Sunday, October 08, 2006

Appeal to the Interwebs

Appeal to the Interwebs



I'll post that promised post soon, but in the meantime ... I need a new laptop. Right now, I have a Dell that I got in 2000. It was ok till TSA broke the catches that hold in the battery and the floppy/CD drive. By OK, I mean that it works. It still does work, but it only has 128k of memory. A memory upgrade would be (if I get the memory on sale) about $100. I think it will only go to 256k. It would cost about $200 to get the catches fixed. Oh -- and the battery? The kid killed it several years ago, and it only lasts for about 15 minutes. I would really like to be able to go to the libraries in Big City and do some research. It would be nice to have a computer (I keep thinking I should take notes on the computer, rather than on reams of paper, although I think I remember things better when I write them) that I could write on.

Here's the problem. I'm cheap. I want the most computer for my money, but I'm torn between getting something really good and having it last for 5 years, or something that will do, because I have a good desktop at home and an acceptable desktop at work. Oh -- it would be nice if it had a 3D accelerator, DirectX 9 compatible video card, too, because otherwise, I'm going to have to upgrade my Video card on the desktop, which is another $100-$200. Crap. I've just realized if I buy a mac laptop, I'll still have to upgrade the video card on the PC. And if I do start going away on reserach trips, I need to have a good computer that will allow me to plug into European power sources.

So anyway, here are the things I really want: small, lightweight (as close to 5 pounds as possible), keyboard that won't cramp my hands. Good screen. CD/DVD RW (because I don't have a DVD burner). Otherwise, I'm clueless.

I am not married to the idea of PCs, but Macs seem pricier. I do like the old powerbooks, but am kind of annoyed that the new iBooks are bigger. Still, if there's a good reason to go Mac, I would. Any opinions out there?

14 comments:

Kelly said...

First off, I would buy a computer planning to keep it 2 to 3 years at max if you want it to do anything beyond word processing.

Have you looked around your new campus to see if there are any avenues to even price match? I know some parts of our campus are pushing to have laptops replace desktops in our offices.

I would go to one of the big box stores like Best Buy and check out the options and pricing to get a better feel for what you want.

Then, don't forget to use the education price available to faculty anywhere from most of the major manufacturers. Despite its advances with the iPod, the Mac is still more expensive and still is less than 10% of the market.

Also, consider investigating openoffice.org for your office suite or your campus software policy to get a $10 copy of MS Office to use at home as an extension of your campus license.

Hope that helps!

Another Damned Medievalist said...

Our IT department is crap, unfortunately. THe people are very nice, and most of them seem to know their jobs, but basically, they are not so helpful at an institutional level. There is Mac support on campus, at least, because a couple of the programs are all mac. I won't buy through school, though, because my department will get charged a $50 per year "maintenance fee".

Kelly said...

ADM, I wasn't talking about buying through the school, I was talking about taking advantage of the ed discount offered by manufacturers. You don't go through the school at all, you simply have to tell the company what school you are affiliated with. Here are some links:

Click on Personal Purchases Here: http://store.apple.com/Catalog/US/Images/routingpage.html

http://www.dell.com/content/default.aspx?c=us&cs=2244&l=en&s=eep

Another Damned Medievalist said...

Oh, I knew that about Apple, but not Dell! Thanks!

Terminaldegree said...

I adore my Mac. I've owned Macs, and nothing but Macs, for 12 years.

That said, it depends on what you need it for. If you plan on doing anything with FrontPage, Outlook, or Publisher, they don't run on a Mac (there are comparable programs for Mac users, but if you share FP or Pub documents with other PC users, you could have problems). And WebCT/Blackboard aren't as compatable with Macs, either, although it still works.

On the other hand, if you plan to work with graphics or sound, a Mac is delightful. And aesthetically, I far prefer the Mac OS to Windows.

Powerpoint presentations will run on both systems, but I find that I have to do a bit of reformatting when I switch platforms.

I'll probably get another Mac when my current laptop bites the dust (since this is my main computer), provided that I still have a PC in my office at work when I really, really need to use Pub. or FP.

That said, if money were really an issue and I just wanted a laptop for internet and MS Word, I'd probably get a PC.

Sharon said...

I bought a white MacBook (upped to 1GB RAM), and I love it. It's really fast. It isn't the lightest of the light, but it isn't bad and it's easy to handle; the battery lasts about 4 hours, I think; it has a CD/DVD writer. Plus, the Intel chip makes possible several options for running Windows-only programs. (There are a few I have to have.) The main ones are Bootcamp (which is free) or Parallels (which I think is about $70 now but it is very good).

It also seemed to be one of increasingly few laptops on the market with a screen smaller than 15" (perhaps because people are replacing desktops with laptops, larger machines seem to be the trend at the moment, which is a pain in the bum if you want a genuinely portable laptop!). The keyboard is different from any other I've ever used (people either seem to love it or hate it) - I find the size is fine, but I do have quite small hands. It's the kind of thing you'd probably really want to find an Apple Shop and try out.

If you get Apple's educational discount, it's not horribly expensive - in fact a few months back it was actually very competitive for machines with the new Intel chips, although I don't know if that's still the case.

Another Damned Medievalist said...

I just priced out the comparable Dell -- the big differences are in the hard drive size -- Dell's standard is more space. Otherwise, If you want the bells and whistles I'd like, the two are only about $50 different in price -- although why you'd need the dual core in a PC (presumably, one could partition and then run Mac programs?) is another question.

Anonymous said...

I think "dual core" refers to the processor, not the hard drive (the usual thing one partitions). Just means that the processing goes a little more quickly and smoothly for some operations, particularly if one tends to run several complicated apps at once (multitasking, multithreading). Since I have Firefox, OpenOffice, WordPerfect, UltraEdit, and BOINC running at the moment on my desktop ;) I'm inclined to think that dual core is a Good Thing, esp. as software developers build things that take proper advantage of it. To my understanding, though, it won't particularly help with dual *boot*, which is having the ability to run more than one operating system on a given machine....
--another sharon

Another Damned Medievalist said...

Oh.. I thought that the dual core processor was what made it possible for Mac to offer the dual boot ...

Anonymous said...

I think the new-ish decision to produce Macs that use Intel chips is the direct cause. (Intel and Windows play nicely together, though Windows also runs fine on x86 chips designed by AMD.)

Meanwhile, it's been possible to dual-boot x86 machines for years. ;) Before, nothing besides Apple's own OS ran on Macs....

*eyes Mac Pro desktop*
First I want to know whether people have heat management problems with it, though, and how well it really does with Parallels and Boot Camp for game-play.

Sharon said...

skg, I probably wouldn't sit with it on my lap with bare legs. The left hand rear corner in particular gets quite hot. OTOH, my old Toshiba laptop used to blow out scorching hot air from the side vent; you didn't want that hitting bare skin either. So I don't think it's that bad. It doesn't seem to overheat so bad that it starts shutting down or anything like that.

I'm afraid I can't report anything about the performance for playing games as I don't do that. But I have heard that Bootcamp is good. (There are quite a lot of online reviews floating around.)

Anonymous said...

@Sharon
Thanks! We have a shared MacBook at work, and it does heat up a bit. As you say, though, most laptops with decent fans have that problem. (Otherwise, I worry that they're failing to circulate air.)

I'm curious about the recent desktop version and its heat management because Apple doesn't seem to favor end-user hardware tinkering. If the power supply and fan aren't sufficient for the nifty-cool components one can configure in the tower case, stuff may melt a bit, and if D. and I invest in one, it'll probably become something of a home server.

Sorry, ADM--I've run way past the original post's pale....

Another Damned Medievalist said...

No worries -- I'm enjoying hearing more computer stuff!

Henrik said...

MacBook.


And about the computer getting hot, the whole range of apple's iBooks and MacBooks are constructed to lead away heat *through* the plastic casing of the laptop itself. So, instead of big noisy fan you tiny fan and a warm lap. But it won't burn your skin. Promise.