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Santa's Student Shopping List 2011

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With Christmas less than a week away some of you might be thinking about what to ask the guy in the red suit to leave under the tree for you.

Many of us will be asking for that one, essential piece of tech to help us with our life at university, be it for class of just for fun. These are my three biggest contenders for Santa's money this Christmas.

The Tablet:

The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 (16gb WiFi only) is the same price as the equivalent iPad (£399) and comes packing Android 3.2, also known as Honeycomb, making it one of Samsung's most powerful tablets to date and their biggest, with a huge 10.1 inch screen, great for watching TV or movies, either streamed or downloaded. Don't let the size put you off though; this is still a light and ultra portable tab perfect for putting in a bag to take to class rather than lugging a laptop or even a netbook everywhere.

For the photographers among us, the Galaxy comes equipped with an eight megapixel rear camera capable of shooting HD video at 1080p at 30 frames per second. There is also a smaller front facing camera for video calling.

Note taking can be done on a number of apps available through the android market, however my personal favourite and that of most of my tablet wielding colleagues is Evernote, which not only allows you to note take in class, but also to audio record the whole lecture, in case you feel that 9am-10am class is better spent sleeping.

Overall, this is a lot of tablet for the money and possibly the first real contender to the iPad's crown. Android lacks behind iOS on certain areas, such as the ability to create folders of apps and to take screenshots, however the new version 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) includes these features, so it would be interesting to see if the Galaxy gets that update.

The Laptop:

For those of you like me who suffer from fat finger syndrome, traditional 10.2 inch netbooks have far too small a keyboard to be considered practical, couple that with lower spec processors and memory and many fall behind tablets in terms of performance. The 11.6 inch laptop is an ideal solution, providing laptop power in an (almost) netbook sized package.

HP's Pavilion DM1-4004sa is one of the best out there and the newest version comes complete with 320GB HDD and Beats Audio, for those of you who love your tunes. Priced at a very reasonable £299 with free delivery I think it's almost the perfect laptop for a student budget. Typing is very comfortable and the LED display is bright and crisp and will play videos in full HD with no problems.

Thanks to programmes like Amazon's Kindle for PC, all your books can be stored on the device
for use in class and my software of choice for note taking is Microsoft's OneNote, which allows you to create and share notes and notebooks for specific subjects. OneNote is part of Microsoft Office Professional Academic 2010 which costs just £49.99 for students.

The DM1 is a great little laptop for not a lot of money, with HP build quality it will do everything you need it to and should last you as long as you are at uni, just don't spill beer on it.

The Phone:

Everyone needs a phone, but us students need more than a phone, we need one that will do almost everything that our laptops will, we need to be able to take notes, photos, videos, send and receive email, listen to music and blog all from one device. There are newer devices on the market, there are even higher spec ones, but for me, the HTC Sensation XL is the phone to have as a student.

Available free on pay monthly from £31 per month the XL does everything asked of it above but in a big way, helped along by the massive 4.7 inch screen and Beats Audio. The size of the phone may put some people off, but it makes typing long blogs posts or emails so much easier than on a tiny touch screen, and with such a high res display, videos and photos look crystal clear and can be uploaded to YouTube or Facebook in seconds.

Running Android 2.3 means the XL can utilise the thousands of 'droid apps available including
Evernote and Twitter interface Plume.

Of course there are loads of other options on the market this Christmas, the mobile technology market is exciting and ever changing, I have chosen these three devices to give you a good few years out of them, without them becoming obsolete in your uni lifetime.

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