please help (a mobile newbie)
i'll be going to college soon, but i'm planning to come back every weekend. at first i was planning to make a kick ass desktop system until i realized that i would need or be much better off with a laptop. since i want a nice desktop so bad, i'm thinking i should make one and leave it in dorm and buy a lame-ass laptop from a friend and carry that around. does that sound ok? if i should just get a nice laptop, where should i get it (or is it which? i don't know much about mobile stuff)? and what's the best way to transfer data from laptop to/from desktop?
Its hard to say really because I dont know how much you have financially, how much you are willing to spend. These are some of the good/bad points of a laptop and desktop pc.
1. Cheaper. Get more for your money
2. Easy to upgrade
3. Not portable
1. Can easily be dropped
2. Much dearer.
3. Harder to upgrade
4. Costs a lot of money if you damage it and you dont know how to fix it.
6. Limited Battery life.
7. Easily stolen
8. Some can be very heavy
Its entirely up to you, how badly do you want a laptop? etc etc. Good luck in choosing send me a email at DannyRowe1987@aol.com. Tell me how much you are willing to spend and i will tell you a good computer to buy and a good laptop if you want. Its entirely up to you
If I were you I would just sink the money into a GOOD Laptop. That means no COMP@#!! I would look at the Toshiba or Asus Laptops, they both have good systems, Asus is better about upgrades, and their prices are very reasonable. Find one you like, and then look for the same thing on CNET or Pricewatch.com.
Most processors these days are faster than the needs of most software, so all you really need is about an 850, but spend the money for the extra RAM 256K or more, RAM = GOOD.
In addition if you can spring for Windows 2000, it is more Laptop friendly, and it is a whole lot more stable.
You asked about sharing information between laptop and desktop, well i would suggest that you buy 10/100 ethernet cards for both computers (most Asus Laptops come with them built in)and set up a local network via a hub (3COM, they are cheap on Pricewatch), Windows 2000 makes it very easy, just use the help menu.
One last thing, buy a lock, so that you can lock your laptop up, they are a great target for thieves at college.
Overall, a laptop is much better than a desktop at colege. If you liveina dorm you will probably find yourself moving almost every semester, and it is much easier to just take the Laptop home, than to box up a Dektop.
If your in the $2000 range, you might want to get a Desktop-Replacement Laptop. My suggestion would be a Dell Inspiron 8000 series. Fully confiugurable to your likings. Even comes with the Geforce2Go graphics.
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I use a desktop replacement class notebook all the time but I must admit I miss the flexibility, upgradibility and performance of a desktop. Still I find that the notebook is not a drag to set up and that it tends to stay put for considerable periods..as it might in a dorm room. If you will use it for in class and/or librbry notetaking you may be happier with one of the newer and more expensive lightweight class machines. I don't think I would want a used machine unless it was a very good brand of fairly recent vintage. There is a lot to be said for a single machnine solution...everything is in the same place and HDD drives are big enough these days.
A few tips for mobil users. Find a backup solution that you will actually use..I use CDRW, but at least keep current work backed up on floppy. I have helped Phd students who operate for long periods without backup...ouch! Second tip: Office Max or Depot has little brightly coloured VELCRO cable ties that really keep your cables and wires ship shape. Then stick the cables in cheap zip up cases about 8 by 6 inches you see in junk type stores. I try to avoid the ones intended for makeup(-:
As a newly bound college student, you might be in luck....check with your school before purchasing anything. Some of them have programs to help their students get a PC (some are even giving them to their students!). If nothing else, they might have a recommended list of hardware (modem, network card, backup devices, etc.) and software. Some even have an campus IT department that will even completely configure your system for instant "plug-n-play" connectivity into their dorm/classroom/lab networks.
By all means check with your schools bookstore...Apple, IBM, and others offer student discounts that are only available through the bookstore. If you can save 20% with your discount by all means get it there. Student discounts are also available on software products...Microsoft and Adobe are known for having **HUGE** discounts!!!
Depending upon what area of study you are going into can also be a point of consideration in your choice...by all means look at an Apple if you are in the media/graphics world. If you are not requiring any specific software (thinking engineering software that might only be on a UNIX or Win platform) but just need the standard "office" product, then anything is a good choice.
Colleges are known for the following:
o super smart students that tend to hack around
o freely available software
o items suddenly missing from your dorm room
The key is to protect yourself. Like one poster mentioned, get yourself a computer lock for your laptop. A notebook just sitting around is a juicy morsel for someone looking for a quick buck....at least locked keeps the petty thief away. Also, get insurance on your laptop...it is an investment for the next 3+ years, so any $$ you spend on hardware & software should be covered. You'll be glad that you did it if you system ever gets stolen.
Colleges are known for having software freely being passed around (it's not that students are eager software pirates, its just that they have no money to purchase what they need...less than 1% continue to pirate software once they have a steady income) but I would **highly** recommend purchasing an antivirus program (Symantec, McAfee, TrendMicro) and a firewall application (Symantec, BlackIce). This will protect you from viruses that tend to float around colleges, and from the late night grad-students who are prying into unprotected systems connected to the schools network.
I've made this recommendation before during previous posts...if you are serious about your hardware look at the following:
They are more spendy that others on the market, but you'll get the support, quality, and wearability for the entire time that you are at school.
Other posters comments are right on:
o more RAM is better than higher CPU speed. Word may *open* quicker with a faster CPU, but the *usage* speed is the same with a 500Mhz as it is with a 1Ghz. More RAM will let you have more applications open and switch between them quicker.
o OS for a laptop? Win98 is the easiest to understand, is (mostly) stable, and supports all the special hardware that laptops have (PC Cards, Infrared, modems, etc.) Win2000 is a better multi-tasking and more stable OS if you are going to task your system with a lot of applications open at once. WinXP is a fancier Win2000, but go with that if your are purchasing new so that your OS is supported longer (hard to say if Win98 will be supported in 3 years, but WinXP will be).
o Backup strategy....this is important!! Especially if you laptop gets stolen! Old stand bys would be something like Iomega's JAZ drive (2Gig) that connects via the USB or SCSI (make sure that your laptop has a USB port or if you need to by an Adaptec SCSI PC-CARD). Newer devices are providing 200+ Gig in smaller packages that connect via the USB port. For strictly personal data files a couple of 2Gig JAZ cartridges will be great....for a complete system backup then the larger capacity will be better. Make sure that you have all of your software (and CDKEYS) on CDROM so that you can rebuild you system if it crashes.
o Spare battery....a must since there are times you will not be near an outlet for quite some time.
o Weight....you might want to consider the ultra-light notebooks that come in two pieces...the ultra-book, and the ultra-base. The book (screen, CPU, keyboard, etc.) are in a light weight package (~3lbs), while the devices (CDROM, floppy, speakers, serial/parallel ports, etc.) are in a base that stays in your dormroom (locked down of course). As a student, you probably will not need access to the base components outside of your dorm room, so you can cut some carrying weight with this type of design. Check out IBM's X-Series to see how this design works...other vendors also have similiar products.
o Screen size....I'd recommend a 13" screen (14" & 15" are really heaving due to the large amount of glass, and the 12" are just a tiche too small) size. Make sure that max resolution is at least 1024x768, and that the technology is TFT - Active Matrix. With anything smaller than 1024x768 you are going to be scrolling left-n-right too much to see all of your appliation window, and the TFT technology allows you to actually see your screen in nearly any light condidtion.
o Drive size.....this is like closet space, no matter how much you have you'll end up filling it up. Suprising, much like closet space, it gets filled up with junk that you forgot you had. Min drive size should be 10Gig, but you really don't need anything bigger than 18 or 20Gig save the $$ for software or hardware.
o Network card...go with a name brand (ie. 3Com) as that they always work and will always be supported. Get one with a modem only if a modem isn't already built into your laptop. The combo card frees up your other PCCard slot for another device (SCSI, Video Capture, FireWire, etc.) when you need it.
My biggest recommendation is to contact your school and/or school bookstore before purchasing, otherwise you might lose out on discounts or make an uninformed decision.