It’s that time of year again. Students are gearing up in an attempt to make the most out of the coming school term. If you are like me, that also means keeping track of a never-ending list of assignments and projects. Staying on top of your assignments don’t have to be time consuming or expensive. With the right combination of tools, you can glide through group projects and still have time for a social life. This list is my favorite productivity tools for the new school term. Some of them are free apps and others are affordable laptops that can handle both Netflix and term papers with ease. Regardless of your back to school needs, these must-haves are worth a look
The Acer Aspire Switch 11 SW5-111-102R is a 2-in-1 that retails under $400 USD. It has amazing battery life and weighs just 3.2lbs with the keyboard attached. If mobility is the priority for you then this is a great value. You won’t get the lightning fast speed that comes with a stronger processor, but you can stream movies and check your e-mail without a hitch.
The Microsoft Surface 3 is a cheaper version of the Surface Pro 3. With a weaker CPU and only 2GB of memory, the 10-inch convertible is more like an upgraded tablet than a convertible. Still, it comes with Office 365 for your basic needs and is an excellent option if you prefer using your tablet to take notes in class and update your calendar.
When it comes to affordable midgrade laptops for students, gamers, and professionals I am a great fan of Lenovo. So it’s no wonder that two Lenovo laptops round up my list of affordable laptops for students. They are the ThinkPad L540 and the Z40. Both laptops retail at around $600 dollars and the product to price ratio is quite high on both of these laptops.
The ThinkPad has a 15.6-inch matte display and Intel Core i3-4000M processor. It, like many of Lenovo’s products, was not designed to be ultra light and sleek. At 5.3lbs, it could get a little heavy if you have to carry it around all day, but the battery life is decent, even when you have multiple applications running at the same time.
The Z40 is a sporty number, good for class assignments and some movie streaming. It features a hybrid drive and anIntel Core i-5-4200U processor. it also has facial recognition software built-in, if you are into that kind of thing. The Z40 is powerful enough for video editing and gaming but also pulls off a host of other work-related tasks without a hitch.
You know that thing you saw that one time that you thought would make a really good thesis project? Can’t find it again? Forgot the brilliant idea that you were positive would turn into the plot of your first novel? Literally washed your class notes with your dirty laundry last night? Evernote is the solution to this problem. It keeps all of your “read later” and “just an idea” and class notes (if you are into that kind of thing) in one place. The best part is that it is accessible across all of your devices and FREE.
This is another great FREE platform to store the things we need, like large files of class readings or the 300 photos you took during summer break. I recommend using Dropbox to backup important files for projects. Like almost all of the tools I recommend, it is accessible from your computer or smartphone, so you are never more than a click away from your important documents, videos, and pictures.
This app for your smartphone is capable of replacing your TI-86. Why would you lug around a graphing calculator if you can use your smartphone? This app is currently available on iOS and Android for free.
The best thing about this app is all the things it won’t allow you to do. Freedom allows you to block distracting apps for hours at a time. You can schedule sessions and designate which apps you want to shut down. Voila, hours of uninterrupted writing, studying, reading, etc. Freedom is a productivity app that, once again, works across all of your devices.
With these free tools and all of the awesome tools offered on the Google suite, you should be well on your way to being brilliant on a budget.