Jun 03, 2020 09:32 AM EDT
Once you've decided to study for your operations management degree online, the next step is making sure that you have a reliable laptop to get you through the next few years of study. As an online student, you're going to be using your laptop more often than most; you'll need to log on to attend virtual lectures, collaborate on group projects with other students, complete assignments, essays, and papers and even take online exams.
Because your laptop is so vital to your studies, you might have considered investing in a new one. If you've been using your current laptop for years and it's started running slowly or crashing more often, this is only going to get worse as you use it to get your degree, and it's going to be very frustrating. Getting things done smoothly and being able to work efficiently is important for online students, and a new laptop might not only help you with your degree studies, but with anything else that you use it for. Many online students run a business from their laptop or work remotely, along with using it for fun activities like gaming, listening to music, or streaming movies.
All round, it's definitely a good investment to make in your academic future, but what are the most important features, factors, and specifications to keep in mind when choosing your new device?
macOS, Windows, or Chrome OS; which is the right option for you? There are plenty of great options to pick from running on every operating system, so it all really comes down to your personal preference, what you're used to, and your budget.
macOS: Laptops and computers running macOS tend to be the most expensive of the bunch, but they are also some of the most sturdy and reliable. Investing in a MacBook pro might set you back more than you'd pay for a Chromebook, however, you can usually expect it to be running just as well when you graduate if you look after it.
Windows: This is the operating system where you're probably going to have the most options to choose from. Other than Apple, all the major laptop manufacturers produce mainly Windows machines, and it is one of the most flexible operating systems available. Windows laptops and notebooks are also available to suit any budget, from under $200 to $1000+ depending on what you need; the options are endless.
Chrome OS: Chrome OS is usually the cheapest option to go for; Chromebooks are often cheap and cheerful and come with all the basics that you'll need for tasks like browsing the internet, listening to online lectures, and word processing. However, the downside of Chrome OS is that you can only download applications that are available on the Google Store. This means that you won't be able to use MS Office, which might not be an issue for you if you are used to working in Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides anyway. Consider if you'll need any specific applications for your program before going ahead and investing in a Chromebook as being unprepared may mean you have to upgrade it eventually anyway. Click here to learn more about operations management and automation, to get a better idea of what you may be learning - and the apps you'll need to support it.
Before you delve into the technical side of things, you should think practically about what you want your laptop to do. The screen size of the laptop that you choose is important since ultimately this will affect your viewing pleasure, plus the weight of the device if you're planning to carry it around a lot.
11 to 12 inches: These are usually the thinnest and lightest devices, but they have a much smaller screen size than the other options. Consider if you are going to be able to easily work on a laptop with smaller-than-average display size.
13 to 14 inches: This is the most popular screen size to go for, as it provides an ideal balance of portability and usability. You can usually get very light laptops weighing under 4 pounds with this size of the screen.
15 to 16 inches: Another popular option, 15-16-inch displays provide excellent viewing, especially for students who can be expected to use their laptops a lot. Weights usually range from around 4-5 pounds, which might get heavy if you're expecting to carry it around a lot, but is usually fine for general portability.
17 to 18 inches: Bigger than average, but if portability isn't that important to you and you work at your desk most of the time, it's worth considering.
Once you have covered your basics, it's time to get technical and choose which specs are going to serve you best as an online operations management student.
Processing speed: This is probably one of the most important technical aspects to consider, as the processing speed determines how fast your laptop performs. If you're going to be using it a lot, you'll need quick loading times and applications to open up smoothly. Intel Core i5 or i7 tends to be adequate for students, but if your budget allows it, you might want to consider a faster processor, like Intel Core i9 or Intel 10th Gen CPUs which offer the fastest performance.
RAM: The amount of memory is important; the higher the memory, the more your laptop will be able to handle. Most cheap laptops come with 4GB of RAM, but ideally, you should go for a minimum of 8GB. If you don't mind swapping out the hardware, you can purchase RAM separately and upgrade it on a range of budget laptops, which might work out cheaper.
Storage: The performance of your storage drive is arguably more important than the processor. If you can afford it and don't need a huge amount of internal storage space, opt for a laptop with an SSD (solid-state drive) rather than a hard drive as they are usually much faster.
These are just some of the basics to consider when investing in a new laptop for your operations management degree. As an online student, you will benefit from a laptop that is fast, reliable, and easy to use.
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