School Electronics Buying Guide
School Electronics 101
Today's student can benefit from a variety of electronic devices, in their studies and by staying connected with family and friends. Determining the ideal laptop, tablet or smart TV involves balancing a range of factors. You need to consider cost, size, security, performance, durability and more. The first step is to decide what devices are most needed, and how they’ll be used. Students moving away from home may also need a printer and scanner, as well as cables and a power bar. Look for a certification mark that shows the product has been tested and is electronically safe. With the right set of electronic devices, students can work more efficiently and stay focused on achieving goals.
Types of Electronic School Essentials
Laptops for School
Students use laptops on a daily basis for everything from taking notes and writing papers to unwinding with a video game or networking with friends. Laptop features include crisp colour screens, physical keyboards, wireless connectivity, multiple ports and high storage capacity. Students who haul their laptops from class to class will benefit from smaller, lightweight models. Choose a laptop with at least 5.5 hours of battery life, as access to power sources at school can be limited.
Tablets for School
Many students are switching to tablets to take advantage of their lightweight, thinner designs and long battery life. Tablets are also more affordable than the average laptop, and the apps used on a tablet are far less expensive than traditional computer software. The book-sized screen of many tablets makes them ideal for reading virtual textbooks. For students who want the ultimate in mobile Internet connectivity (traveling, studying in the park etc.) a tablet with cellular connectivity is preferable to standard Wi-Fi.
Printers for School
When purchasing a printer for school, the most relevant factors are size, price and function. Smaller, wireless printers are great for dorms where space is at a premium. Ink jet printers are less expensive than laser, but their replacement cartridges cost more than the toner used in laser printers. If printing text documents is the primary function, a long-lasting laser printer is a great choice. But if colour images are required, an ink jet is preferable. All-in-one printers are another option, providing printing, scanning, copying and faxing capabilities in a single machine.
Scanners for School
Scanners can be purchased on their own or as a function of an all-in-one printer. A key benefit of a scanner is that students can scan handwritten class notes, which can be saved in PDF format for easy study. Flatbed scanners will scan single sheets as well as three-dimensional objects like books and magazines, a handy option when researching term papers. Portable or handheld scanners offer the convenience of scanning information that can’t be brought home (reference libraries, sharing notes in study groups etc.).
External Hard Drives
An external hard drive allows students to share data, back up important work and free up space on their desktop or laptop. With storage available into the terabytes, external hard drives can conveniently hold large files like movies, photos and music that would occupy valuable space on a laptop. An external hard drive also allows students to save / backup all notes and files from their laptop, thus avoiding a catastrophe if the latter goes missing or is damaged. Models come in various shape sand sizes, but a small, thin external hard drive will take up no more space than a textbook.
LCD monitors are a solid, budget-friendly option for most computing needs. LED monitors cost more but offer higher image quality and consume less power. Compared to LCD monitors, LED monitors are also easier on the eyes, so they're a good choice for avid gamers and students spending long hours at the computer. Widescreen monitors are also available and are great for watching movies online or working with multiple program windows open. When shopping for monitors, keep in mind that the higher the resolution, the better the picture quality.
Portable and practical, USB keys offer a convenient way to transfer files between computers, or share work with classmates and teachers. Also known as flash drives, thumb drives and jump drives, USB keys let students securely store and transfer their important digital files, including school work, photos, music and movies. USB keys are affordable, come in a wide variety of fun designs and plug into USB ports for easy sharing.
Instead of filling a cramped dorm room with a computer, TV, game system and DVD player, students may opt for a smart TV. These multifunctional devices provide access to the Internet and can also connect to wireless smartphones, cameras and flash drives. Laptops can be plugged in to do homework on the big screen — a bonus for group study sessions. In addition to watching favourite shows, smart TVs can be used to surf the net, make video calls home, and play online games (once homework is done, of course). Streaming content can be easily customized, allowing students to plan viewing schedules around class schedules.
Cables & Power Bars
Cables and a power bars are often overlooked when prepping for the new school year. Essential items include USB cords for your mobile devices, Ethernet cables to get online, HDMI cables for monitors and TVs, and Firewire cables for quick file transfers. Also, dorm rooms have limited electrical outlets: a power bar with surge protection will keep everything connected and running securely.
Tablets and smartphones keep students connected around campus, but they need to be kept charged up as well. A portable power source allows for easy recharging without the need to access a wall power outlet. Portable power sources for laptops are larger and heavier than the lightweight options designed for smaller mobile devices. The batteries in most portable power sources can be charged either by a wall charging unit or USB charging connector.
Money-Saving Tech Tips:
- Use video calling to save on phone bills when calling home
- Take advantage of free software
- Use photo-sharing sites to send pictures to family and friends for free
- Use free cloud storage to access your files from any computer
- Purchase multifunctional products like all-in-one printers instead of buying multiple devices
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School Electronics Maintenance Tips:
- Always back up important data on your electronic devices
- Keep food and liquids away from your devices
- Use a surge protector to avoid damage when devices are plugged in
- Clean printer heads regularly and replace cartridges as needed
- Use a protective case to safeguard your laptop or tablet when carrying it with you
This article is intended as general information. Always be sure to read and follow the label(s)/instruction(s) that accompany your product(s). Walmart will not be responsible for any injury or damage caused by this activity.