Laptops

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Mac vs PC

When going off to college, many students will want to bring a laptop or desktop computer with them. But with so many laptops to choose from, one might find themselves confused with what laptop is right for them, afterall, no one wants to spend a lot of money for a crappy laptop.

The two major powerhouses in computing today is Microsoft and Macintosh.  Both have their pros and cons, but the major you intend to pursue can affect which laptop you should get. A PC based laptop is better for engineers and power users, but Macintosh is better for multimedia based programs. I personally own a Windows computer because I like how I can find almost any program for it, and if one that I need is not available, I can easily make one myself. I did kind of want a MacBook too because of itís fun artsy programs like photobooth and such, but I eventually settled with PC since I wasnít going to be majoring into anything like communications or art.

When shopping for laptops, many factors should be considered to make the right purchase.  The specifications for the laptop are always given, and very important in deciding what laptop you should get, but many people donít know what any of it means. Iíll give a brief explanation on the important things that should be considered when purchasing a laptop:

Processor speed: will be given in ghzís, you donít want anything under 1.6 ghzís otherwise youíll find the computer sluggish. Anything around 1.6 or higher is good, 2.0-2.4 or high is really good, the more the better.

RAM: This also affects the speed of your computer. This will usually be given in GBís but I think theyíre still some laptops that come out with 512MB ram (1024MB = 1GB). You donít really want anything under 1GB so I would steer away from anything with just 512MB, some offer 2-4GB RAM nowadays, but anything 1GB or higher should be good enough. If you consider yourself a poweruser or a gamer, you might want something more around 2 or higher GB. But you can always ask them to install more RAM for you if necessary.

Video card memory: This will affect the video speed of your laptop. You donít really need to care about this unless youíre a gamer. When watching movies, laptop nowadays can handle it, but when playing video intensive games such as Halo, youíll notice it being very sluggish unless your laptop has at least 1GB of RAM dedicated to video.

Screen size:  Bigger is usually better, but you donít really want to be carrying a huge laptop around with you. Bigger screen sizes are better for people who watch a lot of movies on their laptops or play a lot of games, but usually for the casual user, anything like 14.1Ē-15.4Ē is good enough. My friend just got a 17 inch laptop and at first I thought that would be cool with such a huge screen, but when I saw it, I was surprised at how big it really was. Again, you need to remember youíll be carrying this thing around.

Weight: This is the same as before in that you donít want to be carrying a mammoth around with you. There really isnít any benefit in having a heavier laptop anyways, so lighter is always better.

 

Some people may find themselves wanting to get a desktop computer instead though. Same things apply really above, but nowadays desktops usually come cheaper than laptops. The only downside is portability.


Some other accessories you might want to invest in:

Microsoft Office <- this has things like Word, Powerpoint, Excel, etc. It is very costly and there are other economical methods than buying this suite, but many people like Microsoft Word.

A laptop lock. All laptops will have a premade hole for a lock built into them which you can attatch something called a laptop lock into it and then bolt it down to your desk. This will make sure that you donít have your huge investment stolen from you.

Carrying case Ė This is very handy for carrying your laptop around with you while keeping it safe.

Printer - for printing out anything you want.



Please note, I have heard that UML does provide computers/printers and I believe has a 24 hour computer lab.

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2 Comments

Hey Hai,

Great info about laptops. It will definitely help people find new laptops (since having a laptop during college is now a must lol). I feel that my laptop is a mammoth because it has a 15.4" screen. It's a pain in the butt to carry that around. For word processing, Microsoft Office is the key. Sure it's a $100 for the student version, and more for other versions, but its a good investment. There are other Microsoft Office generic versions out there such as Open Office (www.openoffice.org). I've used that for my freshmen and sophomore years and it works great. The only problem with that is the lack of compatibility with the new Office 2007 (which I have).

UML has a few places where you can type up your papers. Since I'm a South Campus dude, I can tell you a few places there. In O'Leary library's third floor, there is the LEARN place, where you can get tutored for classes, have study groups, and of course do some word processing. Unfortunately, I don't know if that place is 24/7, but I do know that it opens late. I think the computers on the first floor of the library now has word processing so it's easier to format papers. Weed Hall has a few computer rooms with word processors, and the commuter room has a computer that you can do some work on.

Wow, I'm talking a storm here. Enough from me haha.

Welcome to UML!

- Christian Tiongson '09

I have actually seen people carrying around laptops with 17" screens that are so large, the hinge for the screen is the handle for the laptop.

On another note, you might want to push the RAM to 2GB to be sure it is future-proofed a bit more. Don't buy the solid-state hard disk laptops yet. The power savings don't really add up. The only benefit would be the lack of moving parts.

If you are looking to game on it, make sure the RAM isn't described as "shared". It will be used for video as well.

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This page contains a single entry by Pham, Hai H published on August 20, 2008 11:25 AM.

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