When laptop computers first became available choosing a laptop computer over a desktop computer was a no brainer. Laptops were lightweight and portable. They had a three-hour battery life, which eliminated the need for power cords. They became the perfect media for the online university student, yielding users the ability to type notes instead of writing them out by hand and to store large quantities of course-material on a single hard-drive instead of multiple notebooks.
Laptop computers are portable. Using one, it would be easy enough to access an online course in the cafeteria, something that you could not do with a desktop computer. Whether or not you have wireless access in the cafeteria may be another story. Because desktop computers are for all practical purposes, not portable users generally set them up in an area where they have perpetual access to the internet.
Most portable computers are connected to the internet via modem. Public wireless access points have a tendency to malfunction, and with most online courses, you only have one shot to finish a test without clicking off the screen or breaking the connection. Users who rely on wireless access points to complete tests may find it beneficial to plan their days more carefully. ‘The internet crashed on me’ is an excuse that many professors now equate to ‘the dog ate my homework.’ It just doesn’t work anymore.
Files can be backed up onto external hard-drives from both laptop computers and desktop computers. Though, while flash drives can be used on any computer with a USB port, files can be saved to a cloud-based system, like Google Drives, through a desktop computer and accessed through a laptop in the vicinity of any working hotspot. Still, wireless access points are notoriously unreliable in their connectivity. Even if you have a connection to the internet, you may not have enough bandwidth to download and view important files or to interact with classmates via ‘chat.’
In certain circumstances, a mouse and keyboard may be more convenient than the keypad on a laptop. For this reason, many office-supply chains offer portable keyboards and mice, which respond to commands instantly when plugged in the corresponding ports. Evaluate the burden. Is it worth toting around a portable keyboard and mouse to plug into a laptop so that you can work where it’s quiet, or would it be more conducive to your required tasks to work at home or in your dorm room and risk distractionfree from the financial burden of having to buy something you already have?