Magazine article National Association of School Psychologists. Communique

Tech Corner

Magazine article National Association of School Psychologists. Communique

Tech Corner

Article excerpt

Laptops

Most school psychologists appear to be using laptops in their work because they tend to travel a great deal. PG and iMac/iBook are both excellent platforms. Laptops are now in the $500 price range but you can spend $2,000 or more for the new loaded ultraportables. A good laptop can be purchased for $800-$1,200. Students can obtain discounts at bookstores or online but I have not found educators' discounts to be that impressive. Apple, IBM, and Dell typically get good reviews.

What to look for? Cost is important. If you have a choice, my experience would suggest that you can get by with the basic machine if all you do is score and write reports. Connecting to the Internet is the next common task. Most will do it but with schools going to wireless connections you will want a fast internal wireless card with 802. 1 In being the fastest right now (this is a 4x faster connection than the 802. 1 Ig standard) . You can buy an extra wireless card to add to your older computer. Size and weight is the next consideration. The laptops now approach a small TV in size-not portable! The weight for an ultraportable (more expensive, about $1,000 and up) is less than 4 pounds and great for an itinerant. The 15-17 inch size is not really portable and can be considered a desktop replacement. The feel of the keyboard is important as we type a great deal. A standard keyboard can be bought and attached for about $25. Purchase the "best" screen to avoid eye fatigue. The lowest price units will not have this option. Hard drive capacity is also important as we have programs that take up a great deal of room. 50GB wouldbe aminimum. If you want to store pictures or multimedia for PowerPoint, then 160 GB to 320GB is suggested. Hard drive speed (4,200, 5,400 and 7,200 RPM) will tell you how fast your GPU can acce s s your data-faster spin is quicker. Memory ranges from a minimum of 1 GB to 4GB (sGB is minimum for Vista, 4GB is better). If you use a phone service, you need a PG/USB Express Gard slot (some use just USB). This can give you access to the Internet through your phone company for an extra cost. The more USB slots your computer has, the better; but you can purchase a USB 2. o Hub to extend your options. Some devices need to be directly plugged in (e.g., some printers). Batteries come in various capacities from basic to extended use. 9 Cell is currently the most powerful, while a4or 6 cell is standard. Your batterywill wear outwithheavy use. If you mainly use AG, battery life is not as important. Li-ion is the best and standard in most quality units.

Consumer Reports and www.GNET.com have reliable reviews of laptops. There is a magazine called Laptops, too. Also look at the manufacture's repair history; laptops are expensive to fix. Due to the delicate nature of laptops, this is one of the few times I recommend the extended warranty as part of your purchase.

Older Laptops

If you have an "older" laptop-2 or more years old-there are upgrade options. The easiest two upgrades are hard drive and memory. These are easily done by most adults or a well-read high schooler. The hard drive upgrade will require a clone image be saved to another device (portable hard drive or desktop computer). This is not a simple backup. www.Glonezilla.org will make a reliable clone image of your HD. Replacing a hard drive on a MAG Pro is best left to the pros because you have to disassemble the computer. Compatibility with your machine and old HD specifications are most important. If installing a larger HD, thenyou may need to modifyyour computer's BIOS. This information is onyour manufacturer's website and any necessary BIOS upgrade can be downloaded from there. …

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