View Full Version : College Computing Opinions

Kyle L
02-12-2006, 06:30 PM
I'm heading off to college next year and I will be living in a dorm room of course, but I need some suggestions on what kind of laptop I should purchase. Normally I'm pretty tech savvy and know exactly what I want, but I want to get opinions from those who are in college and know what new freshmen should consider. Here are some things to consider in my situation:

Desktop, Laptop?
No I'm not asking if I should buy a desktop or laptop for my college computer, but more so what I should bring. I know for a fact I have to buy a laptop, but I also own a good desktop PC thats great for gaming, or basically anything. Only thing is that it has a bulky 17" CRT to come with it. Should I purchase a Laptop that can do it all and leave the desktop at home? Or bring the desktop with me?

What Type of Laptop?
In my purchasing stand point, I got 3 purchasing options. I have:
Ultra Portable
Both Media and Portable
Media Machine
Each has its pro's and con's. I think it will reflect weather or not I bring my desktop to be honest. I want to try and get a lot of battery life, but not sacrifice everything for it. Once again, its going to reflect the option of bringing my desktop, but have a lot of stuff portable would be nice as well. If I don't bring my desktop, which type of laptop is best for campus?

This is mostly a Mac vs. PC question. Once again its going to reflect my option to bring my desktop. I'm willing to open my choices to both, but if I choose not to bring my desktop, I'm leaning towards a PC. Also, my Major is Computer Science, would it be beneficial to have a Mac or a PC?.... If I do go with PC I know what brands I should proabobly stick to.

A few guidlines I want in my laptop:
Good battery life (as much as I can squeeze out I suppose)
Portability (Not a heavy 8lb behemoth)
Wireless a/b/g
Preferably a video card built in
Either a 13-15 in screen
Obviously good looking
Budget: Anywhere around 2,000

02-12-2006, 07:14 PM
There are a lot of variables to look at

1. How wired is your college? I go to a school that offers wifi on well over 90% of its area, but some schools aren't that good. If the school isn't too wired, a laptop doesn't offer you much, and I'd just go with a desktop which will be more powerful anyways.

2. What kind of person are you? Some people love to use their computers in class for notes and stuff, others don't. Some use it in common places, some only use computers in their rooms and library.

3. Media vs. Portability - how much do you use the computer for this? Do you have an mp3 player that could suffice? If so, go for portablity. If you don't use it much, go with portablity. Etc.

I'm not positive, but doen't AMD processers work better with battery life than Pentiums?

A lot of the CS kids I know use Mac's, but that may just be random. I don't know, myself, I'd use a PC if I were a CS major just because I would want to be familiar with what 90% of the world uses.

I think you just have to figure out what you like - a lot of it boils down to personal preferences. Myself? I like a desktop better, though I didn't hate when I had a laptop either. :)

Kyle L
02-13-2006, 01:14 AM
Well, San Jose State University is all wireless, and it a sort of compact college in the dead center of a big city (San Jose). Not only could I use my laptop on campus, but in the city also (Wireless is all over the city!) so wireless is a must.

I would proabobly end up using my Laptop a lot I would imagine. Hanging out at the student union, or other places, of course back at the dorm but I want to ensure that I can go out with my laptop and have plenty of battery life and stuff to do on it in case I do get bored.

Still not sure about Mac vs. PC simply because I have no idea. I'm really attracted to the Macintosh alternative, although they aren't that expensive. However, I may want to get a "gaming" laptop in case I get back into games...Mac does offer games, but limited library.

Also, I would plan to use the laptop for as many classes as applicable. I do so much better work on the computer simply because I am better at it, its more enjoyable, and is clear to me.

Hm...keep asking me questions!

02-13-2006, 02:19 PM
Sounds like a laptop is your best choice.

Of course, if you want to be able to play games, you know that Mac isn't a good choice. At least the selection seems to be growing though.

Perhaps you could look into one of those tablet notebooks. I haven't used one but they seem to be pretty cool.

How much do you plan on using it cordless? I know my battery was ready for a replacement after about a year and a half - what I'm suggesting is buying an extra battery before it dies on you while in the middle of an important project.

Hm, I can't think of anything else since I still see Mac vs PC to be a personal deal. I always found PCs to be easier to use, but perhaps that's because I haven't had a mac in 10+ years.

02-13-2006, 04:32 PM
Bringing a desktop would be a terrible call. When I'm in my dorm room, my laptop sits where a desktop would, so it would be inconvienent to have a massive PC. Also, unless you're one of those kids (the kids that constantly sit in their rooms and play world of warcraft) you're not going to be playing many computer games. I barely have time to get all of my work done as it is without wasting hours on a computer game (although I'm not sure how rigorous the education is at San Jose). I really wouldn't worry about gaming capabilities though, save it for winter break.

Macs might be nice, but its a pain in the ass when all of the supplmental material that comes with your textbooks (on CDs) is configured for PCs only. I have an IBM T42 and it gets the job done.

02-13-2006, 05:08 PM
I'd go with a decently powerful laptop. A plesant balance between the power you crave and the battery life you want may be hard to find, but the fruits of your labor will pay off. I know there are many times that I am happy that I have a laptop because I can go to the library and not have to fight for a spot in the computer lab, and I can do reasearch without renting a laptop that has low battery so I can barely get any work done. IMO, it's worth the investment for any college student.

02-13-2006, 05:17 PM
If you're going to be a computer science major... you need to get both a laptop and a desktop. Both need to be top of the line, and both need to have Linux on it (not Windows, not Mac). Your desktop should dual boot between Windows and Linux.

Bonus points if they're home built.

Lastly, if you're a CS major, you should be able to figure this out on your own :). I was once a CS major, then I switched to Information Systems so I could get the girls :).

Kyle L
02-14-2006, 01:33 AM
Well I could always bring a desktop at almost anytime. The college is about 1 1/2 hours away from home, so its not biggie if one thing goes and the other doesn't.

I think I'm gonna stick with PC, but I do want to buy all the power I can get at the moment since I can earn a lot of money at the time, and I am pretty sure my finances in college on a personal level will be slim.