Why I Won’t Buy a New Laptop for Graduate School

Photo by veeterzy: https://www.pexels.com/photo/macbook-pro-and-space-gray-iphone-6-303383/

"We can’t control all the variables in our lives. It’s about what we do with opportunities revoked or presented to us that determine how a story ends.”
~ David Goggins

Disclaimer: This piece was written purely to vent about my terrible laptop (which actually died on me at the beginning of the school year). This is not intended to be advice nor to convince you to buy something. In fact, I desperately tried not to buy something before I absolutely needed it.

Is it too much to ask for a backlit keyboard? I’ve had this laptop for two years now, and I’ve been counting the days for when it finally dies. Why? Because it shuts down once a day. Five tabs at once is just too much, I guess.

To start the new school year right, here’s my rant about avoiding spending money I don’t have as a graduate student titled: Why I Won’t Buy a New Laptop for Graduate School.

My Current Laptop Situation

My table is too short, so there isn’t much difference between me typing there or on my lap. However, It’s 1000% easier to write when the keyboard is right in front of me. My solution? I’m glad you asked.

To answer this question, I need you to answer one of my own: what do you do with your Amazon box packages? I took one of mine and painted it to be my letter box. I have another that I’m using as a laptop stand.

I love videos where people show off their desk setups, especially since I never knew laptop stands existed. My cheap version is not only free, but eco-friendly. This box is recyclable.

You could also use books or wood or whatever. I don’t have any books big enough and have no interest in woodwork. My back thanks me for being so creative.

This cheap table – cardboard box combo puts my laptop at a proper height of 29 in. My ideal screen height (for my back) is approximately 40 inches; this is a 10 in difference.

You see? My laptop situation is far too dependent on my desk situation (I recommend reading this post as well).

Other than this, I hate my laptop. “Why?”, you ask.

My Current Desk Setup

How I Got This Laptop (I wish my old one worked)

Well, I hate my laptop. It was an anxious buy, as my previous laptop of three years (the first laptop I ever bought) died on me before Christmas.

I miss my HP Pavilion x 360. The only reason I was able to afford it was due to a Best Buy Back-to-School sale, plus another discount; I can’t remember.

The Pavilion had large, backlit keys that clicked and clacked with each press. It was soothing. I was easily able to play video games in the dark, and could fold it to fit against my wall while I used my desk to eat, craft, or study.

It was lighter than my previous one; I received it for free from Girls Who Code. Though, I wish I could’ve afforded the HP Envy which was much lighter. I needed all the ports, so it couldn’t be helped.

Even now, I can feel the difference as I type. I have to press so hard for keys to register with this Dell. I also failed to realize this one was NOT backlit.

By the time I realized my mistake, it was already too late. I put in the order around 11pm and went straight to bed. In the morning, I frantically went to cancel the order, but it wouldn’t let me.

From the very beginning Dell made it clear it was a mistake to switch companies. HP betrayed me when my laptop didn’t make it for four years. Dell never cared.

Ever since that Black Friday two years ago when I bought it, I’ve had nothing but problems with this computer.

I remember when it wouldn’t connect to my Microsoft account and I had to do a bunch of code stuff I can’t even remember. Customer support was nonexistent. Thank goodness for internet geniuses.

Why I Hate My Laptop

What I Like About My Laptop

Listen. My Dell is not the worst laptop in the world. Here are some aspects I actually like:

Its Weight
It’s lightweight. My previous laptops definitely had weight to them, however, this laptop is practically a feather, by comparison.

Its Size
Only one foot in length, this laptop is a comfortable size. While I prefer a larger display, I also prefer how easily it fits into bags.

The Screen
The screen is matte, as in non-glossy. Glossy screens are touch screens, which is nice. But, when in direct sunlight it’s nearly impossible to see the screen with the gloss. The glass is practically a mirror at that point.

I Know Someone Who Has One Too

A close friend of mine also has a Dell. Granted, it’s a better Dell, but it counts. If I forget my charger, we can share.

What I Can't Stand About This Laptop

The Keyboard
The keyboard is the biggest con to this laptop. It feels sticky when I press down, not the top, but beneath the keys.

It still makes clicky noises but the extra effort to press wears me down.
Also, it’s not backlit which sucks. I have to have a light on to work, and gaming in the dark is out of the question.

The Screen
The brightness is too low. Even without the gloss it’s too dim to see outside.

Its Battery Life
It lasts long enough on a full-charge, however, it shuts down randomly and freezes and restarts.

The Storage

This laptop cannot handle my Sims4 or other video games, and I miss them dearly.

Its Volume and Speakers

The speakers are on the bottom, which is super annoying. The sound is muffled.

My Decision

Watching Tech YouTube videos with the latest laptop recommendations and reviewing the Best Buy website, I can confirm that I made the best decision I could based on my knowledge and resources.

I miss my old laptop, specifically the laptop it was when it worked. Laptops are too expensive. There are even tablets out there more expensive than my laptop.

As a student, I can make this laptop work. I think I’ll do my best to make my current situation as amazing as possible. Then, I will save for my own desktop computer like the adult woman I am.

If you can relate to the struggle of trying not to spend money on technology for fear that you will make the wrong decision out of impulse, let me know in the comments below. Hope you had a laugh, reading this back I actually feel a bit better.

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  1. Hey just wanted to give you a quick heads up and let you know a few of the images aren’t loading properly. I’m not sure why but I think its a linking issue. I’ve tried it in two different web browsers and both show the same outcome.

    1. Thanks for letting me know ! I started moving things around so some images are not longer working.

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