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Author Topic: laptop for university?  (Read 9592 times)

Allybee

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laptop for university?
« on: 07 May 2009, 16:53 »

I'm getting a laptop for university next year. I've had a PC desktop for a long time, but I'm wondering if I should get a mac for school. I like to play games but I don't think I will very often next year (I'm expecting to be busy). basically, I just need something to handle wordprocessing and photoshopping. I don't really know much about computers at all - can you guys help me? I've been doing research but some input would be awesome.

(ps: please don't turn this into a mac vs. pc debate, that was not my intention. I really just need help picking a small, powerful laptop - apple gives a big education discount and this is a graduation gift so for the moment, money isn't the biggest factor.)
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Melodic

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Re: laptop for university?
« Reply #1 on: 07 May 2009, 17:11 »

If money isn't a primary concern, I'd give my vote to the Macbook or Macbook Pro: both are expensive but are also fairly powerful in terms of laptop design. They'll handle word processing easily and Photoshop works great on MacOS. The Pro is more gamer-friendly in conjunction with Bootcamp, but it's also bigger, heavier, and hotter. A Macbook also has the added advantage of iSuite '09, which is a great bonus for university.

The alternative would be a good Windows-based laptop. There are plenty of horror stories with almost every laptop manufacturer, but staying away from Dell is the biggest tip I can offer. Aside from that, expect to be stuck with Windows Vista on an underpowered platform loaded with crap you don't need. I'm not particularly smitten with mobile computing at the moment, so I might be biased, but I've never met a Windows-based laptop I liked since XP was discontinued.

I'd vote for a Macbook. It's powerful enough without being bulky, and is capable of everything you require. The only downside is that it is definitely more expensive than a similarly-powerful Windows machine (blame the Apple tax), but if money isn't an issue it's definitely what I'd set my eye on.
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Reed

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Re: laptop for university?
« Reply #2 on: 07 May 2009, 17:34 »

Personally, I'm really happy with my HP running Vista. You really can get a lot more diversity from a windows based laptop, but there is definitely nothing wrong with a macbook. They are well built machines.

Really, I think it comes down to personal preference.
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bicostp

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Re: laptop for university?
« Reply #3 on: 07 May 2009, 19:58 »

I've got an old-ish HP Pavilion (dv5000). It's a full-size, 15" model. Good for videos, great for typing (keyboard's full-size), but not great for portability (it's BIG) or bettery life (3 hours max on a brand-new battery). If portability is a primary concern for you, stay away from desktop replacements, and look in the 12-14" range.

If you want battery life, I don't recommend a Turion based laptop. That thing runs hot and guzzles power.

Forget about netbooks if you're going to be doing serious typing, unless it's one of the few with a really good keyboard.

If you can, wait until you can say you're a student (and back that up with something like a student ID), then buy a laptop. A lot of manufacturers give discounts to students.

Lenovo's ThinkPad SL400 looks pretty good. If you have the cash, get a MacBook and a retail copy of XP. You'll get the best of both worlds, and they do give you pretty good graphics and CPU performance for the price. (Even the cheap model gives you a 2 ghz C2D P7350, Geforce 9400m, 120 gig HD, 1066MHz FSB,and 2 GB of RAM.)
« Last Edit: 09 May 2009, 09:35 by bicostp »
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jmrz

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Re: laptop for university?
« Reply #4 on: 07 May 2009, 20:17 »

Ally, I've been a windows person pretty much all my life, but when it came to buying a new computer, I went and got an iMac and a macbook. It does everything I need it to do for uni (the macbook), and with my graphic design degree, I am using photoshop/illustrator etc a fair amount, it can handle it really well. They are also a pretty good size, so they are still definitely easy to work on, but not too heavy to carry around. The newer models are really nice too.

It only takes a couple of hours to sit down and figure out where everything is on a mac too - I picked it up straight away and my parents didn't take long to pick it up either when they bought an iMac to replace their PC. So incredibly easy to use and you don't have to worry about the antivirus stuff either.
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est

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Re: laptop for university?
« Reply #5 on: 07 May 2009, 22:45 »

Man, there is absolutely nothing wrong with Vista so long as you get a decent enough laptop to run it, which is basically any laptop these days.  I've been running Vista on both my laptop and my main rig for about a year now without incident.  That isn't so much a recommendation as a refutation of people bagging it.  It isn't the same OS experience that people got at launch time.  For one thing the drivers have improved (nVidia drivers were the main cause of problems as launch), and as I said before, hardware has also improved.  Han runs Vista on a rather underpowered HP machine and doesn't have any problems with it.

Laptops are by far the most personal machine you will ever buy.  The only way to know if you can use one or not i to go try them out.  Go to Best Buy and then go into an Apple store and have a muck around with a few laptops to see how they feel.  Every laptop is slightly different, and when you have such limited space to play around with to begin with even the most minute of layout difference can increase or decrease the feel that things are in the right place (or not!)

I can't say much on the Apple front, but on the Windows side I mostly agree with bicostp's recommendation of specs.  Intel Core2Duo mobile cpu @ about 2Ghz, 2gb+ ram, and a Geforce 9300 or above graphics card will give you more than enough power to run almost anything you'll need for uni and maybe play some dvds or HD media files if you like.  For the OS you will probably get Vista Home Premium, which is the best bet for personal use.  If you are going to be lugging it around for uni you will want 15" or smaller.  My laptop is 15" and I would probably prefer it to be a bit smaller if I were to be carrying it about.
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Covetous

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Re: laptop for university?
« Reply #6 on: 08 May 2009, 00:19 »

I was kind of against mac for quite some time but about 2 years ago I decided to challenge myself and bought a macbook pro. Can't say I regret in any way. There is a quite small mac tax on them but might be worth it to get something that’s quite good looking.

I feel that MacOS is better suited for laptops. You have quite a few functionalities that works quite well with touchpad’s. Windows haven’t really been able to copy that yet. Gaming isn't really an issue since dual boot is now a standard part of macOC X.

That’s that about Mac.

If gaming isn't your concern then focus on getting an as good CPU as possible. Ensure you get atleast 4 GB RAM and a decent size on your hard drive. Storage is easy to increase with and USB/Network disc later on but must always be able to bring whatever you’re working on. I think I heard some rumors about Adobe implementing use of the Graphical Processing Unit (GPU) in Photoshop but don't know if it's done yet so don't worry about the graphics card. HP has a quite good reputation now days but I have always liked Asus laptops. But then money might actually become an issue. Dell was good some years back but I hear more and more complaints about them.
Also, consider getting two laptops. And EeePC is really nice if your planning on traveling a lot but isn't suited for any kind of real work.

Hope that helps some.


Edit: corrected my spelling. Sorry for all the errors I've missed.
« Last Edit: 08 May 2009, 00:23 by Covetous »
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Re: laptop for university?
« Reply #7 on: 08 May 2009, 16:32 »

Oh, one more thing. The best time to get a laptop is a little before school starts. Typically the major manufacturers will have pretty decent sales on their laptops in anticipation of new students wanting to buy them. When I got my laptop I paid for only 2Gb of RAM, but got a free upgrade to 4Gb.
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Re: laptop for university?
« Reply #8 on: 08 May 2009, 16:36 »

two simple rules for buying a school laptop

get something small and light

get a good warranty. pay extra, if you have to.
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Re: laptop for university?
« Reply #9 on: 08 May 2009, 16:50 »

I have been looking at laptops recently, and despite being a GNU/Linux guy, the MacBooks look pretty good. 

Also, the latest issue of Consumer Reports (June 2009) has a comparison of various laptops and netbooks, including discussions of pros and cons of the various types.  It might be worth checking this out. 
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Jimor

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Re: laptop for university?
« Reply #10 on: 09 May 2009, 00:05 »

Nothing really to add, except I have a Sony Vaio running Vista and it runs smooth, and I even do some video editing on it. I had a real Windows install disc, though, so I was able to get rid of all that pre-loaded crap and its registry gunking with a clean install.

Either way, one thing I highly recommend given the environment is get an external HD to make backups, and USE IT. The warranty won't do you any good if all your schoolwork goes *poof* too. Plus all it takes is one inattentive moment in the library these days. Plus you can keep all your music and stuff on it to keep from bogging the main computer. 1T these days is right around $100.
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clockworkjames

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Re: laptop for university?
« Reply #11 on: 09 May 2009, 06:31 »

If you like the OS and style go for it, pretty much any laptop you wanna buy these days should do what you want it to with how much you are looking to spend.

This goes for both laptops and macs, alot of colleges and uni's that give laptops to dyslexic people give thinkpads because they are bulletproof, some dude I work with has one and it is quite nice. I still like HP laptops, they are shiny and pretty good value for money without being a cheap piece of shit like acer but that is all pretty much just brand loyalty.
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Re: laptop for university?
« Reply #12 on: 09 May 2009, 09:04 »

Alright, so here's the abridged version of the lecture I give everybody when they ask this question.   Why do I get asked this question a lot?  Because I'm a very senior IT guy for a big mucky-muck company and have been for a long time.   I got my first computer in '82 if that says anything... 

Computers are tools, and like tools, you should pic the right one for the job. 

I use Macs (have three right now, though one is so old that it shouldn't count), PCs (1 running Vista x64, a work laptop with XP pro, and a personal laptop) Linux (SuSE 10 x64 and 1x Studio 64) and even built a UNIX based router/firewall for the home network.

Macs are fantastic machines provided you understand their limitations.   If you want to fuck around with Adobe/graphics/Pro Tools stuff, surf the web, check your email, and maybe write a paper occasionally, go for it.   If you're like me and you have to use stuff like CAD and Visio all the damn time,  (or you think you might want to have a heavy duty gaming rig) then it is probably more cost effective to get a PC.  Certainly with boot camp you can do all the Windows things, but for cost and convenience, just get a nice Toshiba laptop, pack as much RAM in it as you can and try to stay away from shared video memory (assuming you don't mind carrying a slightly heavier laptop around)
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Melodic

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Re: laptop for university?
« Reply #13 on: 09 May 2009, 10:58 »

Why do I get asked this question a lot?  Because I'm a very senior IT guy for a big mucky-muck company and have been for a long time.   I got my first computer in '82 if that says anything... 

Your ePenis is bigger than my ePenis.
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A Wet Helmet

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Re: laptop for university?
« Reply #14 on: 09 May 2009, 11:12 »


Your ePenis is bigger than my ePenis.

Given your self-acknowledged de minimis ePeen, you are fortunate to have so much raging asshole with a bit of cocksucking prat thrown in for good measure.   

'Scuse me for trying to speak a little bit in a field where I actually have a substantial body of knowledge.  I certainly wasn't at any point attempting to invalidate the contribution of anyone else in this thread, simply tendering my own opinion.  Heaven forbid someone asking for advice actually get some from more than one source.  Whatever is the world coming to?
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Catfish_Man

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Re: laptop for university?
« Reply #15 on: 09 May 2009, 22:02 »

One recommendation (that probably applies to all manufacturers, but I know more about macs) is to not get any ram upgrades from the manufacturer. If you need more ram, high quality third party ram is dirt cheap these days, and easy to install or bribe a CS major into installing.

Also seconding the backup drive thing.

My personal machine, which I like very much, is a somewhat older bottom-of-the-line MacBook with a bunch of aftermarket upgrades.
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clockworkjames

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Re: laptop for university?
« Reply #16 on: 10 May 2009, 05:25 »

My epeen is hueg for all the wrong reasons.
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Allybee

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Re: laptop for university?
« Reply #17 on: 14 May 2009, 16:44 »

thanks for the input, everyone! I'll let you know what happens (leaning macbook cause it just seems to make sense).
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Re: laptop for university?
« Reply #18 on: 14 May 2009, 20:19 »

If it's not too late I'd like to throw out the HP dv2

It's a little expensive ($750), but for something not much bigger than a netbook you get a fairly significant increase in power.
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Re: laptop for university?
« Reply #19 on: 14 May 2009, 23:18 »

Yeah, get an external disc for back up. I lost my masters exam work due to not doing proper back up. 2 hours before hand in. :(
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