What to look for in a back-to-school laptop
New Brunswick high school students will need a laptop when they return to classes next month
This year, high school students in New Brunswick will be required to bring their own laptop or tablet to class.
The goal is to make sure students have the ability to learn remotely if the COVID-19 pandemic causes schools to close again.
But when looking for a device for a student, parents should take their time and think seriously about what they're buying, said Dave Cote of JustCallDave.ca Computer Repair in Moncton.
"You really have to consider what you're going to get quite harshly because you don't want a lemon," Cote said.
"It's not about the brand, you get what you pay for in most cases … if it's thin and it feels like a toy you're going to want to avoid it because it's going to break."
Look for a solid state hard drive
While the province has multiple minimum requirements for devices students may already own, the province has released a list of recommended specifications for any new laptops.
It recommends buying a laptop with the Windows 10 operating system, at least 64 gigabytes of storage, eight gigabytes of RAM and an integrated webcam.
Cote said that when looking for a student laptop, parents should opt for a solid state hard drive over the older, mechanical hard drives.
"The mechanical hard drive can fail very easily on a laptop that's transported a lot," he said.
"If you jostle it around, it accidentally gets thrown in the bag, and it's still on, that hard drive is still spinning. And if you bump it, you can lose all of your data."
Parents should also be somewhat wary of refurbished laptops and do research to make sure the company doing the refurbishing is legitimate.
The same goes for the extended warranties some businesses try to sell with the laptops.
"Sometimes it's good when it's there, but a lot of times you're dealing with a company that's going to figure out how to not honour it," said Cote.
Cote said most damage to a student's laptop would be the result of accidents that wouldn't be covered by warranties anyway.
Province subsidizes Dell laptops
The province does have a laptop subsidy program available to help parents pay a laptop.
But people who qualify for the subsidy have to purchase their laptops through IMP Solutions, a tech firm the province has partnered with to provide laptops at a reduced cost.
The only laptop available through IMP Solutions is a Dell. Parents that don't qualify for the subsidy can still get this laptop through the province for $600.
As of Aug. 19, IMP Solutions' website said laptops will start shipping out by Sept. 22, after school has begun.
Taking care of your laptop
When your student does get a laptop there are a few care tips.
Don't spill anything on the laptop, and if you do, turn it off immediately and turn it upside down. Then take it to a computer repair firm as soon as possible.
When transporting a laptop, Cote said, students should have at least a book bag with a separate laptop compartment. A separate laptop bag is a better option.
"I know it kind of sucks to have to drag around two bags," he said.
"The best thing to do is to keep your laptop away from the stuff that's in your school bag, because normally we have food and water bottles and big books and stuff like that."
And don't put your laptop on your lap, or a soft surface such as a bed, since this can cause the laptop to overheat.
If you put a hard surface under the laptop you can use it in bed, but Cote would still caution against it.
"I do see it a lot where someone will fall asleep in bed, and then the computer ends up falling off the bed and breaking," said Cote.
"Keep it on a desk somewhere, where you're going to be awake, somewhere where you're not too comfortable."
With files from Information Morning Moncton