The definitive college student guide to necessary electronics

by Adlyn Ogude

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Bruins – identifying which technological gadgets you need to succeed is daunting, and, lucky you, I’ve done the hard work for you. I narrowed it down to two categories.

  1. Tablets
  2. Laptops

A short list, I know. But a true one.


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Tablets are as necessary to college students today as physical textbooks were before e-books were invented. I understand if you’re skeptical, but here’s the deal – having to frantically switch between pens, pencils, and highlighters while a professor is rapidly flipping from slide to slide isn’t fun, stuffing your drawer with notes that you’d truly be lucky to find when you actually need them isn’t fun, and most of all – keeping track of all of the heavy binders full of notes and papers for different classes is certifiable torture. Tablets solve so many issues as a student, that getting one is well worth the investment.

There’s not really a pure tablet out there that’s better for students than the iPad, but the Microsoft Surface Pro 7 is also a brilliant choice. The Microsoft Surface Pro 7 and the Microsoft Surface Laptop are all-in-one devices. If you’re getting either one of these Microsoft products, you already have a tablet and you already have a laptop. You have no reason to get another device. I’d recommend these laptops to anyone who needs a high powered device capable of running almost any application that can also be used for professional level illustrating or designing of any kind. If you’re uncomfortable by the versatility of the device and feel that a separate tablet and laptop combination would work best for you, the iPad will most likely be a better buy. However, the iPad is almost completely worthless without the Apple Pencil, so make sure you budget the Apple Pencil into this investment.

The iPad Pro is an amazing device, but not everybody needs it. Consider what you’ll be using your iPad for. If you’re a student who will be using their iPad to edit, run applications that require a lot of power, or draw for professional purposes, the iPad Pro is well worth the money. You can’t expect the iPad Pro to replace your laptop, but it can still be great for editing on the go.

On the other hand, if a majority of your time with the iPad is going to be spent taking notes, your biggest concern should be getting a ton of storage. 256 GB should be the minimum if you intend to keep your iPad for 2 years or longer. The 2020 models of the iPad and the iPad Air will be sufficient. The iPad Pro won’t really be necessary.


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The best laptop for you changes depending on what you want out of the device. Many people recommend picking a computer based on the operating system, and I’m inclined to agree. If you’re more comfortable with Windows, I would recommend the HP Spectre x360, particularly if you need more power and capability. As a budget option, the HP Pavillion x360 is a great buy. It will be able to handle most of your laptop needs while still providing you with a smooth performance.

Here’s the uncomfortable truth few people will tell you – if you’re already locked into the Apple ecosystem, just go ahead and get a MacBook. I personally determine “locked into the Apple ecosystem” as having two or more Apple devices, specifically an iPhone and another Apple product. You’ve already discovered iMessage and iCloud, and none of the laptops that I can recommend will be able to beat the simplicity that comes with having another Apple device. Here’s a shorthand guide –

MacBook Pro – editing videos and pictures, running hardcore applications and programs.

MacBook Air – mostly browsing and not doing too much of the above.

Happy finals season! And may your bank account be ever in your favor.

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