Walt Mossberg

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What’s the Best Laptop for a College-Bound Student?

Q:

What laptop do you recommend for my granddaughter who is heading off to college? I am not looking for any low cost bargains, but a solidly performing device with a good operating system that will last her at least though four years of college.

A:

Based on your criteria, I’d recommend, without hesitation, the latest edition of Apple’s MacBook Air, which is light, sturdy, thin, fast and gets over 10 hours of battery life on a single charge.

Q:

Is there a tablet that works with Excel?

A:

All Windows 8 and Windows RT tablets work with the standard desktop version of Excel, and some even come with Excel built in. Microsoft has also released a touch-optimized edition of Office for the iPhone, which also works on the iPad, that includes a stripped-down version of Excel, but it requires a subscription to the company’s Office 365 service. An Android version is expected Wednesday. There are also apps, like CloudOn, that provide remote access to a standard version of Office, including Excel, on iPads and Android tablets.

Q:

Is there an app for the Mac that I can use to write and print checks and reconcile my account online? We had Quicken, then Quicken Essentials for Mac. We have had nothing but problems with the latest version for Mac.

A:

You might try iBank or Moneydance, two leading Quicken competitors for Mac. Both have check-printing, account registers and other features. And both claim to be able to import data from Quicken. iBank is at iggsoftware.com. Moneydance is at Moneydance.com.

Write to Walt at mossberg@wsj.com.


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