School/Work laptop for ~500$

So my sister is going to LA soon to work in a court house for a year, then start law school, so i decided to get her a new laptop since her old one is a pos. She will basically only need it for email, watching movies, youtube, and writing essays (no gaming). So anything that can hold a decent charge and still be fast will do just fine. Also the price isn't necessarily firm, but would like to get the best bang for my buck, thanks.

1. What is your budget? ~500$

2. What is the size of the notebook that you are considering?
Anything around 15"

3. What screen resolution do you want?
Decent resolution for watching movies and reading lots of text.

4. Do you need a portable or desktop replacement laptop?

5. How much battery life do you need?
As much as possible without it hindering the speed of the cpu

6. Do you want to play games with your laptop? If so then please list the games that you want to with the settings that you want for these games. (Low,Medium or High)?

7. What other tasks do you want to do with your laptop? (Photo/Video editing, Etc.)
Just Watching lots of movies and reading articles/typing essays

8. How much storage (Hard Drive capacity) do you need?
Doesn't really matter, but around 500gb, maybe?

9. If you are considering specific sites to buy from, please post their links.
Prefer Amazon, but any trusted site will do.

10. How long do you want to keep your laptop? 3+ years

11. What kind of Optical drive do you need? DVD ROM/Writer,Bluray ROM/Writer,Etc ?
DVD ROM/writer

12. Please tell us about the brands that you prefer to buy from them and the brands that you don't like and explain the reasons.
Doesn't matter, but was thinking the ivy bridge i3 would be ideal for less heat and battery consumption

13. What country do you live in? USA
6 answers Last reply Best Answer
More about school work laptop
  1. If she's not very tech savvy, you might be best served to wait. Many law schools have programs where you can buy a laptop from the school itself (it gets added to your student bill/loan) and then they guarantee it for the 3 years of school. They will support it, fix it, etc on site - and since she'll likely want to use it for law school exams, they'll guarantee that it will work with the exam/lockout software.

    I brought my own laptop, but many people were best served with the school's option. (I went to law school, hence I've seen this.)
  2. I wouldn't say she is or isn't tech savvy, but she can figure out most things pretty easily, and knows how to take care of her current laptop. Besides, you can figure out almost anything with a smartphone and youtube nowadays.

    Since she wont actually be in law school for another year, i figured i would get her one now, that will last through law school.
  3. well, in that case, get something with long battery life and a nice keyboard. Lots of class notes and outlines (and 3-4 hour typing fests otherwise known as finals). And then there's the 8 hours (at least, CA's is 16 hours) of essays on the bar exam.

    Many classrooms have plugs for each seat, but not all. And not all law libraries have plugs at each seat - hence best to go with a good long battery.
  4. Very good tips, thank you sir. So i guess i should be looking at long battery life as a must. I'm thinking about 5hours or so?? is it even possible to have anything close to 5hours with a laptop that has large screen(15")?
  5. Best answer
    Ultrabooks can hit that sort of battery life at that screen size..but not in that price range.

    A low-mid range APU should do the trick, check these out:

    I would recommend trying to find a place near you that carries the laptop you want to buy before you buy it so you can try the keyboard and whatnot..
  6. Best answer selected by PapiLouis4.
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