Whether you're heading to college or university, long gone are the days when you could hand in hand-written essays and coursework. You have to word process everything, and being able to work on the move - be it on essays, or taking notes in lectures - is an invaluable resource. You won't want to rely upon your institution's IT either, as queues for the PCs and cruddy hardware eats into precious work (and play) time.
Your best answer, in all probability, is a laptop or netbook. However there are lots of types of netbooks and laptops, and all are not created equal. This guide will help you choose what is best for you, and suggest the best options currently available.
Netbooks: £200 to £350
Netbooks are popular because they are cheap and very portable. They generally have excellent battery life, lasting anywhere between six and 12 hours, but their screens are small and low resolution, and their slow processors limit them to basic computing. Netbooks are perfect for anyone on a particularly small budget, especially if they already own a laptop or desktop PC.
Ultra-Portable Laptops: £350 to £600
These laptops tend to come in 11.6-inch and 13.3-inch sizes, and use low-voltage processors that offer far superior performance to netbooks but retain excellent battery life. Most don't have integrated optical drives, and only a select few have external ones bundled. These machines make good all-round laptops, and are the ideal upgrade from a netbook.
All-Purpose Laptops: £500 to £800
We define all-purpose laptops as machines that have processing power on a similar level to a desktop replacement laptop, but are more portable - normally 2kg or less. Most of these machines have an integrated optical drive, and for most people suffice as their only PC provided gaming isn't necessary.
Desktop Replacement Laptops: £350 to £1,000+
Desktop replacement laptops can range in size between 15-inches and as much as 18.4-inches. They're typically not portable enough for day-to-day use, but can be moved from room to room and are easy to transport between homes. Depending on price, and this varies wildly, they can offer only basic productivity or be powerful gaming and multimedia machines.