As long as the laptop has been around, the decision whether to buy a traditional desktop or a laptop has been an important part of the decision making process when purchasing a new computer. Especially in college, it is important to thoroughly consider both options before making a purchase. Below are a few things to consider.
- Desktops weigh more and take up more space.
For college students, especially those living in dorms, space is a big consideration. You don't want to take up your whole desk with a system. However, desktops take a lot less room than they did even five years ago. Here's a tip: If you do purchase a desktop, set your tower next to your desk. In addition, if you are purchasing a new desk, ensure that it has a keyboard/mouse tray that slides under the desk. That way, all you have left on your desk is the monitor, which is hopefully a flat panel.
- Laptops aren't as portable as you think.
As a naïve college freshman back in 1999, I purchased a Gateway Notebook computer with my graduation party money. I had intentions of taking my laptop to each class and typing notes. It doesn't work. As well intentioned as colleges and universities may be in trying to have students do exactly that, many of the older classrooms are not set up for it. As a Spanish language major, most of my classes were in traditional classrooms with individual desks that are so common in high school. As a business major, however, I had plenty of room in most of my classes, unless it was a lecture. Again, this was the most likely type of class to have as a freshman. The bottom line is, you probably aren't going to haul around your laptop all day as you go from class to class. However, having a laptop does come in handy when you are planning to go to the library to write or study.
- You can turn a desktop into a virtual entertainment center for your dorm room.
Now that digital music has come of age, it is even easier to turn your desktop into a stereo. In addition, gamers will enjoy the enhanced features of a desktop. Desktops still have a lot more storage, better sound, and better imaging. In addition, it is easier to add a speaker system to a desktop rather than a laptop. On top of that, who wants to watch a movie on a 17" screen (laptop) when you can have a bigger monitor with a desktop? Finally, TV cards, designed for desktops, are pretty inexpensive and are of much higher quality now compared to when they first came onto the market. It is possible to turn your desktop into your TV as well. If you spend the bucks on an awesome desktop, it will be all that you need. When you buy a laptop, you are stuck with a laptop.
There are pros and cons to both the desktop and the laptop. My recommendation is this: spend the money to get a high quality desktop. If you feel as though you'd like to have a laptop to take around campus, then don't purchase one that is top of the line. Check out E-Bay or a trusted used computer vendor. You can purchase a laptop (a second computer) for as little as $200 – $300. It can be well worth it if you are serious about writing.