Going to Uni in Sep 2010 - Advice Please (MacBook Pro, External Monitor, etc)

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by ma3574, Apr 18, 2010.

  1. ma3574 macrumors newbie

    Jul 20, 2008
    As the title suggests I am hopefully going to university in September of this year. Although I don't own a mac yet, I have been following MacRumours for a while now. My situation is as follows and I hope you can help:

    1. Want to buy the newly released :apple: MacBook Pro 13" :apple:. Is this good enough for a Dentistry student? (Low end/High end??) (Strengths/Weaknesses??)

    2. I wish to get a large external monitor (Non Apple - Student budget) for when I'm back in the dorms. I hear Dell do a good one with DisplayPort. Any recommendations?

    3. Do you have any advice on any software that would be good for a Dentistry student or software that is good for university students in general?

    4. I'm waiting on the 'Back to School' promotion. Anyone know when that will begin? (Free iPod Touch?)

    5. Any other hardware you recommend I take?

    Have been following MacRumors and the forums for a while as I like to do my research and I'm aware that there are plenty of knowledgeable people in the forums. Hopefully you can help me.

    Eagerly awaiting your replies :D.
  2. Rhalliwell1 macrumors 6502a

    May 22, 2008
    1. Should be more than good enough if the screen size is ok for you. I would say its a high-mid range laptop. Strength: Fairly powerful, compact & highly portable. Weakness: Only 2 USB ports.

    2. I know you said non apple but my monitor of choice is the Apple LED Cinema Display, It's a wonderful display but very expensive. I've not owned any others so not in a position to comment.

    3. You will need iWork or Microsoft Office for mac. All your assignments and lecture slides will be in Microsoft formats (.doc .ppt etc) this doesn't mean you will have to use Office, iWork is fully compatible with them and i think it is a smoother experience than office but it does lack a few of the more advanced features.

    4. I think it's usually the end of May? Should be an iPod Touch but who knows!

    5. An external hard drive for time machine. So many times have i seen people lose work just days - or even hours - before the work is due in and they have had to put together a bodge job. It's happened to me but thankfully i had my time machine so i could just get it back. You can pick up an external drive for so cheap these days, even if you never have to use time machine it is worth it for the peace of mind!

    While on the peace of mind subject, Apple offer their Care protection plan very cheap to students. Do consider it.
  3. Hellhammer Moderator


    Staff Member

    Dec 10, 2008
    1. Well, I don't know what dentistry student has to do but, I guess it's mainly for word processing and presentations (=iWork/Office)? If so, low-end 13" will be perfectly fine for that

    2. Any monitor with either DVI, VGA, HDMI or (Mini) DisplayPort will work (=any monitor). Depends on your budget and size you're looking for, but yea, Dell makes decent monitors

    3. iWork or Office for Mac

    4. Late May or early June

    5. External HD for Time Machine, keyboard and mouse (when working with external monitor) and AppleCare later on
  4. splitpea macrumors 6502a

    Oct 21, 2009
    Among the starlings
    Probably. What do they use computers for in Dentistry education these days?

    No guarantee it'll happen, but if it does, probably not until the current school year ends in most of the country. They've bundled different free iPod models different years apparently based on what's going to be most obsolete when they announce new models in the fall.

    An external hard drive for backups or Time Machine.
  5. ma3574 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 20, 2008
    Wow lots of good info.

    What do they use computers for in Dentistry education these days?
    Mainly word processing, presentations. Videos of procedures. Possibly some small 3D anatomy software (Not sure about this one).

    Can I use any display with the MacBook? I thought it had to be DisplayPort. If I wanted to use another type of connector I would have to buy a silly over priced adaptor that needs a USB port to function. Correct me if I'm wrong.

    Backing Up
    I have a Western Digital 1TB MyBook. Is this good for Time Machine? (Does it just have to be any external drive or specifically the Time Capsule from Apple.)

    Office Package
    I understand I can use office or iWork or even openoffice for that matter but I like the elegance of iWork, I know iLife is included with new Macs. Is iWork bundled as well? I've seen it on the demo units at the Apple store but is that only for show?

    Keep the good info rolling. :D
  6. Kingcodez macrumors 6502


    May 13, 2009
    Yeah just go with a low end 13", Dell makes great monitors, and google some note taking apps.
  7. splitpea macrumors 6502a

    Oct 21, 2009
    Among the starlings
    The base 13" should be fine for that.

    If it's not a DisplayPort, you'll need an adaptor, but not a USB one. There are DVI, HDMI, and I think VGA to MiniDisplayPort adaptors in the Apple store.

    Any drive. That will be fine.

    I don't think they bundle iWork. Honestly, as a student you may be able to get along with iWork, but you'll probably find your life is easier with MS Office for the sake of compatibility. You should be able to get student pricing.
  8. Hellhammer Moderator


    Staff Member

    Dec 10, 2008
    Any Mac is fine for you, so just get the base 13"

    ANY display will work. You need an adapter for other than Apple display though but they are "only" 30$, or less than 5$ if you get other than Apple's (which are perfectly okay). If you want more than ONE display, you have to buy USB solution

    Yeah, it's fine

    OpenOffice or NeoOffice are fine too. Try the trials of iWork and Office for Mac and then decide what to buy, or use free alternatives if they are okay for you
  9. ma3574 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 20, 2008
    So I've decided on the following so far:

    Laptop - MacBook Pro 13" Base Model (Wait till June to buy)
    Backing Up - MyBook 1TB - Time Machine Backup
    External Monitor - Any but will need adapter if non DisplayPort.
    Office Software - Try iWork, Office and OpenOffice and see which I like.

    Other Software
    Any good note taking apps? - (I use evernote but don't think it's suited to taking university lecture notes.)
    Any other good software? (Medical software?)
  10. Rhalliwell1 macrumors 6502a

    May 22, 2008
    Wait until you get there for the note taking software. At my uni all the lecture slides are available through the uni site so really no need to take notes in lectures. If anything note taking in lectures distracts you from what the lecturer is saying. :)

    I'm sure you will be able to cope with good old pen and paper the first week or so :)
  11. ma3574 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 20, 2008
    Will do. Thanks for the heads up. :p
  12. dom.mason macrumors newbie

    Oct 28, 2009
    As you will get student discount I would get one exceeds your requirements so that hopefully the laptop will keep you required specs longer.

    As for the display, if you look for a Dell monitor with built in USB ports, then you wont have to have a separate USB hub should you require more than 2. (This is what I have and works well).

    Dell monitor with USB Ports used with Apple mini-display port to DVI

    If you are going to use the laptop as a desktop mainly (at a desk connected to monitor) then I can recommend the apple mighty mouse and wireless keyboard. Looks the part and saves on using USB ports.

    Regarding the hard drive - You can get any hard drive, but it will need to be formatted to work with time machine. If you will need access to Windows (XP, Vista or 7) then you can partition it (to be accessible via bootcamp, parallels or VMWare). There are many ways you may wish to do this (to separate time machine, data, windows partition etc).

    If you need to send documents to fellow student on windows or the University expects copies then I would suggest Office for Mac. As I have personally had issue with iWork and Office (windows).

    As mentioned before, the apple care will be heavily discounted. I would definitely recommend getting this as I believe it covers you for three years.

    An additional piece of hardware I would recommend getting depending on your needs are external speakers. This would depend on how particular you are about sound.

    Note taking - If your lecturer posts lectures online beforehand you could print them and then take notes with a pen next to where the note corresponds :)
  13. atticus18244fsa macrumors 6502


    Jul 11, 2008
    Waterloo, ON
  14. Badger^2 macrumors 68000


    Oct 29, 2009
  15. ma3574 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 20, 2008
    The dell monitor with USB ports idea sounds good but the link you gave isn't working for me, I get a "The page you requested cannot be displayed." error. What model have you got?

    I live in the UK so Monoprice isn't really an option but I'm sure I can find some locally somewhere.

    So will I need to partition it into 2. One which windows recognises and one that the Mac recognises?

    A lot of you have said notes are available online so I'll have to look into it and see if my university does this.

    Definitely a bit of music to help you work. Excellent idea. :D

    Thanks for the heads up. When I get the Mac I'll give them all a test drive and see what works etc.

    I suppose that will be essential for things like writing up reports and making presentations. Another good idea. The Apple Keyboard and Mouse run on bluetooth? How will that affect battery life?

    What's a good laptop bag for the 13" that can store a few additional things. E.g. Paper, pens, mifi, etc.

    I seem to be asking a lot of questions. Sorry I just want to get it all right. :eek:
  16. Readinglevelup macrumors member


    Mar 2, 2010
    North America
    I'm going through the same problem and I'm seeking help.

    Which MBP should I get? Or should I get a different computer, if so, which one?

    I'm starting uni next year (although I've already taken a class), and I don't know if I should go for Apple or not. I currently own an early-2007 macbook (I bought it near the middle, though) and ever since I've been in love with macs. However, that was one windows started using vista. Before I bought my macbook, I bought a Toshiba Satellite or something and after a few days I realized I didn't like it. I love OSX, but I think I wouldn't mind getting Win7. Also, I'm tech savvy enough to not have to worry about viruses on both OSs.

    What I use or want to use my computer for are:
    - Web surfing, youtube/reading articles/forums

    - Video editing, I'll be making videos for the internet (music videos) that require a high-end editing software (similar to this this). (yes, it's japanese)

    - Audio mixing and such, I'll be recording music for myself and maybe even a band that recently asked me to join. Right now I have Logic Pro 8, it does a great job.

    - Photoshop, I used to do a lot of GFX, but I've slowed down. Same goes with CG drawing. However, I'll be needing it for coursework in university. Like drawing an ear and it's insides (just an example of what I've done).

    - Media, I always listen to music and I have 100GB's of it on my computer right now (including uncompressed music by myself). I download movies, I stream, but only because I can't afford using that much space. I'd love having enough space, though. Viewing it in a great quality would be a plus.

    - iWork/Microsoft Office, I'll be doing a lot of Pages/Word processing, Keynotes/Powerpoint presentations and I might be using Numbers/Excel, but I'm not sure yet.

    That's pretty much everything I've be doing (excluding the little things). One thing I have to mention is that my budget is 2000$ (can pay a little over if it's needed). Thank you very much for reading!
  17. ma3574 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 20, 2008
    Your probably going to need something more powerful than me for video editing etc. Do you want a laptop or desktop?
  18. Readinglevelup macrumors member


    Mar 2, 2010
    North America
    Laptop, I need the portability for university.

    + adding to the last post, I'll need an above average battery at the least. I won't be living in a dorm, I'll still be at my home which is quite far away so I don't think I'll be able to plug it in somewhere during the day.
  19. Raje macrumors member

    Mar 2, 2010
    I would definitely get a Mac for the battery life. I have been looking for a laptop before I go to university that has good battery life. All the windows laptops I have looked at so far have horrible battery life. The new 15" MBP should work, add the i7 if you can afford it. The Sony Vaio Z has a good battery life and good specs also, so that might be an option. A mac would be best since you already use Logic Pro and are used to it.
  20. bluskale macrumors regular

    Mar 29, 2010
    1) back to school sale: most likely starts at the end of next month (just google for it, and you'll see most blog / news posts about it show up at the end of May)

    2) note taking: have you taken notes on a computer before? Its not for everyone... in other words, only some people will be able to take notes this way and actually retain the information. Diagrams (probably an issue) and math (probably not an issue for you) are difficult to create quickly on a computer, too. Whenever I see people taking notes on their computers, half the time they are chatting, playing solitaire, poker online, etc during the lecture.... it has huge potential to be distracting.

    You'll probably be getting a lot of powerpoint presentations, which are also the most awful method of lecturing ever conceived. Depending on your learning style, you will probably find you retain the information much better when writing it down yourself, yet powerpoint is typically used to deliver more information than can be written in the time it is presented. It sucks. It'll likely help if you re-write your notes afterwards.

    Personally, when presented with powerpoint lectures, I will print the slides 2/page (front/back) with enough room around each slide to take notes and so on. I've never been disciplined enough to recopy the notes / important slides; I do know that I (and others I've asked) do not get as much from these presentations as on-the-board style lecturing.
  21. CJS7070 macrumors 6502a


    Dec 10, 2008
    Chicago, IL
    1. The 13" is a great choice for students because its size allows for more portability than the 15" or 17". Good choice. Get the low end and maybe upgrade it.

    2. Dell works, but with a converter cable you can use any VGA or DVI external monitor that you want.

    3. At the very least, iWork or Office:Mac

    4. Probably around June

    5. Perhaps a printer
  22. ma3574 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 20, 2008
    Wow. I've been given so much good info and feel a lot more confident about my purchase now. Thanks for all the help everybody and I hope that when I get a bit more familiar with OSX and Macs that I can come back and help others.

    Once again, thanks for all your help. :D
  23. psychjoe macrumors newbie

    Nov 10, 2009
    Have you considered buying an iPad when they're released?

    BTW - have to agree with the Apple LED monitor - it's a great monitor you can get a student discount.

    One more thing - wait until Freshers week before you order this stuff, as you'll get a bigger discount by ordering the stuff online using the link that you can only access from behind your universities firewall. It will also all come with a three year warranty (without needing apple care).
  24. ma3574 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 20, 2008
    Currently it's a first generation and if past events have taught me anything then it's best to wait for at least the second generation.

    On the website it says that if I can't access the website form within the university network that I can ring them and get the discount. Also are you sure the Warranty is for 3 years for education students?
  25. Hellhammer Moderator


    Staff Member

    Dec 10, 2008
    Most universities bundle them with AppleCare so they will/should last the whole uni time. It's AppleCare as uni has chosen to buy it but of course they have gotten a discount as they bought like 1000 Macs

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