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Old 06-12-2012, 06:59 PM   #46
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Old 06-12-2012, 07:12 PM   #47
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Originally Posted by =X= View Post
Last year I debated buying a tablet or a laptop for my niece as well. In the end I ended up buying her a laptop with a 2 year full warranty, while I rarely buy warranties for a student it's the smart move. She ended up breaking her screen 8mo later. Laptops are just more versatile and in the end it was the right move.

The only time I would recommend a tablet is with something like an ASUS Transformer which has a keyboard that acts like a docking station so that it also has a USB Host port, HDMI, a SD Card slot and extra battery. The USB/SD slot will give the ability to transfer files via USB/sd card and the extra battery will give her extra usage without worrying about being next to an an outlet. As a plus the ASUS has a 600nits screen so it works in direct sunlight.

However my ultimate recommendation is to find out what major she is getting and find out what platform they have standardized on. My major standardized on UNIX and I found installing LINUX on my PC was the better choice.

=X=
She's thinking laptop and tablet.

She's checked with the school. Macs or PCs are both OK, both are used by many people there. The school itself mostly uses Macs except the science and math departments which use PCs. Her major will probably be something biology or pre-med related. If she has to interact a lot with the PCs in the science and math departments she might be better off with a PC, but she said she checked and a Mac would be OK.

I'd assume Linux would be most helpful in math, physics, and computer science areas. But the last time I was a student was 20 years ago.

Edit: BTW, OS X is also built on a Unix variant. Using Terminal, a Mac user can play with command-line Unix, mess with the OS, program in shells, and so on to their heart's content. Or if necessary, a user could put Linux on the Mac in addition to OS X (that's an assumption). Or put Windows on the Mac (not an assumption). Though additional OSs would require more storage space, and I hear it gets complicated with Lion OS X and partitions.

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Old 06-13-2012, 03:07 AM   #48
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Re Dropbox, again maybe I'm old fashioned, but even with paying extra to Dropbox to sync my personal files to their servers if I had more than 5GB (or whatever their free limit now is), I'd also want my own local backup of entire internal storage including OS, Apps, and personal files on external disk.
Dropbox keeps a local storage of your files on your computer. I keep all of my PhD related stuff in dropbox, since it automatically sync all files to the cloud and to my home machine, whenever i change something.

Wanting a backup of your entire system is pretty old school. I've never had my Mac system crash for good, and in any case a reinstall takes 30 minutes.
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Old 06-13-2012, 03:19 AM   #49
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Wanting a backup of your entire system is pretty old school. I've never had my Mac system crash for good, and in any case a reinstall takes 30 minutes.
The one thing you can know for certain about any hard disk is that it will die. Mac OS X has a wonderful backup system called Time Machine. Just attach an external hard disk bigger than your internal hard disk and let it do its stuff.

Then when the internal disk dies, just whip it out, pop in a new one, boot off the install CD and restore from the Time Machine backup.

You get everything back as it was within an hour or two of the hard disk failure with no effort.

No need to manuallly re-install system software, application software, configure preferences, etc.

While not a complete backup system (an off-site backup of personal documents is also really required), it's saved my data more than once.
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Old 06-13-2012, 03:35 AM   #50
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The one thing you can know for certain about any hard disk is that it will die. Mac OS X has a wonderful backup system called Time Machine. Just attach an external hard disk bigger than your internal hard disk and let it do its stuff.
Indeed. I just say that It is a waste to backup your system - not your personal files.
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Old 06-13-2012, 03:50 AM   #51
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Indeed. I just say that It is a waste to backup your system - not your personal files.
Only if the time taken to restore isn't an issue.

Last edited by pdurrant; 06-13-2012 at 08:24 AM. Reason: typo
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Old 06-13-2012, 03:58 AM   #52
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Only if the time take to restore isn't an issue.
Disks do seem to be a lot more reliable these days. I do religiously backup all my data, but I haven't had a disk crash in years.
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Old 06-13-2012, 04:11 AM   #53
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Disks do seem to be a lot more reliable these days. I do religiously backup all my data, but I haven't had a disk crash in years.
More reliable is great, but they will all die eventually, and some sooner than others.
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Old 06-13-2012, 04:32 AM   #54
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Very true. I think everyone needs one really bad "grinding metal" disk crash to drive home the importance of backing up their data. I had such an experience about 15 years ago, and lost about a month's work on my software as a result. Never again!
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Old 06-13-2012, 07:12 AM   #55
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Only if the time take to restore isn't an issue.
If you system is down, it will take longer to reinstall the system and roll in the backup, than it will to reinstall and go through the few options you changed yourself. But lets just agree to have different opinions.


Btw, you can get an iWork trial, if you want to check it out.
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Old 06-13-2012, 08:23 AM   #56
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But lets just agree to have different opinions.
Very well! Perhaps it's a Mac/Windows thing.
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Old 06-13-2012, 10:26 AM   #57
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>Seriously don't underestimate the speed gains for day to day work, from an SSD.
>The differences are night and day.

You have to be kidding. The speed difference in real terms with a notebook being used for study is not an issue. How much difference is it really going to make with disk access that is a fraction of a second faster? Effectively none. The speed difference except for a very few applications is just a marketing gimmick. We have both SSD drives and fast HDs on various office systems and NONE of the staff notice a difference.
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Old 06-13-2012, 10:38 AM   #58
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I've only skimmed the entire thread, but my line of thinking would be

If you don't want to spend a lot, get a cheap windows laptop, light weight preferably since it is going to be used portably more than anything else. £300-500 will get you a laptop that can handle the basics all the way up to gaming (reasonable gaming, not latest/highest settings etc), more than ample for uni courses. If the main usage on a course is email and writing docs, even a netbook would do and the cost would then fall dramatically. Depends on the course and what she'll want/need to do with it.

If you don't mind the Apple premium though, a mac book or air would be my choice. Air ideally for the added portability. You mention the school doesn't require a PC, but even if they did, she could install bootcamp and a copy of windows 7 on the mac for dual booting to use the odd windows only app that might be required for course work.

Mac vs Windows is a really personal choice though. I've been pro PC/Windows since the 90's and hated early Macs. However, the last two years as a Mac user has changed my view totally. As long as the course doesn't require one or the other though, it's really a personal decision and cost.

I'd still favour taking notes in lectures with pen and paper rather than typing away and trying to annotate/draw as the lecture goes on. Part of that is I don't find the freeform note taking apps on ipads/macs usable enough compared to p&p, but also it's useful to go back over your notes after a lecture by typing them up as it'll help the material sink in.

Again though, personal preference.

In terms of backup, vital. Download the free version of Crashplan for Mac or Windows. Couple of settings needed to select which folders to backup and then you can forget about it. Anytime the external USB drive is plugged in, it'll backup to it. OR, you can setup crashplan on the same (or different) account at your house and it'll backup seamlessly over the internet. It also versions and retains deleted items for a configurable amount of time, so covers "user error" as well as hardware

tl;dr if she like's Macs and the cost isn't an issue, Mac + iPad. Otherwise, windows. Both are equally suitable, just favour lightweight/portable imo. I'd go with laptop over iPad if it's one or the other though, much more flexibility with a laptop.

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Old 06-13-2012, 12:08 PM   #59
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My personal preference would be a Windows laptop with a big display for homework, videos etc and an iPad for portability/play. Best of both worlds.
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Old 06-13-2012, 01:19 PM   #60
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I'd assume Linux would be most helpful in math, physics, and computer science areas. But the last time I was a student was 20 years ago.
Except for computer science, I doubt any class will have programs these days that would require Linux. Any class that might require running programs, if any do, would be most likely to have Windows-based programs and possibly Mac-based. I also don't know if a Mac can run Linux, but I would be very surprised if that became an issue, although I would be far less surprised if a class had a Windows program associated with it.

But then it's been a while since I was in college, too. I would expect that far and away the most common type of computer file to be used by a class would be reading material in the form of epubs or pdfs, which should be largely platform-agnostic. In my entire time at college, I only remember one class that actually had a program to run as part of the class. It was some high level biology class, and the program was a Mac program, although it's entirely possible, and likely, that a Windows version of the program existed as well.
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