Laptop for College

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by JurgenWigg, May 31, 2006.

  1. JurgenWigg macrumors 6502

    JurgenWigg

    Joined:
    May 20, 2006
    Location:
    Delaware
    #1
    Hey guys, i apologise in advance - there seems to be a lot of these threads around but i seem to have reached a pinnacle of indecision. I'm buying a laptop for college this fall and have been working a lot to save up money to get one so that in conjuction with graduation money, I'm able to get whatever i want :)

    I've been a PC/linux user (cheapo Dell desktop), but my parents have been Apple fans for almost 20 years (now have a G5 iMac) and have won me over.

    So, the much repeated question: Pro or no?

    I'll be using this computer for normal college stuff - work, web browsing, instant messeging (video conferencing?), movies, storing pictures and music. I'm going to be a Political Science major and I'm planning on double majoring with Music (concentration in jazz composition), so I'll be using Sibelius (composition program) as well. I'm not very into photo/video editing, and I don't play many graphics intensive games (more like Civilization, Starcraft/Warcraft II, Caesar III, AOE) and even then no more than maybe twice a week.

    I've checked them out in the Boston Apple store, which didn't make my decision any easier. I'm kind of a stickler on screen space - I've used my sister's 12" iBook and hated it. While it may be really portable, the screen feels really cramped. I checked out the 17" at the Apple store and loved the screen space and it didn't seem that non-portable. However, the store rep. told me they'd been on since the store opened (about 6/7 hours ago) so I felt all around to see how hot it was. Generally, the top. On the bottom, most of it was as cool as the palm rests, except near the battery - burning hot!!! I couldn't keep my hand there for more than a few seconds without it being unbearable!

    The macbooks seemed better on heat, probably because its casing isn't a thermal conductor. I really liked the glossy screens, much better than the PC ones I saw in Best Buy. The rep also made a good point that the matte screen wasn't too great outside either. I moved the computer around as much as I could and there was some reflection and glare, but it was definately tolerable and probably worth it. I couldn't really make up my mind about the screen, I was kind of back and fourth, but I suppose I could use the 17" lcd that I've got with my desktop if it really got to me.

    So what do you think? Would it be worth it to go for the pro or stick with a maxed out blackbook? My main concerns are battery life, overall build quality, does the screen seem cramped, is integrated graphics really that bad, and heat. With the money I'd save with a macbook, what sort of accessories would you recommend?
     
  2. wako macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2005
    #2
    I'll tell you one thing... dont go for the 17''


    all my friends at college that have 17'' and 15'' widescreen laptops (2 with macs, 3 with dells) never take theirs to class. Not because they dont need it, but it because it is damn near impossible to situate their laptops on the small lecture hall seat tables. Not including how much of a pain in the ass it seems to lug such a big laptop around campus...


    I think that is a good enough of a reason to not go pro, atleast in my opinion...
     
  3. Macer macrumors regular

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    May 2, 2006
  4. puckhead193 macrumors G3

    puckhead193

    Joined:
    May 25, 2004
    Location:
    NY
    #4
    i have no idea about that program u mentioned above if it needs a lot of power or not. But for normal stuff i think a macbook will do fine. Just upgrade the HDD to the largest u can afford cause upgrading will be a pain.
    Where do u plan on going to school?
    Their's a boston apple store? Or a reseller?
     
  5. JurgenWigg thread starter macrumors 6502

    JurgenWigg

    Joined:
    May 20, 2006
    Location:
    Delaware
    #5
    I'm going to the University of Delaware.

    the composition program I mentioned usually works fine on the desktop I have which is a 2 ghz p4 with 1 gig RAM
     
  6. Core Trio macrumors regular

    Core Trio

    Joined:
    May 16, 2006
    Location:
    New Jersey
    #6
    For your needs Id say go with the macbook.

    btw, Im also a Poli Sci major and i WAS minoring in music (theory and jazz performance, bass). However i gave it up b/c my university's music school is well...elitist more or less, and make life hard for music minors as they dont really like people minoring instead of majoring. Im not a business minor (i figure itll help after lawschool if i ever want to start a practice), talk about a complete 360 huh? haha.


    However i digress, the games you play dont seem like they would be hurt by the lack of a dedicated graphics card, and the 13.3 in screen is much nicer then the 12" ibook screen, not only in inches but also in resolution. I havea Powerbook 15" and i hardly brought it to class b/c it was actually quite annoying and i didnt need to carry it around. If you are set on bringing your mac to lectures, get the MB.
     
  7. JurgenWigg thread starter macrumors 6502

    JurgenWigg

    Joined:
    May 20, 2006
    Location:
    Delaware
    #7
    Well, not IN boston, but close enough to be serviced by the MBTA. It's actually just across the river in the Cambridgeside Mall.


    To those of you with MBs, what kind of accessories are you getting for it? Neoprene cases/backpacks/external whatevers/etc?
     
  8. gman71882 macrumors 6502

    gman71882

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2005
    Location:
    Houston, Tx
    #8
    For you a Macbook would be the best purchse. You wont be a heavy user, and since the macbook is a perfect lowend machine its a great marriage of portabliity and power.
    My sister is starting @ university of Texas this summer and she is getting one today!
     
  9. BigMacUser macrumors member

    Joined:
    May 26, 2006
    #9
    I got a Pro...jezzey pettes guys its only 1 pound heavier! and the 17" macbook pro dimensions are comprable to the dell 15.4" size...with only being like .5" wider....

    I got the 17" macbook pro because I will be using it for Civil engineering and Construction managment and I need the power for the programs and everything I will need and I will probably need to use XP some of the time...
     
  10. wako macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2005
    #10
    true it might be one pound heavier, but try holding the system on one of the side with one hand, then hold a MB. That one pound sure feels alot heavier
     
  11. faintember macrumors 65816

    faintember

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2005
    Location:
    the ruins of the Cherokee nation
    #11
    JurgenWigg, good to see another composer on here. I just finished my masters in composition. Anyways, i vote MB. The computer is a great machine. For running Sibelius you should be fine (when Sibelius becomes a universal binary...), but i believe it runs under Rosetta pretty well. (I am a Finale user....i know...i know)

    I came from a 15" TiPB, and the MB feels pretty good to the eyes. I dont feel that i am lacking screen space and the glare is a non-issue IMHO. The 17" MBP is a nice machine, but it would be a pain in the butt in lecture halls. My 15" never gave me problems, but most of my music classes were not in lecture halls. An external monitor may be nice when working on large scores, but even on my 15" PB i had to scroll down often when scoring for large ensembles. The 17" monitor that you mention might work well as a second monitor for score editing. (besides, you should be composing on manuscript paper, then transferring to the computer anyways....)

    My verdict: for the price difference/size/features, the MB is the better bet in your situation. Get a MB, max the RAM and get a bigger and or faster HD and you will very happy with the machine.
     
  12. BigMacUser macrumors member

    Joined:
    May 26, 2006
    #12
    I guess it just depends on how big (strong) you are....I guess I am comparing apples to oranges? just get hwat ever works for you...
     
  13. gloss macrumors 601

    gloss

    Joined:
    May 9, 2006
    Location:
    around/about
    #13
    Other than the screen real estate, I would definitely say that the MacBook seems like a better purchase.

    Hell, if it matters that much, you could probably buy a MacBook and a refurb 20-inch Cinema Display to hook it up to for the price of a 17 inch MBP.
     
  14. interlaced macrumors 6502a

    interlaced

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2005
    #14
    I'd get the Macbook. And then if you want, you can just get an external monitor in your dorm room and plug your MB into that after class.
     
  15. puckhead193 macrumors G3

    puckhead193

    Joined:
    May 25, 2004
    Location:
    NY
    #15
    i've been to that one a few times. Very nice store. a little confusing with the black shelves in the center of the store but it has a small theater which is nice.
     
  16. puckhead193 macrumors G3

    puckhead193

    Joined:
    May 25, 2004
    Location:
    NY
    #16
    i've been to that one a few times. Very nice store. a little confusing with the black shelves in the center of the store but it has a small theater which is nice.

    dont know why it double posted - Mods delete
     
  17. tristan macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2003
    Location:
    high-rise in beautiful bethesda
    #17
    I couldn't write a paper on a 13" display, so I say go Pro. But maybe that's just me.
     
  18. karichelle macrumors member

    karichelle

    Joined:
    May 26, 2006
    Location:
    Ohio
    #18
    I used a 12" iBook G4 through two years of undergrad and one year of grad school, and the screen size never really got in the way of my productivity until now, because I'm spending more time writing papers than I did in undergrad. For that reason I've decided to add a 17" iMac for working at home. However, since that is likely not an option, I still recommend a Macbook 13" due to its high portability. I have really enjoyed being able to take the iBook to class for note-taking, and also to be able to use it to check my e-mail, etc. throughout the day. I don't think I would carry around a larger laptop nearly as much as I do my iBook.
     
  19. JurgenWigg thread starter macrumors 6502

    JurgenWigg

    Joined:
    May 20, 2006
    Location:
    Delaware
    #19
    is there much chance of a monitor getting stolen from my dorm room? I can lock the laptop to my desk or whatever, but unless there something I don't know about, nothing to really prevent anyone from walking away with it except the lock on my door.
     
  20. karichelle macrumors member

    karichelle

    Joined:
    May 26, 2006
    Location:
    Ohio
    #20
    The best way to protect your stuff in your dorm room is to keep the door locked at all times, even if you're just gone for a minute to go to the bathroom or whatever. A friend of mine got his entire CD collection stolen just in the time he was in the bathroom, and they never found out who did it.

    I don't think anyone would steal a monitor though...too big and too hard to hide. ;) If you want the peace of mind, then buy a lock for the laptop and attach it to something in the room that can't be moved.
     
  21. celebrian23 macrumors 65816

    celebrian23

    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2006
    Location:
    Under the sun
    #21
    You really don't want a 17'' if portability is important. I echo the suggestion to get an external monitor if you want a big screen. It may not seem like that big of a deal, but the 17'' is just so big.
     
  22. Kwyjibo macrumors 68040

    Kwyjibo

    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2002
    #22
    I started college with a 12" laptop ... and I have a 15" laptop ... and I'm much happier now.

    I never took my computer to class ... I never will. The places I take it are to work on a paper somewhere else or for group work. In my classes, even the big ones with 200+ people ... there aren't more than 5 people with laptops. The buildings have wireless, but its just the nature of my classes I guess.

    Also, I liked being able to have a few things open, I can have an IM open and my web browser, eventually the apple - tabbing gets a little old when you're trying to multitask.
     
  23. adk macrumors 68000

    adk

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2005
    Location:
    Stuck in the middle with you
    #23
    I'm going to echo everybody else's opinion and say that 17" isn't too portable. My 15" barely fits into a regular size backpack. My suggestion would be to buy an external monitor, you can get a 19" for pretty damn cheap these days.
     

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