The world may have some new rules this year, but it doesn't change the fact that school is going to be starting soon. This might involve being in person or, more likely, distance learning, especially in the first few weeks or months. That means that your needs may be different for the 2020 school year from years past. So, what are the best options to improve learning in 2020?
As always, anything that improves the speed of your computer is going to be a benefit. Taking the opportunity to add extra RAM to your system will allow for better group videos (like Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, or Zoom). You'll likely see fewer freezes and hiccups, though it won't eliminate network issues. Also, adding an SSD as your system drive will make starting up your computer and launching applications quicker.
Another way to enhance your experience is through peripherals. The most direct upgrade is with your monitor. An extra screen will allow you to do more. With a single screen, you're limited to the group chat or your productivity software. With two screens, you can have your teacher on one and Word or PowerPoint on another. It also makes displaying your screen during a presentation easier, as you're not switching between apps while sharing your screen.
Enhancing the group chat experience can also be accomplished through peripherals. An upgraded webcam will make you look more together. The webcam built into most laptops is poor, and an external webcam is easy to add. While many webcams are unavailable, Tom's Hardware currently recommends the AUSDOM AF640, which can be found for around $90. Another great place to upgrade is your headset - something that will make your experience and your class's experience better.
Of course, a full system might also be an important upgrade. There are a lot of factors to consider when purchasing a new system, including what you'll use it for outside of class. Check out Tom's Hardware's recommendations depending on your needs.
Scott is a developer who has worked on projects of varying sizes, including all of the PLUGHITZ Corporation properties. He is also known in the gaming world for his time supporting the rhythm game community, through DDRLover and hosting tournaments throughout the Tampa Bay Area. Currently, when he is not working on software projects or hosting F5 Live: Refreshing Technology, Scott can often be found returning to his high school days working with the Foundation for Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST), mentoring teams and helping with ROBOTICON Tampa Bay. He has also helped found a student software learning group, the ASCII Warriors, currently housed at AMRoC Fab Lab.
Avram's been in love with PCs since he played original Castle Wolfenstein on an Apple II+. Before joining Tom's Hardware, for 10 years, he served as Online Editorial Director for sister sites Tom's Guide and Laptop Mag, where he programmed the CMS and many of the benchmarks. When he's not editing, writing or stumbling around trade show halls, you'll find him building Arduino robots with his son and watching every single superhero show on the CW.