One of our retiring teachers this year asked me for advice about what kind of laptop she should purchase, since she has to turn in her school laptop. This is the advice I shared with her via email, slightly edited for context. Most of our faculty use Mac/Apple laptop computers, so my main recommendation to her was to stick with an Apple computer. There are great Chromebook options available too, however, so depending on her use needs (and budget) a Chromebook could be a great option too.
My laptop purchasing advice to her…
If you want to keep transferring photos from your iPhone to your laptop computer and working with them in the Apple Photos app, you will likely want to stay with a Mac. My other recommendation to consider would be a Chromebook, but they are just for web-based stuff like email, shopping, etc. I use an online bookkeeping software now (www.mint.com) which runs fine on any computer, but many people are using software you have to download. The main thing to decide if a Chromebook will work for you is to decide if you need software that you have to download and won’t run in a web browser. Another web-based and app-based home finance software I’ve used and like is: www.youneedabudget.com.
If you do go with a Chromebook, there are several models coming on the market now which have touch screens. I definitely recommend buying a Chromebook with 4 GB of RAM, not 2 GB. This is the new ASUS model which is about $250:
The Samsung Chromebook Plus model is pricier but also a touch screen model and well reviewed. It’s $442.
Samsung has a “Chromebook Pro model” which is supposed to be for sale anytime, and has a more powerful processor so it will be faster. Not sure on the price but around $500 I’m guessing:
HP has a very nice Chromebook which (a friend tells me) feels just like a MacBook Air, and it’s $490:
We purchased Dell 11″ Chromebooks last summer for school and have been very pleased with their function and durability. I have this model personally as well and have been very happy with it. For personal use though I’d recommend going with a 13″ screen rather than 11″. It’s a bit pricer ($640) and does not have a touch screen, so I’d probably go with one of the less expensive ASUS, Samsung or HP models I linked above:
If you want to stay with a Mac laptop, there are 3 main tiers:
1- MacBook Pro
2- MacBook Air
You don’t need the expense and power of a MacBook Pro, so I’d go with the MacBook Air or Macbook, and stick with a basic model. There ARE educational discounts which you can get while you’re still a teacher, so keep that in mind, you can save probably $50, maybe a little more.
Advantage to the MacBook Air is larger screen, and you have standard USB ports for things like flash drives. This is the model we are going to refresh our teachers in LD this summer and in MD next year.
For $1000 you can get the low end MacBook Air:
The “MacBook” is the smallest and thinnest Mac laptop ever, but it only has a single port (USB-C) so you need a special $40 adapter if you want to plug in a standard flash drive or something else. The low end model is $1250:
In June 2017 Apple will be hosting its annual developer conference (WWDC) and it’s rumored they will be introducing updates to the MacBook Air as well as MacBook Pro. For this reason you might want to hold off on your purchase until after the conference, which is June 5-9. When new laptops are announced sometimes the old product lines are discounted until that inventory is gone, so that can be a chance to save a bit more money. Alternatively, you may want to purchase a newer/faster hardware model.
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