MacBook Air for Law School?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by alexanbd, Feb 8, 2008.

  1. alexanbd macrumors newbie

    Nov 27, 2007
    I am a graduating senior attending law school, starting in May. I would really like to get a MacBook Air for law school, but the school says they don't support Macs -- no mention even of bootcamp. "Please note that Macintosh computers are not compatible with the **** network or ExamSoft; therefore, **** does not provide support for Macintosh computers." That is from their computing website, they don't support 64-bit OS either.

    I currently have a four year-old HP Pavilion zv5000 that I had cto -- it is a dinosaur, Pentium 4 2.8GHZ, 512 Ram, 40GB HDD. I really want to switch over, but if the school isn't going to work with me, I am kind of stuck -- of course, they partner with Dell, which I do not really like.

    My other options are a new HP Pavilion, or a ThinkPad. The MacBook Air would be substantially more expensive, but it would be worth it as I don't need an optical drive, and will be carrying it everywhere (plugged in 90% of the time) and just doing online research and writing.

    Any options? If the MBA looks like a complete no-go, preference between HP/IBM, or maybe another really light laptop like the MBA?

  2. TEG macrumors 604


    Jan 21, 2002
    Langley, Washington
    Usually when they refer to Mac, they mean OS X. If you can run Windows on your machine, you'll run whatever software they have. Also, usually IT people think of pre-OS X systems when they speak, so more than likely they've never tried using a Mac on the system. More than likely it will work just fine.

  3. BornAgainMac macrumors 603


    Feb 4, 2004
    Florida Resident
  4. Adokimus macrumors 6502a


    Jun 2, 2007
    Boston, MA
    When your law school says they don't support "Macintosh computers," they mean that they do not support the Mac operating system. The same goes for not supporting 64-bits, as it means the OS, not the hardware. You should really read the wikipedia page on Boot Camp. Boot Camp is not an emulator like parallels or fusion, it's a Mac computer operating Windows natively. Though generally prettier, Macs are now the same as PCs internally, using the same components and the same intel chips. Get your Macbook Air, go to and pick up a 32-bit version of Windows XP or Vista (probably XP, as it is a safer bet for compatibility), and install it. You will need an external optical drive to do this, as the Macbook Air drive-borrowing doesn't work for installing windows. Then, when you boot into Windows for your law school test taking, it will be no different than booting into Windows on a Dell or an HP. The only difference is you have the "choice" to use OS X on a Mac.

    So, if you can afford the MBA, and you don't need all the missing ports, then get it. I'm in my last year at law school, and I can say your back will thank you for having a light computer, the 13" LED display will be easier on your eyes than other ultraportables, and the full-size keyboard will be usable for quick notetaking.

    Just get it already.

  5. alexanbd thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 27, 2007
    What if the school does not support Mac users in Examsoft?

    I have looked on the Examsoft website, and it mentions that not all schools using the software allow for Mac users. How does the software know this? I emailed the school, they have been slow to respond, to find out if they allow for Mac users in Examsoft.

    If not, can someone offer suggestions between HP Pavilion dv cto, a ThinkPad, Dell XPS (ultralight), or any other system I may not have considered.

    I appreciate the feedback.
  6. heatmiser macrumors 68020

    Dec 6, 2007
    Listen to us: A Mac is a PC that can run OS X. That's it. That's the only difference. If you buy an MBA and slip a Windows XP disk into the external drive, you can install Windows on your laptop without ever touching OS X. I wouldn't do this, but it's an option. What people are saying is that you don't have to look for Mac-compatible *anything*; you simply need to install XP to a partition on the MBA, and from then on, whenever you boot into that partion, your computer will behave just like any other PC, because that's exactly what an Intel Mac is.

    That said, if you don't want to bother with this, just get a 14" widescreen T61 from Lenovo. You can find coupons from dealigg that'll help you score a 2.4ghz machine for under a grand when you order online.
  7. Shackler macrumors 6502a


    Feb 3, 2007
    behind you!
    Despite all these mac or die responses u have been getting i say go with the 13 inch Dell XPS. You'll get better specs for a cheaper price and no compatiblilty issues, save urself the headache. dont spend 1800+ on a mac you wont use OS X on its a waste of money.
  8. cdcastillo macrumors 6502a


    Dec 22, 2007
    The cesspit of civilization
    That ExamSoft can run on Windows by boot camp is true. And about the network: the networks should be standard and platform free. I've yet to found ONE network that does not work with a Mac, why don't you take a stroll on campus and try to spot someone using a mac, that way you can get first hand information.
  9. arnette macrumors 6502


    Nov 22, 2002
    Manhattan Beach
    This is all very true, but just buy a Dell. If you're using PC software ...ahem, IBM-compatible if we're going to be really specific... save your money and get a cheaper non-Apple Windows machine.

    I love my Mac. But when I went through grad school there were loads of issues with incompatability, stigmas from the IT department, etc even though I could run Windows on my machine.

    Make your life easier. Get a run-of-the-mill Dell and call it your Law School machine. Then have a second computer (or wait until school is over) that's a Mac as your everything-else machine.

    EDIT: Since you were looking at IBMs, I constantly drool over the ThinkPad X series. Or T series if you like the larger screens. The keyboards on those are just awesome. Very MBP-like.
  10. pazreal macrumors regular

    Jul 31, 2007
    Salt Lake City, UT
    Not a problem

    I am 1L who has been using his MB at a law school that specifically says they do not support Macs. What everyone has said here is correct, they are clueless when it comes to OS X but that is irrelevent since the only thing you need Windows for is Exams which I run in bootcamp without a problem. Basically I run Windows 2x a semester or so and stay in the warm safe confines of OS X the rest of the time.

    Best of luck
  11. thegoldenmackid macrumors 604


    Dec 29, 2006
    dallas, texas
    that's for certain schools (example - Wake Forest) that provide or mandate a specific laptop. I highly doubt that they are going to remove it from class.
  12. benlee macrumors 65816


    Mar 4, 2007
    This is what drives me crazy about some schools. They charge ridiculous amounts for tuition but cannot hire a decent IT staff or have ancient networks.
    I don't see how a mac couldn't connect to the network. I suggest trying to contact the IT department and talking to them. They may just be saying that they don't technical support macs--in that sense if you have a problem you are on your own. Law schools usually have it so you can take exams on the computers (mine does). And my school is very good about supporting mac users. However, the software is an issue. However, you could use your old laptop to take the exams. Or like other said install windows on a partition of your mac. Especially if you cleaned the computer up and just used it on exam day. The software is usually very lightweight and shouldn't cause any problems with an ancient laptop.

    If you are set on getting a MBA I would go for it after talking to the IT department (try to email the head of the department). I would also suggest maybe going for a MBP or MB since the MBA are in rev. 1 and also not made to be a primary computer.
  13. dt1027 macrumors newbie


    Feb 3, 2008
    Raleigh, NC
    it will work

    Just graduated from law school last may, and when I was an incoming 1L they tried to say the same thing about it possibly having problems with the network and certain problems with windows only programs. Now with BootCamp, you don't even have to worry about it, but even without BootCamp you'll be fine, good luck with the next 3 years.
  14. QCassidy352 macrumors G4


    Mar 20, 2003
    Bay Area
    Nonsense. Like someone else said, it'll be a mac 99% of the time, and have to run XP during finals, twice a year. No reason not to go for a mac.

    However... may I recommend going for a different law school? Mine fully supports macs, and students take exams in MS Word. :p

    (just kidding - of course you shouldn't really choose law schools based on their IT support, or lack thereof. But I sure do like my school's IT stance. :))
  15. benlee macrumors 65816


    Mar 4, 2007
    I wish more law schools were like that. Mine is not. But its OK. The software we use (EBB) isn't THAT bad.
    Also, I suggest checking out
    has some great info on suggestions on how fellow mac law students use their macs to their advantage in law school.
    It is a great community and the administrator Erik is a nice guy and very helpful.
  16. alexanbd thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 27, 2007
    Reply from school's IT

    I emailed the IT dept of the law school in hopes of clearing things up. It did not really help, but I will post the response.

    My Email: "I have a question regarding laptop purchase. I have read the information on the **** website regarding computer selection suggestion, and the Examsoft website. My question is, does **** not support the Mac OS, or Mac computers at all (even if Bootcamp-run in Windows OS)? I was under the understanding that Examsoft allows for Bootcamp Windows.

    I appreciate your time. I hope this doesn't come off stubborn -- I have had bad luck with PC notebooks, and would prefer if at all possible to stick with Mac now that it can boot into Windows OS native."

    The Response: "We do not support MACs in any manner shape or form -- we've chosen not to use the Examsoft version that works with MACs -- we just don't have enough people to support the extra knowledge base involved."

    With that I have been looking more and more at the Dell XPS 1330. Any comments from users/owners? I like the thin and light form-factor, like the MBA, but is Dell getting better with their quality (they seemed to have a bad run a couple years ago quality-wise)?

    Thanks everyone!
  17. agwilson macrumors newbie

    Feb 5, 2008
    Before you make the jump you might check if the law school offers labs where you can take your exams or if they allow handwriting. At my law school they have exams that you can sign up for on a first come first serve basis and also allow students to hand write their exams. I personally hand write the exams.

    You might ask what the process for signing onto the wireless network is. They probably piggy back onto the main University network, so you can figure out if the main network allows MACs to access the wireless network.

    BTW Grats on getting into law school. Its the best/hardest thing I have ever done. (I'm only a 1L.)
  18. onebloodonelife macrumors regular

    Jan 22, 2007
    Twin Cities, MN
    I work in the student computing department for a law school, and we DO NOT support Macs in any way, shape or form. Especially not for ExamSoft. Since I do have a Mac as my primary computer, if someone comes in with a OS X related question, I will help them out, but no one else in the office will. Also, our printers are networked wirelessly, and because the law school has a laptop requirement program that is Windows based, the programmer in the office hasn't written a script to install the printers on a Mac.

    Unfortunately, if your school has already emailed you refusing to support the Mac, you probably have no choice but to get a Windows machine.
  19. Adokimus macrumors 6502a


    Jun 2, 2007
    Boston, MA
    Whoever sent you that email is an idiot. They do not know what "bootcamp" is. When they say "the version if Examsoft that works with MACs..." they mean it like there is a mac version of microsoft office. When you use bootcamp, it doesn't run a "MAC version" of anything. It runs the "window's version" of programs under bootcamp because the MAC computer IS RUNNING WINDOWS. That's like saying they don't support the "Dell version" or the "HP version". New MACs use intel hardware, whereas older ones used a processor called the PowerPC. MACs now have the same exact, SAME EXACT hardware as Dell, HP, Lenovo. Again, PLEASE read the wikipedia page on bootcamp. Seriously. READ it. And read the bootcamp Q&A page on Educate yourself. PEOPLE KEEP TRYING TO EXPLAIN THIS TO YOU. Either you aren't reading what people have written in response to your question, or you just can't get it in your head that MACs are built with the EXACT SAME components as other PCs. A MAC IS A PC. The only reason it runs OS X and Dell can't is because Apple doesn't let any other companies run OS X. If you can't understand any of this, have fun dropping out of law school. Enough people have tried to explain it.

  20. hotsauce macrumors 6502a

    Sep 7, 2005
    Really, how hard is it to understand that it's irrelevant what hardware the windows is running on. You running windows via bootcamp using Apple hardware or running windows on a dell, lenovo, or whatever is a non-issue.

    You're either running windows or mac osx. Understand?
  21. Adokimus macrumors 6502a


    Jun 2, 2007
    Boston, MA
    Original poster... are you even reading what people write?? People are taking time to help you and you aren't even reading them. Try reading the above quote.
  22. alexanbd thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 27, 2007

    Wow...thanks for being rude without necessity. Telling me to read this and that. Unfortunately, when it comes to taking the computer on campus trying to do online research I wouldn't find much solace for my frustration of not being able to utilize the network from Wikipedia and around exam time telling my prof to read the FAQ on Apple's website won't fly if I have computing troubles and cannot take the exam in the manner necessary at the time necessary.

    I think perhaps you need to read the Examsoft website. "Apple Macintosh Users: Users with Apple MacBook or MacBook Pro laptops can run Windows through Apple's Boot Camp software. Not all institutions allow usage of Apple computers. Please check with your institution prior to attempting to install SofTest on an Apple laptop. Please note that ExamSoft does not provide support for the installation and configuration of Apple's Boot Camp."

    It supports Macs only if the school has elected to do so. This school has apparently not elected to do so, thus Macs are a no go on their network. Therefore, an MBA is out of the question for me. I read the posts, but I go a step further than you, I read for context.

    See onebloodlife's post just before yours about law school networks.
  23. Adokimus macrumors 6502a


    Jun 2, 2007
    Boston, MA
    I was being rude, but not without necessity. People have spent their time on this thread trying to help you, and you aren't reading what they say. That's just rude. I'm not the only one thinking this. As for wikipedia and the Apple bootcamp Q&A page, you won't need to tell your professor to read them, because if you actually read them now, you will understand that there won't be any compatibility issues running window's on a Mac. As for the examsoft site, I did read it:

    The rest refers to them not providing IT support for apple-related issues or mac-versions of software. Regarding myself "not adding to the progress" of this thread... that problem lies with you alone. And the fact that the sarcasm of "matte vs. glossy" in my signature is completely lost on you (even though I used [/SARCASM] tags) comes as no surprise to me.


    P.S. - if you are bewildered whenever someone has the nerve of
    ... enjoy law school my friend.
  24. alexanbd thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 27, 2007
    I have read the posts, and the links, they are inconclusive at best in support of the "Macs are PCs re: your future law school's network and required exam software!"; because of the way bootcamped Windows interfaces with a software that LOCKS DOWN your computer. If it does not find the right software, drivers, etc where and when it is looking for them it makes all the difference as it will not function unless everything is just so.

    Unless you can speak to the university blowing smoke up my ass as a member thereof, your reading material is little else than bathroom reading. Good to know, but may or may not be functionally useful (you know, like most reading in law school). I am not calling your posts functionally useless, just silly.

    Unfortunately, I have to take the word of the head of the school's computing office above that of Apple and Wikipedia -- because a representative of the school who deals with the network on a daily basis has much more knowledge thereof than Wikipedia or the author of Apple's Q&A. As disappointing as it may be to a troll like me (you know, someone who wants to switch to Mac but cannot...right) I may indeed have to suck it up for 5 more semesters.

    I don't understand how you took my comment as missing the sarcasm in your signature, given that I referenced it for that very reason.

    I appreciate the time of those who have cared to post in a manner other than A-d'oh's.
  25. GfPQqmcRKUvP macrumors 68040


    Sep 29, 2005
    First off, as a lawyer in the futute (God help us) you need to learn not to get perturbed and keep your cool. You are so caught up in semantics, you really aren't reading what everyone is saying. Now read the following sentence, and understand it, as many people have said it without your comprehension.

    If you run Windows on a Mac via Bootcamp, it is indistinguishable from a Dell running Windows, an IBM running Windows, or an HP running windows; When you are running Windows on a mac, Apple functions as just a hardware maker like any other vendor that uses Microsoft operating systems.

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