Laptop for College: Go with the one they recommend, or UMB 2.4?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by sujaan, May 19, 2009.

  1. sujaan macrumors newbie

    May 19, 2009
    Hey everyone, I'm going to be a freshman in college this fall and it looks like I'm up for a tough decision. I was going to buy a UMB 2.4 refurb (@ 1299) + AppleCare (from LA Computer @ 180). That would be around $1479. I know I'd miss out on the free iPod touch or whatever, but to get that, I'd have to pay 1499 for the MB 2.4 + 180 for AppleCare, a $200 increase. I want the 2.4 because I just have to have a backlit keyboard.
    Further complicating the matter is the fact that my college offers the following:
    I feel like the CompleteCare with coverage against spills, drops, etc. is going to be hard to beat. However, if Apple puts a backlit keyboard on the lower Macbook models, I will have to reconsider. But for now it looks like I'm going to go with the UMB 2.4 refurb and AppleCare only.

    Any thoughts, tips, advice, etc. would be appreciated.

  2. bruinsrme macrumors 603


    Oct 26, 2008
    I thn you will be fine.
    Schools recommendation: Its a recommendation. Most schools simply pick a system that is at a certain price point and provide the recommended system in the welcome packages. Its nothing more than a recommendation. Seeing that the recommendation is for a Dell, the school may have on site repair services. If the school does it a great service to provide.
  3. sujaan thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 19, 2009
    It's basically the warranty that draws me to the Dell... nothing more. Is it as important as I am making it out to be?
  4. bruinsrme macrumors 603


    Oct 26, 2008
    having a son in college, the on site service and repair provided by the school is priceless. He lives in Boston off campus. he had some issues with with his dell and it was fixed in a couple of hours.

    If your school has a computer lab a couple of days without the mac may not be a big deal, just have some sort of usb stick.

    How close is the nearest apple store?

    I am sure the Dell and Dell service will get bashed. Dell service with complete care is excellent.
    If you question the Dell quality keep in mind you are looking at a refurb umb, why is it a refurb?
  5. sujaan thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 19, 2009
    Both the Dell Technicians and an Authorized Apple Service Center will be right on campus and will be able to fix problems right there. It's mainly the spill coverage that attracts me now. That could be priceless.
  6. Scottsdale macrumors 601


    Sep 19, 2008
    The nice thing about the MacBook is the beautiful aluminum unibody case and of course the fact that you can use both OS X and Windows on it if you want.

    Maybe you could pay with a credit card that offers some accidental coverage? I agree that that accidental coverage makes the Dell enticing. In addition, Apple voids its own warranty and the AppleCare you pay for if you drop the uMB and dent it. Apple has been pretty unfair about it if you ask me.

    In the long run, I think you will be better off with the MB. But, definitely wait awhile. We could see updates to the MBs this Summer sometime in June. They may get a much improved display, possibly better battery, and possibly even the backlit KB as you mentioned in the low end model. Although I doubt the KB upgrade as it's an easy $300 upsell for a few pennies in costs for Apple. Would be nice if they just did it to all Mac notebooks.

    Good luck.
  7. bruinsrme macrumors 603


    Oct 26, 2008
    I can relate to your concerns.

    something you might want to do is talk with the techs at the repair center.
    being at a college the warranty rules maybe a little more flexible than if you are at a retail store.

    Ask about turn around times if parts are needed.
  8. mobilehaathi macrumors G3


    Aug 19, 2008
    The Anthropocene
    My opinion: get the mac. Don't spill.

    Dells make me want to vomit.
  9. Unprocessed1 macrumors 65816


    Jun 23, 2008
    I had a dell for my freshman year. I had a macbook air my second year, which I worked all summer for. Get the picture?

    Go with the UMB, you won't regret it. Get accidental insurance for your laptop and you can't go wrong.
  10. alphaod macrumors Core


    Feb 9, 2008
    Either get insurance or buy in full with a credit card that offers insurance—for example Amex doubles your warranty.
  11. kellen macrumors 68020


    Aug 11, 2006
    Seattle, WA
    Where are you at OP? If you are near a state that you don't have to pay sales tax, then get your macbook at the apple store. 1299 for the refurb, but add in tax. 1499 for the same, but no sales tax is nice, plus you can get the ipod rebate.

    Thats my biggest problem with refurbs. I can save nearly the same amount with education discount and no sales tax thrown in. I am near a state that doesn't charge sales tax, but not my own, so I can travel to it to save the tax.

    So you could possibly get a new machine, plus an ipod for nearly the same price as the refurb with tax added in.

    Just a thought.
  12. chrono1081 macrumors 604


    Jan 26, 2008
    Isla Nublar
    Anyone notice the Dell offer has a "custom image" on it? hm...I would not go that route over that "feature" alone.

    Maybe I'm biased cause I fix computers for a living and my company just started using dells instead of HP's and compaqs and I'm seeing a lot more work recently. I would suggest taking the macbook pro. Its an amazing machine and you can always stick windows on it if you wish.
  13. Pressure macrumors 68040


    May 30, 2006
    Insurance, insurance.

    This cannot be said enough. If you have good insurance that covers accidental damage then you are good to go. It will also cover your other electronic gizmos if disaster strikes.
  14. chrono1081 macrumors 604


    Jan 26, 2008
    Isla Nublar
    +1 Most insurance companies offer insurance to college students and apartment renters for cheap. I paid $100 a year for 35k of coverage.
  15. the vj macrumors 6502a

    Nov 23, 2006
    The spill is not an issue. I have had macs for 15 yearas now and I have one spill and was doing visuals on a club by an envy person who dropped a drink on my equipment, that was 6 years ago.

    I would go for the mac specially because you are looking at the end for funtionality, remember a dell is windows and "nothing is cheap if it doesn't do what you want".

    You still able to runs windows on a mac and the backlight keyboard is great! specially when you do not want to bother some one else by switching the lights of the room on.
  16. JCastro macrumors 6502a

    Feb 12, 2008
    The school is simply making a recommendation. They may even be getting a cut from Dell for promoting them and allowing them to have a repair service on campus. That shouldn't stop you from getting one if you like it and it will do what you need it to do. All of the Dells that I have had the pleasure :)rolleyes:) of using have not help up well. I also know several people that have used Dell in the past but have switched to Macs and would never recommend Dell to anyone.

    It really comes down to what you want and what you are willing to spend to get it. You can't go wrong with Apple's refurbs though!
  17. Blackjack07 macrumors member


    May 15, 2009
    I agree with Castro. My school has deals with Dell, and our school has therefore almost 80% dells over the campus, that crash quite frequently, and are not loved amongst most students. The other 20% we have on campus is Macs, and almost everyone loves them. Having the service at school is easy, but the customer service of apple is just amazing.

    It is a hard call, but you will have to think about all the aspects, and not just what your school asks you. My university also asked for a couple of specs. I dont have all of them, but I love my mac, and it does the trick.

  18. clyde2801 macrumors 601


    Mar 6, 2008
    In the land of no hills and red dirt.
    I'd also recommend a protective case and keyboard cover for the macbook. Hopefully, this will offer some additional protection against accidental damage. More importantly, I'd also recommend a security cable for it as well.
  19. EmperorDarius macrumors 6502a

    Jan 2, 2009
    Well, apart from the great design of the UMB, there's something that would definitely prevent me from buying that Dell:

    And it's probably gonna be the 64 bit version. Even more problems.
  20. hellfire88 macrumors 6502

    Apr 28, 2008
    One thing to ask yourself is do you need/want to run OSX? If so, the Dell won't satisfy that requirement. The Latitude E-series are a nice computer, however, and the customer service for the Latitudes are quite good. Good thing for you is that you said there is an Apple and Dell on-site tech center at your school which is very convenient. Thing about college campuses is that sure, you may be uber careful of not spilling anything on your computer but your room mate or some other student at the student union (when you bring your laptop to do homework at the student union) may not be as careful and accidents do happen. A friend of mine had beer spilled on his laptop by his drunken room mate back in college :(.

    Anyways if you get the UMB you can add a keyboard cover and Invisible shield/hard shell case to help protect it against spills etc. Or you can just buy the UMB from a Best Buy and get their Accidental Warranty plan.
  21. masmullin macrumors member

    May 7, 2009

    I'd go with the Mac simply because iWork is a much easier piece of software to make great presentations/essays/etc than Office. Writing essays etc, is where your life will be for the next 4 years so you should get some software that you will enjoy. iWork is very enjoyable software.

    I have nothing against Dell. i have an old desktop I bought in '99 from dell that still works like a charm (not a single problem with the machine EVER!!!), so dont let anyone tell you that dells are not built to last.
  22. Unprocessed1 macrumors 65816


    Jun 23, 2008
    I disagree with that. Pages is simply inferior to Word, and being in college, he could have trouble reading some papers or documents sent to him. I think the Macbook and Office are the perfect compromise. :D
  23. ziggyonice macrumors 68020


    Mar 12, 2006
    Rural America
    Answer: Buy what you want. You'll be fine with either a Mac or a PC.
  24. zioxide macrumors 603


    Dec 11, 2006
    My school has a program with Dell so that all incoming freshman buy dell latitudes. I got a dell before my freshman year and it was a piece of ****. Bought a used iBook 2 months in to the school year because I couldn't stand the thing, and then the following summer I went and bought a macbook pro.

    All of my friends still have their dells are almost always having problems with them... viruses, general windows suckage, driver problems, etc. Meanwhile my mbp is running perfectly and hasn't been restarted since spring break..

    Also, wait until you get to school in the fall before you buy any office software. You can probably get Office 2008 really cheap in your school bookstore (its $5 for me, or a free download from the campus website).
  25. patrickdunn macrumors 6502a


    Apr 16, 2009
    St. Louis, MO
    Check with your renter's insurance or your parents homeowners insurance for coverage. You may be able to add the Macbook to a policy so your covered if it gets lost/stolen/broken. I guess the downside would be the deductible if there is one, however you will have a longer lasting more reliable computer (Mac) than a Dell.

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