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Tech expert Chad Sapieha shares his top computer picks for studying (and having fun, too)

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Dell Inspiron R Series: for the penny pincher Sometimes it’s all about budget. That’s where Dell’s Inspiron R series comes in. The base model is quick enough to handle common tasks, including Internet research and presentation preparation. It can also facilitate study breaks with DVD playback. Starting at $449; dell.ca

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Apple MacBook Air: for the style savvy Price and size are essential factors for most students. Happily, Apple’s cheapest notebook is also its smallest. The Mac OS X Lion-powered 11-inch MacBook Air weighs a single kilo and measures 1.7 centimetres at its portliest point. Starting at $949; apple.ca/education

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HP Pavilion Dv6: for the practical of mind With its 15.6-inch display, Intel i5 processor and a 640-gigabyte hard drive, HP’s Pavilion makes for a practical portable PC. It could shed a kilogram here and a centimetre there, but it shouldn’t prove unwieldy for most students. Starting at $749; hp.ca

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Alienware M11x: for the pro player All work and no play could make any game-lover a dull boy (or girl). This power-gaming rig can handle diversions such as Call of Duty with aplomb. Just make sure you save space on the hard disk for Microsoft Office. Starting at $999; alienware.ca

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Asus U36SD: for the lightweight lover Ultraportable Windows notebooks are often priced out of students’ reach. But not the U36SD from Asus, which measures 1.9 centimetres thick and weighs just 1.4 kilograms – despite a 13.3-inch LED screen. Strong battery performance means students can work on essays from anywhere. $999; ca.asus.com

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