Electronics – Computers And Accessories – Netbooks
T-Mobile has a deal that is so “super,” it is being offered for just one day only. On Saturday August 6th, buy a qualifying Samsung Superphone and you’ll get a second one of equal or lesser value for free when you add a new line. The phones involved in the sale include the Samsung Galaxy S71, Samsung Galaxy S7 edge2, Samsung Galaxy S63, Samsung Galaxy S6 edge4, Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+5 and the Samsung Galaxy Note 56.
Here is how it works. Buy one of the above mentioned phones using an EIP (Equipment Installment Plan). Add another line, and over the 24 month term of the installment plan you will receive a credit for the 2nd phone you choose of equal or lower value. Any down payment you lay out will also be returned to you over the 24 months.
At the risk of repeating ourselves, the deal runs for tomorrow (Saturday, August 6th) only. Coming into the store on Sunday with sad puppy dog eyes won’t help you. And we also would imagine that recycling your old high school homework excuses (my dog ate the car keys so I couldn’t make it to the store on Saturday) won’t work either. Besides, the deal is available at both physical and online T-Mobile stores.
A free Samsung Galaxy S7 would feel really good right about now, so don’t let this opportunity go by.
If interested, head to your local T-Mobile store or go to T-Mobile.com.
Samsung Galaxy S7
If you’re a student, a laptop1 is as essential as your textbooks and school ID. And it’s not just for school work. It should also be able to handle extracurricular activities, such as social networking, watching movies, listening to music, posting photos, gaming, video chatting with the ‘rents back home, and so on. And of course, the best laptops for college students need to last them for the long haul, preferably through four years of undergrad and maybe a year of grad work. Lucky for you, we have a bunch below that fit that description perfectly and they won’t drain your savings account. Here are the basics you should keep in mind while looking for a laptop for college.
The first, and most important, thing to do is check with your school for specific system requirements. Some colleges and universities want their students equipped with Windows2-based laptops, to cut down on software incompatibility issues. Others don’t care what operating system you use, whether it’s Windows, macOS3, or even Linux if you’re a hard-core type. Many institutions have on-site repair centers that only service university-bought laptops, where the turn-around time is much quicker than if you were to send it overnight to the original manufacturer. Also note that most schools offer price breaks for particular vendors and include extensive software bundles, which can shave off a good amount from your laptop purchase.
Keeping It LightA big screen may not be such a good idea. It’s nice to have a mini home theater in your dorm room or play the best games in full 1080p glory, but a laptop with a big screen will be a real chore to haul across campus while you’re running from class to class. You’re better off with something that’s light: If screen size matters less to you than convenience, a super-thin ultraportable4 might be the way to go. But for most people, a maximum 13- or 14-inch widescreen is ideal, as it will make room for other items in your backpack and minimize the weight burden. Depending on your tolerance level, a smaller display works as long as you understand that full webpages and productivity applications involve more scrolling, and fonts appear smaller than they do on larger screens. Essays, research papers, and chatting online with your classmates will take up most of your computing time, so a full-size keyboard and comfortable touchpad are crucial. When you venture below a 13-inch platform, you run the risk of not getting the same typing experience. The easiest way to ensure that you have the best keyboard is to stop by a brick-and-mortar store and spend some time typing on prospective choices. (If you decide to buy a smaller, less expensive laptop, it’s probably worth investing in a standalone keyboard5 you can keep at home for when you need to do a lot of typing.)
How Much Power Do You Need?Depending on your budget, laptops offer a wide selection of processors for instance, you can choose one that maximizes performance or one that favors battery life. Or you can select one that plays to both strengths: Intel Core CPUs have the benefits of both power and battery efficiency. If you desire all-day battery life, it’s best to go with a Chromebook, which typically runs on a low-powered processor. If performance ranks high on the list, an Intel Core i7 CPU gives you the most oomph but at the expense of battery life.
If you like playing games in your downtime, you might want to splurge on a more expensive gaming laptop6. Most general-purpose machines, especially at sub-$1,000 prices, won’t have the discrete graphics card necessary to make the hottest AAA titles look good and play smoothly. These also can help when transcoding a video, say, or watching a Blu-ray movie, but, like a processor, they also feast on the battery. The good news is that, in every other case (unless you’re an architecture major with a heavy reliance on CAD software), most integrated GPUs should be more than enough for the day-to-day tasks you’ll face.
With the increasing prevalence of cloud storage and Web applications, having plentiful local storage space is somewhat less vital now than it used to be, but you should still make sure that your laptop meets your needs. If you plan to install a lot of programs or want to hang on to files, you’ll need 256GB of space or more. If you’re a bit more low-key, or are content with leaving a lot of your work online, you can get by with a laptop with less space.
Whichever way you go, remember that storage affects speed, too. If you go with a hard drive because you get more storage for less money, know that it will be noticeably slower than a solid-state drive (SSD), though the higher cost and lower capacity of a faster SSD may be a trade-off that some people are willing to make. The good news is that by plugging an external hard drive7 into your laptop’s USB port, you can add more space whenever you need it. Although you probably won’t have to do this unless you’re a video junkie or an aspiring filmmaker, it’s a good option to have.
A sizable battery can be your biggest ally in a day filled with classes and extracurricular activities. Most school-oriented laptops come with multiple battery options. Others have only one and it’s non-removable. In this case, figure out where battery life ranks in the grand scheme of things. It might be a good idea to purchase an additional battery, if an extended one isn’t available. The more “cells” you buy, the better the battery life. A big battery is accompanied by some heft, but the weight gain is well worth it if it means leaving the system unplugged from dawn until dusk.
What About Chromebooks?In the last several years, there has been a strong push by chromebook manufacturers into the education market. And chromebooks themselves have gone from being glorified netbooks running the Chrome OS to laptops that are still Web-centric but have a relatively full feature set. If, like many schools, the one you’re attending puts its coursework in the cloud, a Chromebook will offer you just as much functionality as a regular laptop, and have longer battery life. It will also likely cost you a lot less than other types of notebooks, as Chromebook prices typically run between $200 and $300. Just be sure you have easy, constant Wi-Fi access, as there is scant storage on these systems. In the market for a Chrome OS laptop? We’ve rounded up the best Chromebooks8 available.
Consider a HybridIn recent years, a new category of laptop/tablet hybrid has emerged. Hybrids are capable of functioning as a traditional clamshell-style laptop when you need them to, but can transform into tablets when that’s a more convenient form factor. Some (generally called convertibles) sport a folding design that flips the keyboard out of the way, while others (detachables) allow you to dock a detachable tablet PC with an accessory keyboard for laptop-like functionality.
A Word on WarrantiesAlmost every laptop is backed by at least a one-year warranty on parts and labor. Extended warranties are also available, but whether they’re worth it depends on who you are as a user. The standard warranty doesn’t cover accidents that stem from a spilled drink or a drop on a hard surface. Most manufacturers sell accident coverage as a separate plan, on top of extended warranties that work on top of a standard one, so you might end up spending close to $300 for three years of coverage. Apple offers a maximum three-year extended warranty ($250), while most Windows-based laptop vendors will offer up to four years.
In our opinion, if the warranty costs more than 15 percent of the total laptop price, you’re better off spending the money on backup drives or services that minimize downtime in case something does go awry. Of course, you can’t put a price tag on peace of mind. In rare instances, the logic board or the display the most expensive pieces of a laptop can fail and cost you in repairs half of what the laptop is worth. Faulty components usually break down during the first year; anything after that is probably more about regular wear and tear.
So, what the best laptop to get for school? True, there are even more choices on the market today, and slogging through them can be a bit daunting. No worries, we did the slogging for you. Check out the hottest laptops to grace the dorm room, college classroom, and campus quad for this school year. For more general factors to look for when shopping, check out our overall top picks10 for laptops, as well as our favorite budget notebooks11 and the best desktops for students12.
FEATURED IN THIS ROUNDUP
- ^ laptop (uk.pcmag.com)
- ^ Windows (uk.pcmag.com)
- ^ macOS (uk.pcmag.com)
- ^ ultraportable (uk.pcmag.com)
- ^ keyboard (uk.pcmag.com)
- ^ gaming laptop (uk.pcmag.com)
- ^ external hard drive (uk.pcmag.com)
- ^ best Chromebooks (uk.pcmag.com)
- ^ See How We Test Laptops (uk.pcmag.com)
- ^ overall top picks (uk.pcmag.com)
- ^ budget notebooks (uk.pcmag.com)
- ^ best desktops for students (uk.pcmag.com)
If it’s power you’re after, ignore the Sony Xperia X1 and Sony Xperia XA2 in the company’s 2016 lineup, and focus on the Sony Xperia X Performance. Like the others in the new X series, the Sony Xperia X Performance is really good at waving all the signs of a flagship phone. Underneath the hood, though, there’s a mix of what you’d expect to find in a top-tier smartphone, along with a few unpleasant surprises.
Design and display
If you’re seen one Xperia device within the past few years, you’ve seen them all. The Xperia X Performance falls neatly into that group, but it’s not a bad thing at all. The eye-grabbing glass and brushed metal design make it enjoyable to look at and its 5.6-inch body fits nicely in the hand.
Especially for those in the United States, where Sony’s mobile division is attempting to branch out in a serious way, many haven’t spent a considerable amount of time, or any at all, with a Sony smartphone. Minimalists will love the Xperia X Performance for its subtle design touches. In the rose gold review unit provided to TechRadar by Sony, the brushed metal back and edges nicely play off the slightly curved glass front panel.
The button and port layout is thoughtfully placed around the phone, and are simple to use and access during everyday use.
Given the fashion-forward look of the Xperia X Performance, it’s a delightful surprise that it’s dust and waterproof with a rating of IP68. Moving onto the display, here’s where a bit of the disappointment settles in. It’s a 5-inch FHD screen running at 1920 x 1080. It’s totally competent for all sorts of media on and the X-Reality software feature is said to sharpen the image quality. But for as much as this device costs, we expect at least a 2,560 x 1,440 resolution.
And unlike the gorgeous, bezel-free look shown with the Sony Xperia XA, there’s a bit of a space between the rim and the screen here. Having spent time with the smaller, more affordable phone, we wish that design element would have translated to the flagship, but alas.
Specs and performance
The spec sheet of the Sony Xperia X Performance is all over the place. At times, it looks every bit as flagship-worthy as its looks and price would indicate. While other times, it seems like a mid-range smartphone making it a bit confusing on the whole, given that this phone is being positioned at the top of the company’s 2016 offering. Sony’s Xperia X Performance is stocked with a Snapdragon 820, which brings along with it the Adreno 530 graphics processor.
Unfortunately, the phone offers 3GB RAM, which should be enough to provide a smooth experience, but we expect more. Not just because this is Sony’s top-of-the-line smartphone for 2016, but because it costs so much, too. The Nexus 6P5 gets along just fine with this amount of memory, but it costs much less. There are some others specs worth hearing about, including the micro SD support, the 23MP rear-facing camera that promises to be something special, and it’s water-resistant build. These features alone are deal breakers for some, so we’re glad to see them here.
If we haven’t painted the most optimistic picture for the Sony Xperia X Performance, it’s because we’re not too thrilled about the rest of the components. The 1080p screen. The 2,700mAh battery that offers just a bit more juice than the world’s slimmest phone, the Moto Z6, which has 2,600mAh.
Now, these choices would be excusable if the Xperia X Performance were competitive in price with some of the unlocked movers-and-shakers, like the OnePlus 37 or Nextbit Robin8. But it’s not even close. At US$699 (about 525, AU$922), this phone doubles the price of some more capable options, even costing slightly more than the Samsung Galaxy S7. It’s puzzling.
Sony’s website even erroneously states that the Xperia X Performance houses a fingerprint sensor within its power button. At least in the United States, it does not. There’s a bright side to all of this, though. During our brief hands-on time with the Xperia X Performance, the experience is still a positive one and we haven’t noticed much in the way of slowdown.
This device runs Android Marshmallow9 6.0.1, the latest, and probably final, update to the OS before Android Nougat10 lands in the autumn. We’ve reached out to see if this device will be on the upgrade list. If you’ve used Marshmallow on another Android device, the first thing you’ll notice is how different the interface feels with Sony’s Xperia phones. It’s heavily customized; everything from the icons, to the many, many additional apps installed out of the box. Discounting a few apps that we’ve already downloaded, there’s almost 3GB eaten up by Sony’s own apps.
Thankfully, you don’t need to use these services if you’d rather not. We look forward to digging into these built-in apps and running it through its benchmark paces for the full review.
On paper, Sony’s top-tier device comes with a caveats, namely in the spec and pricing departments. You don’t seem to be getting a whole lot for the US$699 price tag.
We’ll have to test the device more to find out whether it ends up being worth the cash, but Sony’s big push into the US might need a little more “oomph” to make a lasting impact.
- ^ Sony Xperia X (www.techradar.com)
- ^ Sony Xperia XA (www.techradar.com)
- ^ Samsung Galaxy S7 (www.techradar.com)
- ^ LG G5 (www.techradar.com)
- ^ Nexus 6P (www.techradar.com)
- ^ Moto Z (www.techradar.com)
- ^ OnePlus 3 (www.techradar.com)
- ^ Nextbit Robin (www.techradar.com)
- ^ Android Marshmallow (www.techradar.com)
- ^ Android Nougat (www.techradar.com)