You may not use your computer for memory-eating gaming or need it for its high-power computing capabilities, so when it comes to watching videos on our computers, chances are, we don’t put much thought into just how powerful our laptop is. But, we’re in college! You can’t say you don’t use YouTube, play an online game here or there…or at the very least, appreciate some good graphics.
Like many of us, your computer was probably your graduation present so it won’t be you forking over your hard-earned cash (lucky!) for an upgrade. But if a brand new PC wasn’t waiting for you on graduation day or you just need something a little smaller/faster/better, it’s time to start thinking about what you need in a laptop. (There is more to them than Facebook and AIM.)
When you watch videos you probably take for granted what it takes to get them there so allow us to break it down for you:
Every computer has a video card which determines the quality and capabilities the machine has to display images. So, why should you care? Because even if you’re not editing feature-length films on your PC, you’re going to want a decent video card to do the regular stuff (like a DVD or YouTube or Hulu…)
Take the Dell Mini 10v Notebook, for instance. It’s low price ($349!), portability (it’s so little and cute!), and color options (almost any color of the rainbow) make it a definite contender if you’re looking to upgrade for next semester. The graphics card is an Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 950 which is standard and fine if you’re looking for the basics…and I mean BASIC.
Not a PC gal? The 80 GB Macbook Air is SUPER portable (.76 inches thick!), but at $1799, it’s expensive for what it is. It boasts an 80 gig hard drive and the same integrated Intel graphics card as the Dell mini (meh)…but only one USB port and no FireWire, Ethernet, or mobile broadband connection, which may not work well for a collegiate user or anyone who uses a mouse…or a keyboard…or a thumbdrive…
The Fujitsu LifeBook U810 starts at $999, which is a deal for its 40GB hard drive and ultra-portable 5.6 inch screen. But, it’s diminutive size sometimes works against itself, as some have said it’s controls are, at times, difficult to use compared to larger computers. With a laptop this size you can’t argue with 1GB of memory, but in terms of graphics, its integrated Mobile Intel Express 945GM is only okay. This is designed for if you want to be the quirky one with the 5 inch laptop – it looks cute and will fit in your purse, but not extremely practical.
The Asus Eee PC 1000 has the largest screen you can get in a netbook at 10 inches and since it’s a totally reasonable $599, it won’t break the bank. Like the other options, it’s 1GB of memory and 40GB hard drive seems to be standard, but what may throw you off is its use of Linux instead of Windows. Its integrated Intel 915GM graphics card is decent as well.
Finally, after checking out these other netbooks, the HP dv2 is definitely your best bet, especially if you’re looking to get the most for your money. It’s 12 inch screen is large enough to not give you a migraine if you’re writing a term paper and it’s 320GB hard drive blows it’s competitors out of the water. And at the end of the day, we ARE talking about graphics here, right?
Well the dv2 totally delivers with an ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3410 graphics card, which, in non geeky tech terms, means you can watch blu-ray movies and play games in amazing quality. It runs Windows Vista (has gotten a bum rap and I never have problems) and has a 6-cell battery which is awesome because, with a computer this size, the life of the battery will last longer than ever. The dv2 is really walking the line between ultra-compact, portable and powerful. And with a price tag of $799 you really won’t find a better deal.