Laptops are so last year: Here are the new back-to-school gadgets for students

Students are heading back to class this week and many of them and their parents are searching for last minute supplies.

If your back to school list includes a computer or tablet, you're not alone.

"We have a TV in our room, but that's not anything, like, we need. A laptop is essential so we definitely need to have one of those," said Hannah Herrick, an incoming freshman at the University of North Carolina.

With so many laptop and tablet choices available, finding the best option can be difficult, so ABC11 asked Tom Brant, a hardware analyst for PC Magazine, for his thoughts.

He said two-in-one convertible laptops and detachable tablets are becoming more popular than traditional clamshell models.

"Basically consider your tech needs and go from there. One of the top things to consider is will you be using this to take notes in class? Because if you will you might want to look at not a conventional laptop but actually a convertible laptop where the hinge rotates around 360 degrees so you can actually touch the screen, you can use it as a tablet, use the digital stylus to take notes. You can take notes on it in a tablet form, or you can relax on the couch once you finish your homework," Brant said.

Convertible tablets and laptops may be more convenient but they can also involve some trade-offs. They are typically a little more expensive, have lower storage capacity and a shorter battery life.

If a tablet or convertible laptop is the right machine for you, you can expect to pay at least a few hundred dollars.

"We typically consider $500 to be kind of the watermark or the high watermark," Brant said. "Price is very important because college is expensive and there are actually, surprisingly, a lot more inexpensive laptops and two-in-one convertible laptops that are actually great choices for students."

Parent's like Hannah's dad Chris said the price is important, but it's also important to give his daughter the tools she needs to be at the top of her class. "You gotta set them up for success, they've gotta have the good ones, they gotta be able to last," Herrick said.

Although laptops and tablets can be a major expense, one takeaway from Brant is that good ones should last four years or more so consider it an investment. "That's one of the dangers of choosing an inexpensive laptop is that corners have to be cut in order to get the prices that low. If you're looking at something that you want to keep for four years, you're gonna want to try to spend the most money that you can afford," he said.

You can see all of PC Mag's back-to-school technology lists here:

Back to School Deals

Tech You Don't Need for Back to School

The Best Cheap Laptops of 2018

The Best Chromebooks of 2018

The Best Phones for School
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