Seeing back to school signs in the shops is arguably the most depressing part of the school summer holidays. But as soon as you become a student it becomes positively rapturous.
There are a lot of things to be excited about, and choosing a decent computer to last the duration of your course is one of them. We've scoured our peerless laptop reviews to search out 10 of the laptops that are best for students.
We mainly picked cheap laptops - after all, scholars aren't renowned for being flush for cash - but we've added a few for more specific courses.
1. Toshiba NB550D - £262
Netbooks are great for students: they're light, compact and cheap. Unfortunately, they're usually woefully underpowered. Toshiba's netbook bucks the trend by including AMD Fusion graphics, which mean it's capable of playing HD videos and photo editing. It's well designed, too, with nice speakers, a bright screen, and a tough, rubberised finish. The responsive keyboard and a large touchpad make it a pleasure to use. Unlike you, it won't fall asleep in lengthy lectures - the battery lasts for an incredible 10 hours.
2. Acer Aspire 5741Z - £290
For less than £300, you can pick up this 15.6-inch laptop, which is surprisingly fully-featured for a machine so cheap. Its Pentium P6000 processor may be maturing, but it can still make mincemeat of multitasking, as well as full HD video playback and advanced photo editing. The HDMI port means it can be connected to a TV, and it's fairly lightweight with a decent 250 minutes of battery life. Add to this the brushed-metal finish and you've got a laptop that looks and performs like one twice its price.
3. Samsung NC110 - £236
Nothing too revolutionary about Samsung's netbook, but we were impressed by just how sleek and solid it is. Specifications are basic but perfectly adept, battery life weighs in at a good seven hours, and it's all wrapped up in a nice-looking chassis. For better or worse Samsung has pre-installed a lot of software on the NC110, but we actually found some of it rather handy, such as a WiFi finding tool. It's ideal for students who want something that looks the part.
4. Packard Bell Dot SE - £190
The cheapest netbook in our round-up, and its reassuringly solid design should see it filling universities up and down the country come September - it'll happily soak up all those inevitable knocks and drops. Its colourful design and bright screen certainly make it stand out, and it's light and thin enough to stick in your rucksack next to your four pack of Carling, flute, and tatty copy of The Bell Jar. Performance wise it's up to the standard word processing and web browsing, but it also packs 524 minutes of battery life.
5. Asus X32A - £300
At 13.3-inches, Asus's X32A straddles the line between tiny netbook and full-blown notebook. Internally it's nicely fleshed out, too, with 3GB of DDR3 RAM and a 320GB hard drive. It's got an impressive screen, but where the X32A really impresses is in its hidden extras. Boot into its Linux OS and you've got a quick-loading operating system that allows for web browsing, Skype and email without killing the battery. When you need Windows 7 it's there too, in its 64-bit Home Premium flavour.
6. Asus Eee PC 1018P - £350
The Eee was the original netbook back in 1997, and since then Asus has become highly adept at filling them with features. USB 3.0 is provided for quick file transfers, and Asus's own ExpressGate lets you jump on the internet quickly and easily. There's even a fingerprint scanner to stop people cribbing your essays. Its battery lasts for an impressive six hours, and the screen is vibrant and bright. At £350 it's the most expensive netbook in this round-up, but it's worth paying for the added extras.
7. HP Pavilion DV6-3112sa - £430
HP's laptop is ideal for students who like to dabble in some light gaming when they're not studying - we managed to get Portal 2 up and running on it. It's fully-featured for such a modestly-priced laptop, too, cramming 6GB RAM, a Core i3 350M processor and an ATi Mobility Radeon HD5470 graphics chip into its case. We were slightly deflated by the build quality and battery life, but it's ideal as a desktop replacement that occasionally wanders into lectures. Much like students themselves.
8. MSI CX640-018UK - £568
This laptop errs on the pricey side, but its 15.6-inch chassis packs some quality components, including Intel's latest Sandy Bridge Core i5 2410M processor. This means it's capable of video and photo editing, making it perfect for media or photography students. We weren't happy with the keyboard (especially the "strange, blocky font"), but the trackpad and build quality more than made up for it. The battery lasted an impressive 333 minutes, and despite its bulkiness it's still fairly portable.
9. Dell Adamo 13 - £499
Originally priced at £1649, Dell's laptop has had massive price drop without losing any of the quality build or components. It's incredibly well-designed, and it'll suit even the smartest business student. Add to this the sharp display, phenomenal keyboard and solid performance and it's an all-round winner, and its light weight and five hour battery life only adds to it. On the downside there's no DVD drive and its ultra-fast solid state drive only contains 128GB, but who cares when it looks and feels this good?
10. Acer Aspire One 721 - £300
When it comes to slim, compact laptops for studying and working on, the Acer Aspire One 721 is a great choice. It combines some of the better aspects of netbooks – namely, convenience, portability and streamlined dedication – with the more comfortable dimensions of a full-sized laptop. The 11.6-inch LED screen is bright and clear, and won't strain your eyes when you're working in programs with a lot of white space, like word processors. The Aspire One 721 also weighs just 1.40kg and at only 1.1-inches thick, it's easy to carry along with books and other studying materials.
Liked this? Then check out Top laptops: the 20 best laptops in the world
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