Advice for a College Student Buying a BlackBook

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Eve, May 28, 2007.

  1. Eve macrumors newbie

    May 28, 2007
    So, I'm not technically a college student yet, but I just graduated high school and I am about to enter my first year of college in September. Anyway, as a graduation present my parents told me they'd buy me a Mac. Here is what I've decided upon:

    MacBook 2.16GHz Intel Core 2 Duo - Black
    2GB 667 DDR2 SDRAM - 2x1GB
    iWork '06 preinstalled
    200GB Serial ATA @ 4200 rpm

    I'm also getting a burgundy sleeve, The Sims2, and The Sims 2 University.

    Anyway, I have a couple of questions.

    1) Will I have any trouble connecting to the internet at school? They have WiFi in some parts of the campus, but I also need an ethernet cable for the dorm. Will it come with an ethernet cable or do I need to buy one?

    2) With getting iWork preinstalled, how comparable is it to Office? I'm going to be writing a lot of papers and I wonder how much trouble I am going to have using the word processor on this. Is it very hard to get used to or is it really easy (as I would expect from Apple)?

    3) How well will my BlackBook run the Sims 2? I know Macs aren't preferrable for gaming, but this will still run well, right?

    4) I've heard a rumor that they offer a free iPod deal starting in June, anyone know how true/false this is?

    Thanks for your time. I may have more questions to come, but answering these will help a lot. I know I'm going to get a Mac, no doubt about that, it's just more of the specs and things that I am not sure what to do about it. Any other suggestions would be helpful. Thank you again.

    I nearly forgot, I am also getting AppleCare Protection Plan, is this worth it?
  2. Vidd macrumors 6502a


    Mar 7, 2006
    I think you'll have to pick one up, unless the dorms are supplied with them.

    iWork is a nice, cheap alternative to Office. Office 2004 is not universal and no patch will be issued for it. Office 2008 is out this year and runs natively on Intel Macs.
    iWork should be updated at some point also.

    According to people in a thread I started regardinng The Sims 2, it runs acceptably at minimum settings.
    The Sims 2 Life Stories is optimised for the GMA and other laptop cards.

    Yes, they run one each year (or at least have done) to clear out stock of old models.

    Yes, especially on the laptops but you have a full year to buy it after purchasing the machine.
  3. devilot Moderator emeritus


    May 1, 2005
    No trouble at all. You must buy your own ethernet cable. Buy a very long one just in case. Seriously. :p

    Honestly I've never really gotten into iWork. I just know how stubborn and slow I can be and so I just shelled out for MS Office. That said, there are free alternatives that folks on here love such as NeoOffice or OpenOffice.

    The back-to-school iPod+Mac promo has happened for at least the last two years but there's no real guarantee that it will happen again this year.

    As for AppleCare, a lot of people are divided on that issue... some folks think it's essential for notebooks, some don't. Just remember, you've got one full year of included warranty coverage (90 days of free phone support) and you can buy the extended AppleCare during that first year. But note; none of Apple's warranties cover accidental damage.
  4. Eve thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 28, 2007
    Wow, thanks for the very prompt replies. Heh.

    I think I'm pretty sold on what I'm getting. I was unsure about the iWork and if it was worth it or not, but considering it's only $49 for students, I think I will get it. I think I wait and buy until the later part of June though, to see what the deal with the iPods will be and such.

    Oh, and thanks for the word on long the ethernet cable, great advice that I probably wouldn't have though of.
  5. spork183 macrumors 6502a


    Jul 30, 2006
    have your folks slap a cheap rider on their homeowners insurance to cover accidental damage to a computer. it shouldn't be more than $5-6/month. Cheap piece of mind for that accidental drop during the frat party.
  6. Dynamyk macrumors 6502a


    Jul 8, 2005
    Your really going to enjoy it. Wait for the iPod deal, I don't see a reason for them not to do it, they make more money on the laptops.
  7. Eve thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 28, 2007
    Ah, another question has arose, of course.

    I was looking on my school's website about what exactly I would need to connect to the internet and it says I need:

    A 10 or 10/100 Ethernet adapter
    A category-5 (RJ-45) network cable (25' recommended length)

    Is there is difference between an Ethernet adaptor and Ethernet cable? Or is it just two different names for the same thing? And is there a difference between these cables for a Mac and for a PC? Also, anyone know a good place to buy these? Is the Apple Store the best place?

    Thanks again, everyone!
  8. elppa macrumors 68040


    Nov 26, 2003
    1) I would seriously wait until you get to College. Apple offer some very generous discounts for education customers. Over here in the UK they have a HE (Higher Education) store which offers even more money off. To access this you have to be on the University network though. Also by then there may have been another revision. Unless you really want/need now.

    2) Pages should be OK (I have written essays using TextEdit fine), but I'm not sure if/how well it handles footnotes (depends how they want your references done).

    3) Black is a good choice! Don't listen to the fingerprint/it doesn't look like a Mac lobby :)
  9. Cameront9 macrumors 6502a


    Aug 6, 2006
    The adaptor is what you plug the cable into. I.E, the ethernet jack on the Macbook.

    All you need is a Cat 5 RJ-45 ethernet cable. You can buy these all over the place. Walmart probably has them. Any decent computer shop will have them. You can get them online very cheaply, or you can even buy rolls of cables and connectors and make your own. I would NOT buy a cable at the Apple store...if they have them, they'll likely be expensive. Just get a cheap one from a computer shop.

    There's no difference whatsoever with the cables. A Cable is a Cable.

    EDIT: Also, you need to check for Education discounts. You may not have wait until you get to the college as some other posters have implied; if you are accepted and will be attending in the fall, you should still be able to get a discount NOW.
  10. adamyoshida macrumors regular

    Jul 10, 2006
    My advice - your described set-up comes to $1853, right now.

    I'd recommend (unless, for some reason, you really need the Superdrive) that you go for the 2 Ghz White Model.

    That's $1099.

    Right now, on Newegg, you can get 2 Gigs of Ram for $109. And you could get at least $50 for the existing Ram chips. So, that's net $60 to go to 2 Gigs of Ram.

    Rather than upping the internal drive at Apple's prices, go for an external. You can get a 500 Gig Seagate external for $134.99 on Newegg today (I'm sure you could find similar deals elsewhere).

    That'd be about $1294 for a setup which I'd rate as being of a higher grade than that which you propose.

    And, take my advice on this one - don't buy iWork. You'll need Office. The odds are that your school will have cheap copies of both 2004 and then, as soon as it comes out, 2008. Get them. They're the standard.

    I mean, iWork doesn't even - at the moment - include a spreadsheet program.
  11. panoz7 macrumors 6502a


    Nov 21, 2005
    Raleigh, NC
    The adapter's already built into the macbook... you just need the cable. I get most of my cables from (50ft Ethernet Cable: $6.38) 50' ought to be more then enough for a largish dorm room. 25' might cut it close and isn't that much less money.

    Which school are you going to? Check out their campus book store or computer shop for deals. You might be able to pick up MS Office for little money. It's a personal thing but I'm not crazy about pages, and it was nice to know that a document I saved in word would look the same if emailed to my professors. Your macbook should come with an iWork and office trial preinstalled. Try them both out and figure out what you like / need.

    EDIT: oops... beaten by faster typing people.
  12. adamyoshida macrumors regular

    Jul 10, 2006
    Buy a Wireless router - or perhaps a pocket access point. It defeats the point of a notebook to be wired up all the time. At least, IMHO.

    You can get one for cheap $20-$30, easy.
  13. panoz7 macrumors 6502a


    Nov 21, 2005
    Raleigh, NC
    Check the university's policy on wireless networks before you buy one. Most universities will not allow you to set up a wireless router in the residence halls.
  14. zioxide macrumors 603


    Dec 11, 2006
    That hard drive is crap because 4200rpm is really slow

    Get the lowest hard drive you can get and then buy the new 250GB 5400rpm Western Digital from OWC. Switching the hard drives on the Macbook will take about 2 minutes

    2. Office for Mac is way better than iWork, but it's expensive. Wait until you get to school and then buy it in the book store. At my school students can buy Office for $5.35 in the bookstore.

    4. They have had the free ipod mini/nano deal for the past 3 or 4 years, so i see no reason why they won't have it this year. Last year it started like June 15th.

    As long as you don't put your name in the SSID and hide the router behind your desk, they won't even know you have it there.
  15. kuebby macrumors 68000


    Jan 18, 2007
    I second adamyoshida in a vote for an external drive. As someone in the same position as you (NYU class of 2011 woo!) I actually bought my Macbook last year with the plan of bringing it to college.

    I only got an 80GB internal drive and I'm glad I did, to add more space is so expensive and by buying external drives it encourages you to back up stuff which is really important.
  16. panoz7 macrumors 6502a


    Nov 21, 2005
    Raleigh, NC
    Don't assume that. If they're even remotely serious about security they'll be able to tell that you have one. They can tell when a router is connected to an ethernet port. At my former university you would receive a polite email asking you to remove the router. If you didn't they would remotely disable the ethernet port and possibly charge you with an honor code violation. Not worth it in my opinion.
  17. adamyoshida macrumors regular

    Jul 10, 2006
    How many university networks are serious about security? Probably half of the torrents in the world are being seeded from University networks.
  18. panoz7 macrumors 6502a


    Nov 21, 2005
    Raleigh, NC
    They're often quite serious about their own security. They don't want people using their network for free, or worse breaking in for malicious purposes.

    This is just from my personal experience. Perhaps it's different at other universities but it's certainly worth finding out about before purchasing a potentially unnecessary router.
  19. tehdee macrumors member

    May 7, 2006
    for logging in on campus your university/college will provide you with vpn software... dalhousie for example, used cisco software... you will have no problem whatsoever with a mac (or moreso than with a dull).

    what i can say regarding iwork/office, is that often you will be emailing profs a copy of your work, or handing in a disc in addition to paper essays so it can be checked for plagiarism (turn it for example), in case of such allegations--it's assumed, that the file will be in word format. even just for emailing a file to a study pal, etc... will iwork be compatible?
  20. Eve thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 28, 2007
    Wow, thank you for the honest opinions everyone.

    As far as the education discount goes, I already have that. I've been accepted and what not, so I do get that without actually having been in college yet. As far as getting the 2GhZ white model, this may sound superficial or whatever, but I really want the black model. Sure, the white is fine, but the black is just sexy. Since my parents are willing to spend the money on it, I'm getting the black one. Thanks for the input though, it's greatly appreciated.

    I think I will take the advice on waiting until I get to school to look at getting office. I actually don't like office that much, but since it is the standard for most places, it would probably be benefical to get it. And, if I decide to get iWork later, it wouldn't be that hard to get it, I'm sure.

    So, the ethernet cable and network cable are the same thing? Hm. Good to know. Thanks.

    I just checked my school's website and they do allow me to have my own router, but I dunno if I really want to do that. I think I'd rather just buy a cable for 5ish bucks and deal with the cords.

    They also do have Word, Powerpoint, and Excel available. It doesn't say anything about prices, but I'm sure it's better than buying it now.
  21. Freyqq macrumors 601

    Dec 13, 2004
  22. Daveway macrumors 68040


    Jul 10, 2004
    New Orleans / Lafayette, La
    It's definitely worth it to get Office. Many will argue alternatives, but there's a big dog in town and it's named Office. I saw a deal for the education version for like $70.

    Other than that, you've got a relly great setup, and don't let people tell you to go away with the Superdrive. There is no worse feeling than needing to burn a DVD for a project and not having one available. It is 2007, you will need a Superdrive!
  23. kellah macrumors regular

    Apr 29, 2007
    East Lansing, MI
    Also, if your university has a computer store or you can buy an ethernet cable there, get it on campus. BestBuy charges what? $30 for a 25' cable... I got a 25' at my university for $1.50
  24. jng macrumors 65816


    Apr 6, 2007
    If your parents are going to pay for it, might as well have them shell out the money for the Applecare and Office as well.

    I just graduated from college and I have to recommend working with Office not the alternatives even iWork from a practical prospective. When you're applying to jobs later, they want to know you can use WORD not just word processing. Sure anyone can figure out Word, but it's better to know it inside out.

    I'm running office '04 on an intel mac and it works fine.
  25. kymac macrumors 6502a


    Nov 4, 2006
    at that price, you may aswell purchase a refurbished MacBook Pro. in my opinion, refurbished is the way to go.
    Apple Refurb Link. You wouldn't even have to wait for the iPod special, because buying a refurbed iPod and mac would end up being cheaper anyway. The refurb store is restocked in the early morning, so check it out then!

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