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Back to school Mac buyer's guide

Roman Loyola | Aug. 18, 2015
You're probably still enjoying your summer vacation, but that first day of school is creeping up on you. Sooner of later, you're going to have to start getting ready to go back to school. I know it's a bummer, but let's look at the bright side: Back to school is a great opportunity to buy a new Mac. Yay!

Tablet alternative: iPad Air 2 and a Bluetooth keyboard

With the introduction of the iPad five years ago, you may have made the switch from using a laptop or desktop computer to the iPad for all of your computing needs. With the right apps and hardware accessories, using an iPad as your only computer is quite possible.

If you want to rely on an iPad for school, you should probably go with an iPad Air 2 over the iPad mini 3 because of the larger screen. 

The first thing you should buy for your new iPad is an external keyboard. You don't really want to type long papers using the touchscreen keyboard.

Fortunately, there are a lot of external iPad keyboards from which to choose, but picking one can be overwhelming. Since you'll be carrying your iPad around with you, consider a keyboard case; it does double duty as a protective shell and a keyboard. The ClamCase Pro for iPad Air 2 ($150) folds into a laptop-like form and even has an aluminum shell. The Zagg Folio ($100) is thin and has a leather cover. The Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover is a keyboard shell that covers the iPad screen when you're not using the keyboard.

Online Apple Store for Education

Save a bit of money by shopping at the online Apple Store for Education. The discounts aren't huge--you save $50 on the MacBook Air and MacBook. Apple doesn't offer any discounts on the MacBook Pro, unfortunately. You save $20 on the iPad Air.

You might find more attractive prices at Apple's Certified Refurbished store. For example, at the time of this writing, the entry-level Early 2015 11-inch MacBook Air, priced at $899 new, was available for $759. The entry-level Early 2015 13-inch MacBook Pro was for sale for $1099, which is $100 cheaper than a brand new version of the same computer. Stock for refurbished computers is limited, though, so it's worth revisiting the store. Or you can buy an older refurbished Mac and save more money.


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