13 inch or 15 inch for college

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by mondonea, May 10, 2011.

  1. mondonea macrumors newbie

    May 10, 2011
    Okay, I am planning on starting college this coming summer.. I already have a 13 inch black macbook from late 2008. I am going to get a new computer for college but i am not quite sure if i should get a 13 inch or a 15 inch.. I plan on using my computer every day both in my dorm and in class to take notes. I have an ipad but might not bring it to school with me. another option is to get the 15 inch (leave that in my dorm) and use my ipad to take to class and take notes on. just another option
    here are my pros and cons. feel free to add

    Pros on 13:
    Cons on 13
    -smaller screen
    -not as fast?

    Pros on 15
    -bigger screen
    -can watch movies and whatnot
    -probably easier to look at for the whole day
    Cons on 15
    -not as portable

    OK so you all have my stats and whatnot. if you have any tips or past experiences please let me know. anything helps, thanks
  2. kobyh15 macrumors 6502a

    Jan 29, 2011
    Does no one take notes in a notebook anymore? I graduate on Friday and I have never taken my computer to class to take notes once in the last 4 years. Now I took it around with me when I needed to work on a project or something. Haha, anyway..I would go with the 13" as long as you're not doing any hardcore gaming. It is fast.
  3. ender land macrumors 6502a

    Oct 26, 2010
    You can easily watch movies on the 13" as well (I've done this before).
  4. ECUpirate44 macrumors 603


    Mar 22, 2010
    I say 15" but only because the 13" is just too small for me. As far as being less portable, its all about the backpack. Having a good backpack will make more of a difference than the extra weight from the 15"
  5. ThaDoggg macrumors 6502a


    Sep 26, 2010
    Peterborough, Canada
    Go for the 13". The portability is amazing, and I find it to be the perfect size. When at home connect it to an external monitor if you want that extra screen real estate. The 13" also fits perfectly on your lap and it is very light.
  6. alust2013 macrumors 601


    Feb 6, 2010
    On the fence
    This. Contrary to popular belief, it is actually way harder to take notes on a computer unless the class is all powerpoint slides. You'll probably find yourself with pen and paper (which I prefer anyhow)
  7. palpatine macrumors 68040

    May 3, 2011
    As a doctoral student and lecturer at universities, I've had lots of experience on both sides of the classroom, and this is what I think. It's just my opinion, of course, but hopefully it helps.

    1) Don't use a computer in class.
    It is distracting to the lecturer (tap-tap-tippity-tap) and the students around you. And, unless you are extremely self-disciplined, you'll end up doing stuff that will distract you (even I am guilty of that--googling names and terms mostly, but still distracting). Most importantly, it is very difficult to take notes well by just typing them out as you hear them (I've tried all sorts of programs), and for many people (like myself) the information doesn't seem to stick in the mind as well when you type.

    2) Take handwritten notes.
    Scan these into pdf form (inexpensive portable options include Fujitsu's scan snap), name it with the date and class name (110511macbook). When you are reviewing later that night, or the next week, or whenever, you can type them out. In general, you will be able to organize things in a more meaningful way, and through the process of reviewing and re-organizing the content, you'll remember it better. I have had amazing results with this process.

    3) Bring the iPad to school.
    I have thousands of books and journal articles in my computer. I put a bunch of them into the iPad so that I can read them anywhere. For my research, it has been invaluable. One of my main sources is a medieval collection of documents that is largely contained in two rare publications of about 35 volumes each. By scanning all of them (that was time consuming) I can now access everything anywhere I am, and I don't have to go overseas just to read a book. As an undergraduate, you probably won't have this issue, but your instructors will likely supply a lot of materials in pdf form.

    4) Either size is probably fine.
    I have a 13" Macbook Pro / 8gb RAM, and it is perfect for my needs, but I don't do any gaming, and I am in the humanities, so most of my tasks don't involve heavy computational power. The 15" is obviously better, but it is more expensive. Fortunately, it doesn't weigh a whole lot more than the 13", so I think the decision really comes down to price--how much do you want to spend?

    5) Get a lock.
    Kensington sells them. So many students get their computers stolen each semester. It is insane. Lock it up securely if you even leave it for a second. Even then, a thief might get it, but at least you have done what you can to reduce the danger.

    6) Get insurance.
    See #5.

    7) Use online backup.
    See #5. Also, computers breakdown all the time, especially (I have found as an instructor) in the wee hours of the morning before a paper is due. The odds of this happening to so many students at once are astronomical, of course, but what can you do :)
    If you have the cash, pay for Sugarsync or some other service that will sync all of your files. If you don't have money for it, they offer 5GB free, so create a folder for important school stuff, sync it, and set your mind at ease.

    8) Here are some apps you might want to try.
    This is a little off-topic, but make sure you take a look at VoodooPad (extremely popular among graduate students at my university), Bookends, and Evernote. If you don't like VoodooPad, you may want to give DevonThink, Scrivener, or some other notetaking-friendly app a try.

  8. edifyingGerbil macrumors regular

    Feb 13, 2011
    I'd get the 15" and use the iPad to take notes; you can later sync the notes using wifi with your MBP

    A 15" is more versatile and with the powerful GPU (compared to the 13") you can hook it up to a nice big monitor and watch movies on that, or on the 15" screen itself.
  9. kobyh15 macrumors 6502a

    Jan 29, 2011
    I agree. I just use a pen and notebook and it's worked out great for me. It does seem like the freshman this year were more reliant on their computers than other years if I think about it. I would walk past lecture halls for general chemistry and it would be riddled with computers. Definitely wasn't the case just 4 years ago when I sat in the same lecture hall with my pen and pad. It's funny how things change in such a short time.
  10. crush500 macrumors member

    Apr 23, 2011
    I'm going to use the 13" for college. I liked the 15" but since I'm going to be a commuter and will be lugging this computer back and forth all day I thought the 13" would be better. Plus it was cheaper and I didn't need the fancy GPU.

    As for note taking. I also encourage using pen and paper. Just from my experience in high school laptops and computers slow you down. They offer a lot of distraction and temptation. Not sure what you plan on studying but certain subjects can be very difficult to use a laptop for note taking. I plan on studying computer science and physics. Calculus notes are hard to do on the computer. You can do it but it is time consuming. Much easier to use pen and paper and then scan it to the computer.

    I can't offer much advice on the iPad. I've never used one and probably never will. I don't see the value in it when it comes to school for notes. I still say you'll be far better off with a legal pad and a pen. Tecnology has a tendency to go awry. No sense in wasting time fooling around with technology when you can easily just write everything down.
  11. samk8000 macrumors regular


    Jun 22, 2010
    toronto, ontario
    Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPod; U; CPU iPhone OS 4_2_1 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/533.17.9 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.0.2 Mobile/8C148 Safari/6533.18.5)

    Go for the 13". That's what I have and the screen is large enough for movies and whatnot. And it is still overkill for taking notes.
  12. Manacit macrumors member


    Feb 19, 2011
    New York, NY
    I'll be a freshman in the coming academic year, and I just got a 15" for college. I also have an HP Mini 1000 with a 16G SSD and a nicely sized keyboard that I can toss in a bag if I want something lite. Between the two, and dropbox, I should be covered.

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