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You are here: MacNN Forums > Hardware - Troubleshooting and Discussion > Mac Notebooks > What would you do for college?

What would you do for college?
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Jbroad572
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Jul 26, 2003, 04:48 PM
 
I've been reading these forums for quite sometime now and have finally decided to post. Well here's my situation. I have been using PC's all my life, but am now attracted to the Powerbook. I'm going into my first year of college and am needing a laptop. The 17" really catches my eye. I played with one at CompUSA a few months ago, and it seemed really slow. Are they really slow compared to most laptops out now? My school has a demo in the bookstore they are seling for $2699, good deal or just buy brand new? I am also considering a newer Centrino laptop. I want the best for my money. I was really anticipating the release of the new Powerbooks but it seems as though that will be another 2-3 months. Any suggetions? Oh yea, I don't like the 15's out now. Another option would be to get a 12" PB and also a nice desktop, but would rather have the 17" and a cheap PC desktop. Thanks guys
     
tisoncam
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Jul 26, 2003, 04:55 PM
 
I just bought a 12" for law school and I love it. It is more than fast enough for what I need--word processing, surfing the web, music, DVDs etc. I have also been using it for my lab work this summe and it has worked really well. The 17" should have plenty of power as it is faster than the 12". I would recommend getting more RAM as OS X runs better with more RAM.


I would have to say that the 12" is far and away the best machine I have ever used--the keyboard is awesome.

I would say that when deciding between the Mac and a PC it is more a matter of personal preference than relative speed. Either machine will let you do your work--the question is which do you like better.
     
AHDuke99
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Jul 26, 2003, 05:17 PM
 
Jbroad, next week is an event Siggraph, Apple could release the updated 15" there. Since moto is now selling the 7457 to the public. Wait until Tuesday or Wednesday, then go with the 17" at your school if you want a mac. 12" is nice but has some hold backs.
     
melman101
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Jul 26, 2003, 05:53 PM
 
I have a 12" and I am a Computer Engineering major in my school. I am about to graduate, and i use this machine, as it has mathematica, c++, unix, and stuff that i need for my mathematical and computer science courses. So i enjoy using it for that, and its the same size as a notebook, so easy to carry around.

Sincerely,
Mel
     
Earth Mk. II
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Jul 26, 2003, 06:29 PM
 
Um, I'd recommend against buying a desktop and a laptop for college. You'll just end up using one 98% of the time, and the other just sitting there for all but the other 2%. Dorm rooms aren't that big, and nevermind it being a waste of money, it's a waste of space.

If you wanna go Mac and have a laptop, I'd suggest going for the 17" since that's really a desktop replacement. (CompUSA may have had the laptop on reduced power mode, which can bring the CPU speed down quite a bit - nevermind the total lack of maintenance they probably gave it). If the 17" doesn't do it for you, or you're running stuff that needs Windows (AutoCAD, etc) then get a PC laptop that can run windows and set up a dual boot if you want/need a unix style environment as well.

If you want mobility (for taking notes in class, etc) than go for a 12" PowerBook or a smaller PC laptop (I've heard great things about the Centrino chipset).

Honestly, having a desktop and a laptop is redundant and 1 of them is going to end up useless and just take up space.
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slow moe
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Jul 26, 2003, 06:38 PM
 
I'm a design student, and use my 12" PB for stuff like Photoshop and Quark. I like the 12" because, even though it's not the fastest mac, it's one of the most portable, but, loaded up with RAM, I find it to be plenty fast enough for design work. I also use an external monitor with it, if needed, so this way I have the best of both worlds.
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Toaster
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Jul 26, 2003, 07:41 PM
 
Speaking from hindsight as a Senior CS major and in light of the fact that G5 books will probably be out next year, I wouldn't even buy a laptop right now. None of the classes you'll be taking for at least the 1st two years of school will require you to have your own computer, let alone both a laptop and desktop. You can use the computer labs on campus to take care of any work you need to do. Just buy a USB keychain to transport your personal documents and you'll be good to go. And I don't know if I'd feel comfortable leaving $3K+ worth of computer equipment in a dorm room which you'll be sharing with strangers who may not have any respect for your personal belongings.

If you absolutely want to have a laptop, go for the 12" PB or 12" iBook. I find that even a 15" laptop is just too big and bulky to be carrying around to classes. If it were my money and I had to choose, I'd probably buy a 12" PB with the edu discount as a holdover. And then next year when the G5 books come out, I'd sell it and buy whatever floats my boat the most.
     
neutrino23
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Jul 26, 2003, 08:05 PM
 
Originally posted by Jbroad572:
I played with one at CompUSA a few months ago, and it seemed really slow. Are they really slow compared to most laptops out now?
The demo system probably did not have adequate memory and was not running the latest version of the OS. Both make a significant difference.

Also, the GUI in OS X can feel a little slower than that of some windows machines. However, the internal operations run really fast.

Panther, which will be out later this year is rumored to speed things up a fair amount more.
Happy owner of a new 15" Al PB.
     
schmoe
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Jul 26, 2003, 08:14 PM
 
Regarding speed...

As far as benchmarks go, PC laptops with the Pentium-M (centrino, great battery life) 1.5mhz+ and P4 (horrible battery life) 2.2ghz+ are faster than a 1ghz G4 for everything but AltiVec enhanced routines. Most of them have faster DDR memory and higher RPM HDs which will probably make more of a difference than raw CPU speed.

As far as real-world speeds go, the only thing I've noticed is that the Mac OS X GUI 'feels' a tiny bit more sluggish than WinXP's. No big surprise, XP's GUI is highly evolved and operates at a very low level. OS X's is much a more advanced multi-layer PDF based system with features like transparency, shadows, fancy morphing, etc that slow things down, or appear to because of the transformations.

That said, Mac OS X has the most beautiful, usable, GUI of any operating system I've seen. Little things like pervasive, standard, intuitive keyboard shortcuts; those little drop down 'sheet' dialogs; stellar drag & drop; etc really make a difference that you have to experience to appreciate.

I've switched twice, after using OS X for over a year I forgot just how bad XP really is and since Apple's hardware really isn't up to spec right now I exchanged my 15" Ti 667mhz for a Thinkpad T40p Penium-M 1.6ghz.

The Thinkpad is a really amazing machine, but Windows sucks, and even if it is possible to make Linux as nice as OS X it would take a massive amount of effort. Simple stuff like using my wireless network was a nightmare, Windows would randomly disassociate from my AP and it would take several minutes to re-establish a connection. It also took several minutes to become usable after waking from sleep.

And since I'm a Unix fan, the lack of a Unix command line really cramped my style. So here I am, back on OS X with a Ti 15" 1ghz. The Mac isn't slower, it might be if I was mixing a thousand tracks of music in realtime, or editing full screen video, but for my development, email, web, etc this machine and OS combination can't be beat.
     
ASIMO
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Jul 26, 2003, 08:52 PM
 
Do you even know what you want to do in college? Figure that out first, then get the appropriate machine. In other words, get a Mac.
I, ASIMO.
     
badnewsblair
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Jul 27, 2003, 10:39 AM
 
I'm sure this kind of thread will start being very common in the coming month since all you little kiddies are going away to college (I just graduate college this past year... my first year out in the real world). It's a matter of preference always. I read some good points in this thread though.

1) Leaving your 17" in a dorm room is NOT a good idea. Keep in mind that if you get a powerbook it is going to be the sexiest and most unique looking thing on your hall. Ripe for the picking unless you lock it to your desk. Even then, my roommate lost his PEECEE laptop his first year at college to an unfortunate football accident (okay, he jjust lost the screen).

2) The 17" on display must have been runing on a lower setting. I came from the top PEECEEs to the 17" as my first Mac and the 17" is just as fast for all of my needs.

3) If you're used to PEECEEs and you're just looking to make the switch now, you may get more than you bargained for. If you get the powerbook, get it a month or so before college so you can get used to it. Trust me, as soon as your first class, you'll be using it.

My suggestion... get the 15" model. A great machine a little more portable than the 17" so you can get it out of your dorm room as much as possible and is in my opinion just as fast. Wait to see if the new one comes out but don't bet on it.
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rambo47
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Jul 27, 2003, 07:01 PM
 
I wouldn't rule out the G3 iBooks like the 12" unit. You'll save a lot of $$ vs. a PowerBook, you still get great wireless connectivity, and with the G3 processors clocking in at 900 MHz you'll have enough horsepower for most tasks. Any complex modeling or serious creative stuff and you'll be better served by a G4-based Mac. But do take a look at the iBooks.

I do like the IBM X32 notebook with it's small size, Centrino processor, and flyweight of 3.7 lbs. If I had to go Windows, that would be my choice.
     
kstor
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Jul 28, 2003, 08:58 AM
 
I'm am myself a college student, and if you can afford it the 12" PB with an external monitor is the best package possible.

In all aspects, the powerbook is perfect as a main machine: it's fast, it has a fairly large hardrive, a good video card... Plug in an external 19" CRT (you can get a good one for $250) and run them dual display, you end up with more screen-estate than a desktop. My favorite: main task on CRT, itunes/email on laptop screen.

But the main advantage of the 12" over the larger ones, is that it's real small and handy (duh!). It fits in any bag and is lighter than a physics book. Importantly, it also fits on small auditorium desks, definitely a hassle with anything larger.

Anyway, this is what I consider the perfect setup. If this is too expensive (the maxed out powerbook and a monitor, mouse, keyboard probably end up costing around $2000) I'd go for the ibook, still a sweet machine (but without dual display or g4 or sweet looks)

Hope that helps,

KStor
     
gauchogirl
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Jul 29, 2003, 01:52 AM
 
I'm also a college student and to be honest I wasted my first two years with a PC desktop (which I thought I loved until I met "Bumpy" my 12" AlBook)...anyway I agree with previous posts about the safety issue with leaving a 17" in a dorm room. Kensington locks are a good protective measure, but I've seen notebook computers turn up stolen even with those.. That said, I think you should go for the 12" book it's very portable, the battery life is excellent (I consistently get 3.5+ hours), and the size is good for those teensy tiny desks they hook onto those chairs in college...if you're not going to bring it to class and want something a little larger then I'd go for the 15". The 17" is very tempting however, I think the cost-and the risk-is too high for what you'd likely be using it for.
     
phobos
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Jul 29, 2003, 04:51 PM
 
Jbroad572 can you please tell us what will you study? We can't really tell you what machine will be good for you if we don't know what you want to do with it. If you don't do intensive CPU stuff and you don't need the high resolution the 12' powerbook is the best thing. If you do graphic intensive and CPU intensive stuff I'd go for the 15' 1Ghz powerbook. Even though the 17' is a much better overall machine its big and it would be difficult to carry around and take notes on college.
Anyway as I said before get back on us with what you intend to do with it to help you more.
     
Tarcat
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Jul 31, 2003, 05:33 PM
 
Get a 12". The size is much better for school. I have a 12" iBook for school and it is the perfect size for fitting on school desks and for working in cramped library carrols with dozens of books. The 17" is way too cumbersome for something thats always on the move.
     
Jbroad572  (op)
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Jul 31, 2003, 05:37 PM
 
Oh sorry about that I will be majoring in Finance and minoring in music. If i went with a Apple Laptop it will most definately be the 17" unless the new 15" comes out.
     
slffl
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Jul 31, 2003, 05:42 PM
 
Originally posted by Tarcat:
The 17" is way too cumbersome for something thats always on the move.
Close lid, put in laptop sleeve. Seems to be about the same thing I would be doing with a 12".

I personally use a 17". It's awesome and have had no problems with it being too big. If you are going to be using your laptop in classes, in the cafeteria, ie. everywhere, I would say go with a 12". However, the 17" is portable enough to pull out in a library or outside on campus grounds. Just remember you will also be carrying books with you.
     
AssassyN
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Jul 31, 2003, 05:59 PM
 
I initially purchased a 17" PB to haul with me to college this fall, however, after owning it a month, I realized it was just too big to seriously be a "mobile machine". I then sold it and purchased a 12" PB & maxed out the RAM and used the leftover cash to also purchase a nice Mac desktop (purchased at a wonderful price through my university's bookstore). The 12" PB is unbelieveably mobile; it's so light, it'll fit in any bookbag, and it's AWESOME to just bust it out and be able to surf your school's wireless network easily and unobtrusively.

It's plenty fast for the common tasks (school related) that I use it for: Word processing, web surfing, shopping, email, light Photoshop usage, burning CD's, and watching DVD movies. I'd highly recommend looking at your university's special pricing & see if you can't get a 12" PB at a steal, and if your state is like NC, this entire weekend is "tax free weekend" so you'd save $100+ on tax if you're eligible.
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Omek
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Jul 31, 2003, 11:48 PM
 
I'm going to college soon. I'll be a Freshmen all over again...yeay *monotone voice*

I've made a pretty solid decsion. In the past I've purchased 2 iMacs. The first one was from a brand of the first color stages in the iMac line. It went up to about 333Mhz. About a month later it was updated, and I was very upset. Later in life, I purchased the "birth-looking" iMacs (slot-loading 400MHz) which I still use to this day. A month later Apple gave them CD burners and faster processors which, as you can imagine, royally pissed me off.

I'm now going to college and am ready to purchase a Powerbook. This is NOT going to happen to me again! I don't care if I have to go without a laptop into September. I will still wait! It won't happen again Apple!!! Ya, here me??? AHAHAHHAHAHAHAAAAA.......

OK... I feel better now. As for your Powerbook choice, if you don't need the laptop right away, I'd wait...
     
jade408
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Aug 1, 2003, 12:26 AM
 
if you are on the semester system you won't even have much work to do until the end of september anyway. During the first month of school computer labs aren't that busy
     
Omek
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Aug 1, 2003, 01:14 AM
 
Originally posted by jade408:
if you are on the semester system you won't even have much work to do until the end of september anyway. During the first month of school computer labs aren't that busy
Ya, it goes by the semester system. Their computer lab is strange. It's a long hallway with glass windows covering the ceiling and walls to provide for complete natural lighing. And down the hallway you see several groups of 4 PC's and right in the corner, there is a group of PowerMacs. Soooo, I'm guessing Macs are a minority there so I'll proabably be able to use them whenever... I'll just sit back and laugh at their crashing systems all day! I didn't check to see if they had OS X though.... OOoooo... that would be bad...
( Last edited by Omek; Aug 1, 2003 at 02:00 AM. )
     
HasanDaddy
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Aug 1, 2003, 02:12 AM
 
I'm betting the 17" at CompUSA was EXTREMELY SLOW because someone probably opened a BUNCH of programs.............Macs are awesome multitask machines, but it does get a bit slow after 6 programs are opened

as far as 17" versus 12"...........

the 17" is actually very light, provided that you don't carry many textbooks........otherwise, the textbooks and the laptop can get a bit hefty

the screen is so nice though! I'm typing on one right now and I'm TOTALLY in love!

so if you can manage the size and everything, then go with the 17"

otherwise, the 12" is a great and fast model too (and definitely get a small safe for Kensington lock.........something like that........)

btw --- $2600 is a great price! although, if you wait until the new ones come out, the price will probably drop down close to that anyways.........so if you can wait, then do that.....
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