Tech and repair

Nine-in-ten Americans said the internet has been important or essential to them during the pandemic, according to a 2021 Pew Research Center study.

Not having a technological device is nearly impossible in today’s society. It’s why Columbia School District is upgrading all middle school students’ iPads to ones equipped with wifi and unlimited data for the 2021-22 school year. The iPads are eighth generation, released in 2020, and the cellular LTE is paid for by Columbia Public Schools.

The district's technology plan gives iPads with keyboards to students in sixth through eighth grade. The new iPads are part of the four-year upgrade as devices age and technology changes, Aurora Meyer, CPS communications manager states in an email.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the district’s first hotspots were sent out in March 2020 to students without home Internet access. It was an effort to help make online learning accessible to all students. Now, by giving all middle school students new iPads with wifi, other students in the home may use the iPad's hotspot for internet connectivity, according to an email sent out by CPS.

Online learning continues to be a staple in education and public health, and because of this, students, parents and working people alike need reliable internet access and a functional device. Vox compiled a list of recommendations and repair deals to help with your tech needs.

Laptop Recommendations 

In a vast world of technological devices, laptops are a common purchase for school and work-related tasks, and there are certain devices that are better than others depending on what someone is looking for. 

For the techs: Dell XPS or Apple MacBook Pro 

The Dell XPS and the Apple MacBook Pro are highly recommended as some of the the best laptops for performance, high battery life and the programs they carry. At 13 inches, both laptops have a slim and sleek premium chassis. MacBook Pro is designed with the M1 chip that allows for engineering, editing and designing. Aaron Scantlin, security engineer and adjunct instructor in MU's College of Engineering says, "A MacBook is a good choice simply because it's much easier to get a working Windows system going [on a MacBook] than it is on the opposite." 

For affordability: Google Pixelbook Go or Chromebook

For almost half the price of a Macbook, a Google Pixelbook Go has a comfortable keyboard with a praised battery life and high memory. A Chromebook offers ‘plus’ and ‘premium’ options for computers and operates on Chrome OS, a system operated by Google designed for multitasking.

For space: Surface Laptop

A Surface laptop, specifically the Surface Laptop 4, is designed with a 13-inch touchscreen and equipped with apps for gaming and creativity. It has solid audio, speakers and battery life, but most importantly space, as it backs up files with OneDrive storage. This is still a Microsoft laptop and can be upward of $1,500. Scantlin says to look at the "cloud characteristics," which are compute, network and storage. He says the cost of storage is not that high, but something to consider is upgrade ability, which is whether or not the device can support additional storage. 

Local Tech Repair

With technology comes technological problems, and getting a device fixed can break the bank. Unless you have an Apple product, you might find yourself running around Columbia trying to find a place to get your device fixed. Even if you have an Apple product, you might not want to pay an arm and a leg every time something goes wrong. Here are some of Columbia's more affordable repair deals.

Hotshot Repair

Located in South Columbia, Hotshot Repair owner Kevin Lee says the most common problem he sees in computers are malware malfunctions and bad hard drives. “If somebody brings me a 2016 iMac that needs a hard drive, typically I tell them that it’s cheaper to put a solid-state drive in that than it is to go out and purchase a new iMac for $2,500,” Lee says. With a quote time of about three hours or less, a price range of $50 to $150 for malware malfunction and $150 to $250 for hard drive replacement, Hotshot Repair services all types of devices for considerably less than buying a new one.

Gravity

Located in North Columbia, Gravity office manager Fred Perrito commonly sees cracked iPhone and computer screens, which can be upward of $79 for a screen, as well as battery replacement, which can be $250 or more. This repair shop services Apple products only and is temporarily by appointment with one group at a time allowed inside. You can book an appointment, schedule a time to pick up your device and create a client portal for more assistance via their website.

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