College student getting ready to switch...

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Creative Fish, Jul 22, 2007.

  1. Creative Fish macrumors newbie

    Jul 22, 2007
    Hello all, first post but I've been reading here and elsewhere for quite awhile growing deeper and deeper in my Mac envy.

    My only first hand experience with Macs came in high school, and unfortunately it wasn’t that pleasant. Our library was full of the colorful iMacs with the hideous little hockey puck shaped mice and though they seemed cool to look at they were a pain. Over 4 years I spent more time using force quit and asking the librarian for a paper clip to jam in the little restart hole on the back of the computer than I did getting school work done. This was all way before the days of OS X, and I have since repented of my severe “Windows is superior” mindset!

    My original thought was to buy a Macbook Pro, but I'm not 100% sure whether I need all the power of the pro level laptop or whether I would be better off going with the cheaper Macbook. Currently I’m thinking the MB would be fine for my needs as I don’t play games anymore, but didn’t know if the MBP would suit my needs better for doing video editing and that sort of thing. Then again I want the laptop to last me through the final couple years of college and don’t know if the power of the MBP would shine brighter in the case. Also, I have to decide whether to buy now and have my new computer for the entire semester or try and switch in the middle of the semester and hope things go without a hitch. If I buy now I’ll be missing out on a free Leopard upgrade, but then I’ve also heard that using a new OS isn’t a great idea until the first few months have passed. If I were to buy now I’d just plan on sticking with Tiger through the fall semester and then upgrade to Leopard over Christmas break and be able to work out any bugs I might have at that time. Then again I’ve got a year and a half old Dell laptop that should be fine as it’s pretty powerful, but it’s bugging me to no end. I just finished reinstalling XP this afternoon because it was taking over 5 minutes to boot up. I don’t want to find myself in the middle of my semester with a laptop that I can’t trust to do what I need it to, so I probably ought to do something.

    I’m hoping that you can help me make this switch a smooth one, and greatly appreciate any ideas and suggestions you have for me.
  2. thebrain74 macrumors regular

    Feb 25, 2006
    The MB will have plenty of power for college-level tasks, but therein doesn't lie the difference between a MB and a MBP. I am going to College in Aug with the MBP I am typing on right now. I personally got a MBP because it was (0f course) going to my main computer and I really wasn't giggy with the 13'' screen. This is something you will have to ask yourself (but it does add a little extra portability, nothing groundbreaking, but a little). I really like the extra Rez, as it matches my 17'' G5 iMac that I used to do FCE stuff, so it isnt't a downgrade for me. I don't know how good of a touchtyper you are, but if your not the best, the illuminated kybrd in very nice ( my high-school eng teacher(a really good, high level one) was a hunt-and-peck type user and got the MBP for this reason). I can touch type pretty well, but even I find it useful. Many people one these forums are staunchly for or against the MB or the MBP keyboard. I like the MBP keyboard, but I've used the MB one too and while I didn't like it quite as much (I didn't use for more than prolly 30, so this really isn't fair) but it seemed okay to me too.

    Your reasoning behind Leopard is very sound. Many people wait a little bit to upgrade, and while there probably won't be any big problems, you don't want to experience them mid-term. Christmas gives you time to upgrade, play with new features and become familiar with it before it needs tobe a workhorse.

    I my opinion, upgrading to an Apple mid-term is not a great idea. I mean, sure it can be done, but it could cause some unforseen headaches with conversions and such. Even if it doesn't it will still take time to move everything over. I would get the new lappy before school, get used to it, get it set up,etc, and that way everything you'll need will be on your main computer, not on the old 'other' one.

    help I helped a little

    oh and don't worry about the retail price of Leopard, at worse you'll have to pay edu price, and your uni might have an even better deal than that.
  3. raccoontail macrumors regular

    Jul 5, 2007
    Unless you plan on doing a LOT of video editing (example: a film student) I would go with the MB. It is more than fast enough for student needs and fits in a backpack better than a MBP. Take the money you save and buy at least a 500gb external hard drive for backups and the massive photo/music/video library most students accumulate. If you ever do need a big screen for a project, most colleges have them available in computer labs.

    I highly recommend buying the warranty. If you plan on carrying it all over campus on a daily basis it will get jostled and higher risk of needing repair. Since you can get leopard at student prices I would buy now to get the free iPod&Printer promotions and have some time to get accustomed to the computer before fall semester starts.
  4. teflon macrumors 6502a


    May 28, 2007
    Instead/on top of the warranty, i would suggest getting insurance for your laptop so you don't have to worry about theft, accidental damage and such.
  5. crazycat macrumors 65816


    Dec 5, 2005
    Like raccoontail said, unless you will be doing a lot of video editing you dont need the MacBook Pro. The MacBook will serve you well for 3 years at least. A friend on mine had an old iBook (older model of MacBook) which he used for around 2 years. He just upgraded to a MacBook so that he can use Parallels, he does a lot of photo editing, music editing and sometimes video editing and it is fine.

    The bottom line is if you can afford a MacBook Pro get it, if not a MacBook will be fine. Note get the model that has a DVD writer, i am not sure why apply is even selling one without.

    Edite: Forgot to add that the MacBook will last longer after a charge, which is around 5-6 hours. The best i got my MacBook pro is 4 hours on low screen lighting and only BT turned off.
  6. Creative Fish thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 22, 2007
    Thanks for the help everyone

    Thanks for all the helpful replies everyone. I'm leaning towards the 2.16 GHz MB in the white variety. Still like to clarify a few things that I've read over the last couple months before I rush into things and screw something up.

    First off on the Apple Care protection policy thing, I can purchase that at anytime in the first year while my laptop is under the standard warranty right? And what's the general consensus on Microsoft Office or equivalent? I know Microsoft makes a version of their basic office products for Mac OS X, for those that have used it, is it pretty comparable to the Windows version of the office suite or is it a half-hearted product from Microsoft?

    On the subject of parallels or boot camp, which would you suggest for my use if any? I've got quite a bit of Windows software including Office Professional 2003, Photoshop, and Macromedia Studio 8 which I can't afford to transition to Mac versions right now. However, I'd really like to keep myself in OS X as much as possible being new to the platform so I'm tempted to just leave my MB completely OS X and use my current laptop for the times I need to use those programs. Then again I don't want to get into a situation where I leave my MB behind because I need to run one of those programs. For anyone out there that was in a similar situation I'd love some feedback on what worked best for you!

    One last thing I can think of right now that I'm wondering about is how a MB will run an external monitor. I know they have a mini-dvi port and require an adapter, but can I do dual monitor with the MB and an external, or use the MB closed with the external display being the primary display. I know from experience that Windows can be very finicky with multiple monitor setups and was wondering if that was something I'd have to fight on my MB or if it would be as effortless and seamless as Apple seems to make everything.

    Beyond that I think it's just a matter of time before I pull the trigger on my first Mac purchase. I've got to see if I can talk my sister into buying the free iPod from me or I’ll look into purchasing from Amazon and skip the iPod deal and not have to pay tax. Or is there an even better option out there? As with most college students money is definitely a factor here and I'd like to get the best deal possible for my new Mac!

    Thanks again for all the replies, sorry that I have so many questions that are so basic to you Mac users, I'm just trying to clear some things up so I know what I'm getting into here, I don't want to end up regretting this decision and dealing with all the problems those iMacs were for me in high school. :(
  7. Frisco macrumors 68020

    Sep 24, 2002

    You must be excited to be getting your first Mac soon. I know I was back in 2002. I was surfing Macrumors for months before I made the "switch" and haven't looked back.

    Yes you can purchase AppleCare anytime in the first year.

    Office 2004 for Mac is pretty good. Some like it better than Office Windows, some hate it. My personal opinion is that it could definitely be better. MS is coming out with a new Mac Office version pretty soon, so definitely wait. With your student discount you can get it pretty cheap. There are some free alternatives to Office like Open Office (also available for PCs) and NeoOffice. And then there is Google Docs and Spreadsheets. So there are definitely some alternatives out there. I wouldn't purchase MS Office, unless you find the alternatives just don't meet your needs.

    You should contact Adobe and see if you can transfer you licenses for Photoshop and Macromedia Studio over to Mac.

    You can run dual displays, even with the lid closed. See this

    Any way Congrats on deciding to make the "switch" and please feel free to ask more questions as they come to you. That's what these forums are here for and the Mac Community is amazing!
  8. raccoontail macrumors regular

    Jul 5, 2007
    I wouldn't bother with parallels and I'm fairly certain Adobe will not let you move a license from PC to mac, especially an educational license. If you are buying a new mac and want CS3, you are in luck! You have to order your laptop directly from Apple, but as a student you can get CS3 Web Premium for $300 when you buy a new mac. It's the best price on Adobe software I've ever seen. Details Here.

    The white MB w/DVD burner is definitely the best value. If you don't buy CS3, I'd still recommend buying direct from Apple, or your campus computer store. While Amazon is great, the free iPod can probably be resold on eBay for more than the sales tax. I would buy the Apple Care warranty at the same time as the computer if possible to you ensure you get the $100 student discount on Apple Care.

    All that said, even as an IT / Design professional who depends on my one mac and one PC for my livelihood, I wait 3-4 years between computer updates. Since your current PC laptop is only 18 months old and you've made some pretty significant Adobe/Macromedia software investments, you might want to wait. I definitely advocate switching, but it might make more sense to wait until Office 2008, new iLife, and Leopard are released and your current laptop is closer to the end of its useful life.
  9. Creative Fish thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 22, 2007
    Just got a little bit more complicated

    Thanks again for all your replies everyone, it really is helping to put my mind at ease.

    I understand what you're saying here, and I agree with you that it seems kind of ridiculous to be setting an 18 month old laptop aside, but I don’t feel too bad since it’s a pretty cheap dell, and I’ll probably be passing it on to someone in the family once my transition is complete. Basically I don't want to have to deal with the problems of Windows during my school work especially since I’m a Mass Media major. Beyond that my current laptop is a monster and quite a pain to cart around.

    Monday I went to a local photography store that has some Macs and played around and it was just fun, something computing hasn’t been for quite a while. I also went to the library and got the "Switching to Mac: The Missing Manual" book and browsed my way through it. It looks like I’m going to have to own up to my stupidity, and admit that my old math teacher (huge Mac fan) was right when he said Macs are better.

    Unfortunately, I don't know what to do. This coming weekend is tax free weekend in Missouri which is my closest Apple Store meaning I could get the iPod deal tax free! I was fully ready to take Friday off to go shopping until I saw the big Mac announcement about next Tuesday. It makes me wonder what the heck Steve's got up his sleeve, and whether it might be Santa Rosa and the new Intel graphics chip for Macbooks some 4 days after I buy.

    What I was wondering is this. First, am I just being paranoid about an update that's most likely not going to happen? And two, if I purchased a Macbook Friday and left it in the box unopened (meanwhile sitting in agony) and then updated models came out on Tuesday, would I be able to return it and get the new model? Maybe what I'm thinking is way out of line, I'm just trying to get the best deal I can here, but at the same time I don't want to get jipped out of a nice little update even if it is a slim chance.

    Hopefully all that makes sense. I'd greatly appreciate your thoughts on this so that I can figure out what I'm going to do this weekend! Thanks so much!
  10. CalBoy macrumors 604


    May 21, 2007
    Notebooks won't see an update. Both were recently updated, and there is no Intel product ready that would make a difference to the notebook lines. Minis and iMacs will probably see some updates on Tuesday. If you have the chance to buy tax free this weekend, then do it. Just be sure your purchase does not go over the limit. Also, my vote goes for the mbp. Over the course of a few years, it will hold up much better than a macbook. You want a computer that is a little over powered now, as it will be able to last longer.
  11. Gandhi macrumors regular

    Jun 27, 2007
    I am a college student as well, and wife and I shared her Macbook since September of last year, and I just got a Macbook Pro 15" for myself two weeks ago. A Macbook will more than serve your everyday college needs - except if you plan to do any kind of gaming.

    I got the Macbook Pro for myself because I do want to play PC games. But second, that additional screen and resolution on the 15" compared to 13" does come in handy when working on documents, spreadsheets and presentations. You can have the document open on one side, and the web for doing your research on the other side. The 13" feels too constrained for this type of use to me, while the 15" not so. Something to think about. Of course, you can always buy the Macbook and use the leftover money to buy a large 20"-24" LCD monitor.

    On the subject of software, check with your University to see what kind of software agreements they have. My University sells XP for $14, Office 2007 Pro for $24, and Mac Office 2004 for $20. If you ever plan to virtualize Windows for Office use (which I do), I would recommend VMWare Fusion (on sale through Aug 5 for $40) over Parallels. IMHO, Fusion is better designed app for the Mac, runs faster and requires fewer resources compared to Parallels.

    Also, check with your University's tech support/IT department to see if they fully support Macs. Two biggies would be VPN (for getting on to internet while on campus, and checking university emails while off campus) and networked printers (yes, Macs have great support for printers, but setting up a complex network of printers on a large campus is a different matter) . So check out your University's IT support page.
  12. mr_matalino macrumors 6502a


    Oct 14, 2005
    Ha! Not anymore. Leave it to MS for delays...mid January 08
  13. DMC-12 macrumors 6502


    May 16, 2007
    Nashville, TN
  14. thejadedmonkey macrumors 604


    May 28, 2005
    Here's what you do... (at least what I would do)

    Wait. Wait until x-mas shopping season. If you get your new laptop during x-mass time, it'll come with Leopard, Leopard will have been out long enough that Apple'll have had enough time to fix any major bugs and have it up to 10.5.1 (or optimistically 10.5.2). Once you get it, you'll have ~1 month before the end of term to learn how to use it. This way, when your 2nd semester comes around, you'll be able to start off with a new laptop, and at the same time you'll know how to use it.

    Your alternative is to get it now, and spend an extra $80 when Leopard comes out (if you choose to upgrade) and an extra $150 for Office:mac now (but believe me, you'll want to upgrade! so that's another $150.. ) or use Open office now..

    so that's anywhere from $150 to $380 worth of software if you buy now, worth $150 if you wait.

    But how much is OS X worth to you?;)
  15. MacPossum macrumors 6502


    Jul 15, 2007
    Except right now you get a free iPod and printer :eek:
  16. CalBoy macrumors 604


    May 21, 2007
    Which means if you want those, buy now. Don't try to switch between semesters. Things always go wrong. Summer is a good time because it gives you enough time to learn all about OS X and fix it up to be how you want it to be.
  17. Joshua8o8 macrumors 6502

    Jul 2, 2007
    Honolulu, Hawai'i
    I have a blackbook and love it. I wish i had known about the backlight keyboard that the MBP has, its kind of a pain in the but to type on the my macbook in the dark, especially since im not too good at touch typing. I like the 13" screen of my macbook, its easy to carry around. I wish i had the option to get a free ipod nano when i bought mine about four months ago, i was only able to get a printer.
  18. Willis macrumors 68020


    Apr 23, 2006
    Beds, UK
    If you'll be doing video editing, you will want a larger screen. If you have one, then get a Macbook to display video onto. But, if you dont or will be doing editing or anything else for that matter away from a bigger screen, get the MBP. The screen size itself will pay dividends. You dont want a small screen for that kind of work.

    Its a costly option, but as you put it, the MBP shines through when it needs to

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