Chromebooks are the price and the fact you never have to worry about backing things up manually again.
The Toshiba Chromebook 2 is arguably the best Chromebook on the market. For just $299 you get a Full HD screen, a backlit keyboard, and a free 100GB of Google Drive storage.
Apple’s laptops have taken the top spot in many industries for their excellent build quality, powerful hardware, and unparalleled ease of use. Chances are you have an iPhone, and if you do, you’re familiar with Apple’s commitment to ease of use. The MacBook’s software, OS X, is also intuitive, simple, and fits perfectly into the Apple ecosystem. Apple basically invented the aluminum laptop and all their MacBooks are sleek, thin, and light, but also pricey. The two MacBook’s you should consider are the 13 inch MacBook Air and MacBook Pro Retina.
The Air is super light, portable, and gets incredible battery life of up to 12 hours using the web and a whopping 30 days of standby time. With up to date internals and fast flash storage, the Air has enough power to get many things done with good speed. The 13 inch MacBook Air starts at $999.
The Pro is the go-to laptop for graphic designers, video editors, and even some gamers for its pixel packed Retina display and super powerful internals. For those reasons, Mac haters make jokes about people buying expensive computers overpowered for their needs whenever they see someone with a MacBook Pro. They do have a point – you really have to consider whether or not you need all that power. With a starting price of $1,299, the Pro is an extremely capable laptop and arguably the best MacBook you can get, at a price.
While they are best known for their media consumption uses, Apple has been pushing iPad as devices for productivity also for a while now. While updated split-screen features and the availability of thousands of apps are perks, the iPad never really caught on as a full laptop replacement, and we wouldn’t recommend it.
Apple recently entered the business tablet market with their iPad Pro. While the larger size, ultra-accurate stylus, and nice keyboard cover would seemingly make it a Microsoft Surface competitor, you only have to look at one thing to be turned off by the iPad Pro: price. A 32GB iPad Pro starts at $799, but you have to buy the stylus and keyboard cover separately, which are $99 and $169 respectively, putting your total price for an iPad Pro with accessories at $1,067. If you love iPad and can stomach the price, the iPad Pro is on its way to being a fully functional desktop replacement.
We hope this breakdown helped you! Remember, the key to picking out the right tech is asking yourself, “What do I need? What am I actually going to use this for?”
We know this list will sound basic but there are some crucial supplies you should probably get before you realize you need them. Trust us, you will need these things even if you haven’t used them before.
We get it, it’s the age of technology and you use your computer for notes. Nevertheless, having a simple notebook to jot things down, take notes, or draw sketches is always a good idea. You might even consider taking all of your notes by hand.
Multicolored pen/highlighter packs
Colors will become your best friends when you realize organization is key to law school. Whether its color coding all of your notes or having highlighted colors in your text correspond to topics, you’ll want to invest in a solid pack of colored pens and highlighters from the start.
Post-it notes and index tabs
Never underestimate the power of a post it note! Whether it’s for your notes or for the mirror on your dresser, post it notes can be little saviors for remembering all of the things you will be doing in law school. Index tabs, on the other hand, will help you keep track of the most important pages of your notes and textbooks which, by the time you get to 3L year, will feel like tomes instead of books.
So there you have it! A thorough starting guide for the important tech and supplies for starting law school right. Be sure to check out our other posts on things to consider and think about when starting law school. Happy shopping!
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