When it comes to buying new technology, we seem to have more options than ever. With multiple generations of iPads and iPhones and basically any other Apple product you can think of, who can confidently choose the best one to buy? Should you go with the newest and “best” option–by far the most expensive? Or should you save a few bucks and settle for one of the older models? Sometimes it’s hard to tell. If you’re looking for cheap yet quality technology, check out a few of these products, my personal recommendations for the typical broke college student.
Last Fall, my laptop imploded. Not really, but… it might as well have. I lost two papers that I had been working on, an updated version of my resume, and a bunch of old schoolwork that I had wanted to save. It sucked, to say the least, and it physically hurt to throw my once-beloved laptop in the trash. But after scraping by for a few months by using my college’s computer labs, I had finally saved up enough spare money to buy a Chromebook. Little did I know that I was about to discover a whole new world, The Google World.
Chromebooks are basically really cheap, light laptops that run off of everything Google. The browser is Google Chrome, all of the computer’s storage is through Google Drive, and all of the programs you would otherwise install on a PC or Macbook (e.g. Microsoft Word or iTunes) need to be added to Google Chrome from Google’s own version of an app store. Because the laptop is designed to be very light and run very quickly without clutter or other annoying bugs, programs like Skype, iTunes, or Photoshop aren’t supported (yet). But if you use Google Hangouts, Spotify, and a less fancy photo editor, a Chromebook is perfect for a busy college student. I have instant access to all of my documents and projects on Drive, I still have Netflix and all of my other procrastination vices, and I’ve even discovered cool productivity apps like Sunrise Calendar, TimeDoser, Journal, and Writer through the transition to a completely Google-based system. I completely recommend. Did I mention that I got it for only $300?
Another device that is relatively cheap but also high quality is the Kindle Paperwhite. Despite the newer tablet and e-reader Kindles, the Paperwhite definitely has the best bang for your buck if you’re looking for something with less functionality than a tablet (so you can focus on schoolwork without opening Facebook every ten minutes) but enough functionality to… well, do its job. Simple enough to keep you focused, the Paperwhite supports many textbooks and allows you to read even more novels for your Literature class without distraction. The Paperwhite is better than the original Kindle because of it has a built-in light, preferred for reading at nighttime or in low-lit areas. And although the Kindle Voyage is the newest e-reader model, at $200, I wouldn’t recommend the $80 increase in price just for a few fancy additions and a shorter battery life. When it comes down to it, the Paperwhite is best for easily distracted students on a budget (a.k.a. most students, right?).
If you can, I don’t recommend getting the Chromebook or the Paperwhite brand-spankin’-new; actually, I don’t recommend buying any tech device brand new if you’re watching your budget. Rather than used items, which you may receive broken after online purchase, depending on how honest your merchant is, refurbished products are those which may not look brand new but have the full functionality of a new device, with a major cut to the price tag. Refurbished tech devices are a college student’s best friend, because they’re practically new, just with a few scratches and bruises–to match the ones you’ll have after finals week, especially if your laptop implodes.
For more advice on pinching pennies, check out Easy Ways to Save Your Money, Money and College: Keeping Yourself Out of the Red, How to Create Your Personal Finance Strategy, and Why You Should Start Saving RIGHT NOW!