Third-year student Adam Higgs, a blogger for the Student Room, has advice for students looking for the right machine: Before buying, consider the course you're doing. Find out from your faculty if there is any specific software that is required, or certain work you need to do that could affect your purchasing decision.Is the software you require downloadable from the internet, or do you need a disc drive to install it? Does the machine have a powerful enough processor for your needs? Would you benefit from a larger screen for detailed work, or a lighter more portable machine for lectures? Does it have enough RAM to run smoothly all the programs you want?If you want the device to last for the duration of your course, consider what may be useful over the next three or four years, Higgs says. Even if you think you might buy online, take the opportunity to go into a store, trying out one or two on your shortlist before purchasing.Laptop Probably closest to the traditional desktop computer, but can run unplugged for a few hours. Screens vary in size but can go up to about 18. Typically, the machine has an internal CD/DVD drive with many laptops able to burn discs. The Apple equivalent is the MacBook Pro, which works on a different operating system (OS X Mountain Lion) to Windows-based laptops.Convertible laptop These are laptops that convert into a tablet by letting you either detach the keyboard or use a swivel hinge to move it out of the way, at which point touch screen technology takes over.Netbooks A small portable laptop. These have a keyboard but do not have internal disc drives, although you can normally add an external one. Battery life is generally longer than for a laptop. Selection is limited as the rise of tablets has stopped them taking off.Subnotebooks/Ultrabooks These are thinner, lighter and quicker to start up than a typical laptop. Processors tend to be powerful and often use solid state drives (SSDs), which have faster speeds than hard drives but are more expensive. Most lack an internal disc drive, but have ports for you to add external products. The MacBook Air would fit into this category.Chromebook Using Chrome's own operating system, the Chromebook has a battery life typically in excess of six hours. You can buy 3G or Wi-Fi Chromebooks with a start up time normally of less than 10 seconds. They do have a small hard drive, but are almost totally internet-dependent with the cloud storing all files and documents. Apps are accessed via the Chrome webstore with some available in offline mode. If you need specialist software for your course that is not available via an app you will need an alternative computer.
It's important to have enough storage space for all your software, documents, files, photos and videos, so make sure you have a large enough drive. It may also be useful to use a cloud-based service for back-up.Manufacturers advertise battery life, but Higgs says it is typically based on the least intensive usage scenarios possible, so it's best not to get too invested in it.Bear in mind the cost of replacing your machine if it is stolen or damaged. Before you go for an expensive model, check how much it will cost to insure. You might decide to go for something inexpensive that is cheaper to cover or replace if something does go wrong.Below are the best prices for some popular models, but be aware retailers often sell varieties of the same machine with some differences in specification. For example, one shop may offer a faster processor or larger hard drive than another, all of which affects price. Prices can change rapidly so please put any better deals you spot in the comments section below.The 15.6 Acer Aspire E1-571 weighs 2.45kg, has a 2.6GHz Intel Core i5 processor, a 750GB hard drive, webcam and a DVD drive and is £399.99 at Currys.
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The 15.6 HP Compaq CQ58-253SA weighs 2.5kg, has a 2.2GHz Intel Core i3 processor, 500GB hard drive and a DVD drive. It is priced at £332.95 including postage with Laptops Direct, and you can reduce this by £15 by signing up to a one-month subscription to Which? magazine for £1. But if you don't want to continue the subscription beyond that, remember to cancel it.The Acer Iconia W510 has a detachable keyboard and a 10.1 touchscreen, which can be used on its own as a tablet. It has a 64GB hard drive, 1.8GHz Intel Atom Z2760 processor and weighs only 0.58kg. Priced as high as £649 elsewhere, this is currently £499.99 with Currys online.The purple Asus Eee PC X101CH weighs less than a kilo and has a 10.1 screen, a 1.6GHz Intel Atom processor and a 320GB hard drive. IT Trade Station sells it via Amazon for £219.95.The Samsung Series 5 NP540U3C is a 13.3 touchscreen ultrabook with an Intel Core i3 processor with up to 6.5 hours battery life and a 500GB hard drive coupled with 24GB of fast storage on a SSD. You can spend more than £700 on this model, but it is available for £599.99 at Currys.
The MacBook Air 11 with 128GB flash storage and an Intel Core i5 processor is just 1.7cm thick, weighs 1.08kg and starts at £849. However, if you are a student you may be eligible for a discount of up to 15% from the Apple Store. If that discount isn't good enough, PC World is offering £100 cashback on MacBooks until Wednesday.The HP Pavilion 14-c001sa has a 14 screen and a 16GB SSD drive. Best price for this model is via the PC World website; if you enter the code CHROME5 at the online checkout you will get it for £189.99.Refurbished models sometimes offer good value. Make sure you buy from a reputable company, that the computer has been checked and the warranty offered is the same length as if you bought a new one.
Do you have a favourite machine or tips on the best places to buy? Please add your thoughts below.Struggling electronics group Sony admitted it will make another huge loss this year and revealed tough new measures to help put it back into the black, spinning off its loss-making Bravia television business and selling its Vaio laptop computer division.The company – which will have recorded losses for six out of the last seven years – was forced to scrap forecasts for a £180m profit it made only last October and said instead it would hurtle more than £600m into the red as it absorbs the costs of making 5,000 more staff redundant.In April 2012, chief executive Kazuo Hirai slashed 10,000 jobs, but a failed attempt to return its TV business to profitability has now prompted more drastic measures.Sony's long-term credit rating was cut to junk last month by Moody's, over concerns at the losses in computers and television sets. It was already rated junk by Fitch.The shake-up, announced on Thursday, is Hirai's second big attack on costs since taking office two years ago.After 17 years in the personal computing business, the Japanese multinational has decided to walk away from laptops and focus its engineering talent on smartphones, games consoles, and its movie and music studios.Sales of desktop computers are in decline across the industry as consumers switch their activity to laptops and phones.
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The television business has not made a profit since 2004, with losses totalling £4.6bn in nine years, and Hirai said he hoped greater independence from the mother company would make the division more agile.Sony is an increasingly distant third to Samsung and LG in televisions, with its share of global sales falling from 8.1% to 7.5% in the last quarter .I think we are heading in the right direction, and by making it a separate company we will speed decision-making up, Hirai told reporters in Tokyo. As for the future, there are many possibilities, and not just for our TV business.Sony retained its October forecast for sales of 14m LCD sets, but said the division would incur a 10th consecutive annual loss, costing the group £150m this year.The smartphone business is also loss-making, but the group's Xperia phones are selling well and Sony has reached third position in the global smartphone rankings, according to Bloomberg. However, the forecast was cut from 42m to 40m units for the year ahead.Some analysts, however, said Sony's moves were too little, too late: The reform announced today comes far too late, said Masahiko Ishino, of Advanced Research Japan Co.
Sony cannot take measures ahead of changes in market deterioration. There isn't much hope to revive the electronics business overall.Sony has had more success with gaming. Its PlayStation 4, released head to head against the Xbox One before Christmas, has sold more than 4.2m units – trumping the 3m-plus shipments for Microsoft's machine.Box office success for American Hustle and Captain Phillips, and hopes for the latest in the Spider-Man franchise, have helped Hirai resist calls from the American hedge fund boss Daniel Loeb, who has been lobbying Sony to spin off its movie and distribution units.Loeb wanted a separate stock listing for the studios, with 20% of the equity to be traded publicly. Instead, Sony has hired management consultants Bain & Co to advise on a restructuring.There's no prospect of its TV business being profitable, said Makoto Kikuchi, the Tokyo-based chief executive officer for Myojo Asset Management Co. Sony's strengths are content such as games and movies. It cannot increase profit without moving its focus from TV production to content.The Vaio division will be sold to private equity group Japan Industrial Partners, for an estimated £300m. A separate company will be set up to manage the business, in which Sony will retain a 5% stake. The company will retain control of television making for now, but Hirai has not ruled out a sale.
My responsibility is to turn around the electronics operation, he said. I'd like to say this time's reform is final but amid intensifying competition, reform may be needed going forward.I work for a charity and they do not upgrade equipment very often: I am using a 10-year-old laptop and a seven-year-old BlackBerry. I feel this old tech is slowing me down and affecting my work, so I am thinking of buying my own hardware. I own an iPhone, and I could dedicate this to work. I also have a Windows 8 laptop at home.The iPhone won’t easily upload photos to a laptop unless I buy more iCloud storage, which I am loath to do when I have ample storage on the laptop.Do I have to get a Windows phone to work best with Microsoft Office, Outlook and my laptop? The future is looking like mix-and-match brands don’t like each other! MonIt’s a false economy to skimp on laptops because they can easily waste far more time than they are worth. If you work 250 days per year, then a £400 computer costs 40p per day, or 5p per hour, if spread over four years. For a worker paid £10 per hour, 5p is equivalent to 18 seconds. I’m pretty sure that an hour with a stopwatch – your iPhone has one – will show that your old PC is costing your employer more than 18 seconds per hour in lost productivity. Just accessing two or three web pages could do it, without even a crash/reboot.You don’t mention the spec of your PC, but the typical 2005 laptop had 512MB or 1GB of memory, a 40GB or 80GB hard drive and ran Windows XP. You shouldn’t be running XP now, because it’s no longer supported and is therefore a security risk. I dread to think what it’s like running Windows 7.I can understand the frustration that would drive you to use your own equipment – I’ve done it myself. However, you don’t have to buy an expensive new laptop. There are plenty of companies that refurbish business-class laptops, and some cater to charities. In fact, Microsoft UK has a Charity Support site, and runs a Microsoft Refurbisher programme to help companies provide legitimate versions of Microsoft software at low prices.