5 Ways to Cut High-Tech College Costs
With college tuition on the rise and budgets stretched tight, it’s time to unwrap a late-summer cost trimmer and shave a little off the top. Here are 5 ways to get must-have tech for college without hurting your piggy.
TV on the Internet
First up: your cable TV subscription. After the honeymoon price of $30 for the first 6 mos. ends, you can expect to pay around $60 a month for 80 plus channels, and that’s not including Internet which is priced at about $60 a month for high-speed; now you’re looking at $120 per month. The good news is that you can save up to $900 a year by signing up for Internet only and catching your favorite shows on Hulu or directly on TV station websites. For movies, you can sign up with Netflix for $9 per month and watch a hefty list of flicks and TV shows through your computer or even on your TV via your Xbox 360, PS3 or Wii. Can’t stand not having HD? Here’s a solid option: you can pick up a 22” widescreen Full HD monitor for under $200, sidestepping the HDTV thing and watching emerging HD content online.
Savings per year w/o Netflix: $900
Savings per year w/Netflix: $792
Laptop vs. iPad Smackdown
It’s tempting to fall into the iPad-can-replace-a-computer trap, but the reality is that you have to connect it to a computer right-out-of-the-box in order to set it up. Plus, the largest flash drive is only 64 GB and it fills up fast. For the cheapest iPad (16 GB), expect to unload at least $500; add an extra $130 if you want 3G. Oh, and then there’s the data plan for $15 to $25 per month to consider -ouch. Do yourself a favor and pick up an ultra-thin, lightweight Netbook or CULV laptop. They start at around $300, and you get more of everything: a bigger screen (10-15-inch); a huge hard drive (250-500 GB); more processing power (over 1 GHz worth); 1-4 GB of RAM; at least a half-day’s worth of battery life; and all the HD multimedia functionality you can handle. Check out our Laptop Buying Guide for the spec breakdown on these small, but mighty, laptops. Granted, they’re not as sexy as an iPad, but, c’mon, could you really type a term paper on that? Still set on the iPad? You can save yourself the $130 on the 3G option and up to $300 a year by skipping the optional data plan; most colleges have free Wi-Fi.
Savings: $200
I’ll Take the Double-Camera Music Phone Combo
You can save yourself the cost of four separate devices by purchasing one smartphone like the new 4G iPhone. For only $200, plus a 2 year contract, you basically get a state-of-the-art phone, an iPod, a 5 megapixel point-and-shoot camera, and an HD video camera all rolled into one sleek piece of technology you’ll love to look at. What’s that you say? You’re an Android. Okay, for the same price and length of contract you can pick up the Droid X phone, which also has an MP3 player, an HD video camera, and a still camera with a whopping 8 megapixels. Also, when you pick your service plan, you can choose a plan with minimal minutes if you use Skype over Wi-Fi.

iPod: $150; Point-and-Shoot Camera: $150; Flip UltraHD: $200
Savings: $500

Thumbs Up For Flash Drives
The least expensive, perhaps most useful device you can pick up for college is the USB portable flash drive. For under $20, you can grab an 8 GB little life saver to upload and download assignments with. It’ll save you from having to buy a pricy external hard drive, countless DVDs, and maybe even a laptop if you already have a desktop computer.

160 GB Hard Drive: $75: 50 Pack of DVDs: $22; Netbook Laptop: $300
Savings: $377

B&W Laser Printers Do It Better
Your school may have a printer available, but it can be tough to fight your way through the computer lab line, especially during finals and after all-nighters. When it comes to printers, B&W laser printers are the way to go to save lettuce in the long run –you can pick one up for $150 that prints, copies, faxes, and scans. Laser toner cartridges last forever and can be replaced for around $60. You can expect an average of 3000 pages per toner cartridge. On the flipside, Inkjet color printers are around $150 as well, with all the same functions except for faxing, but cartridges won’t last nearly as long; you’ll only squeeze an average of 300 pages out of one black ink cartridge. So pretty soon, you’ll be digging around in your pockets to replace it –around $30. In the U.S., two semesters constitute 30 weeks of college, and if you print 50 pages per week, that’s 1,500 prints per academic year. You’ll need to buy 5 black ink cartridges, and don’t forget the 3 other color cartridges (magenta, yellow, and cyan) that will inevitably need replacing to get you through the year. Laser toner cartridges can last you up to 2 academic years.

Inkjet printer ($150) + 5 black ink cartridges ($150) = $300
B&W Laser printer w/2 years worth of ink= $150
Minimum Savings: $150

And there it is, you just stuffed over $2120 back into your wallet. More money in your pocket is always a good thing. Saving money and using the latest tech is even better.

*All prices are based on current market estimates.

Retrevo.com is one of the largest consumer electronics review and shopping sites in the world, helping people decide what to buy, when to buy, and where to buy. Retrevo uses artificial intelligence to analyze and graphically summarize more than 50 million real-time data points from across the web to give shoppers the most comprehensive, unbiased, up-to-date product information they need to make smart, confident purchasing decisions for electronics.

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