Summer days are drawing in and Fall is just around the corner. And that only means one thing: school is coming, so it is time to get prepared. It’s a great time to invest in new hardware and luckily MakeUseOf is here to lend a guiding hand in our favorite subject areas of technology, devices, apps, and deals.
Windows 10: Back to School
If you are heading into a new school or starting a new course, you want to be equipped. It isn’t as easy as buying a pad and pen as our classrooms increase their digital device usage, with some schools providing students with leased tablets, while others experiment with teacher/student interaction in the digital sphere.
Microsoft realizes the back to school period can be trying, and have whipped up some pretty reasonable discounts on the Surface Pro 3 and its lightweight sibling, the Surface 3. Students or teachers purchasing via the Microsoft Store can score discounts of up to $150, plus another $100 on select devices using promotional code SAVE100 at the checkout.
The Surface Pro 3 is a highly rated hybrid device, coming with a 12″ touchscreen, Windows 10 Pro, and an Intel i3, i5, or i7 processor to speed your studies. Discounts are available on the following models:
- 64GB Intel Core i3 1.5GHz 4GB RAM
- 128GB Intel Core i5 1.9GHz 4GB RAM
- 256GB Intel Core i5 1.9GHz 8GB RAM
- 256GB Intel Core i7 1.7GHz 8GB RAM
- 512GB Intel Core i7 1.7GHz 8GB RAM
Also up for grabs is a Surface Pro 3 Bundle, starting from $1068. For parting with your pennies, you’ll receive your selected Surface Pro 3 device, your choice of Type Cover and Surface sleeve, a 2-year warranty, and 1-year of Office 365.
As mentioned, Microsoft is also discounting the versatile Surface 3, and with many of these deals you’ll have a 1-year subscription to Office 365 Personal thrown in. The Surface 3 has a lower entry price, and features an Intel Atom processor, but still provides a sleek 10.8″ hybrid workstation for your studies. The Surface 3 deals come in these flavors:
- 64GB 2GB RAM WiFi
- 64GB 2GB RAM WiFi and 4G LTE
- 128GB 4GB RAM WiFi
- 128GB 4GB RAM WiFi and 4G LTE
Similar to its bigger sibling, the Surface 3 has its own bundle deal featuring the device of your choice, choice of Surface Pen, Type Cover, and Surface sleeve, as well as Microsoft Complete Accident Protection.
Finally, we have the Acer Aspire One Cloudbook 11. It is tiny, with an 11″ screen, a 32GB SSD, and an Intel Celeron N3050, but don’t let that fool you. It runs Windows 10 extremely well, and given the laptop comes with Office 365 Personal and a 1TB OneDrive, it’ll be an excellent note-taking accomplice for your lectures.
Windows 8 Devices
Windows 10 was released over a month ago. Retails are beginning to see the first waves of Windows 10 specific devices entering stock. The new operating system, combined with some new hardware features means prices on Windows 8 devices are falling all the time; perfect for you and I.
As well as this, if you purchase any Windows 8 or 8.1 device between now and next July, you’ll be eligible for the free Windows 10 upgrade. It is excellent, really, as you’ll have the best of both worlds: a run with Windows 8 or 8.1 working at the peak of its abilities, plus just under a year for Microsoft to iron out the Windows 10 kinks, delivering you a pristine operating system when you do decide to upgrade.
Depending on your requirements, this 32GB Asus Transformer Book 10.1 is currently on sale at $189.99, filling both your laptop and tablet needs. Or, if it’s just a tablet you’re after, this refurbished Dell Venue 11 Pro with a 1.6GHz Intel i5 and 128GB is currently retailing at $349.99. If it isn’t one of those, Amazon is currently running their own massive Back to School deal season, so have a look.
Once you have your Windows 8 device, you can upgrade to Windows 10. One of the best new features of Windows 10 is Continuum, a feature designed with tablet and hybrid device users in mind. The operating system senses the connection or disconnection of peripheral devices and adjusts the user interface based upon the device setup, meaning you have to spend less time considering a desktop, laptop, or tablet.
Back to School Apps and Software
You’ll need to take notes and write essays on your return. With that in mind, you can pick up 4-year subscription to Office 365 University for only $79.99, allowing installation on two devices, as well as a 1TB OneDrive account. Considering a single year license for Office 365 Home is $99.99, this really is a steal.
If Office 365 isn’t your cup of tea, you could always search for a cheap Office 2013 license or use one of the free Office alternatives. Microsoft Office 2016 is drawing ever nearer, and much like the reduction in price for Windows 8 devices, Office 2013 licenses are beginning to see some downward market pressure. However, Office 2013 doesn’t get updated to Office 2016, so it could be worth waiting for the new, or sitting tight and waiting for further price reductions on the older software.
Now we’ve some handy apps to keep you organized in the early days of your new year.
Eduplanner comes with a comprehensive calendar overview to keep track of your classes, assignments, deadlines, and social events. A major comparative bonus is the simple note-taking tool, though other features, such as the event notifications need slightly more work.
This is a cloud based cross-platform planner, working to keep your schedule updated across your devices, optimized to keep your life moving even when your offline. With daily, weekly, and monthly rotations it should keep your work up to date.
If you don’t fancy forking out for an older version of Office, or even the latest, why not try free-to-use Office Online? It comes with Word, Excel, Sway, OneNote, PowerPoint, and Outlook, with each web app featuring almost the full spectrum of features, plus access to a massive swathe of templates.
OneNote is a free to use note taking application developed by Microsoft. Featuring on all major platforms including iOS, ChromeOS, and Fire OS, OneNote is well designed premium-tier application you can download and use for free, bringing productivity to both student and teacher.
I’ve been using Wunderlist to keep track of each place I write for, my kids’ timetables, as well as my personal life. And the other million lists we make daily can easily fit into the easy list making app you can share with and collaborate on with the most important people in your life.
My timekeeping was utterly terrible until I began using the Pomodoro technique, and I know there are other MUO authors who use this to power through their day. Zamora Time is a useful implementation of this time management technique as an app, coming with measurement metrics for time worked, tasks completed, and much more.
Back to School Roundup
You might be nervous. You might be thrilled. You might be super excited, or wholly despondent about your return to learning. However you’re feeling, don’t let your first few days phase you. Whether you’re going into your first year or you’re a hardened third year, you start with your best foot forward by arriving fully prepared and get ready to learn!
Looking forward to heading back to school? Or are you dreading it? Let us know below!