• Welcome to BookAndReader!

    We LOVE books and hope you'll join us in sharing your favorites and experiences along with your love of reading with our community. Registering for our site is free and easy, just CLICK HERE!

    Already a member and forgot your password? Click here.

Laptop Computer advice needed

Ell

Well-Known Member
I know there's quite a bit of expertise in TBF membership about computers, so here's the thing: A college-aged son has decided to take the plunge and get a laptop, mostly for school, but also for music, etc. He's done quite a bit of research already, but would really like to get some advice/comments from actual users.

He thinks he's narrowed it down to an Apple, but wants to know any major pros/cons that he may not have thought of. Since I'm not that up on laptops & the latest stuff, I got him to write out what he's thinking. So here it is:
Looking for a notebook for school/pleasure; so far when everything is taken into account, an Apple iBook seems to be the most appealing option.

-Primary use is school/work; word processing, internet/connectivity, and to act as a music repository. No heavy demands, other than music recording in the future. Other than that I'd like to be able to watch DVDs, and maybe tinker around with digital photos/video - on a strictly amateur basis, so its not terribly important.

Crucial:
-Wifi (which I suppose is pretty much standard nowadays, applie has their 'airport extreme' which should work the same on/ be compatible with a windows wireless network???)
-Ability to act as a music storage system for digital music/mp3/wma/etc, which means a larger HD, preferably 80 gigs or over. In the future an external HD may be an option.
-Portability, which means 14" or under. 12" models look just about perfect. 15-17" desktop replacements are out of the question.
-Reliability, both with hardware and software. Factoring in OSX (even though I have next to no experience with it) and viruses/malware, again this makes me lean towards an apple product.
-Price. Which means high end machines like Apple Powerbooks or Sony Vaios are right out.

Options:
-Connecting to an external, larger monitor, for the purpose of long-term work and watching movies
-Music recording. This is the sole high demand task I intend to do on the machine, whch means a lot, if not maxed out RAM. The Garageband programme bundled with Apple's iLife suite seems more than adequate for now. In the future upgrading to a more robust programme such as Cubase or even Protools would be an option, but thats just not in the cards (or pocketbook) for now. I intend to get a cheap interface such as an M-Audio Pre, maybe in the future I'd get a more expensive solution such as an Digidesign Mbox. Compatibility with good mid-low end MIDI controllers is important too.

-All told the options I envision getting in the near future (not necessarily at purchase) would be: wireless keyboard and mouse, monitor, speakers, possibly an external HD.

So I'm looking at getting a 12" iBook, maxing out the RAM to 1.25 GB, dropping in a larger Hard drive, and getting the bluetooth option. As acessories the only thing I would get right off the bat is a wireless/bluetooth mouse (2-button, even if I get a mac) - lets face it, trackpads just don't cut it in the longterm. In the future a larger monitor to connect to and audio recording hardware are things I'd look at.

I'm open to suggestions; a Windows based notebook is certainly still an option. I've looked at other thin-and-lights such as the Dell Inspiron 700m or maybe an IBM Thinkpad, however it seems to get a package (factoring in the software bundle and the very important fact that I can get a student discount on Apple products), it just seems that a mac is the way to go.
So, if anyone here has any ideas, comments or suggestions that will help him make up his mind, you'll have made this mom very happy. :)

ell
 

Martin

Active Member
Well, the first thing that came to mind when you said 'Apple' and 'school', is that they most likely won't have Apple's at school, so it would be difficult to, say, do an assignment at school in MS Word, and finish it on the laptop lateron - it's not compatible.

That said, I'm a complete oaf when it comes to laptops, so there are probably a gazillion ways to make them compatible, and I'm also sure entire hordes of people will be here within minutes to point out this glaring mistake.

EDIT: I've heard many many good things about the Dell notebooks.

Just my $0,02.

Cheers
 

Ell

Well-Known Member
Martin, he'd be doing all his work on his own laptop - not on the school's. The most important part would be connectivity so he can access libraries, databases and the internet. He'll be able to get discounted software applications through his university as well as a student discount price on the computer.

He's looked at Dells, but they are more expensive for comparable features.
 

Clara

New Member
I know nothing technical about laptops but when I bought mine, my main considerations were size and weight. A number of people tried to put me off because the keyboard is more cramped etc and I have external drives for CD/DVD/floppy but I love the fact it's small and light. I can fit it into bags that don't look like laptop bags and this is an important security consideration if your son is going to be walking around with it. Mine's a Dell but I've got friends with Apples and they love them.

Sorry I'm not more help.
 

Carlos

New Member
Martin said:
Well, the first thing that came to mind when you said 'Apple' and 'school', is that they most likely won't have Apple's at school, so it would be difficult to, say, do an assignment at school in MS Word, and finish it on the laptop lateron - it's not compatible.

That said, I'm a complete oaf when it comes to laptops, so there are probably a gazillion ways to make them compatible, and I'm also sure entire hordes of people will be here within minutes to point out this glaring mistake.

EDIT: I've heard many many good things about the Dell notebooks.

Just my $0,02.

Cheers

Dells have great after sales service. People I know that repair them love Dell cos they are always breaking down. One friend went through a complete notebook rebuild after 18 months, first the screen, then the HDD, keyboard, etc etc.
Apples can emulate MS windows so compatability is not a problem. Apples hold their price longer.

The only thing I would suggest is a minimum of 512 MB of RAM and a dedicated graphics card.

BTW I do not own an apple, always used and bought windows based PC's and laptops.

I currently have 2 PC's at home, plus another one that is never switched on, waiting for my eldest to request it, and a notebook. 15.1" screen, great for DVD's.
 

sanyuja

New Member
Hi Ell,

I had used the Dell notebook for sometime and its good. (My husband raves about Toshiba, though!)

The only thing that annoyed me was it used to get really hot if I worked on it for a long time. But, I guess, this problem applies to all laptops.

I am surprised to know that Dell is more expensive than Apple :rolleyes:

As Martin pointed out, the main problem with Apple is compatibility. Majority (sorry, I don't have data) of the people use non-Apple machines and its really a hassle when you want to share something. If this is not a problem, I guess you can go for Apple.

I am not a technical expert, just blurting out what I know :D
 

mr_michel

kickbox
ok my two cents, first of all im also a toshiba fanatic (have had one for over three years now, and never had a problem with it, before changing the hard disk last xmas sometimes i got to run the computer with less than 400 mb of hard drive space without the computer running slow)

for what i heard from people i know, is either you get to love mac or to hate mac.
though have some friends who are webdesiners and graphyc designers who loves mac.

the think about mac virtual ms windows thingy, as far as i have observed is that it runs very very painfully slow.

i would go for a regular pc.
 

fountainhead

New Member
very contratry to what Martin have said, I haven't heard enough good things about Dell. one of my friends got pissed off by its custom service since his Dell got collapsed.

Sony vaio (?) was said to be good, so was IBM, though many don't like the appearance of IBM. If you aren't too strict with that, IBM is a good choice.

Apple was said to be good in its picture effective, how to say, ermm. If you wanna use computer to do anything of Photoshop, Photography decoration, or things like that, Apple was admitted to be a bit far better than others.

Good luck!

by the way, if you are somewhat interested in Toshiba, just be careful about some of the type.
 

Ell

Well-Known Member
Thanks for the comments so far.

Sony vaio's are out of his price range. He tells me his university has both Apple and pc networks, so that isn't a problem.

fountainhead, which Toshibas should he be careful about?

Sanyuja, I think the Dells are more expensive only because he'll get a discounted student price if he buys the Apple through his university.
 

Motokid

New Member
I have always heard that for high-end graphic-arts that MAC is the way to go, so if this kid is looking/thinking about a graphic arts type field of study I would go MAC.

Most of the "regular" business world from what I've seen, and heard about is Window's based, so by gaining as much familiarity with Windows applications as possible through school the kid will be better equiped to enter the rest of the world.

At least that always the arguements I've heard for and against Apple/Macintosh and/or PC/Windows

All the companies I've worked for have all been PC/Windows oriented.

I would say the intended direction this kid wants to go in study wise, and eventually career wise, should play a role in the decision.
 

Ell

Well-Known Member
Thanks, moto. The kid has been around computers (mostly pc) almost his entire life - uses Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Wordperfect, multiple music and graphics programs. So I don't think familiarity will be a problem. :)

The question at hand is to get some feedback about Apples versus others as a notebook/laptop.

ell
 

Sergo

New Member
mr_michel said:
ok my two cents, first of all im also a toshiba fanatic (have had one for over three years now, and never had a problem with it, before changing the hard disk last xmas sometimes i got to run the computer with less than 400 mb of hard drive space without the computer running slow)

for what i heard from people i know, is either you get to love mac or to hate mac.
though have some friends who are webdesiners and graphyc designers who loves mac.

the think about mac virtual ms windows thingy, as far as i have observed is that it runs very very painfully slow.

i would go for a regular pc.


Yep, Toshiba is great! I tipe this on Satellite 5205-S703. I have it for several years, and it is as good as new still. Before that I had a NEC - it's still alive somewhere, if my daughter had not used it for splitting nuts, but Toshiba is much better. My wife has an Acer. It does not look so swell, but it has a great battery life, and it is two times thinner, and about two times lighter, having the same 15' display.
 

Kookamoor

New Member
-Music recording. This is the sole high demand task I intend to do on the machine, whch means a lot, if not maxed out RAM. The Garageband programme bundled with Apple's iLife suite seems more than adequate for now. In the future upgrading to a more robust programme such as Cubase or even Protools would be an option, but thats just not in the cards (or pocketbook) for now. I intend to get a cheap interface such as an M-Audio Pre, maybe in the future I'd get a more expensive solution such as an Digidesign Mbox. Compatibility with good mid-low end MIDI controllers is important too.
This is a huge advantage of the Apple, I understand. My partner is big into music and has experimented with the Garageband feature and is *very* impressed. You would have to pay a considerable amount of money to get similar software on a Windows platform.

One small thing I have noted with using the Microsoft Office software on an Apple is that there are some minor discrepancies when formatting and drawing and so on as the menus and toolbars are different. This can be somewhat frustrating if one is very skilled at using this software on a Windows platform. Conversion between platforms is unlikely to be a problem beyond this.

Finally, Dell Canada is very good and well worth considering on the basis of cost. My university department orders almost all their computers from them, and if one is savy enough with the technologies to know what you want (which your son seems to be, Ell) you can get a really good deal through them.

This is about the only contribution I can make, as I'm not well versed in hardware at all. Where's Stewart? He seems to be 'in the know' about all this sort of stuff!
 

direstraits

Well-Known Member
Office for Mac and Office for Win should be compatible for the most part - Office for Mac at the moment is a generation ahead of Office for Windows. Plus there shouldn't be a problem with wifi networks.

I think going for price is a good option, if you can get the iBook at a better price than Dell. Make sure that the iBook your son eventually chooses has the built-in wifi (Airport Extreme), as the entry-level iBook doesn't come standard with it. Everything else should't be a problem. I've only fiddled with Apple stuff, as my experience lies mainly with Windows notebooks.

If you ever consider something other than Apple, then I say go for Dell's Inspiron line. Just stick to the Intel Centrinos and you should be okay. With basic precautions, your Windows notebook could be as secure as your OS X machine.

And sanyuja, are you using a Dell Latitude, coz that's the only Dell I know that has heat problems. All the other notebooks I've used (IBM Thinkpad, Dell (4 models), HP, Toshiba, Acer) normally do not have heat problems. That doesn't mean it doesn't get hot, but it shouldn't get so hot that your hands feel it.

ds
 

Ice

New Member
Martin said:
Already taken care of.

Cheers
I think it was more the dedicated graphics card Carlos was getting at - if you have an integrated card it uses part of your RAM.

fountainhead said:
very contratry to what Martin have said, I haven't heard enough good things about Dell. one of my friends got pissed off by its custom service since his Dell got collapsed.
I have a Dell and never had any problems with either the company or the machine. I used it for my final year at university and it coped fairly well (the HDD I bought was the largest available at the time and still wasn't enough - but this had nothing to do with the machine).

sanyuja said:
The only thing that annoyed me was it used to get really hot if I worked on it for a long time. But, I guess, this problem applies to all laptops.
I've never had any problems with my Dell overheating (Inspiron). It can get a little warm if I use it for hours on end on the bed, but nothing bad. My previous laptop used to get extremely hot and I couldn't even place it on my lap.


Sony vaio (?) was said to be good, so was IBM, though many don't like the appearance of IBM. If you aren't too strict with that, IBM is a good choice.
Vaio's are very good but are also very expensive.

Motokid said:
I have always heard that for high-end graphic-arts that MAC is the way to go, so if this kid is looking/thinking about a graphic arts type field of study I would go MAC.
Apples are good for graphics, however I did some high level graphics work and my Dell coped well. Though several parts of it had to be done on a Sun.

Most of the "regular" business world from what I've seen, and heard about is Window's based, so by gaining as much familiarity with Windows applications as possible through school the kid will be better equiped to enter the rest of the world.

At least that always the arguements I've heard for and against Apple/Macintosh and/or PC/Windows

All the companies I've worked for have all been PC/Windows oriented.

I would say the intended direction this kid wants to go in study wise, and eventually career wise, should play a role in the decision.
This is what I based my decision on - I wanted a laptop that I could use for at least a couple of years. Apple was never really an option for me as it is not used in the workplace (and not really used at uniersity either).
 

fountainhead

New Member
Ell said:
fountainhead, which Toshibas should he be careful about?

ermm, once read some reviews about the laptop. I vaguely remembered that Toshiba satellite A 65 or A 70 have some problem that can lead to the laptops shut down automatically becasue of some strange reasons (heat problem or something like that). Just try to avoid those types, then other Toshibas would do good services to you.

Goodluck.
 

Ell

Well-Known Member
SFG's thread about digital libraries reminded me of this thread.

So, for an update:
My son purchased a Mac iBook G4. He's very happy with it so far. It connected seamlessly to our home pc network and internet through an Airport Express. Will have to wait and see how it holds up in the long-run when school starts in September and it's really put to the test.

Thanks to all who responded with their opinions and advice.

ell
 

Ya Krunk'd Floo

New Member
I recently purchased a delicious iBook and to be honest, I can't think of a bad thing about it. I mainly use it for email, editing, storing music and photos, and watching movies if I make a trip. It's absolutely perfect for a student. BUY IT NOW!
 

mehastings

Active Member
Ell said:
So, for an update:
My son purchased a Mac iBook G4.... Will have to wait and see how it holds up in the long-run when school starts in September and it's really put to the test.

I'm sure he'll do well with it. I wish I had gotten an iBook instead of my crummy Dell. Our school had plenty of Mac labs, so I'm sure he'll be able to work in the labs if he runs into an emergency and needs to.
 
Top