Back To School – Choosing the Right Laptop

Group of college students studying at campus

If you’re heading to college for the first time, the most important thing you will need is a laptop. You’ll use your laptops for more than just class work: for streaming movies, shows or music, staying in touch with friends and family, gaming, storing photos and much more. You’ll want to find one that’s right for you and your needs, as well as last through your college life.

Before you begin your search for the perfect laptop, the first thing you should do is check with your school or major for specific system requirements. Some colleges and universities want their students equipped with a Windows-based laptop to cut down on software incompatibility issues. Others will let you use almost any operating system, but to be on the safe side you should always check first.

Once you have checked with your school here are some tips on what to keep in mind when shopping for your laptop:

What Screen ScreenSize Should I get?

Keep it light. A big screen may seem awesome, but hauling it back and forth to and from class can
be a real pain in the booty.  The most portable screen size for laptops are 11-14 inches and those models usually don’t weigh more than 5 pounds, making them much easier to transport. However, keep in mind the viewing and typing experience on smaller screens will be different to what you might be used to. The best way to find out which screen size you will be more comfortable viewing and typing on is to stop into a store and try out a few choices.


How Much Storage Do I Need? 

Depending on what classes you will be taking will depend on how much storage you will want or need. 4GB is ample for the average college student, but if you can find a notebook for the same price with 6 or 8GB of RAM, get it. The more RAM you have, the more your computer will be able to handle all at once (running multiple programs, rendering games, etc.). If not most laptops have ample USB ports, so you can expand storage capacity as you need it. Upgrading to a 500GB or 1TB hard drive won’t cost a lot either if you wanted to go that route, but if you’re not a video junkie or an aspiring filmmaker you shouldn’t need that much storage.

What are the Benefits of Chromebooks?

The key advantage of having a Chromebook is that nothing is saved locally. Instead, all your apps, preferences, documents, and data are saved on Google’s servers in the cloud. This means if you lose your machine, have it stolen, or spill a cup of coffee over it, there is absolutely no risk of your information being lost. The Chromebook also offers superior security. Say you visit a suspicious website by clicking on a bad link, open a spammy email attachment accidentally, or download a program that has a fishy origin… a Chromebook has you covered. Due to the device’s stateless operating system which has built-in multi-layered protection, viruses will be one less thing to worry about. One of the best benefits is the price: the HP 14″ Chromebook NVidia Tegra is rated one of the best notebooks for college students and is just under $300!

What about Hyhybridsbrids?

There are plenty of reasons to scoop up a 2-in-1 hybrid, starting with the fact that you’ll have one device that can double as a laptop and tablet. When you need to get work done, you can use a keyboard and run desktop programs. When you want to kick back on the couch and check Facebook or watch videos you can go with the touchpad instead! It’s a great option for college students and hybrids come in either a detachable design or a convertible approach in which the notebook’s hinge rotates 360 degrees for a similar effect.  Thinking about a hybrid? Check out the list CNET put together of the best touch screen and hybrid laptops of 2015.


How Much Power Do I Need?

Laptops offer a wide selection of processors, but it’s rarely worth paying extra for a faster CPU. Most laptops sold these days are more than fast enough for the average college student’s tasks. Web browsing, spreadsheets, simple programming, web development, word processing, and the all-important social media browsing don’t require a supreme processor. A powerful processor will just drain your battery faster anyway.Anything labeled Intel Core i3 or i5 should meet the average student’s needs.

What about Battery Life?

With a day filled with classes and extracurricular activities, battery life is important. Many laptops today have multiple battery options. Figure out where battery life ranks in your list of importance when purchasing a laptop for school. You may decide purchasing an additional battery is a good idea, if an extended one isn’t available. Unfortunately, a big battery adds more weight, but the extra weight might be well worth it if it means not having to plug in the entire day.  If you want to squeeze the most juice of your laptop’s battery try following these 9 tips for longer laptop battery life.


Looking for some more helpful tips as you head back to school this year, check out our Get U Ready page for tips to help you survive the school year including, study tips & tricks, college organization, college life hacks and more!


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The P.C. Richard & Son App is Now Available on iTunes!

We’ve released our new P.C. Richard & Son app, and we want you to check it out! This is a great tool for researching products or checking stocks of in-store items on the go. You can also peruse our latest Hot Deals, read customer reviews, find your closest Superstore and more with the touch of a button and more without having to load up your phone’s internet browser. The app is quick to download, easy to use, and will come in handy whenever you’re shopping for appliances, electronics or video games.

How It Works

As soon as you load up the app it starts importing the entire catalog for you to browse easily. This process only takes about a second depending on your connection.

You are then taken to a screen to begin browsing all of our main product categories.

Once you drill down to the products, you can see their price, reviews, and photos.

Once you find a product you like, you can view further information about it including product specs and inventory levels at the Superstores closest to you.

The store listing will give you the address, phone number, hours of operation, the number of miles you are away and the current inventory levels.

The map shows the store you chose and additional features of that particular store location.

This app is now available free through the iTunes App Store, so download it today! Search “pc richard” on your phone to access it directly. If you enjoy it, please don’t forget to rate it on iTunes!


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7 Great Mother’s Day Gifts for less than $100

Show your mother how much you appreciate her this year with a great gift from P.C. Richard & Son! We have some superb electronics for under $100 that your mom is sure to appreciate. If you’re looking for a fitting gift you know she’ll use, keep reading!

Mp3 Player
Mp3 players are the most convenient way for Mom to take her favorite music with her. Many also come with radio tuners, so if she gets bored of what she had on there (which would be difficult as many Mp3 players under $100 can have as much as 8GB of storage, or hold about 1,750 songs), she can still listen to something new. Plus, they come in great colors! You can check out all the MP3 players we have available here, but we highly recommend the Apple 2GB Pink iPod Shuffle or Lyra 8GB MP3 Player for Mom.

Bose Headphones
If your mom already has an MP3 player and uses it often, consider upgrading her headphones to get the most out of her music. People with portable music players are constantly listening to them on the go, so they should be equipped with comfortable headphones with the best sound quality possible. Enter the Bose TRIPORT ear buds. Ear buds help drown out surrounding noise and this model comes with removable silicone tips to provide an accurate, comfortable fit. The sound quality of Bose products can’t be beat, and Mom will really appreciate them.

Outdoor Speakers
Outdoor speakers are a particularly good gift if you’re planning on having an outdoor Mother’s Day party, as the Mom can use them right away. Hook them up to a stereo system or portable audio player and enjoy the sound quality. If it rains, don’t worry—outdoor speakers are made for bad weather, which makes them much better to use outside than regular speakers. You can choose between indoor/outdoor speakers that look like speakers themselves or like rocks to blend in with your mom’s outdoor landscape.

Point & Shoot Digital Camera
If Mom already has a point-and-shoot digital camera, think about what model it is. How old is it? Does the battery still hold a charge? Does it take quality pictures? It may be time to purchase a new one. You’ll see what a difference an increase in megapixels can make (especially if your mother tends to take pictures from 500 feet away from what they’re shooting—you can zoom in and crop the picture and still have a great photo). Like MP3 players, these cameras come in a variety of colors so you can choose her favorite.

Digital Photo Frame
So few photos are printed these days and are never enjoyed off the camera’s memory card, so why not change that? Relive memories with a digital frame that constantly changes with a new picture. Transferring photos to and from the frame is easy with a computer, or you can slide a memory card right in– just check to make sure the photo frame you select has a slot for the memory card type your mom uses. Many photo frames also play music and movies and come with built-in speakers, so any media taken by a digital camera will be supported. You can even pre-load the frame with pictures you already have and REALLY personalize the gift!

Universal Remote
These days many people have a remote for the TV, cable box, DVD player, Blu-Ray player, audio/surround sound system, and more. These universal remotes are easily condensed into one with a universal remote that allows you to execute the same functions as their originals. Mom’s days of searching through couch cushions for 27 different remotes are numbered! We especially recommend the Logitech Harmony 510, which was also previously covered on our blog.

Wireless Keyboard and Mouse
Alleviate the headache and sloppiness of wires with a wireless keyboard and mouse for your mom’s computer. So many of us spend countless hours on the computer so you know that this gift, while perhaps not incredibly exciting, will be appreciated and put to good use. They’re easy to set up, too—just plug the USB adapter into the back of the computer, wirelessly link the devices together and you’re all set.

What are you getting your mom this Mother’s Day? Let us know in the comments.


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