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Laptop for college: ibook?

post #1 of 36
Thread Starter 
I'm currently looking at buying a laptop for when I go away for college. I really like the design (and price) of the ibook 12". But I have a few concerns: 1. Do you really need a laptop? I could always just bring my desktop or buy a cheap desktop. (Wireless internet does sound very intriguing). What do the rest of the students use / bring? 2. Its a Mac. I've never used a mac before, and I'm concerned about the core programs (word, outlook, powerpoint). I don't particularly like the idea of having to go out to buy a new host of Microsoft Office Programs so that I can use it on my mac (or buying new software so that its compatible). 3. Will I outgrow it? Maybe I should just wait a little bit longer, or order a better model? I don't want to spend too much cash, but if it'll save me more money in the future.. I don't mind spending it now. Right now i'm thinking of getting: Apple IBook 12" 1 Ghz 256 mb Ram 40 Gig Hd with Airport Card This is about $1,000. Should I go for the 14" screen or maybe more ram? Are those 2 inches really worth it? And would that affect the mobility / smallness of the laptop itself? Since I've never used a laptop before, I don't really know what to expect with screen sizes. Any thoughts, comments, suggestions? Thanks in advance. Derek
post #2 of 36
Laptops are useful in college, but can also be a distraction, if you really need one depends on your own personal style of learning. Most of the time I still take notes and keep track of classwork on (gasp.) paper. Depending on what kind of college you are attending, you probably will be able to do most of your computer work on campus facilities, (PC and Mac are usually both available at larger schools) but it is *very nice* to have your own computer. If you are mainly using MS office software, and word processing applications, the only reason to buy the mac will be for the styling. It is *not* as useful as a PC type laptop when it comes to the standard college kind of stuff. Mac OS is a completely different operating system to learn how to use when you are familiar with windows. And unless you are doing alot of photo, video, or sound editing, a PC will have cheaper, more readily accessable, and better software, and its what you are already familiar with. Plus; trying to play videogames on the standard Apple mouse is less fun than belt sanding your genitalia. A 12" screen? Have you tried looking at it at a variety of angles and distances, in a brightly lit room and in shadow? If you are still comfortable with it, then it should be fine. Usually screens smaller than 14" bug my eyes, as I strain too hard to read stuff at any reasonable distance. Usually moving to a bigger screen size means moving to a bigger laptop though, so I'm not sure of the dimensions and weight you had your eye set on with this mac, but If it were me, I'd get something with a slightly larger screen. In your case, with the hardware you are getting for the money, you would probably be better suited getting something like a Dell Inspiron 1150 or something similar. As much as I hate pre-packaged computers of any kind, dell is pretty much the best of the bunch. I hope that helps... feel free to ask any more questions.
post #3 of 36
Been a while since I've been in College, however I recommend the following for all Laptop users. 1) If you are gonna be lugging it around on a daily basis (as I do from business to home and on planes etc...) Less is more. The most important decision you will either enjoy or come to regret will be how heavy or light the thing is. Every pound will haunt you. 2) You wont notice the difference between clock speeds (how many magehertz) unless you are doing really high math calculations ( Alot up digits is not what I mean) over a certain amount, so if they are offering cheaper prices on lower Mhz go with it. 3) Spend your money on RAM. Here you will notice speed as larger programs will make the computer run slower with less RAM. 4) Why buy a computer that Looks nice (Mac) when the industry standard is windows? Is your schools network even compatable with a Mac? Macs are great for Graphic works and is the weapon of choice for graphics designers, but for the run of the mill office suite use that which is compatable with 90% of all sorftware/hardware. Go with Dell. Best rates and quickest turnaround. Any questions email me or post. Good luck. PS: Did I mention to go light?
post #4 of 36
Thread Starter 
K, awesome guys. Thanks for the reality check. So Dell seems to be the place to go? I've heard that IBMs are extremely well built and last a long time? Are there any other particularly good brands / models worth taking a look at? Thanks. Derek
post #5 of 36
IBM's are great, thats what I had (when I owned a laptop)... It was ruggedized though, so not really the lightest weight thing ever. Built like a friggin brick, but I was happy with the hardware. Toshiba's are also pretty good from what I hear, and of course - if you wanna drop the ($$$) cash for a laptop that will smoke most desktop systems, go Alienware. They are also very easy on the eyes. But as stated earlier - the Dell seems to be the best for your personal needs. They have many lightweight options, are reliable, and are relatively inexpensive. Good luck in School.
post #6 of 36
Hello everyone, I know I haven't posted in ages...but this is a topic I feel strongly about. Pengin, If you've made up your mind to buy a computer, as it seems you have, I offer the following advice: 1. Go for a laptop with built-in wireless capabilities. It will prove much more convenient than a bulky desktop. Besides, wireless access is a wonderful thing. 2. Buy the RAM, not a bigger display. RAM is the cheapest way to improve the performance of your computer. Besides, like FIHties said, less is more when it comes to portable computing. 3. You will not "outgrow" your computer. Any computer made in the past 8-12 months is probably more powerful than you need. Unless you're an avid gamer or you deal with tons of video work, you shouldn't need a faster processor for the life of your computer. 4. BUY A MAC. They are superior: -You can get MS Office on a Mac, as well as any other major software title. You don't have to relearn all that software because the interface is very similar, if not identical to the Windows version. -Don't worry about wireless network compatibility. Any Mac made in the past 4 years works seamlessly with a Windows network. -Perhaps the most compelling reason to use a Mac is there stability. You can run a jillion programs in OS X (I've run 13 at once before) without a hiccup. Also, OS X has never had a virus. NEVER. A handful are written for Windows every day. Okay, I will offer a few qualifications: -If you plan to use any highly specialized software, Windows may be the way to go. There are a dozen office suites out there, but probably only one piece that can track and log the geographical location of Monarch butterflies with 8 spots on their left wing. Chances are, if you use software that specialized, it will be written for Windows. -Macs are not made for gamers. All the bleeding edge games are written for Windows only. -If you're not a power user, the transition from Windows to Mac OS may take some effort. If you're familiar with computers and pick up on new software quickly, the transition should be a breeze. -Finally, take all this with grain of salt. I was raised on Windows and converted to Mac only a few years ago. However, I still use both Windows and Apple machines on a daily basis. I guarantee you you'll be happier on a Mac.
post #7 of 36
DON'T BUY A DELL. I bought an Inspiron about 2.5 years ago, because I believed the hype as well. Customer service is horrendously awful. THE WORST I've received from any vendor, ever, hands down, not even close. Not user friendly at all. And the hard drive wore out after only two years...
post #8 of 36
my 2 cents is that you won't need your own computer. take notes with a pencil and paper, and record the lectures if you must, then use the school's computers to do your assignments. if it's a 4 year school you're attending the library and computer facilities should be open 24 hrs. i'm not saying you shouldn't get a lap top. i'm just saying you don't really need one.
post #9 of 36
Thread Starter 
Hrmm, I would tend to agree with you matadorpoeta. I don't think that I will NEED my own computer... But I've just grown accustomed to having my own computer. And I find it very convinent. I love having things a certain way, and just having it always there, ready... If that made any sense. And I'm a bit skeptical about Dell.. although everyone says to get a Dell, for some reason I think part of it is their marketing. Keep the comments coming, thanks. Derek
post #10 of 36
Drats, I'm afraid Matador is right. You really don't need a computer, especially not a laptop. But they can make life so much easier. On the other hand, you can spend hours on a computer and accomplish nothing of substance. You might actually develop some very useful skills without a computer. If you must buy a Windows machine (sigh), you might try Gateway or IBM. I can't speak from personal experience, but I've heard great things about them. Steer clear of HP. Good luck.
post #11 of 36
For what it's worth, I have a PC at college. And I don't feel slighted in any way for not having a laptop. I'd say use the desktop you already have and save the money you were planning to spend on a laptop.
post #12 of 36
Thread Starter 
Hrm, after thinking it through, I think I'm still going to go with the laptop (I hope I don't regret this decision). For some reason the whole idea of portability + wireless internet really appeals to me. In reality, It's probably going to stay in my dorm a lot.. but I think it'll come in useful when it really counts. And now I'm still deciding between Mac and Windows. I want to give Mac a shot, but I'm a bit hesitant to invest all of this money only to find that I don't like it / I need to use a specific Windows-only program. I've gone to stores that carry Macs and asked crap load of questions about it, and then played around on it. I like it. But I just don't know how practical it will be. Hrmm. Derek
post #13 of 36
Buy something with Windows XP. Chances are that most of the computers you'll be expected to work with in the future are Windows machines. In my IT department we had a policy of buying IBMs. Few people bullied their bosses to get Dells, as they looked better but after they fell apart we got them an IBM and they lived happily ever after. If you are going to treat your laptop as a small, handsome desktop machine and leave it on your desk most of the time I guess brand does not matter but if you are going to be lugging it around buy something that's built like a brick, even if it almost looks like one :-) Finally, make sure you get the Intel Pentium M, as those units have almost twice the battery life of earlier models. B
post #14 of 36
For personal use, I swear by Sony VAIOs, but I like Macs aswell, compatability is realy not an issue.
post #15 of 36
It's really a personal issue. As others have pointed out, most colleges have tons of computers in computer labs, libraries, kiosks, etc., so you're never really at a loss for one. At least for me, having a laptop meant I could work on a machine with my own settings and all my other papers/documents, so I could refer to them easily. The laptop also meant that I could work outside of my room, and when all the computers in the library/labs were taken, I could still plop down in a chair and write. With wireless networks becoming the norm, laptops are even more useful. Re Windows vs. Macs: go with what you like. If you're the average non-gaming user, you'll have little problem going with an Apple. The interfaces for your most commonly used apps, probably MS Office, a Web browser and an MP3 player, are relatively universal. And OS X is pretty easy to get a handle on. When I get my next laptop (soon.), it's likely to be the 12-inch PowerBook, because a) having used Macs for three years at the newspaper makes it second-nature, b) it's very portable, yet has useful features, and c) it looks damn cool, and there's nothing wrong with paying for aesthetics if all the features you need are available. (Not that my current laptop is junk at this point by any means; it's just time for a change.) One note though. CT Guy's right about people who bring laptops to class. One other consideration: having a laptop may make it more tempting to transcribe the entire discussion, rather than thinking and writing down the relevant points. Whether that works for you, I dunno.
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