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A Laptop for a College Student


I have a son starting college in August and want to buy him a laptop. Your latest buyer’s guide has me wondering if I should wait to purchase. I spoke with the tech salesman at his college, mentioning your column, and he told me not to worry. He said Windows 8 is really just an upgrade for touch-screen usage, and Dell laptops are not using that touch-screen technology.


That college salesman is wrong on all counts. Windows 8 isn’t just about touch screens—it has many more new features—and I do expect that Dell will be offering touch screens and other new hardware designs.

The problem is that all of the newest designs meant for Windows 8 may not be out by August. You’ll likely be able to upgrade to Windows 8 on a new machine you buy then, and the new software will work without a touch screen. But you may not have the full choice of new models.


I have a desktop Mac bought in November. Currently I am considering buying a laptop, such as the new MacBook Pro. Since I have an iPhone that I like and it is very portable, would you suggest that I buy the MacBook Pro instead of the new iPad? What I’m looking for is something portable but has computer qualities.


While an iPad does have “computer qualities,” and in fact has replaced laptop use for many people in scenarios like email, video, music and Web browsing, most people find it cannot fully replace their traditional computers. So, if you want your next portable machine to be a sort of mobile version of your iMac, get the MacBook. If not, you’ll find the iPad is much better at many computer-like tasks than the iPhone, because of its larger screen and keyboard.


I’m thinking about buying a Chromebook for school and thinking I can use Google Docs to substitute for Microsoft Office. How long should I wait for Google to integrate Google Drive offline?


The company didn’t give me a precise date, but said it should be within the next six weeks or so.

Email Walt at mossberg@wsj.com


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