As a pre-med, you’re going to want some good equipment to keep yourself organized, prepared, and efficient in doing all your schoolwork, but what kind of equipment should you get? Laptop or desktop? Should you get a tablet, like an iPad? What about a printer? In this article I’ll look at a few of the options you have and tell you which I like the best based on my own experiences working with students.
(Important note: This is up to date as of December 2014; I’ll continue revising this post as new products are released. -DonO)
First of all, I have to say, I’m a bit of a tech buff. Teaching and training for over 20 years has exposed me to all types of options on how to cope with college life and what students use, not to mention all the gadgets I use for myself! So these recommendations I have thought about quite thoroughly. Let’s start with the most common question I get on this topic.
What Kind of Laptop Should I Get?
The OS X operating system for perfect for multitasking, schoolwork, and organizing. It has a sleek interface and is just a very smooth experience. Windows 8 on the other hand just feels clumsy and is not as accessible. I cannot recommend OS X highly enough. The extra money is worth it and I can assure you it will last you throughout all four years of college.
Should I Bother Buying a Printer?
I would say yes. The convenience of having one in your room and not having to drag yourself to the library for printing is a huge plus. It might seem minor, but you’ll appreciate this once the school year starts. I would recommend either a Brother multifunction printer (which can also scan) or a cheap HP laserjet which will last you a long, long time.
Is a Tablet a Must Have?
No, not at all. It is a luxury item, but if you want the light weight and convenience of a tablet, you really can’t go wrong with the iPad Air. Combine it with a bluetooth keyboard and you’ve got a light duty laptop ready for writing, researching and note taking projects. If you want to take it a step further, you can also get cool accessories such as a mouse or trackpad to make work on your iPad a bit easier.
(See my cool little tip below.)
What Kind of Smartphone Should I Be Looking for?
Without question, I would say the iPhone 7. It’s sleek, easy to use, and best of all it syncs everything with your Macbook to ensure you have everything backed up. If you get an iPad, a Macbook, and an iPhone you will have the ultimate package and all of your data will be connected and constantly synced to all your devices — a very good option in my opinion, but you don’t need the iPad as much. A Macbook and an iPhone 7 will do.
Accessories for Your Laptop: Do I Need an External Monitor?
An external monitor is a luxury item that most pre-meds can’t afford and don’t really need to. Unless you’re doing heavy duty art, graphics, media, or video work, you can skip it.
External monitors can also be difficult to protect from opportunistic thieves and it’s just another hassle to worry about.
Don’s Cool Little Tip
Personally, I hate carrying any computer equipment. If I’m planning to teach a class, or going to a seminar, my “go to” set up is simple: An iPhone and a bluetooth keyboard.
Since you’re going to carry your phone with you anyway, adding a lightweight bluetooth keyboard to your bookbag is the easiest, simplest way to have a fast, simple setup for note taking, firing off a quick email, even writing up a presentation.
When you pair your phone with a kickstand case, you’ll never think about carrying a big laptop or tablet with you — except when you actually need it.
How Should I Protect My Equipment?
There are plenty of options provided by Kensington for your Macbook Air or your other equipment. One I like quite a bit is this security docking platform. If you’re going to the library, and you want something quick and easy, use this specially-built cable that can tie your computer to a desk temporarily to keep it safe and secure while you’re finding a book (or using the restroom). It runs for just $29.95.