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Keeping with the cycle of replacing student laptops every three years, the Office of Information and Technology presented its four laptop candidates for students to vote on Feb. 5-6 in the B.D. Owens Library.

The four laptops being considered this year are the Dell Latitude 3301, Dell Latitude 5400, HP Elitebook 840 G6 and HP Probook 445R G6.

The Elitebook is an updated version of the laptop full-time students use.

The laptops vary in size, weight, battery life, ports and aesthetic features like backlit keyboards and camera covers.

Manager of Technology Services Merlin Miller said the technology team selects laptops from a pool of companies with existing contracts with the University. He said he wants the newest models, but the laptops also need to be within budget because he does not want to propose an increase to the technology fee, which was $23.20 per credit hour for fiscal year 2020.

Based on the features preferred by students and the price range, Dell and HP sent the four samples to the University for students to interact with.

Over the course of two days, the team collected around 150 votes from students.

The Dell Latitude 3301 was the least popular with nine votes at the end of the day Feb. 6. Students said they didn’t like that it didn’t have a backlit keyboard and was smaller than the other options. The Dell Latitude 5400 was also relatively unpopular with 18 votes.

“Usually students like the 14-inch screen,” Miller said. “Anything smaller and they aren’t as satisfied with them. … The 13-inch screen they kind of didn’t like, and if you really look at that machine, it has limited port options.”

The Elitebook was the most popular with 72 votes, and the Probook came in a distant second with 46 votes.

The HP computers were more popular with some students because of the familiarity. Sophomore Paige Jennings tested each of the keyboards and said the more spaced-out Dell keys were awkward and unfamiliar.

Sophomore Abby Zawada said she was looking for a backlit keyboard because she writes a lot at night.

Jennings said rather than something small and portable, she was looking for a sturdy laptop that won’t break after one drop.

“The biggest thing I needed was storage because I’m a mass media major, so I deal a lot in video production, and I need something that has a lot of storage and a lot of USB ports to load videos on and off,” Jennings said.

Jennings said the only problems she has heard about with the current laptops are aesthetic problems or broken ports because of wear and tear over time.

“Honestly I’m just happy that we’re getting new computers,” Jennings said. “I’m not a tech whiz, so all the bells and whistles aren’t that impressive to me; I’m just looking for something I can do homework on and play video games.”

Miller said before the team selects next year’s laptop, Dell and HP have to submit final pricing so the team can have a proposal for the Board of Regents by Monday. The Board of Regents will consider the proposal at its March 8 meeting.

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