MacBook Pro as a Law Student

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by Sheza, Aug 9, 2014.

  1. Sheza, Aug 9, 2014
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2014

    Sheza macrumors 68000

    Sheza

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    Croydon & London At The Same Time
    #1
    Hey everyone,

    I'm going to University in a couple of months and I thought "Brilliant, time to get the cliché Apple MacBook like 99% of other Uni students do!" but then the Surface Pro 3 was announced and I remembered I'm bringing my Windows desktop with me so switching constantly between 2 OSes might be annoying. The SP3 is considerably lighter and thinner than the rMBP (I've already decided against the MBA, cannot justify price to spec ratio and the poor screen). It's also a tablet form factor so has the pen input which might be really useful for legal document annotations, hand written notes and the like.

    But then I found out about a few issues with the SP3. So for that reason I have the following questions:

    1. Any Uni (especially Law) students here that would totally recommend the rMBP, and can tell me how it's good for them in this usage scenario?

    2. Does the rMBP automatically and easily scale when plugged in to an external monitor? On Windows and the SP3 you have to stick with 150% scaling or manually change it and log in and out, which is a chore I don't want to have to do every single day.

    Thanks!
     
  2. Hustler1337, Aug 9, 2014
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2014

    Hustler1337 macrumors 68000

    Hustler1337

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    #2
    Hi Sheza,

    I'm a Law graduate who used the MBP throughout my studies and would personally recommend the MBP. And yes, the Macbook Pro/Air is the cliche laptop of choice amongst law students lol.

    It handles everything you would generally need for your studies very well and Mac OS X is a very reliable OS. As a law student you'll generally just be handling files such as .doc, Powerpoint slides, PDF files and be browsing the internet a lot for research (and procrastinating :)), so you'll be using Microsoft Office (or an alternative) for most of your time.

    A Windows machine can equally handle these tasks just as well, but my primary reason for choosing a Mac was because of it's far superior battery life and portability. Battery life is extremely important, as you'll be running to and from long lectures, seminars and the library quite a lot and you don't want to be one of those guys sitting near the nearest power outlet in a lecture or class with his cable across the room tripping up half the students. Also, another reason why I chose Mac over Windows was because I didn't want to have the hassle of dealing with viruses and malware every now and then and would rather have that peace of mind when being stressed out with studying. Switching over to Mac OS was a big decision for me especially as I was a hardcore Windows fan from a young age and was totally alien to Mac OS. Not only that, it was vastly expensive to a Windows machine and I bought it in my second year of my degree.

    As for question no.2, the MacBook Pro will very easily connect to an external monitor/TV and will automatically adjust the screen resolution to match the new display. Even if you aren't happy with the resolution, it's extremely easy to change the resolution and will take only a few seconds to change the resolution to your preferred one.

    I can't speak for the Surface Pro, but from a MBP perspective, it's more than capable and would recommend it. In fact, i'm still using the same machine I used for uni to type this out :p
     
  3. Freyqq macrumors 68040

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    #3
    I am also a law grad. I used a 15" macbook pro, but the experience will be pretty similar.

    1. It's a great computer with good battery life. It was great for taking notes, and the keyboard/trackpad are great as well. This is especially important, as we took exams on our laptops with special software (OSX and Windows compatible). Having a good keyboard that you can type fast on is essential to get an added advantage.

    MS office for mac is fine, and you'll definitely need a copy for law...especially if you are on a journal. Law uses a lot of advanced features like cross-referencing and footnotes, and keeping the formatting exact is important. Also, page limits are strictly enforced, so you don't want to risk your document somehow going over the page limit because you wrote it in a different program and your professor opened it in MS Word. So, you'll want MS office 2011 for sure. Keep in mind that you don't get Onenote, as the full version isn't available like it is for Windows. Instead, you get a notepad mode in MS Word, which is not quite the same experience. I ended up dual booting OSX and Windows so I could get Onenote. You can also buy parallels and virtualize windows and onenote. It actually runs windows pretty well. I also had a dGPU in mine, and bootcamp drivers force the dGPU on all the time...cutting battery life a bit. If you end up relying on bootcamp/dualbooting, I'd recommend getting a mac without a dGPU or using parallels instead.

    2. Scaling is independent per monitor on OSX. So, you don't have to change anything when you plug in the monitor as far as scaling is concerned. Actually in Windows 8.1 they added a new feature gives you the open to make scaling monitor independent too, so it's not a problem there either.
     
  4. Sheza thread starter macrumors 68000

    Sheza

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    #4
    Hi, thank you very much for the response. I have heard all about the battery life on Mac Books (though I'm not getting an Air with its 12 hours - I do hear the rMBP still has amazing battery life) compared to the SP3 average of 7 hours.
    Also of course is the famous longevity of Mac Books. This would be unnatural to me as someone who is constantly upgrading hardware in my PC and moving up iPhone generations but considering the financial impact of Uni it'll have to be something I get used to and a MacBook seems the better option for it.

    So there was never a time when you thought you wished you could annotate and highlight legal documents and things on your MacBook with a touch screen?

    Indeed the keyboard is another concern though to be honest I can't say the MacBook keyboard feels anything special to me (I'm always hearing how it's the best of the best) though this may be because I am used to a PC with a Mechanical keyboard. The SP3 Type Cover I'm told is worse than a MacBook but I didn't notice the difference in my brief test. Will try again when the SP3 is released in the UK.

    I already have Office 365 University so that gives me Office for Mac 2011 which will hopefully be getting a new release later this year or early 2015 anyway. Apple's iWork suite didn't take my fancy, and I am a keen Office 2013 (Windows) user so its integration features and more modern design were a factor drawing me closer to the Surface Pro 3. OneNote is now available on the Mac App store as a separate app I think?

    By dGPU do you mean discrete as in an Nvidia chip? In terms of dual booting I was thinking I may need to do that because of my life long attachment to Windows, in which case the 256GB storage option sounds much more appealing than the 128GB although it is a huge premium even at the discounted price.

    I did look at a blog post about Windows 8.1 scaling improvements but I am still hearing complaints from users on /r/Surface so perhaps it's not what I want?

    Thanks for your reply!
     
  5. Hustler1337 macrumors 68000

    Hustler1337

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    #5
    To be honest, the battery life on the 15" MBP isn't that amazing, but it definitely offers better battery life/power efficiency than equivalent Windows machines. The MacBook Air is where you'll get the best battery life.


    I can only remember a handful of times I wanted to highlight or annotate any documents directly on the Mac. I usually print off my notes/documents and highlight/ annotate on the printed paper - much more easier, quicker and clearer than digital annotation imo, just make sure you have coloured pens and highlighters handy :)

    If you insist on digital annotation or highlighting (which doesn't come out as clear when printed), the Preview app on the Mac has built in annotation and highlighting features which comes in handy. Preview is the standard Mac application for opening PDF and image files on the Mac.

    Out of interest, which uni you going to? :D
     
  6. ixxx69 macrumors 6502a

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    #6
    Yes, OneNote is available on the Mac App store for free. You'd have to read the reviews to see how it compares to the Windows version.

    Windows 8.1 does offer individual scaling for separate monitors, which is a huge improvement. The problem on the Yoga (or any similar Windows machine) is not using an external monitor, which is no problem. The problem is the integral super hi-res display where you can only bump scaling to about 150% before things start getting wonky. For a lot of folks, 150% just isn't enough on such a small display and they have trouble reading it. YMMV.
     
  7. Sheza, Aug 9, 2014
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2014

    Sheza thread starter macrumors 68000

    Sheza

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    #7
    I would be getting the 13" as there's no way I could stretch further :)

    I mention annotation so much because my Sixth Form gave us all iPads to borrow for a year and as much as it was a chore using the iPad screen and a cheap stylus to annotate, I did enjoy it. And with the proper N-Trig digitiser on the Surface I'm expecting good things. I will of course try it out by freeloading a demo model at Curry's on release day but yeah. The form factor may be too inappropriate to use as a tablet easily which is why I'm exploring alternatives.

    Grades pending, King's College London. But my exams (bar law, which I enjoyed) were terrible so it may very well be East Anglia or even clearing. I find out on Thursday.
     
  8. Freyqq, Aug 9, 2014
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2014

    Freyqq macrumors 68040

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    #8
    I'm a big fan of the mac keyboards. They don't take as much pressure to press and are slimmer than a mechanical keyboard, so I can type more quickly on them. They are also very quiet, which is nice when you're in class.

    Onenote on the mac OSX store is a free version that competes with evernote. It has maybe 20% of the features of the full version in Windows. It is more comparable to the version of onenote on the metro app store in windows 8 or the ipad version. You also are forced to save everything in the cloud, which differs from the Windows full version.

    ----------

    Yeah, by dGPU i mean the nvidia chip.

    Yeah, the scaling improvements in Windows 8.1 are interesting. It takes the same approach as OSX, but less programs are ready for it. So, it doesn't work as well as in OSX in practice when using multiple monitors. I have an rmbp now that I got after graduation and dual boot with 2 external 1920x1200 displays. In windows, I just set it at 125% and ignore the new scaling feature. When I have external screens plugged in, I only really use the laptop screen for word or pdfs, so all the text is zoomed up regardless of the scaling percentage.

    Also, in windows, using 125% scaling on a retina screen is good if you have great eyesight. The usable area is absurd. It's basically like having dual monitors that fit in your backpack. You have to sit pretty close to the screen to read some of the print though, but it is totally worth it if you are on the go.
     
  9. Sheza, Aug 9, 2014
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2014

    Sheza thread starter macrumors 68000

    Sheza

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    #9
    Fair enough, there's no way I would risk the whole lecture hall hating me for using a loud Mechanical keyboard haha. And from what I saw of screenshots it looks decent but I can see where you're coming from.

    As there's lots of reading involved, I just thought it would be really awesome to be able to sit down comfortably and read page-by-page (as a SP3 mimics a legal pad) annotating with the pen as you go, rather than having to sit down to look at the screen and read documents for ages.

    I will of course be trying these devices out in depth soon now that I've narrowed it down. I was previously looking at ultrabook alternatives but honestly, they look awful and for once are actually more expensive than the Mac Book with comparable specs!

    And yeah it's taken Chrome ages to scale properly and that's only if you use the dev channel. I do see myself hooking up either device to my 24" 1920x1200 monitor quite often so it will be interesting to see how that functions.
     
  10. AxoNeuron macrumors 65816

    AxoNeuron

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    #10
    I'm not in law school, I am a biology major, but I do have a few friends in law school and one of them bought the Surface Pro and quickly returned it because he found the keyboard impossible to use for extended amounts of time, a task that the MacBook Pro naturally lends itself to. Trying to use the SP3 on your lap in a crowded lecture hall would be a nightmare.

    And the retina display is gorgeous, perfect for reading documents as the text is extremely crisp. There is a reason so many students prefer the MBP, and are willing to pay the price tag ;)

    I hook up my retina MacBook Pro to external monitors all the time especially when I am coding apps, in fact I regularly drive three external 1080p displays with it.
     
  11. Freyqq macrumors 68040

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    #11
    That seems fair. When the SP3 came out, I was really impressed. It seems like a great tablet, but I hear the keyboard and trackpad are still subpar. Definitely test it out as much as you can before purchase, if you go that route. I also really like the fact that the rMBPs can do two external displays at once. When you're writing a legal memo, the more the better lol. If it's anything like US law school, you're going to be cross-comparing 10+ cases at once, working with PDFs, and writing up a memo at the same time. A couple monitors means that you don't have to print it all out or keep switching windows as much. And, with the price of monitors these days, it's really not much of an expense anymore.

    Best of luck in law school. I went to a US school, so I'm sure it's totally different, but buy supplemental materials (preferably keyed to your book). It really helped me out, as the Socratic method is an efficient way to teach, but not an efficient way to learn law.
     
  12. joeshmo2010 macrumors 6502a

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    #12
    This is Onenote for Mac? https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/mic...t=12&uo=2&v0=WWW-NAUS-ITUHOME-NEWAPPLICATIONS
     
  13. Sheza thread starter macrumors 68000

    Sheza

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    #13
    Me being anal about displays would result in having to track down a duplicate of my existing Dell monitor but that should be fine :)

    I'm not sure what you mean about supplemental materials (nor that teaching method).
     
  14. Hustler1337 macrumors 68000

    Hustler1337

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    #14
    The 13" is more than sufficient, I had the 15" as I prefer a larger display. Good luck on results day, you'll get into Kings don't worry :) KCL is a good choice for Law.
     
  15. Sheza thread starter macrumors 68000

    Sheza

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    #15
    Indeed, it's bigger than the 12" of the Surface anyway haha. I expect to be using my desktop monitor frequently as well.

    Thank you very much. I have a law scholarship at KCL so it would be a double shame to miss out on my offer grades. And of course it would make the cost of this laptop a bit easier to stomach ;)

    Where did you study?
     
  16. DJJAZZYJET macrumors 6502

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    #16
    Just FYI

    The Macbook Pro Retina machines really do feel professional compared to a Macbook Air. The pros have a deeper key travel than the airs, and the trackpad on the pro is less audibly clicky but more satisfying than the Airs (these little details matter), plus the retina display makes anything your doing look amazing.

    A Pro will last you longer than an Air as theres a lot left to be desired with an Air.

    Make sure you opt for 8GB of RAM if you need a computer that'll last. With MS Word, Safari and other apps open, 4GB of RAM will run out pretty quickly, and you'll notice the machine stopping for a second whilst it swaps out data from the RAM. The Pro's recently got upgraded that come with 8GB of RAM standard.
     
  17. Sheza thread starter macrumors 68000

    Sheza

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    #17
    Oh definitely. The screen on the Air just didn't do it for me, and with the rMBP coming with 8GB standard now the price jump between the two is really worth it IMO. This is down to usage ability and enjoyment between the Surface and rMBP. I didn't know the bit about the keyboard and trackpad though so thanks!

    And yes on the RAM - if I were to get the Surface it would be the 256GB SSD / 8GB RAM model. More expensive than the entry level rMBP 13", cheaper than the 256GB Pro, although more expensive overall with the type cover. Yeah. The Type Cover isn't a cost I'm factoring in though because my Apple-hating father is willing to pay for it.
     
  18. Freyqq macrumors 68040

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    #18
    For the US it is called examples and explanations. Basically a textbook that teaches the concepts instead of figuring it out from cases. Casebriefs are also good.

    Sounds like it is different in the UK though, so don't worry about it.
     
  19. DJJAZZYJET macrumors 6502

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    #19
    Glad it helped you out.
    I think you'll have a lot of buyers remorse if you go for a Surface 'Pro'. They really are just not good computers, and I have seen nothing but bad things about the PC's ability/compatibility to work with displays. You get a lot more bang for your buck with a rMBP, in terms of pretty much everything. Battery life, CPU performance, display, to name a few. I am totally convinced that OS X is so well designed for Apples laptops, it works much more fluidly than on a desktop. If you were not aware (you probably are) - you get a big student discount that includes 3 year warranty (not applecare+, but almost the same)
     
  20. Sheza thread starter macrumors 68000

    Sheza

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    #20
    Indeed. That's a factor that got me more seriously considering the rMBP. Until today I didn't know that the Apple educational discount is greater when you order as part of an actual Uni rather than the basic education store. The price of the rMBP is very very impressive with that extended discount.

    I also didn't know about the 3 years of warranty. Is it similar to the way an iPhone's 1 year warranty work but for 3 years? That's the only Apple product that I have experience with.

    Mind you in the UK we have consumer law protection for certain defects for 5 years. I had to exercise my consumer law rights in the Apple Store to get them to replace my iPhone 5 screen which had a yellow-green tint around the entire edge. They're happy to do it when it's in warranty but get anal about it when it's out of warranty even though it's clearly a defect (no signs of damage). I had to argue with the Genius and the store manager for an hour. They did it for free in the end. That's good legal argument practice, I thought :)
     
  21. DJJAZZYJET macrumors 6502

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    #21
    Glad you are finding this info out.

    I believe its 6 years for EU law consumer warranty in the UK, as long as the item has been well looked after. I still don't like having to bring EU consumer law with Apple as they have always been extremely finicky (and they have been sued because of it I believe) about it, not making it clear that you have cover. Apple replaced my iMac's power supply thanks to EU warranty.

    Yes the Uni discount you get with Apple is very good. Basically the warranty gives you 3 years of protection against hardware defects, instead of 1 year that Apple provides. I recently bought a rMBP - the 13 inch 256gb model for £1018.80 in total. Plus if you order within their back to school promotion they give you a £60 Apple Store Gift Card, which I sold on eBay to get a little bit of money back, so I'd definitely take advantage of it.

    I believe you can get a University discount even before you have started, just call the Apple Education store and you can tell them that (if) you have got a place at your university, they will most likely ask for you to email them a confirmation of your placement from your uni and give you the discount.
     
  22. Sheza thread starter macrumors 68000

    Sheza

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    #22
    Sure, that's what I would intend to do on or around the 28th August when I've tried both devices out at PC World (freeloading their sales demo all the way).

    I saw the 256GB 13" as being £1030, any idea where that little extra off comes from?
     
  23. andersmj macrumors newbie

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    Aug 9, 2014
    #23
    MBP is the way to go in college. It may be cliché, but there's a reason for that... I think you'll regret the Surface pro 3.
     
  24. kfmfe04 macrumors member

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    #24
  25. Sheza thread starter macrumors 68000

    Sheza

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    #25
    I've had my eye on a 60% mechanical keyboard like the Ducky Mini for the Surface anyway, and plan to dock either device to an external screen and my existing mouse & mechanical keyboard when in my dorm room so it should be okay.
     

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