The definitive budget Osprey laptop buying guide

Ketan “KJ” Narotam, Police Reporter

Spring semester has started, and Ospreys are flocking to online stores to buy one of their college career’s essential learning tools- a laptop.  Buying the right laptop can be a daunting task due to the plethora of brands and sizes available. However, the buying process doesn’t have to be difficult if the student knows what to look for. Here is a cheat sheet that will help you choose the perfect Osprey budget-friendly laptop.

Image by Pixabay via Pexels.

Osprey Laptop Cheat Sheet

Screen Size: 

The screen size is probably the most crucial specification as it will dictate the weight of the laptop. Ospreys should consider getting a laptop with a 13 or 14-inch screen. Laptops with this screen size typically weigh less than 4 pounds and are popular with Ospreys because of their portability, comfort, and weight. They also tend to have a longer battery life than laptops with 17-inch screens. Please consider this sizing guideline when selecting your first laptop.  Suppose the laptop can’t fit snugly in your backpack with one or two textbooks. In that case, it’s probably a bit too big for safe transportation between college classes, and that’s not ideal. 

Computing Power and Peripherals: 

Try and choose a laptop with either an AMD Ryzen, Intel Core I7, or Intel Core I5 processor. Pairing either of these processors with 8GB of RAM or more will ensure your college-related applications will run blazing fast.  

Consider selecting a laptop with multiple ports such as an SD Media Card reader,  USB-C, and USB.  Having extra USB ports can eliminate the need to carry around a jumbled mess of adapters such as dongles and USB hubs in your backpack. You can use the available USB ports for an additional USB webcam, external hard drive for extra space, or an audio headset. USB-C ports can also be utilized for fast charging your phones and laptop.


Ospreys should consider buying a laptop from an established, reputable, and trusted brand. According to Laptopmag, Asus, Dell, HP, MSI, Lenovo, Acer, and Razer, Samsung, Alienware, and Apple was listed as the top 10 2020 best laptop brands among college students. These companies not only offer reliable laptops made from quality parts. They also sell you peace of mind in the form of fantastic customer service and offer generous warranties just in case you run into any hiccups.  When shopping online, Ospreys should avoid places like Craigslist, eBay, Facebook, and Wish and stick to established retailers such as Amazon, Walmart, Target, Microsoft, and Apple instead. 


Under $400 Budget

2021 Lenovo Chromebook Duet 

Price: $299.00 on Amazon



Weight: 1lbs

Screen Size: 10.1 inches touch

Battery life: 8 hours

Operating System: Chrome OS

CPU: Octa-core processor MediaTek Helio P60T

Graphics: Intel Integrated Graphics


Storage: 128GB eMMC + 32GB SD Card

Connectivity: 802.11b Wifi and Bluetooth

Resolution: 1920×1080

Webcam: 2.0MP front-facing camera and 8.0MP rear-facing camera

Ports: 1 USB-C

If the only thing you are going to use your laptop for is word processing, attend Zoom classes, and surf the web, then a Chromebook is probably the best choice for you. The only downside to the Lenovo Duet is that you are limited to using Android-based applications. This means you can’t use Microsoft Office and have to use online word processors such as Google Docs and Office 365. Although, the Android phone integration is a nice added feature. 


  • Android phone integration
  • Responsive touchscreen
  • Includes keyboard
  • Impressive battery life
  • Decent storage capacity for a Chromebook. 128GB + 32GB SD Card


  • Apps limited to Google Play Store
  • Small keyboard
  • Only 1 USB port

$400-$700 Budget

Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 14”

Price: $667.02 on Amazon



Weight: 3.63lbs

Screen Size: 14-inches FHD Touch

Battery Life: 10 hours 

Operating System: Windows 10

CPU: Ryzen 5 2.5 Ghz

Graphics: AMD Radeon dedicated graphics 


Storage: 128GB SSD

Connectivity: 802.11 Ax Wifi and Bluetooth

Security: Fingerprint reader  

Resolution: 1920×1080

Audio: 2 Dolby audio speakers 

Webcam: Front-facing with a physical privacy shutter

Ports: 2 USB-A, 1 USB-C, HDMI, a 4-in-1 media card reader, audio jack

The Intel Core i5 processor paired up with 8GB RAM and dedicated Radeon graphics makes this choice a no brainer. This slick budget powerhouse laptop by Lenovo is the perfect choice for those who use demanding applications such as Blender, Adobe Premiere, Photoshop, and After Effects. This laptop is also great for some light gaming on those stressful college nights. 


  • Fantastic audio
  • Great value for performance
  • Durable chassis
  • Webcam with privacy shutter


  • Bit heavy compared to other ultraportable 14-inch laptops
  • Display is a tad dim.

$700-$1000 Budget

HP Envy X360 2-in-1

Price: $789.00 on Amazon



Weight: 4.41lbs

Screen Size: 15.6 inches Full HD IPS Touchscreen

Resolution: 1920×1080

Battery Life: 12.58 hours 

Operating System: Windows 10

CPU: Ryzen 5 2.5 Ghz 

Graphics: AMD Radeon Dedicated Graphics 


Storage: 256GB SSD

Connectivity: 802.11 Ax Wifi

Security: Fingerprint Reader

Audio: HD audio with stereo speakers

Webcam: 1.2MP rear-facing

Ports: 1 USB 3.1 Gen1, 1 USB-C, 2 USB-3.1 Type A, 1 HDMI, 1 audio jack

This 2-in-1 laptop is perfect for Ospreys who want the functionality and portability of a tablet and performance equivalent to a desktop computer. The blazing-fast Ryzen 5 CPU paired with 8GB of RAM and AMD Radeon Graphics will have no problem running most games and demanding applications such as Adobe Premiere, Photoshop, and After Effects. The impressive 12-hour long battery life and premium durable build quality of the HP Envy X360 is comparable to most MacBooks for a fraction of the cost. 


  • Slick premium build quality
  • comfortable keyboard
  • great value for performance
  • Awe-inspiring battery life


  • Touchpad is a tad cramped
  • Bit on the loud side
  • Mediocre webcam quality

Overall,  buying a laptop may seem daunting at first but it’s quite easy if you know what to look for. The main things to pay attention to when purchasing a laptop is budget, screen size, computer power,  number of available ports,  and branding. Focusing your attention on these specifications will in no doubt make your laptop buying experience a stressless endeavor. 


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