Processing power

Toshiba Portege Z930 (Supplied)

Toshiba Portege Z930 (Supplied)

Natalia Manzocco, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:47 AM ET

Hey, students: Ready for the start of a new school year? Of course you're not! Waving goodbye to summer is always painful, but at least you can be technologically equipped to weather the early autumn of your discontent. Pretty soon, you'll have essays to write — and friends to message, music to download, movies to watch, and games to invest hours of your life into. You'll need some processing power to fuel all of your day-to-day adventures — and with notebook manufacturers all trying to out-feature one another in their top-of-the-line models, today's laptop market is diverse enough to satisfy any user's needs. Here's some of the latest and greatest:

FORM AND FUNCTION

Want to tote something eye-catching to the library? The ASUS Zenbook UX32VD is surfaced with a spun-metal finish that reflects light in concentric circles over its super-light frame (it's 1.8 cm at its thickest point, and weighs only 1.45 kg). Worth noting: Those light-reflecting powers don't extend to its HD screen, which is shielded by an anti-glare panel. The built-in webcam is HD, too, so you'll always look your best on Skype chats, and the Bang & Olufsen speakers should provide some truly beautiful sound. It's $1,299 at amazon.ca.

ALWAYS CONNECTED

You're probably already glued to your smartphone, but there's no reason your computer can't pick up the slack on keeping you connected. The Acer Aspire S5 Ultrabook boasts Rapid Start technology — it boots up from sleep mode in 1.5 seconds and gets you connected to the Internet in 2.5 seconds. It also automatically updates your emails and Web pages — even when it's powered down — using its Instant Update feature. If the need for connectivity extends to your photos, music and movies, the Aspire S5 is the first Acer equipped with the company's new cloud storage function, AcerCloud, which lets you access your multimedia at any time from your Android tablet or smartphone. Another neat feature: The machine's ports and plugs are located behind a motorized trapdoor, accessible by a button on the keyboard. It's $999.99 at canadacomputers.com.

ACCIDENT-PRONE

You may be thinking: "Why spend all this money on a laptop if I'm just going to drop it?" The Toshiba Portege Z930 might have you covered: It boasts a honeycomb construction beneath the magnesium alloy casing, giving it greater rigidity and durability. Its backlit keyboard is also built to be spill-resistant. And just in case you forgot to charge your phone or mp3 player for the umpteenth time, its sleep-and-charge feature lets you plug in and juice up USB devices, even when your laptop is powered off. They start at $1,199.99 at toshiba.ca.

ENTERTAINMENT CENTRAL

Really, who's got space for a TV in their dorm room? Pump up your entertainment experience with HP's Envy 17-inch 3D-enabled laptop. The Envy family is kitted out with built-in Beats audio, including dual speakers and a subwoofer (there's even a volume knob on the keyboard). This 17-inch iteration also comes with a Blu-ray drive and 3D capabilities — the active-shutter viewing glasses are included — and you can store tons of music, movies and TV shows on the 1-terabyte hard drive. It's $1,598 at Best Buy.

GAME GEAR

In theory, yes, you will be doing homework on this thing. But a gaming laptop can make your recreational time just that much more exciting — and it can write a paper just as well as your garden-variety machine, after all. Dell's Alienware laptops are perennial favourites for PC gamers; their M17x model packs everything a student might need to pull off black-ops raids or slay dragons in their off-hours. The series comes loaded with Intel's top-line i7 processors, a 2GB NVIDIA GeForce GTX graphics card, and up to 16 staggering gigabytes of RAM. The HDMI input also allows your laptop to double as a monitor for your gaming console, and the 17-inch HD display and built-in Klipsch speakers add to the immersive experience. See those glowing lights? They can be any colour you like — and you can customize the lighting scheme to react to in-game events. Just be sure to leave your room at least every couple of days, OK? The Alienware M17x starts at $1,499.99 at dell.ca.


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