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Getting A Device And Getting Online For Your Studies

The University realises that access to IT support and a suitable computing device is more important than ever at the moment. On this page we have outlined help with how to choose a suitable device for your studies, examples of where to go to purchase a device at a discounted rate, and where to go within the University to ask for support if you do not have access, or the means to access, a device and/or a suitable internet connection.

What Type of Device Should I Buy?

There are many options and factors to consider that will influence your decision when buying a new device.  The information below can be used as a guide to help inform that decision.

  • Should I buy a tablet of a desktop/laptop?

    Most tablet devices on the market at the minute are quite powerful, portable, and easy to use. They are excellent for browsing, running the basic Office 365 Apps and a selection of Apps available in the associated stores and for some students they may be all you require. However, you cannot always install the software you require for your studies on tablet devices, this is usually due to operating system constraints, or the amount of available storage, plus printing from these devices can at times also cause issues. Buying a laptop or a desktop device will give you many more options to install software, attach peripherals, e.g., external monitors, a printer and extend the power options and storage capacity of the device.

  • Should I get a Mac or a Windows device?

    In most cases this will be a personal preference for the type of device you prefer. These days most of the software you will require for your studies will run on both platforms, but it is worth checking with your School that this is the case for Mac devices before making a purchase, as some software may not run on the Apple operating system. Typically, Windows PCs are used throughout the University as the core device and they are the only device available in our central rooms and in our student computer spaces.

  • Recommended Specifications
  • Additional aspects to consider
    • If your device does not come with a built-in webcam and microphone, consider buying them. A 1080P HD, 30fps webcam with built-in microphone should suit most general purposes.
    • Laptop Battery Life – you will want a device that will last you through a normal day’s usage, look for a device that has a minimum 8-hour battery life.
    • Do you want a Touch screen device? This can be a very useful and user-friendly option but having a touchscreen can drain your battery a bit faster and it can increase the overall cost of the device.
    • Where you intend to install additional software, you may want to look at upgrading your storage to 1TB or above. This may be required if you are installing large software packages, video files, plans, or images. Remember you have access to Microsoft OneDrive for additional storage.
    • Laptop Portability - If you intend to buy a laptop to bring into University every day, then consider the weight of the device and the overall size of the device. Typically, the bigger the screen size the heavier the device. A device about 1.5kg – 2kg is as heavy as you would want to be carrying round every day, but often the size and weight is a trade-off for the functionality you need.
    • Consider the ability to connect an external monitor. Look for devices with HDMI, DisplayPort, USB-C, or similar ports.
    • At least 3 USB ports (including USB C) for example connecting external storage, a full-size keyboard, an external mouse, or a printer.
    • Display resolution. For most uses a device capable of 1920x1080 resolution will be fine, however if you are intending to purchase a higher specification device for activities like design work, video production, gaming, or graphics creation and manipulation then consider upping the resolution to 2560 x 1440 (2K), 3200 x 1800 (3K) or 3840 x 2160 (4K). Increasing the resolution will add additional cost to your device.
    • One other thing to consider is the Graphical Processing Unit (GPU) often referred to as the graphics card, but it does much more than process graphics and is involved in all the high-powered processing on your device. If you intend to use your device for design work, video production, gaming, or graphics creation and manipulation then you will need to look at upgrading the specification of the GPU, for these types of activity a minimum 2GB graphics card would be necessary, and some very heavy applications may require a 4GB graphics card. You may want to contact your School and ask about aspects like this before buying a device.
    • If you get a device with an Ethernet port then that means you have the option of plugging the device directly into your broadband router using an ethernet cable, this will result in faster browser and file upload and download speeds.
    • Look for devices where the device components have a warranty of at least 3 years, some however, will only come with 1 year. (Note the manufacturer warranty does not cover accidental damage, you will need to look at additional insurance options for this type of cover.)
    • You cannot really improve the processer once you have bought the device, however before purchasing check if your device has options to expand the RAM or the storage capacity at some time in the future. These options to extend are typical in a lot of devices and can be used to extend the power and lifespan of your device.
    • Be secure and consider antivirus software with any purchase.


Suppliers Offering Student Discount on IT Equipment

There are several suppliers who offer discounted deals on equipment to students in education. Below are some examples of the offers that are available from suppliers.


Sources of Support for Accessing or Purchasing a Device and/or Wi-Fi

If you don't have access to, or the means to access, a computer device or the internet, we can help you. Please contact one of the sources of support below. If you need help with your application to any of these schemes or other advice about your finances, contact