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Old 06-08-2012, 07:38 AM   #16
petermillard
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Spending $1000 more seems like needless extravagance.
To you, maybe Harry. But considering that she was planning on buying an iMac and an iPad, it could be seen as positively parsimonious.
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Old 06-08-2012, 07:40 AM   #17
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To you, maybe Harry. But considering that she was planning on buying an iMac and an iPad, it could be seen as positively parsimonious.
That $1000 would probably pay for all her textbooks.
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Old 06-08-2012, 10:11 AM   #18
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Oh, and let's add to the shopping list: Case for laptop. Cases for any other devices.

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Originally Posted by kyteflyer View Post
Higher screen res on the Air, and weight difference which is greater than it looks on paper.
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When you are actually using a laptop on your lap, 0.69 kg matters a great deal. Not to mention lugging it with you all day long around campus rather than to and from somewhere on a commute. As mentioned, the screen is fantastic and it's super fast. I'm not sure what a student needs with 750 GB of storage, with all the Cloud storage around these days 250GB should be plenty for ordinary use, but if that's a concern then go with the Pro.
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You are old fashioned then, yes. The Air is quite a speedy machine, and I really think you overestimate a students needs.
Apologies for my curmudgeonly attitude about the MacBook Air, particularly since I've never tried it. You're right, I have been overestimating a student's processing needs, and underestimating the importance of weight. The MacBook Air's speed of startup and loading apps would be nice too. I currently use only about 60 GB of internal drive on my MacBook Pro, so size of internal drive isn't that important, and external storage is cheap anyway.

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That's an awful lot of money to spend on a laptop. You can get a perfectly decent laptop for well under $500 these days. Spending $1000 more seems like needless extravagance.
Regarding cost of PC vs Mac and relevant justifications either way, I'll refrain from comment. Peace to all cyberspacial brothers and sisters.
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Old 06-08-2012, 10:23 AM   #19
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Pro is also expandible from 4GB to to 8GB DDR3 SDRAM for extra $200
Or much cheaper if you don't pay Apple's way high price on it. Last I checked (a few weeks ago) you could get the RAM for about $50-$60 (for an upgrade to 8GB [2x4GB]). FWIW, 4GB should be more than enough really.
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Old 06-08-2012, 10:31 AM   #20
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She wont need a superdrive.
She won't? If she buys commercial software such as MS Word or whatever, isn't it still packaged on DVD disks?
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Old 06-08-2012, 10:43 AM   #21
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I find the iPad a much better reading device than a laptop, desktop, or iPhone. I don't feel like the iPad is quite to the level of computer replacement unless you are a very casual computer user. I use my desktop less and less, but I still need to use it from time to time, although sometimes I use it from my iPad.

If it were me, and I could only have one device, I'd go with a laptop, an Air if that has sufficient power/storage because I'd want the focus to be on portability and functionality. If I could afford two devices, I'd get the iPad, because it's more portable than a laptop and, when paired with a keyboard, just as easy to write on. It can capture audio, and I believe there are note-taking apps that will capture audio while allowing you to take written notes. It's a whole lot more sophisticated then the pen and paper I used to use or the laptop I used to type my notes on. More and more of the literature is going to be available electronically, including textbooks, and the iPad is probably the superior reading device for those materials. But every now and then you need better multi-tasking or need to access a Flash-dependent site or need to manipulate files in a way the iPad's non-file system makes difficult. So a "real" computer is probably still necessary or at least helpful for a college student. If I had an iPad, I'd focus on functionality and thrift for the "real" computer, like a standard MacBook or and iMac (assuming we're in Mac territory). Portability wouldn't be a priority because between the iPad and the iPhone, portability would be covered. But a laptop still might make more sense for a college student, because often aspects of your living situation are beyond your control, and the place you have to set up a computer may not always be the best place to get any work done.
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Old 06-08-2012, 10:45 AM   #22
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WINDOWS laptops, that is. I've never seen a student with a Mac. I'm sure there must be some, but I think it would perhaps be a mistake not to have a Windows laptop for compatibility reasons. Most university IT departments will only be able to support Windows systems.
My son and daughter have both used Mac laptops without a problem at University over the past few years. Macs aren't uncommon any more.
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Old 06-08-2012, 10:49 AM   #23
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I think that a Macbook Pro or a Macbook Air would be great for a university student. The Air in particular, with its light weight, is fantastic for taking to the library or to classes, and it has a great battery life, so bringing a charger isn't always necessary. I have a Macbook Pro, but I wish that I had purchased an Air - while the Pro isn't terribly heavy on its own I do feel the added weight when i through a book into my bag as well. Either lap top can be connected to an external screen if you ever need a larger screen when working.

An iPad is a nice added device to have. It is great for reading PDFs and class notes. My husband studies on my iPad daily, as his professors tend to post their class notes and power point projections. I have the Apple bluetooth keyboard, which is a fully sized keyboard which can be used with my laptop as well, and it is a dream to type on. One certainly could type an essay in a program like Pages with the keyboard with no problem. I find the iPad especially useful when doing light editing. I don't think that it is necessarily essential. It is a great added learning device that can be picked up if there is some money left over in the budget. There are some great learning apps for the iPad, too, as well as dictionaries and other reference material that would come in handy for any student. It is surprisingly easy to write text in foreign languages on the iPad as well.
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Old 06-08-2012, 10:52 AM   #24
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She won't? If she buys commercial software such as MS Word or whatever, isn't it still packaged on DVD disks?
Macs now have an App store bundled onto the computer, and commercial software such as MS Word that isn't on the App store can be downloaded from the internet as well. It is paid for by credit card. Microsoft lets you download a trial version that lasts for a month or so before you decide to purchase it. An external DVD drive can be used with the machine as well.
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Old 06-08-2012, 12:01 PM   #25
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Or much cheaper if you don't pay Apple's way high price on it. Last I checked (a few weeks ago) you could get the RAM for about $50-$60 (for an upgrade to 8GB [2x4GB]). FWIW, 4GB should be more than enough really.
For reference, I recently bought a new PC (custom made). I paid $100 for 16GB (2x8GB) DDR3 1600.
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Old 06-08-2012, 02:27 PM   #26
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@ Anemic Oak & David Munch. Agreed, 4GB SDRAM is probably enough.

@ David Munch: Re new Apple hardware, Oooo, thanks for the tip. I hadn't been paying attention to new Apple developments lately. So it's worth waiting a week or two until the new machines are available.
http://www.informationweek.com/news/.../mac/240001734

@ petermillard & Rob_E & LatinandGreek. Agree it'd be nice to have a tablet as well as a laptop, for portability as well as reading textbooks in electronic form, and even reading any fiction for lit classes. I don't believe my niece owns an e-ink reader, but she's focusing on biology/pre-med and probably won't read a lot of fiction like a lit major would. Tablets such as iPad are better than e-ink devices for PDFs or other complex-formatted textbooks, particularly with science-related graphics. (EDIT: Though AFAIK, unless something changed in the last year or so, iPad can only deal with ePub and PDF formats. If I'm wrong, and textbooks these days come in formats other than PDF, please advise.)

@ David Munch & Latinandgreek. Re superdrive (cd/dvd drive) on a Mac laptop, what about fixing self-inflicted OS problems when necessary from DVD disk? I've had to do that a few times. Is there a way to repair OSX Lion problems directly through Internet with some kind of Apple network resource including OS repair utilities? I'm still using OSX 10.6.8 rather than Lion so I'm not familiar with recent Lion problems/solutions. Does a Lion-loaded thumb drive with OS repair utilities arrive free along with a new MacBook Air, and if not, what will save the day in an OS emergency?

@afv011. If that's a recommendation for my niece to buy a $100 custom PC, some details on source, availability, and reliability would be helpful. EDIT: afv011 clarified that it cost $100 for 16 GB PC RAM alone; sorry for my misunderstanding about an entire PC for $100.

@my niece. Try Open Office. It's free. A student may not need expensive Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, Powerpoint) at all since Open Office handles most of the MS Office formats and commonly-used functionality. http://www.openoffice.org/product/index.html


Not set in stone, let me know if I forgot anything, work-in-progress shopping list:

Hardware:

Laptop
Laptop case
External Hard Disk Drive
Printer (that works with a laptop-supplied-port such as USB)
External Superdrive (if MacBook Air) [Optional, availability OS repair utilites ???]

Phone
Phone case
Phone accessories

Tablet
Tablet Screen Protector
Tablet case
Bluetooth Keyboard

Miscellaneous:
Credit Card

Software for Phone:
- To be determined

Software for Laptop:
- Open Office (free)
- To be determined

Software for Tablet:
- To be determined

Last edited by unboggling; 06-23-2012 at 10:02 PM. Reason: strike-outs
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Old 06-08-2012, 03:38 PM   #27
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Originally Posted by unboggling View Post
@ petermillard & Rob_E & LatinandGreek. Agree it'd be nice to have a tablet as well as a laptop, for portability as well as reading textbooks in electronic form, and even reading any fiction for lit classes. I don't believe my niece owns an e-ink reader, but she's focusing on biology/pre-med and probably won't read a lot of fiction like a lit major would. Tablets such as iPad are better than e-ink devices for PDFs or other complex-formatted textbooks, particularly with science-related graphics. [EDIT: Though AFAIK, unless something changed in the last year or so, iPad can only deal with ePub and PDF formats. If I'm wrong, and textbooks these days come in formats other than PDF, please advise.]

@ David Munch & Latinandgreek. Re superdrive (cd/dvd drive) on a Mac laptop, what about fixing self-inflicted OS problems when necessary from DVD disk? I've had to do that a few times. Is there a way to repair OSX Lion problems directly through Internet with some kind of Apple network resource including OS repair utilities? I'm still using OSX 10.6.8 rather than Lion so I'm not familiar with recent Lion problems/solutions. Does a Lion-loaded thumb drive with OS repair utilities arrive free along with a new MacBook Air, and if not, what will save the day in an OS emergency?

@afv011. If that's a recommendation for my niece to buy a $100 custom PC, some details on source, availability, and reliability would be helpful.

@my niece. Try Open Office. It's free. A student may not need expensive Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, Powerpoint) at all since Open Office handles most of the MS Office formats and commonly-used functionality. http://www.openoffice.org/product/index.html


Not set in stone, let me know if I forgot anything, work-in-progress shopping list:

Hardware:

Laptop
Laptop case
External Hard Disk Drive
Printer (that works with a laptop-supplied-port such as USB)
External Superdrive (if MacBook Air) [Optional, availability OS repair utilites ???]

Phone
Phone case
Phone accessories

Tablet
Tablet Screen Protector
Tablet case
Bluetooth Keyboard

Miscellaneous:
Credit Card

Software for Phone:
- To be determined

Software for Laptop:
- Open Office (free)
- To be determined

Software for Tablet:
- To be determined
Some big-name textbook publishers like Pearson have their own app for textbooks, I think, so I think that the text is not in PDF form. I may be wrong. They offer their textbooks at roughly half the price of the printed versions, but the textbooks expire after the course ends in many, if not most, cases. They can be viewed on laptops as well. The iPad can deal with other formats using different apps. For example, there is a Kindle app with which one can read mobi files. Come to think of it, I do believe that some textbooks can be purchased through the Amazon ebook store as well. They can be read on a laptop, too.

I believe that the Macbook Air comes with a thumb drive with a copy of the OS. When upgrading the OS it can now be downloaded off of the app store and a copy can be made onto a USB drive. Here is a site describing how to do this:

http://lifehacker.com/5823096/how-to...or-flash-drive

Just a note: Apple has a presentation coming up on Monday, which is heavily speculated to be regarding an update to the Macbook Pro and Air lineup. You might want to keep an eye out for that. You may want to get a new model, or perhaps you will be able to score a great used laptop at a reduced price from someone who is looking to upgrade.

Open Office is great. I have Open Office, the Apple Office suite and Microsoft Office installed on my laptop. I use Microsoft Office by far the least. I use Pages slightly more than Open Office, but OO has some great features and I find it more zippy that Microsoft Office. There is a lot of great, free software that you will find helpful. Be sure to check out Calibre for ebook cataloguing. Evernote is also great for keeping class notes and projects in order.

Best of luck!
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Old 06-08-2012, 04:05 PM   #28
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She won't? If she buys commercial software such as MS Word or whatever, isn't it still packaged on DVD disks?
Most software can be bought digitally these days. DVD's are so 200X's..

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Originally Posted by unboggling View Post
@ Anemic Oak & David Munch. Agreed, 4GB SDRAM is probably enough.
Indeed. Just make sure you get 4GB RAM right away if you get the Air, as that model has the RAM soldered to the motherboard, and thus us non-upgradeable post-factory.

Quote:
@ David Munch & Latinandgreek. Re superdrive (cd/dvd drive) on a Mac laptop, what about fixing self-inflicted OS problems when necessary from DVD disk?
As per OS X 10.7, which is on all shipping systems, a 4GB harddrive partion has a recovery disc. You simply hold down the Alt-button at startup, and it gives you the option to boot from it, and you can then reinstall the system. Apple actually don't sell their operating system on a disc anymore!

If you are old school, there's an application from Apple that will let you make a second recovery disc on a USB stick or DVD, from the recovery disc.

But if you *really* want a DVD drive, then buy a cheap no-name brand from eBay. For what it is worth, the DVD drive in my 1 year old iMac has been used 0 times. The one in my MBP had been used once in the last 4 years for a system reinstall, before Lion was released. I have now replaced it with an SSD.

Quote:
Not set in stone, let me know if I forgot anything, work-in-progress shopping list:

Printer (that works with a laptop-supplied-port such as USB)
Save the money if she can print from the college computers. She'll end up spending more money on dried out ink cartridges than the Macbook.

Quote:
Phone
Phone case
Phone accessories
She's supposed to work, not have a social life.

Quote:
Tablet
Tablet Screen Protector
Tablet case
Bluetooth Keyboard
I would wait out on the tablet, until she really needs it. And especially the BT keyboard when she gets a laptop at the same time.

Quote:
Miscellaneous:
Credit Card
For a teen???

Quote:
Software for Laptop:
- Open Office (free)
- To be determined
I am very fond of Apples iWork package.
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Old 06-08-2012, 05:17 PM   #29
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Someone mentioned battery, I forgot that when I was singing the praises of the Air. Maybe the newest Pro is as good, but my 2011 Air gives me a couple hours longer than my 2010 Pro did. Another plus for a student.

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Originally Posted by unboggling View Post
@ David Munch & Latinandgreek. Re superdrive (cd/dvd drive) on a Mac laptop, what about fixing self-inflicted OS problems when necessary from DVD disk? I've had to do that a few times. Is there a way to repair OSX Lion problems directly through Internet with some kind of Apple network resource including OS repair utilities? I'm still using OSX 10.6.8 rather than Lion so I'm not familiar with recent Lion problems/solutions. Does a Lion-loaded thumb drive with OS repair utilities arrive free along with a new MacBook Air, and if not, what will save the day in an OS emergency?
David Munch answered this, but I'll chime is to back him up. I used the superdrive on my previous MacBook Pro exactly once in the year and a half I had it before I palmed it off on my husband. The Air can use another computer's disk drive on the same network, but it's probably easier to use a thumb drive and transfer anything you can't download that way. Since I wanted to wipe the Pro before upgrading it to Lion, I made myself a thumb drive when downloading the OS from the app store and you can do something similar from the Air if you want.
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Old 06-09-2012, 11:38 PM   #30
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Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Southeast US
Device: PRS-T2, Nexus 7, KindleT, iPad1, Kindle3KB
Thank you all for your responses. You've provided food for thought about hardware and some suggestions for software, and that's a good start. Now my niece has some research to do and decisions to make. She'll be researching what kind of technology is available and what textbook formats the school uses, what specific software applications the school recommends or requires. She'll be deciding what the first computer she owns should be, what OS to use, what applications to use. She'll also be thinking about tablets. She'll be reading a lot of threads and wiki articles, and maybe even ask some questions herself here on MR Forums about textbook formats, mobile devices, reader apps, and other software.

If I were going off to college with only the clothes on my back, a couple suitcases of stuff, a shoulderbag crammed with leftovers from the family's farewell dinner, and some selected technology bought with a limited budget (let's say appx $2000 US total for all hardware and software to use over 4 years of college), what would I want that technology to be?

For us it might be an interesting thought exercise, but for her it is much more serious because these decisions impact the next 4 years of her life. EDIT: Ehhrrr, didn't mean to sound so portentous and somber.

Last edited by unboggling; 06-10-2012 at 07:47 AM.
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