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Windows Phone Central's Back to School Guide 2013

Grab a cup of coffee and that outdated backpack, we are going to get you ready for the first Semester of classes in this special Back to School 2013 Guide. We have broken the guide down by different student types including “The Geek”, “The Artist”, “The Budgeter”, and “The Entrepreneur”. Check it out below and let us know what you think. Alright, all board – let’s go!

The Geek

You stare at blinking LEDs on the wall, you study Science and Math, and you can’t help wishing you had a ticket to this year’s Comic-Con – you are the Geek.

Laptop - Lenovo ThinkPad Y510p

With the geek, it is all about coupling power with the latest technology; your gear doesn’t have to be wafer thin – it has to get the job done. We recommend Lenovo’s IdeaPad Y510p multimedia laptop for getting your AutoCAD drawings finished or for “pwning some noobs” in Team Fortress 2.

The IdeaPad Y510p features up to Intel’s latest generation Core i7 quad core processor at 2.4 Ghz, a 15.6 inch 1080p display, an NVidia GeForce GT750M with 2 GB of video memory, 8 GB of 1600 MHz Ram, and a 1 Terabyte hard drive backed by a 24 GB solid state drive for extra speed. One NVidia 750M not enough for you? No problem – expand the machine with an extra graphics card to take advantage of dual graphics power.

The Y510p’s insanely awesome internal specs, packed with stylish design, a red backlit keyboard, Dolby Home Theater 4 Audio and a starting price of $819 make it perfect for any geek.

Tablet - Acer Iconia W3

The geek wants a battle station at home, but an easy way to connect from afar; for this, we recommend the Acer Iconia W3 tablet running Windows 8. The Iconia W3 features an Intel Atom Dual-Core processor for up to 8 hours of battery life. At only 1.1 pounds, the Iconia can easily be stored in your backpack for quick use. Those of you geeks who love comics and literature will be able to take your entire digital library on the go with the power of a full Windows 8 tablet.

We are aware that the Acer Iconia W3 has some screen abnormalities, but if you are looking for something portable and the size of a book – the Acer Iconia W3 is your only choice at this time. The screen has what appears to be a “permanent screen protector look” over it, which prevents the image from being as sharp and crisp as it could be; some users don’t have an issue, while others do. The tablet now starts at $249, which has made it a very attractive buy.  We suggest that before you pick up the unit, you head to a local Staples store to check it out for yourself.

Check out our first impression of the Acer Iconia W3 here.

Phone - Nokia Lumia 920

There is no getting around the idea that Nokia currently owns the Windows Phone market, so be prepared to see a lot of Nokia Lumia devices as we move forward. For the geek, we recommend the Nokia Lumia 920; a great phone packed with features, it is available from AT&T for only $49. The Nokia Lumia 920 sports an incredible PureView camera and display for simply amazing shots and viewing experiences. The 920 also features build in wireless charging that is not only convenient, but will also wow your friends.

Check out our review of the Nokia Lumia 920 here.

The Artist

Do you embrace creativity, breathe in the creations of mankind, and have a desire to capture the world around you? If so, you might just be “The Artist”.

Laptop - Sony VAIO DUO 13

You want a portable laptop that works with you and makes getting your creative ideas out of your mind and into the world as easy as possible. To enjoy the ultimate Windows 8 experience, with the ability to jot down every tick of your heart, we recommend Sony’s Duo 13 Ultrabook hybrid.

The recently released Sony VAIO Duo 13 is powered by the latest generation Intel Core i7 or i5 processor and sports up to 8 GB of RAM. The ten hours of battery life and optional 256 GB solid state drive aren’t even the best part The unit features a Full 1080p HD IPS touchscreen and digitizer stylus pen for sketching, drawing, and more.

The device is carried around flat like a tablet, but with the push of a hinge, slides back and reveals a full physical keyboard to work on. The touchpad is a bit small on this unit, so we recommend an external mouse like Logitech’s Anywhere MX if you plan to be doing a lot of work in Photoshop without using the touchscreen.

The unit starts at $1399 on Sony’s website, where they also offer additional discounts for students and faculty through their online education store.

Tablet - Microsoft Surface Pro

Artists can’t sit still – it is in their nature. You need a tablet that you can take anywhere and still get the job done. For artists, we recommend Microsoft’s Surface Pro.

The Surface Pro is a fully powered Windows 8 tablet direct from Microsoft; it houses an Intel 3rd generation Core i5 processor and 4 GB of RAM. The thin half-inch tablet is great for taking on photo-shoots and your next great adventure. With full sized USB 3.0 ports and a MicroSD card slot, you can easily offload photos from your favorite camera onto the unit. Thanks to the powerful i5 processor, digital pen, and full Windows 8 experience, you can then pop open Photoshop and get to work on your next masterpiece.

 The tablet weighs around 2 pounds and is made of a durable VaporMg casing. Let’s not forget one of the top selling points for the Surface – you can pair the device with a Touch or Type cover and have a more natural typing experience when you are away from your laptop. The Surface Pro starts at $799 and you can demo it at a local Best Buy, Staples, or Microsoft store.

Phone - Nokia Lumia 1020

Moments move fast and for the chance to capture the world around you, your phone has to move fast also. For artists and creative types, we recommend the Nokia Lumia 1020. Nokia’s latest masterpiece is without a doubt, the best Windows Phone on the market. While the phone has a stunningly clean design, beautiful 4.5 inch display, and super sensitive touch ability – what truly sells this phone is its 41 megapixel camera. That’s correct, if you haven’t heard it yet, the Nokia Lumia 1020 features an insane 41 megapixel PureView camera and Xenon flash technology. Turn the shutter speed all the way up as on a professional DSLR and capture the fastest action shots around you. At a concern for your favorite musician and need a closer shot – no problem. Shoot a shot in lowlight then zoom in.

The Nokia Lumia 1020 doesn’t come cheap at $299 on AT&T, but there is no better mobile camera experience available out there. Additional accessories like a camera grip and wireless charging cover can also be purchased separately.

Check out our review of the Nokia Lumia 1020 here.

The Entrepreneur

You have brains, the passion of your field, and can spin a business idea around on your finger like the master of the universe. You don’t want or need flashy gadgets, you just want the tools to get things done – you are The Entrepreneur.

Laptop - Lenovo ThinkPad T431s

You are mobile and need a way to stay connected. Accepting anything less than the best is not an option. As a laptop for the budding entrepreneur, we recommend a Lenovo ThinkPad T431s – a premium Ultrabook from the award winning ThinkPad business notebook line.

The ThinkPad T431s is tough with its carbon fiber/magnesium notebook shell, roll-cage protection, and steel hinges. When you are running around campus and you need to keep your data safe, there is no better option than a Lenovo ThinkPad with its Military specification testing that pits the notebook against eight challenges including high pressures, humidity, vibration, high temperatures, temperature shocks, low pressure, low temperatures and dust.

The unit can last up to 9 hours on a single charge and includes integrated mobile broadband support, so you can hop on your favorite wireless carrier’s network and never be disconnected. The T431s Ultrabook can be configured up to an Intel 3rd Gen Core i7 processor with 12 GB of RAM and a 1 TB HDD or 256 GB SSD – the unit currently starts at $879 on Lenovo’s website.

Tablet - Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2

You might not need the world’s most powerful tablet, but a full Windows 8 tablet with long battery life might just be the perfect solution. For the future businessperson, we recommend another product from Lenovo’s ThinkPad line – the ThinkPad Tablet 2.

The original ThinkPad tablet was thick and bulky and ran Google’s Android operating system. The second iteration of the military tough business tablet has been redesigned and comes loaded with the full version of Windows 8. With the Intel Atom processor stuffed inside, you won’t be blasting Photoshop, but you will enjoy more than 10 hours of productive battery life on one charge.

The unit is thin and light at only 1.3 pounds and packs the optional 4G LTE connectivity option, if you desire to remain without limits even out of Wi-Fi range. Add on the digitizer pen to markup documents, convert handwriting to text, and sketch out flowcharts and you are ready to do business. If you want a real keyboard on the go, you can also pick up Lenovo's ThinkPad Tablet wireless keyboard accessory.

The ThinkPad Tablet 2 starts at $499 for a 64 GB unit and increases up to $679 for an option with Windows 8 Pro and the 4G LTE mobile broadband chip.

Phone - Nokia Lumia 928

You want a phone to make you master of the office, Microsoft Office that is, and can keep you going without worry of damage or malicious software. You might want to run out and pick the Nokia Lumia 928, Verizon’s personal version of the Lumia 920. The 928 is a bit more toned down with modern right angle edges and sleek, yet professional, white and black color options.

The Nokia Lumia 928 is currently free with a two year contract from Verizon – take that, expense account!

Check out our first impressions of the Nokia Lumia 928 here.

The Budgeter

For some of us college students, paying the rent on an apartment and trying to payoff tuition are already more than we want to handle. If you want to hop up on some of the latest gear, but without breaking the bank, you just might be a “budgeter”.

Laptop - Acer Aspire M5

There was once a day when you had to shell out at least a grand for a touchscreen Windows 8 laptop, today is not that day. Acer’s Aspire M5 provides a great way to jump into the next generation of Windows, without making Ramen the dinner of choice for the next few months.

Acer’s Aspire M5 is a 15 inch notebook that starts at under $600 and includes an Intel 3rd Generation Core i5 processor, 6 GB of RAM, and a 500 GB HDD. The unit can collect over eight hours of battery life on a single charge and is only an inch thick – you won’t be weighed down by this machine.

And who said that a budget notebook has to look cheap? The Aspire M has a beautifully designed chassis and touchpad for use anywhere on campus – even the snooty frat house.

Tablet - Microsoft Surface RT

If you are looking for a full featured tablet, but don’t want to throw down $500 then you might want to check out Microsoft’s Surface RT, which also comes pre-installed with Office Home and Student 2013.

Sales of Windows RT devices aren’t the best in the world, mainly because they cannot run older legacy Windows applications and are restricted to the somewhat underwhelming Windows App Store. That being said, if you are just looking for a tablet to browse the internet, organize your life (Mail, Calendar, and Contacts), and chill back with some tunes or games – Surface RT might be a smart investment.

Right now, you can pick the Surface RT up for $349, but there always seems to be deals and sales popping up for the unit around the web (the latest brought a refurbished edition of the Surface RT down to $199).

So grab that Touch or Type cover keyboard and show off to your friends that you also have a fancy tablet. While you are at it, let them know that your tablet gets over 10 hours of battery life and is much thinner and lighter than its big brother, the Surface Pro.

Phone - Nokia Lumia 521

Anyone else notice that phone plans are just down right expensive? Luckily, T-Mobile has realized that and offers a great pay as you go solution – the Nokia Lumia 521.

The phone will normally cost you around $200, but remember that the device is unlocked and you are not signed onto a contract. The Lumia 521 does run Windows Phone 8 and supports 4G capability. The 5 megapixel camera isn’t as amazing as the aforementioned Lumia devices, but there is no denying that it still looks great.

You can check out the device itself and plans on T-Mobile’s website – plans for unlimited talk, text, and web start at $2 a day with payment only on the days you use your device.

Check out our review of the Nokia Lumia 521 here.

Do you have your gear for this semester yet – if so, what are you rocking?

  • I don't think to many young college students drink coffee. Coffee is bad
  • You obviously haven't been to Starbucks. ;)
  • Actually, coffee is good for you in moderation
  • Ya.. It reduces chances of Arthritis
  • It contains the most antioxidants of any other food.
  • There is nothing good in drinking coffee. The good part of a coffee bean dies when they roast it. And also, speaking of antioxidants. Number one is amaranth, not coffee. FYI they also use lots of chemicals to make coffee taste better (and for plants to grow 'better'). You should consider buying an organic coffee and probably quit visiting Starbucks ;-)
  • I was talking about organic. Anyone looking to be healthy should only consider natural foods. Coffee Decreases your risks of numerous cancers, Parkinson's disease, improves your heart rate, and increases Bifidobacterium, which are essential bacteria in your body(gut) for your metabolism...even without the coffee fruit included. The fruit is being used in more and more coffee as people are starting to realize its increased benefits. Coffee does have the most antioxidants consumed and is the best source for antioxidants in our diets. There is only 1 food that contains more antioxidants than coffee, but it is not amaranth.
    Good on you for pointing out organic coffee though, I forget that most people don't think as health consciously as we do. All this considered, drink moderately (2 cups a day), and lay off the cream and sugar.
  • Shut up and try coffee
  • Don't you get it? If it's roasted it's no good. Amaranth contains the strongest antioxidant - squalene. Up to 10% (like no other plant). And all other important minerals and vitamines as well. It's one of the best foods, literally. Why drink so much coffee when you can consume much more healthier nutrients from raw plants? This is so irrational, man. And btw, you have the wrong info, coffee is only considered as the product that americans get most antioxidants from. Not the product that contains most antioxidants.
  • Shut up and try coffee
  • Why isn't the Acer Aspire S7 in this? It is a great notebook
  • It's a very good notebook, but I find the keyboard lacking. If we added it, what category would you want to see it in?
  • Other than the budget, I think it can fit almost all categories. Except gamming, if that category existed on the post.
  • The only gaming Tablet I know of is the Razer Edge or Razer Edge Pro. The Pro has i7 processor,  NVIDIA GeForce Series GT 640M LE (2GB DDR3, Optimus Technology) graphics card. Starts at 1299.99 for 128 SSD or $1449.99 for 256 SSD. They even have a optional controller that connects to the Tablet. I won't surprised Alienware, and others will begin introducing them to the market soon.
  • That's pretty accurate I suppose...
  • I wish the prices translated to the same here in Pakistan! Would love to own a Surface Pro, but at approx. 1300 $ cost (in pkr converted back to USD), I end up just gulping! :s
  • For Budget, I've been using a Asus X202E with a Kindle Fire and a Lumia 822.
  • Yes Michael, go ahead and promote a carrier exclusive phone.
  • Yep, I'm obviously in bed with the carriers!
  • Lol
  • With a Lumia 720 apparently I am nothing
  • You are so awesome, we couldn't fit you on our chart.
  • I feel happy :D
  • I would say for the geek, either a 920, 928, or 925, and for the businessman either an 820, 810, or 822. Then the budgeter would be 520/521. That's just my take anyway.
  • Why can't a business man get a Lumia 925? If anything he'll be able to afford it for sure compared to the geek.
  • I would like to say that power planner(windows phone) is a must have for all students..
  • I agree, great app. It does glitch and rest ever so often but relogging in or reinstalling can fix it.
  • Mine didn't glitch even once.. :/
  • Carrier exclusives are a hard fact of life.
  • Only in a few countries, not in a country like India, thank God.
  • If I were a college student, which i was a year ago, I wouldn't want to get both a tablet and a laptop. I would rather get a laptop that serves as a tablet. I wouldn't want to drop the money on both.
  • Vaio fit 15 ftw!! Though the touch screen's got a weird ghost touch spot error.. It behaves as if someone is touching a particular spot on the screen constantly
  • I like the 1020 lead in is about having a fast device to capture the fast moving world around you, when in reality the 1020 is very poor at quickly capturing anything fast. I missed many shots unless they are paint drying it is sometimes a challenge. Good overview. Almost convinced me to get half this stuff I don't have
  • Hmm... That's odd. Have you tried turning up the shutter speed in Pro Cam?
  • What about The Programmer?
  • "The Geek"! A nice powerful CPU for compiling code along with that great backlit Lenovo keyboard makes for an awesome experience.
  • Umm, I'm pretty sure the Lumia 521 is SIM-LOCKED to T-Mobile.
  • I know Lumia 521 is SIM-locked but it will work with Net10/Straighttalk (T-mobile SIM) or any other carrier that uses T-Mobile network. You can buy this phone on Metro-PCS as well.
    If you want to use AT&T then you could buy Lumia 520 and run it on Net10/straighttalk and even AIO (pretty soon).
    One more thing, if someone wants to replace their feature phone and doesn't want to use data they could use Lumia 521 on T-mobile network for $30 a month. T-Mobile packaging is very confusing as it says you need $50 plan. I helped my neighbor get two of Lumia 521 on T-mobile with $30/month plan, he is mostly home or at work with WiFi connection. It can easily replace a music player and GPS device.
  • I want a laptop which has cost below 800$,should have i5 or i3 4th gen,& good ram & windows 8 with touchscreen what should i buy???
  • How about the Acer Aspire M5 that we talked about above? :)
  • A pc, Lumia 720 and Google Nexus One.
  • No self respecting geek will ever buy the Acer W3.
  • That Acer tablet gave me cancer.
  • I am in such a fix. I want a gaming computer, but i cant decide if i should get a PC or a laptop. I want my laptop to be light and sleek, which a gaming laptop wouldn't be, not to mention the horrible battery life. But i might soon move out from my house to study somewhere depending on the college i get into. I want an ultrabook, the hybrid kind, but i feel i am paying way too much for a non gaming device, when gaming is one of my primary objectives. Anybody kind enough to suggest me something.? I am open to all kinds of suggestions. :)
  • First you need to ensure people you have a lot of money. You can get a great gaming laptop but its ...a lot of money you need to throw before you can rival a stationary computer.
    The cool part is a hard core gaming laptop will last many years (at least it did for me).
    I'm not sure who makes the best gaming laptops now because Dell gave away there cool XPS series to Alienware. I loved the XPS series but yeeezz its a lot of money.
  • Lol..all your reply tells me is that you aren't sure if my question is legit, and that xps is don't have any other means to make you believe than to hope for u to believe my words..i have the money..should i go for a bulky laptop or a gaming pc with a sleek laptop which won't cost a bomb individually..??
  • This was fun to read.
    Except...the artists seldom have money for the L1020 and Surface Pro. The Geeks are more likely to have it lol
  • Artists will starve to buy the best. Unfortunately they go for the infamous "I" products.
  • The Back to school' signs make me feel uncomfortable
  • It is funny to me, since in the southern hemisphere we are in school since March/April
  • I do have my gear 
    Surface Pro
    Lumia 920
    And, for this semester, I'll still stick to my MacBook Pro
  • As a college student instead of a tablet and a laptop, I would prefer the Lenovo Ideapad Yoga!! It is an amazing device with touchscreen and with its 13" size it is perfect to carry around. Michael I think this can also be added to the list!! :P
  • I got my Lumia 920 and a W8 laptop. Can't wait to get my Surface RT :D
  • I just got the refurbished Surface RT for $200, and I'm pretty excited about it. Not the best I know, but enough for me. I also just got an HTC 8x from AT&T, and I'm looking into upgarading my laptop sometime int he near future. Nice article, and I'm interested in reading more recommendations for college students on a budget.
  • If you're after a tablet, and for school wor would recommend the surface RT, not the pro. I got the RT to use as a tablet from day to day, but i still have my laptop for photoshop, in design etc. If you want to replace the laptop then the pro is a good choice, but if its for school (and you probably dont need in design or photoshop) then the surface RT is perfect. I hardly use the laptop now, so would have been a waste for me personally to have gone for the pro
  • I have the thinkpad tablet 2, and it is so slow. 
    Avoid all Atom based notebooks/tablets
  • Buy what you want, don't be a sheep and follow the herd
  • Why is there no entry for me, the popular jock. :D
  • I just got my Lenovo ideapad y410, nice laptop.