iMac vs MacBook (in other words, do I really need a notebook?)

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by SpookTheHamster, Sep 11, 2006.

  1. SpookTheHamster macrumors 65816


    Nov 7, 2004
    As a penny-pinching student, saving money is one of my main desires. A 2GHz white Macbook would cost £780, for that money I could get a 2.16 iMac with £40 spare.

    Any students here without notebooks? How do you get on with that? How annoying is it to just type up lecture notes later?
  2. QCassidy352 macrumors G4


    Mar 20, 2003
    Bay Area
    I didn't use a laptop in class at all in undergrad. I can only remember one student who did on a regular basis. I don't know if your college is different or if times have changed (I've only been out 2 years! Things can't be changing already, can they?? :eek:), but I see no reason that you need a laptop in college. I had one, but only took it to the library sometimes, never to class. And I had lots of friends with desktops, and they were totally fine.
  3. dmw007 macrumors G4


    May 26, 2005
    Working for MI-6
    I use my 2GHz MacBook Pro to type up lectures for most of my classes. You can get by fine by taking notes by hand- but I like to use my notes taken in
    M$ Word and print out a study guide with them for exams (this can really come in handy). :)
  4. ready2switch macrumors 6502


    Apr 7, 2006
    When I went off to college I decided that a laptop would be the best option for space and efficiency. However, my laptop rarely left my room.

    While you may think it's a time saver to type up notes during your lectures, you'll be better off in the long run just hand writing notes and typing them up later on your iMac: you get a bit better machine for the money and you get double exposure to your notes, which can be a great help in studying.
  5. FFTT macrumors 68030


    Apr 17, 2004
    A Stoned Throw From Ground Zero
    My daughter just started at VA Tech.

    Her iBook stays in her room.

    She's afraid to drop it or leave it behind and also worries about getting caught in inclement weather.

    Her roommate has a beautiful loaded 17" 2.16 MBP.
    It stays cable locked in her room.

    Go figure.
  6. gloss macrumors 601


    May 9, 2006
    On the other hand, a laptop allows you to do your work anywhere, if you find that being locked in your room for two days writing a last-minute report is just too stressful.

    I tend to write up my homework in a nice sunny place.
  7. Bibulous macrumors 6502a

    Jan 19, 2005
    I would say go with the laptop, not only can you take it to class/library/study groups, but it is also much easier when you travel back home, move, study abroad and the like. I might also look into a second hand external screen, something cheap you can resell at the end of the year.
  8. ddrueckhammer macrumors 65816


    Aug 8, 2004
    America's Wang
    I'm a Junior Engineering major and I just recently sold my 12" Powerbook I had for the last two years. I have been wrestling with the same thing and have just about come to the conclusion that an iMac is a better option for me.

    Pros for Laptop

    Portable so you can take it to class, the library, use in groups, and home on breaks.

    Cons for Laptop
    Weight - It may only be 5 pounds but when you add it to two textbooks, all of the sudden your bag becomes very heavy. If you are living on campus then you may only need a book or two with you but if you ever plan on living off campus then you probably want to keep a few books with you because hiking to your car at large Universities is a pain.
    Fragile - If you drop it or put it between books your investment will be gone. Also, I am very anal so even the smallest scratch makes me upset.
    Power/Performance/Price - Lets face it, laptops are less powerful and cost more for an equivalently specced desktop machine.
    Rev A bugs-one major current concern for me is that the Rev A bugs haven't been worked out on the MB/MBP machines. Just go read all of the horror stories on this board. Even if I wanted a laptop I would be hesitant after reading them and would consider going with a PC instead because software problems in general are easier to fix than hardware IMO.

    Pros for Desktop
    Not as Fragile- I guess you could have a freak accident and knock your desktop off of your desk but what are the odds? Also, the internal volume and operation specs aren't as tight so hard drives; logic boards etc. don't fail as often.
    Power/Performance/Price - Desktops give you faster, bigger and better specs for less money. The larger/faster hard drives are a big bonus for desktops. Also, the inclusion of GPUs means that you have to go up to a MBP to get similar performance in a lappy for games. (During the holidays of course).
    Screen Real Estate - If you are a design major like me (engineering) then screen real estate suddenly becomes very important for projects where you really won't want to spend all of your hours up at the lab working on.
    No Rev A Bugs - In general, the iMacs have been pretty problem free. They were just updated to Rev B and I haven't heard any problems yet. This seems to be a solid computer.

    Cons for Desktop
    Not Portable - There are times when I used my laptop for portability but they were very rare because there are labs everywhere at my university and although there is also Wifi everywhere at my university, it is only a temptation to play a game or check out this board instead of doing what I am supposed to be doing. STUDY! So basically, the lack of portability could be a positive to me because it keeps me off of the computer except for doing work during the day.

    So it seems to me that laptops are over-rated because they are distractions in the library when you are studying (sure you can look things up easier, but you can play games/surf easier too) and can't be used as well for gaming machines during breaks when you have time to have fun. Finally, I don't like to be weighed down during the day with stuff I don't really need. I can go into a computer lab any time I need to get on a computer so why do I need a laptop? I guess to look cool... That’s just my perspective but you will have to make up your own mind. Good luck!:D

    EDIT: AS TBi pointed out, another Pro for desktops are the ability to use them as a TV/DVD Player if you live in a dorm room.
  9. TBi macrumors 68030


    Jul 26, 2005
    While your laptop will probably never leave your room, it is nice to be able to sit on your bed and write up a report or just surf. You can't do that with a desktop. However it really comes down to how your room is laid out. Because if you can comfortably lie on the bed and see your desktop then a big 20" iMac would be good as you could use front row for movies on it.
  10. shadowmoses macrumors 68000


    Mar 6, 2005
    My laptop never left my dorm, but did come in handy when I would go home for holidays because I could transport it easily....

    I'd go for the iMac,

  11. osxnewbe macrumors regular

    Feb 21, 2006
    I would say go for the notebook. Back when I was in college, notebook computers were not that common and rather expensive. There were several times it would have been very nice to have had a notebook to work on papers or homework in the library or student lounge especially with group projects given the cramped space in the computer labs or somebody’s apartment.

    I wouldn't worry too much about the fragile issue because you will probably take very good care of it since its yours.
  12. orangezorki macrumors 6502a

    Aug 30, 2006
    I know it won't exactly save you money, but if you anticipate spending most time on the computer in your own room, get the best desktop you can, then get a very cheap second hand, small notebook. You need no power to run a stripped down system just for listening to mp3s and typing out word documents (use open office - it's free!). Then you won't care too much if you damage the laptop or it gets stolen. And you'll still have a huge screen and hard drive sitting in your room.

  13. SpookTheHamster thread starter macrumors 65816


    Nov 7, 2004
    At the moment I've got a 1GHz 12" PB, which I was going to give to my sister when I got a new computer. Now I'm considering buying the iMac and giving my sister the money I will have saved, hopefully she won't be too disappointed at missing out.
  14. xfiftyfour macrumors 68030


    Apr 14, 2006
    Clemson, SC
    my college requires every student to own a laptop because many of our courses are "laptop required" - meaning you need to treat it just like any regular textbook (bring to class each day).

    at first i was a bit upset by this because desktops offer more bang for your buck, but after a year, i've learned that i really love being able to take my laptop to and from class.. as well as being able to just leave and do my work anywhere.

    BUT that's just me. if not for the requirement, i know i could get by without the portability of a laptop. in my non-lappy required classes, most students don't even bother carting it to class (many of us do, though, for the distraction of the internet, haha).
  15. gadgetgirl85 macrumors 68040


    Mar 24, 2006
    I would go the macbook if your university is anything like mine you can't get a computer in the whole campus for most of the semester! (I dont live on campus) So I find having a notebook is VERY handy
  16. briantology macrumors 6502

    Jun 5, 2006
    My Mac Pro is currently chained up to my bed (no lie). I debated getting a MB, but I didn't get one. As long as I've been at college, I haven't NEEDED a laptop. Most people here have laptops, but they usually just sit in there room. I personally would rather go for a more powerful desktop over a laptop (though they are nice and look pretty). I'm selling my MP to get, most likely, and iMac. But I haven't ruled out a MBP yet. iMac just seems more ideal to me.
  17. orangezorki macrumors 6502a

    Aug 30, 2006
    I'd keep the Powerbook - the smallest laptop Apple have ever produced, and pretty tough as well - it'll be all you need with a good desktop back in your room.

  18. jessep28 macrumors 6502


    Sep 8, 2006
    Omaha, NE
    I'm in the midst of the same debate myself. I have a perfectly good Dell desktop which will probably be obsolete when Vista comes out. I recently considered Apple.

    I have usually been anti-notebook because I find the keyboards and track pads annoying. However, I have never used one long enough to get used to them. Desktops give you way more bang for the buck. Plus they are harder to steal.

    On the other hand, it's really convenient to have a notebook with you. If the labs are full and busy, then you can jet off to a quiet table and work there. Only problem arises with printing items. The Internet distraction point is moot since you can go online from the lab computers anyway.

    I guess in the end, yeah it looks cool and is convenient but before you drop the 1-2.5k in a notebook ask yourself if it will be a vital tool and not a toy that is chained to your desk :cool: .
  19. Caitlyn macrumors 6502a

    Jun 30, 2005
    The cool thing about a laptop is that you can get the best of both worlds out of it. You can use it on the go, yet hook up a 20" ACD, keyboard and mouse to it and you got yourself a nice little desktop workspace. Just something to keep in mind.
  20. zimtheinvader macrumors regular


    Jan 10, 2005
    the capitol
    You cannot take graphic notes on the MB, so you will either need a notebook or Tablet PC for some classes like chemistry, physics, ect to take really good notes anyway, without some similar fix...

    I am 90% ready to jettison my PB 12" due to this very issue. Increasingly I find it ineffective since so many teachers are still utalizing overheads and graphics... so I am basically working off an expensive 12" desktop most of the time and carrying a rather heavy load needlessly.

    I would vote Tablet PC or iMac, unless you are an English major, ect. or are not intending to use it for scientific note-taking.
  21. ddrueckhammer macrumors 65816


    Aug 8, 2004
    America's Wang
    This is pretty much what I have come down to as well. The only thing is that I'm not sure if the Windows One Note program is worth the extra costs. Can you write anywhere on the screen (Newton stye) or are you limited to a small area (Palm Style)? There is a Toshiba convertible that is fairly low priced for the specs but it is still the cost of an iMac without the power or style.

    This is probably true for most people, but for me, if I have the internet available while I'm studying then I will surf or play games instead. I'm a bad procrastinator, so I just go somewhere where there isn't anything else to do but study. (which is the top floor of the library in a far corner)
  22. jessep28 macrumors 6502


    Sep 8, 2006
    Omaha, NE
    I am a horrible procrastinator also. I will screw around online or play games, even new games to avoid reading/homework (for instance, right now).
  23. BrianSalts macrumors regular

    Feb 25, 2006
    I use a laptop for classes (i'm in business), and it's very useful.

    i type MAGNITUDES faster than I write, which allows me to pick up small important points from the professor that i normalyl wouldn't have picked up while writing.

    When you're writing down a point it's hard to concentrate on what teh professor is saying sooooo... a laptop is great.

    on the other hand the only reason why you won't get it is if you're scared of getting ur lappie dirty or damaged.

    you can also use a laptop if you like the peace and quiet of the library and you like working there.

    oh, and if you like working around the house than a laptop is perfect.

    laptops are good for quick reference anywhere (if your campus is wifi enabled)

    this is starting to turn into a list. anyways, you know what i mean. I also have a desktop- i use that mainly for typing essays at home and surfing the web and... GAMING!!
  24. SpookTheHamster thread starter macrumors 65816


    Nov 7, 2004
    I'm doing an engineering course, so I was worried about that as well. I gave up with using my laptop when I was at college for that very reason. Does anything exist that would let me write on the touchpad of the computer, like it was a tablet? Or are there any teeny tiny tablets I could use?
  25. sierra oscar macrumors 6502

    Apr 23, 2006
    South Australia, Australia
    I'm enjoying reading the responses to this post - all pretty good pros and cons offered.

    I've always preferred the value (and security*) of a desktop - however I'm less productive without a portable these days. I no longer use my huge paper diary (too heavy) - so just iCal - and not having access to that - going from meeting to meeting is a pain. Also I need access to documents on the fly - my arms are getting tired carrying this bulk of paper (not to mention the paper waste).

    I've even toyed recently with Blackberry-type alternatives - but nothing compares to the mac interface that currently makes my life easier. As I feel technology is only beneficial to me if it increases my productivity.

    As a student and reviewing large PDF's in research groups in various locations - much easier to not have to print these documents and read them right off the screen. Taking minutes to meetings is also so much better on a portable - I have wasted so much time transferring my scribbling after the event.

    I'd never be without a desktop though - but I'm now realising I'm needing a portable to compliment this - all depends on what prof area you are in and what sort of lifestyle that would entail. If you are an undergraduate student - the groupwork component (if any) of your course should make a portable worth it.

    *by 'security' I mean it's harder to leave a desktop on a park bench or have it easily stolen - and is usually more robust in operation

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