New laptop and tablet features

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About this article

This article highlights major changes and new features introduced by the latest laptop and tablet models offered through the E-Warrior Digital Life and Learning Program. It is intended for all students and employees who are scheduled to exchange their laptops and tablets during summer 2017 or during the 2017-2018 academic year.

This year's laptops: What's new?

No internal CD-DVD drive

This is the third year that WSU is offering standard laptop models without an internal, optical CD-DVD drive. Laptop manufacturers have been moving away from optical drives for the past few years. Shedding the optical drive allows the laptop to be thinner and lighter, increases battery life, and eliminates numerous points of mechanical failure. This is also in line with recent changes in media distribution. Music, movies, and software are no longer being distributed via CD-DVD and cloud services and large-capacity external drives are replacing CDs for file storage. If you still rely on an optical drive, you can:

256 GB solid state drive

This is the third year that WSU is offering standard laptop models with a solid state drive (SSD) instead of a standard, mechanical hard drive. SSDs are roughly four times faster than traditional drives, resulting in quicker start-up, disk writing, and application performance. Note that the size of this year's drives are 256 GB. Take a look at how much hard drive space you are using now to store your data on your laptop, particularly multimedia files (e.g., music, video) and any large applications (e.g., Adobe Photoshop, games). If you have more than 256 GB of personal data and applications on your laptop now and have concerns about storage, please contact the Technical Support Center (, 507-457-5240, Somsen Hall 207).

USB 3.0 ports

Both standard laptop models come equipped with USB 3.0 ports that can transfer data up to 5 GB/sec. By comparison, the older USB 2.0 ports achieved speeds up to 480 MB/sec. USB 3.0 ports are backwards compatible and will accommodate older devices using the USB 2.0 and USB 1.1 standard. You should notice an increase in data transfer speed when you use your external hard drive or flash drive, particularly if that drive is designed to use USB 3.0. If you are in the market for an external drive, make sure you get one that takes advantage of USB 3.0.

Thinner and lighter

Largely because the mechanical drives have been eliminated, the new laptop models are over a pound lighter than the models we distributed three years ago. That's a lot less weight in your backpack.

Operating System: What's new?

Windows 10 operating system (HP EliteBook 840 G3 PC)


Office 365

The HP EliteBook comes with Microsoft Office 2016 pre-installed. This latest version of the popular Office applications (e.g., Word, Excel, PowerPoint) is part of a larger set of tools and services called Office 365.

Touch-sensitive screen

The screen on the new HP EliteBook is touch-sensitive. The screen responds to your finger, but does not rotate or respond to a pen stylus like a tablet.

Video card

Those of you exchanging old laptops should experience cleaner, faster video performance, something that will be particularly noticeable when watching movies and using graphics-intensive applications.

New docking station

If you purchased an HP docking station for your HP 8460p, it is not compatible with your new HP EliteBook 840. The docking station for this laptop is the HP UltraSlim Dock 2013. WSU employees can purchase a docking station through the Technical Support Center (Somsen Hall 207) for approximately $100.

The Apple MacBook Pro: What's new?

Macbook air.jpg

Sierra operating system

If you are already a Mac user and have not upgraded to the new Sierra version of OS X, this will be pre-installed on your new MacBook Pro and does include a number of new features and functions. If this is your first Mac laptop, you will need to spend some time familiarizing yourself with the Mac operating system.

No network port

The MacBook Pro is the second generation of Apple laptops without a standard RJ45 network port. Our campus wireless network provides dependable and pervasive WiFi coverage. Those who still want a wired connection can use a Thunderbolt to Gigabit Ethernet Adapter. Note: employees interested in this adapter should contact the Technical Support Center (, 507-457-5240, Somsen Hall 207).

Thunderbolt port

Beginning in summer 2011, Apple started replacing the Mini DisplayPort port with a new Thunderbolt port. The port has the same shape as the Mini DisplayPort and accommodates any Mini DisplayPort adapter you may have purchased previously. For example, if you have a Mini DisplayPort to VGA adapter that you use to connect your current MacBook to a projector, this will work with your new MacBook Pro. The benefits of Thunderbolt include an increased data transfer rate (10 Gb/sec) and the ability to connect high-resolution displays and high-performance data devices through a single port. For more information, consult Apple's Thunderbolt FAQ article. Note: employees interested in this adapter should contact the Technical Support Center (, 507-457-5240, Somsen Hall 207).

This year's tablets: What's new?

This fall will begin the first year in the E-Warrior Digital Life and Learning Program where the tablet is optional. We continue to offer the Apple iPad mini (note: this is the same iPad model that was distributed last year) for faculty, staff, and students who wish to use this in their work. Consult the Apple iPad Mini article for an introduction.

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