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Tech buyers' guide for students

Find out exactly what technology you need for university

We continue to tell you everything you need to know when buying a laptop, desktop PC, tablet, printer or anti-virus/security software for university. Next: all-in-one PCs.

All-in-one PCs buyers' guide for students

All-in-one PCs: Tech buyers' guide for studentsFor all-in-one PCs, you crazy kids should be aware that unlike regular PCs, all-in-ones can’t usually be upgraded. You might be able to stick in more memory, possibly a bigger hard disk, but that’s usually it. If you want to play games on your all-in-one, you need to make sure you buy an all in-one with a beefy graphics card because, again, you can’t plug one in later. All of our All-in-one PC reviews will tell you how the machines performed in our game tests.

Also, current all-in-ones tend to have two-point multitouch if they have a touchscreen at all. This isn’t really good enough if you are looking to upgrade to Windows 8 when it comes out, which supports up to 10-points, and needs more than 2-points for some gestures.

?Screen size is another obvious factor, because you can’t upgrade it. However, it’s worth looking for an all-in-one with a graphics output, such as HDMI, as it means you can connect a second monitor. Some all-in-ones have no graphics outputs, so you’re literally stuck with the screen it comes with.
Finally, ports are important. It’s worth having USB 3.0 if you can get it, and the more USB ports the better. If you want it to double as a dorm-room TV, you can plug in a USB TV tuner, but a built-in one is handy too.

For more information on all-in-one PCs take a look at All-in-one PCs buying advice or see Group test: what's the best all in one PC?

Printers buyers' guide for students

Printers: Tech buyers' guide for studentsIf you're the sort who finishes coursework on time, then you can always use your university's printers and just pay as you go - this will be the cheapest option by far. However, the chances are that 99 percent of your work will be finished at the last possible stage and you'll need to print it out in a hurry. If this is the case - or you want to print out your favourite photos too - you might need your own printer.

The first thing we'd suggest is that you get a get an inkjet rather than a laser printer. They cost less to buy and run in the short term, and are better at printing photos too.

Secondly look for printers with built-in Wi-Fi as it’s much more convenient for you, failing this look for one with plain old USB networking, anything else and you're in dangerously confusing territory.

Finally you need to consider what you are going to be printing. If you're just going to be printing pages and pages of typed documents, you won't need much more than a standard budget printer. However if you want to print photos and photocopy documents too, then a multifunction printer will be what you need. Luckily for you we have group test on both of these. See Group test: what's the best budget printer and Group test: What's the best multifunction printer?

Security guide for students

Security: Tech buyers' guide for studentsThere are two types of security you need to consider while at university; virtual and physical.

Physical is pretty straightforward, look your door, and keep your belongs in-sight when you're out and about. So, just common sense really. However students are a big target for thieves, so it's worth taking the additional measure of investing in a Kensington lock to secure your laptop/PC to your desk. It's also a good idea to invest in some contents insurance too, as you can be sure your student loan won't stretch far enough to replace all of your items of technology should you lose it all.

The virtual security threat has the potential to be more costly than the physical threat. The last thing you want is your computer to stop working the day before your dissertation is due. Help is at hand though as PC Advisor regularly checks the best security suites on offer. Take a look at Group test: What's the best security software and Group test: what's the best antivirus  to see what is right for you.

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