Picking up a thin and light laptop for college

Swapnil Mathur | Published 19 Jun 2018
Picking up a thin and light laptop for college
  • How about getting a laptop that's slim and easy to carry to college? Something that looks contemporary? Read on to learn more.

Who hasn’t spent time lugging around a heavy backpack during their college days? If you thought heavy books were exclusive to school lives, you are in for a surprise. Your books and registers may have to be heavy, but your laptop doesn’t have to. In fact, if you choose the right laptop for the job may offer much-needed respite from the heavy books in your bag. A thin and light laptop would make a great addition to your college arsenal, but just going for the thinnest and lightest laptop may not get you the most bang for the buck. If your mind is set on prioritizing the weight and thickness of the laptop, here are some other things to also take into consideration:

Thin and Light laptops will offer you everything from Intel’s i3 to i7 processors, but not all of these processors made equal. Intel has various variations of each processor line, designed to be a balance between performance and battery life. Look for a processor with either Y or U in their model number. The Y series processors are the most power efficient but have a lower base clock-speed in comparison to the U series counterpart. The U series is slightly more powerful, but neither will give you the performance of a gaming machine. Thin and light laptops are not designed to be gaming machines.

There is a lot to consider when it comes to the display. Manufacturers now offer up to 4K resolution displays, there’s touchscreens and even matte vs. glossy to consider. For simple college needs, a fullHD display is more than enough. It might sound cool to get a 4K display, but using a laptop at 4K resolution is extremely difficult as everything is minuscule. To get a touchscreen on not is completely up to you and what you’re going to be using it for. If there is no art creation involved, you can ditch the touchscreen. Lastly, there’s the question of glossy vs. matte. Matte displays minimize reflections, making it easier to do anything on the machine. Three of your friends can easily huddle around a laptop with a matte display and watch your favourite movie in all its glorious detail. With a glossy display, reflections will always be a problem.

Some laptops are taking a cue from the smartphone bezelless trend and trimming down those ugly black borders around the display. What this allows for is not only a nicer looking front panel. There is another advantage to slimmer bezels than just good looks and that is more display. By reducing or almost removing the bezels, some manufacturers have been able to fit bigger displays into the standard sized bodies. In the thing and light category, you get everything from thick bezels, to thinner bezels to no bezels, with a slight premium attached to the thinness of the black plastic border.

Cooling Effectiveness and Exhaust Vent Placement
This might seem like a very trivial thing, but trust us, you don’t want to end up with a laptop that starts to burn your thighs after 30 minutes of us. Some laptops have their heat vents placed on the bottom, although newer machines have started to place them strategically on the back or sides. Even so, just make sure you check the vent placement so as to ensure you’re not going to end up toasting your own thighs.

Battery Life
When you’re slimming down laptops into the size thinner than a textbook, many components take a hit. The battery is no exception. Manufacturers would often downsize the battery just a little in order to make everything fit neatly. However, many have started to take care that the end-result on battery life doesn’t take a significant hit. When looking for a thin and light college laptop, look for one which can give you at least 6 hours of battery life. An ideal scenario would be one where you pickup a laptop with the highest possible watt-hour rating for a battery which also has a CPU with the lowest possible TDP.

One definite downside to slimming down machines is that the number of ports decreases significantly. You’ll most like not find an HDMI port on a thin and light laptop, which may still be okay, but the number of full sized USB ports may also be limited to two. We strongly recommend picking up a laptop that has a minimum of three full sized USB ports, or at least two USB-C ports (besides the charging port) in order to be able to attach whatever peripheral you want without headaches. Imaging having to be forced to choose between plugging in your external hard drive with movies on it and transferring data to-and-from your smartphone. Finding a machine with an HDMI port is definitely going to be a bonus so that you can attach it to an external monitor or TV to watch movies occasionally.

You may not think much of this, but the hinges on a thin and light laptop are a critical part of its construction. Everyone loves to show off a laptop which can be opened with just one hand, by lifting the lid, but that on a thin and light laptop could mean that he hinges are extremely light and will likely start to become loose over a period of time. Then, when you open the lid with one hand, the display will slip a little out of position. Hence, look for a machine which you have to open with both hands. That means the hinge is tight and secure and very unlikely to lead to any play in the display.

Thin and light laptops are more about form and function than they are about power. You should already be okay with the fact that with one such laptop, you won’t be editing 4K videos or playing demanding games on their highest settings. Thin and light is all about portability and of course, getting the simpler tasks of the day done. Dear college/school student, you already lug heavy books around every day, why not just simplify your life and buy a thin and light laptop for your college/school work instead of a big, bulky gaming machine?

For more laptop buying guides, check out our Back to College microsite here.

Swapnil Mathur
Swapnil Mathur

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About Me: Swapnil was Digit's resident camera nerd, (un)official product photographer and the Reviews Editor. Swapnil has moved-on to newer challenges. For any communication related to his stories, please mail us using the email id given here. Read More

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