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Budget Laptop Roundup

Tom's Back To School Guide: Gear for Work
By

By Barry Gerber

All of these notebooks retail for under $800, except for the Apple MacBook Pro, and all are available as of this writing. Pricing in the portable computing market is volatile — most manufacturers release new models on a quarterly basis, often whether there are changes in hardware components or not. These particular models will be readily available at least through the middle to end of August. So, they are truly back-to-school laptops, and if you want one for that or any other purpose, I suggest you buy one ASAP.

If I could, I would have listed only laptops based on Intel’s new Centrino 2 technology. However, most of those won’t hit the market until the same middle-to-late August timeframe. Also, because the new technology will cost more early on, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to buy Centrino 2 laptops for the same price range with the features of the models I discuss here. Check out what the new Managing Editor of Tom’s Hardware, Chris Angelini, has to say about Centrino 2 .

While all of these laptops are fine for standard school use, they’re not super-powered gaming machines or heavy duty graphics workstations. If you want something like that, you’ll need to focus on higher-end, super-large, super-heavy notebooks from the likes of Dell, Alienware, Toshiba and the myriad smaller scale manufacturers and vendors out there.

Note that, at least for budget notebooks, vendors report battery information in different ways. Some list the number of cells in a battery, while others provide battery capacity numbers in milliamp hours (mAh). Though this is not a hard and fast rule, more cells or more capacity equal longer battery life for notebooks in the same hardware component class. Fortunately, the notebooks in this roundup are very similar in their hardware components; for example, each comes with a read/write optical CD/DVD drive.

So, let’s take a look at the six budget laptops I’m recommending for those going back to school this fall. I’ve included specific model numbers and links where available. There were no specific model numbers for the Dell or Apple models, but there are links for these. If you’re hitting this article after mid-August and a specific link doesn’t work any more, try going to the company’s home page and surfing for a similar model.

Dell Inspiron 1525 ($799)

From its Core 2 Duo T5750 2.00GHz CPU to 3 GB of shared memory and 9-cell battery, the Inspiron 1525 is chock full of respectable mobile hardware.

If you’re into color and style, the 1525 line offers a lot to like, whether it’s the basic black model or the black one shown here with cool white racing stripes. (The design is called "Street Pattern" and costs $25 extra.) Also available at the same $25 premium are nine other colors, including Alpine White, Ruby Red, Midnight Blue, Flamingo Pink and Sunshine Yellow. In addition to Street Pattern, there are two other patterned designs: Chill and Commotion.

Features: Dell Inspiron 1525
Component Model
CPU Core 2 Duo T5750 (2.00 GHz / 667 MHz FSB / 2 MB Cache)
Memory 3 GB Shared Dual Channel DDR2 at 667 MHz
Graphics Controller Intel Graphics Media Accelerator X3100
Display Widescreen 15.4" display (1280x800)
Hard Disk Drive 250 GB SATA Hard Drive (5400 RPM)
Wireless Networking up to 802.11g
Battery 6-Cell
Size (WxHxD) 14.05" x 1.00" front - 1.48" back x 10.08"
Weight 5.9 pounds
Operating System Windows Vista Home Premium SP1

Dell Inspiron 1525 Homepage

HP Compaq 6720s PC (KR915UT) ($799)

Though it’s far from super stylish, HP’s Compaq 6720s PC (KR915UT) comes ready for work. It has a little less CPU power and memory than the Dell Inspiron 1525, but it matches the 1525 in all other categories.

One difference, though, is that the HP comes with Vista Business, which has some features you won’t find in the other five laptops in this guide. Vista Business supports full disk image backup, while Vista Home Premium lets you backup files, but not a full image of your disks. Vista Business also features built-in remote desktop access and the ability to use your laptop to send and receive faxes and images. Vista Business doesn’t support “fun and games features” such as Media Center, so you won’t have as much fun with a Vista Business based laptop, but you’ll be happy with it if you plan to use your laptop mostly for serious work.

Of course, Microsoft’s Windows Vista Ultimate retails at only $20 more than Vista Business ($199 vs. $219) and it has everything but the kitchen sink, including all of the features of Home Premium and Business — plus a few of its own, like file encryption (BitLocker). So if Ultimate is available as an option for the notebook you want to buy, I suggest you go for it. I use it and love it on both my notebook and desktop.

Features: HP Compaq 6720s PC (KR915UT)
Component Model
CPU Intel Core 2 Duo Processor T5670 (1.80 GHz / 800 MHz FSB / 2 MB L2 cache)
Memory 2 GB Shared Dual Channel DDR2 at 667 MHz
Graphics Controller Intel Graphics Media Accelerator X3100
Display Widescreen 15.4" display (1280x800)
Hard Disk Drive 250 GB SATA Hard Drive (5400 RPM)
Wireless Networking up to 802.11g
Battery 6-Cell
Size (WxHxD) 14.10" x 1.27" x 10.50"
Weight 5.5 pounds
Operating System Windows Vista Business SP1; XP downgrade media included

HP Compaq 6720s PC Homepage

Toshiba Satellite L305-S5883 ($799)

The version of Dell’s Inspiron featured here and Toshiba’s Satellite L305-S5883 look like clones. If it weren’t for slight differences in size and weight, and possible battery life, I’d suspect they came from the same source.

I have used Toshiba laptops for years; the only thing that has ever given me trouble is the disk drives, and in that I am not alone. I don’t mean in having problems with Toshiba’s laptop drives in specific, but in having troubles in general with notebook drives. Until fairly recently, laptop disk drives were quite vulnerable, because they could be damaged easily if a laptop was dropped even a few inches.

Newer mechanisms that lock a drive’s heads over an area of the disk that contains no data have helped prevent some disasters, but problems still exist. The new solid state drives promise much better protection against dropping, but they’re still quite expensive and they just might drain more battery power than similarly-sized magnetic disks.

What to do? See my discussion of backup in the section on HP’s Compaq 6720s PC (KR915UT).

Features: Toshiba Satellite Pro L305-S5883
Component Model
CPU Core 2 Duo T5750 (2.00 GHz / 667 MHz FSB / 2 MB Cache)
Memory 3 GB Shared Dual Channel DDR2 at 667MHz
Graphics Controller Intel Graphics Media Accelerator X3100
Display Widescreen 15.4" display (1280x800)
Hard Disk Drive 250 GB SATA Hard Drive (5400 RPM)
Wireless Networking up to 802.11g
Battery 4000 mAh
Size (WxHxD) 14.2" x 1.30" front - 1.48" back x 10.08"
Weight 5.7 pounds
Operating System Windows Vista Home Premium SP1

Toshiba Satellite L305-S5883 Homepage

Apple MacBook ($1099)

The MacBook is the lowest cost product in the Apple laptop lineup, and the one we’re looking at here is the very lowest model in the MacBook line. If you haven’t been following Apple computers for a while — though I can’t imagine how you could have missed this — Apple has gone over to the devil and now uses Intel products in its Macs. The MacBook under the microscope here has both a solidly performing Intel Core 2 Duo T8100, and the same Intel X3100 Graphics Media Accelerator used in the other laptops included in this roundup.

However, compared to the other five notebooks presented here, the MacBook is both more expensive and includes lesser hardware in some areas. The CPU is fine and the laptop has some enviable multimedia capabilities such as a DVI output. However, it comes with only 1 GB of memory, the disk drive has a capacity of just 120 GB, and unlike the other five laptops, the MacBook’s display is two inches smaller. On the plus side, the laptop does include 802.11n wireless support, but the good stuff isn’t worth the premium price.

So, what’s up?

As I note at the end of this piece, much of the extra cost of Apple products must be going into providing the very best customer and technical support in the business. So, as usual, you pay your money and you make your choice.

Features: Apple MacBook
Component Model
CPU Core 2 Duo T8100 (2.10 GHz / 800 MHz FSB / 3 MB Cache)
Memory 1 GB Shared Dual Channel DDR2 at 667 MHz
Graphics Controller Intel Graphics Media Accelerator X3100
Display Widescreen 13.3" display (1280x800)
Hard Disk Drive 120 GB SATA Hard Drive (5400 RPM)
Wireless Networking up to 802.11n
Battery 5200 mAh
Size (WxHxD) 12.78" x 1.08" x 8.92"
Weight 5.2 pounds
Operating System Mac OS X Leopard 10.5.2 or greater

Apple MacBook Homepage

Sony VGN-NR460E/P and VGN-NR460E/L ($749)

These two Sony VGN models are almost exactly the same. The only difference is in the colors the two come in: Textured Nightfall Blue (VGN-NR460E/L) and Cherry Blossom Pink (VGN-NR460E/P). These two laptops clearly offer a set of one-for-the-boys and one-for-the-girls alternatives.

Although the Sony VGN-NR460E/P and VGN-NR460E/L models feature slightly less impressive CPU, memory and hard disk options than the Dell Inspiron and Toshiba laptops, there is still some basic value to be had here. However, the $50 lower price of the Sonys hardly makes up for the hardware differences.

To be fair, after knocking Apple, I should note that Sony charges a premium compared to most other computer manufacturers. Unlike with Apple, though, I find it difficult to understand what the company does with the premium: it’s not known for world class customer service.

Sony is offering back to school bonuses with some of its laptops, including the two VGN models featured here. Check the company’s website for details.

Features: Sony VGN-NR460E/P and VGN-NR460E/L
Component Model
CPU T2390 (1.86 GHz / 533 MHz FSB / 1 MB L2 Cache)
Memory 2 GB Shared Dual Channel DDR2 at 667 MHz
Graphics Controller Intel Graphics Media Accelerator X3100
Display Widescreen 15.4" display (1280x800)
Hard Disk Drive 200 GB SATA Hard Drive (5400 RPM)
Wireless Networking up to 802.11n
Battery 4800mAh
Size (WxHxD) 14.2" x 1.20" front - 1.50" back x 10.6"
Weight 6.3 pounds
Operating System Windows Vista Home Premium SP1

Sony Vaio VGN-NR460E/P Homepage Sony Vaio VGN-NR460E/P Homepage

Lenovo IdeaPad Y510 - 77582CU ($779)

The IdeaPad line includes Lenovo’s more consumer-oriented laptops. These contrast nicely with the still very successful ThinkPad line of business laptops inherited, at least in name, from IBM.

Like the Sony models, Lenovo’s Y510 - 77582CU comes in a bit less expensive than the Dell and Toshiba models, and with slight less heft on the hardware side. Again, the $20 difference between the Y510 - 77582CU and the Dell and Toshiba can’t be explained away by Lenovo’s use of lower performance hardware. Assuming efficient component purchasing, manufacturing and sales/distribution practices, the company is making more on the Y510 - 77582CU than either Dell or Toshiba are on their products. However, unlike Sony, according to a number of independent assessments of tech support offered by different research organizations, Lenovo has figured out how to use those extra bucks to provide technical support at a level of quality that makes it second in the industry behind Apple.

Features: Lenovo IdeaPad Y510 - 77582CU
Component Model
CPU Core 2 Duo T5550 (1.83 GHz / 667 MHz FSB / 2MB Cache)
Memory 2 GB Shared Dual Channel DDR2 at 667 MHz
Graphics Controller Intel Graphics Media Accelerator X3100
Display Widescreen 15.4" display (1280x800)
Hard Disk Drive 160 GB SATA Hard Drive (5400 RPM)
Wireless Networking 802.11g
Battery 6-Cell
Size (WxHxD) 14.10" x 1.14" front - 1.42" back x 10.30"
Weight 6.49 pounds
Operating System Windows Vista Home Premium SP1

Lenovo IdeaPad - Y510 Homepage

What To Buy

You’ve probably already noticed the similarity of these six laptops: even the Apple MacBook has a lot of the same hardware components as the other models. Except for the MacBook, all of the computers are also similarly priced. So what does the extra you pay for the MacBook buy you? Well, there might still be a bit of Apple snobbery appeal in the price, but one of the main benefits of Apple products is the company’s strong customer service reputation. No other company scores as high as Apple in this area in surveys by reliable, well respected consumer-oriented research organizations.

Does this mean that Apple always provides great service, or that other companies never do it right? No way. Right now, as an iPhone owner, I’m following a very interesting set of forum threads that are seriously questioning the ability of the new iTunes-iPhone OS 2.0 to handle synchronization between the iPhone and Microsoft’s Outlook email, calendar and contacts software — and Apple’s attitude about fixing the problem. And, I have to say that I’ve had very good service from the other manufacturers whose laptops I’ve covered here.

I recommend that you select your back to school laptop based on your own interests and needs. If performance is your main concern, go for the laptops with the fastest components. Here, your choice is pretty much limited to CPU speed, though the differences in CPU performance among the laptops presented here are going to be quite minimal anyway.

If you’re a serious, work-oriented player, go for the Vista Business operating system. If you want to play or mix work and play, Vista Home Premium or Ultimate are for you.

If you’re concerned about running out of disk space with all the new and exciting things you can store on your laptop these days, then go for the biggest hard disk. But remember that the more capacity you have, the more content you have to back up. So, think about getting an external drive and either using the notebook’s operating system itself to backup your notebook, or find some software and maybe even an online backup service to save all that good stuff to another place.

If you’re a design hound, then select from the variety of styles and colors available for at least some of the notebooks presented here. From the racing stripes and rainbow of colors available for the Inspiron 1525, to the hot pink and electric blue colors Sony has dreamed up for its Vaio models, there’s plenty for you to choose from.

Finally, don’t think you have to buy the configurations in this article. As you may have noticed if you surfed to some of the company site links above, they offer a lot of configuration options, both more and less expensive. Fiddle around a bit to see what might be best for you.

Whatever you do, buy that laptop now and avoid the late August and early September rush...

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  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , July 21, 2008 7:30 AM
    Is the title image taken in Singapore?
  • 0 Hide
    cangelini , July 21, 2008 9:01 AM
    grantyaleIs the title image taken in Singapore?


    Couldn't tell ya =)
  • 2 Hide
    njalterio , July 21, 2008 1:12 PM
    Haha.....as a university student who will be heading back to school for my final year this August I must say so much of this is unnecessary.

    First off, if you are living at home and/or still in high school absolutely none of this is necessary. Use the home PC.

    Second, If you are going away to college, then get either a cheap laptop or desktop and one ethernet cable. End of story. You will be able to print through your university's printers, and most likely you will be able to get very cheap software from the university. I can buy Vista Ultimate for $15. Norton Antivirus is free.

    Third, do not buy Apple as it is way to expensive. As a college student your money would be much better used elsewhere. This article did not do justice to Lenovo at all. I highly recommend a ThinkPad T61. (I priced a 2.4 GHz dual core and 4 GB of RAM and 100 GB hard drive for around $1100). The same hardware configuration would cost over $3000 in a Mac.

    4) DO NOT SPEND MONEY IN WARRANTY/REPAIR/TROUBLESHOOTING SOFTWARE OR SERVICES! At your university there will be many smart and intelligent people who will be able to help you out for free. Depending on the size of your university, there will probably be a free tech support service somewhere on campus.

  • 3 Hide
    Anonymous , July 21, 2008 2:06 PM
    What about those of students who are in engineering and need laptops that can handle lots of CAD, a simple budget laptop will not do. Look at Mississippi State's requirements in the engineering dept for entering freshman, a required 256 bit gpu and they recommend 512 bit. Just wondering if we could see something more high end for the technical fields, this is a great read though
  • 0 Hide
    njalterio , July 21, 2008 2:31 PM
    I am also a student in engineering and I am quite familiar with the computer hardware required. If you are an engineering major, then you should invest $200 more to get a laptop or desktop with discrete graphics.

    I was pointing out that a getting a $3000 laptop is ridiculous, and definitely should not be considered "vital" for back to school.
  • 0 Hide
    mitch074 , July 21, 2008 2:48 PM
    Overall quite nice, but:

    - getting a Thinkpad may be more expensive, but it has two enormous advantages: it's extremely sturdy, and it is easily serviceable; if you want to keep your laptop for 3 years, you'll have a better time with it than any other laptop series

    - Google Docs is nice, but it requires an always-on Internet connection. I can't, for the life of me, understand why there's no OpenOffice.org mentioned anywhere: it's free, it's powerful, it's stable, and it's available for all systems cited (yes, even MacOS X - Aqua version will be out in september).

    - if all you do is type notes and browse the Web, a netbook may just be what you need: lighter, smaller, cuter, faster to boot. It is also far less expensive. The MSI Wind and it's rather large screen and keyboard are a good thing, you can still get an USB keyboard and connect it to a flat screen TV to turn it into a more comfortable workstation in your dorm room.

    For those of you telling me that 'Vista is required', bull: the Apple one runs OS X, you can run Linux or XP without trouble in such a context (yes, there is Java and Flash support under Linux; even Google Earth runs very well).
  • 0 Hide
    gaiden , July 21, 2008 3:04 PM
    I hope you chain that 24" LCD to an iron desk in your drom room. Best things for college are FREE or Second hand, no need to pay premium $$$ for new stuffs. I pay for my own tuition and all my other expense, so there is no way a 'regular' student or their parent will consider buying something this big and pricy. PC component side are decent however.

    The dude above who asks for a Laptop/notebook to work on CAD, maybe a Dell Vostro 1500 and possibly runs in XP. CAD doesn't have all the support from Vista yet...i don't think. Basically if you are all work and no play just make sure you get a Core 2 Duo CPU with a Quadro card and 3-4gb of RAM. If you play some games get a C2D/3-4gb RAM and a Nvidia 8600 and up instead of a Quadro

    gl
  • 0 Hide
    cangelini , July 21, 2008 3:53 PM
    gaidenI hope you chain that 24" LCD to an iron desk in your drom room. Best things for college are FREE or Second hand, no need to pay premium $$$ for new stuffs. I pay for my own tuition and all my other expense, so there is no way a 'regular' student or their parent will consider buying something this big and pricy. PC component side are decent however. The dude above who asks for a Laptop/notebook to work on CAD, maybe a Dell Vostro 1500 and possibly runs in XP. CAD doesn't have all the support from Vista yet...i don't think. Basically if you are all work and no play just make sure you get a Core 2 Duo CPU with a Quadro card and 3-4gb of RAM. If you play some games get a C2D/3-4gb RAM and a Nvidia 8600 and up instead of a Quadrogl


    Ain't it the truth. Nothing tweaked me more than when I had an old-school HP notebook nabbed from my office on-campus during a two minute bathroom break. A shame you have to lock everything down just to let it out of your sight for a second.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , July 21, 2008 4:24 PM
    In my opinion, if you don't play or make games, do scripting or anything else that may take lots of processing power you dont need to spend more than like... 300$ on a computer. To cut down on the price I would get 1gb 667 mhz (15$) of RAM, a Pentium Dual-Core (about 60$) and a PCI video card for about 50$. It would no doubt be more than enough for surfing the internet, watching movies, and using MS Word.
  • 0 Hide
    mbmcavoy , July 21, 2008 5:52 PM
    For students in a technical field, (engineering, computer science, etc), a Windows laptop probably is best due to specialty software/hardware needs. But for the majority of students in non-technical fields, I'd highly recommend the MacBook.

    Sure it seems more expensive if you compare hardware spec sheets, but the OS and included Apps make it a worthwhile package. Plus, iWork is much cheaper than MS Office. (Oh, and currently a free $300 iPod Touch for students and teachers sweetens the pot!)

    General setup and maintenance issues are much less, so you'll have more time for actual studying - especially important for the non-techie! And while Windows has "sleep" features, I've never had consistent success with it. The sleep on my MacBook is bulletproof, and it wakes up in about 1 second. Perfect for the mad dash between classes!

    Of course, if you are a non-techie, you probably aren't reading THG... :) 
  • 0 Hide
    njalterio , July 22, 2008 1:37 AM
    @ mbmcavaoy: There is a about a $2000 price difference (including Windows OS) between a MacBook Pro and a decent Lenovo, Acer, Dell, etc. The price of Microsoft Office comes no where near to cover that price gap. Besides, if you are going to college chances are you will have access to Microsoft software for free.
  • 0 Hide
    mbmcavoy , July 22, 2008 2:58 AM
    njalterio@ mbmcavaoy: There is a about a $2000 price difference (including Windows OS) between a MacBook Pro and a decent Lenovo, Acer, Dell, etc.


    WOW!!! All those other computers are free??? A MacBook Pro starts at $2000. However, I was talking about the basic MacBook, $1099 as mentioned in the article. College students (and all teachers) get a $100 discount, so $999. That's only $250 more than the cheapest laptop in the article.

    Consider that the MacBook-buying student (or teacher) also currently gets a free iPod Touch. Assuming the PC-buying student also wants one, he's now paid $50 more than the MacBook customer.

    Even assuming MS Office is free, vs. the $71 student price on iWork, it's only $21 difference.

    So, again for the non-techie college student, I believe the MacBook is an excellent choice.
  • 0 Hide
    Haiku214 , July 22, 2008 4:16 AM
    First year University students are actually the only ones excited to buy a new laptop :) 
  • 0 Hide
    njalterio , July 22, 2008 12:31 PM
    mbmcavoyWOW!!! All those other computers are free??? A MacBook Pro starts at $2000. However, I was talking about the basic MacBook, $1099 as mentioned in the article. College students (and all teachers) get a $100 discount, so $999. That's only $250 more than the cheapest laptop in the article.Consider that the MacBook-buying student (or teacher) also currently gets a free iPod Touch. Assuming the PC-buying student also wants one, he's now paid $50 more than the MacBook customer.Even assuming MS Office is free, vs. the $71 student price on iWork, it's only $21 difference. So, again for the non-techie college student, I believe the MacBook is an excellent choice.


    That is the absolute cheapest Mac you can get. The hardware you get from that laptop at it's base price is terrible. I really don't see why you would get that laptop when you can spend the same amount of money and get much better hardware. The upgrades are way over priced too.

    $1099 for that laptop? Are you kidding me? You can get an alienware desktop for that much money, which before Apple got big I thought was the biggest overhyped, over priced excuse for a computer you could buy.

    If you want to go buy a macbook be my guest, but please stop making the argument that it is a value purchase. The real reason is because it is hip and trendy. And that iPod touch deal is nonsense. When I want to spend money on a computer, it goes toward a computer, not some over rated hard drive that plays mp3s.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , July 22, 2008 3:24 PM
    Most of the things in the articles, though very nice, are way over budget for a typical college student. I wouldnt pay over $600 for a new laptop. If I was just using it to surf the web, watch videos, and do work, having a laptop with a decent CPU, plenty of RAM (at least 2GB, 4GB preferable) is pretty much all I would need in that case. And of course, running Windows XP or Vista. I wouldnt get any Mac just because it's costs way too much. If you don't want to buy MS Office, OpenOffice is absolutely wonderful and free, or Google Docs.

    I often hear about people's laptops getting stolen. Another reason why you shouldnt buy a really expensive laptop to bring to your dorm.

    I really like the 24" LCD displays in the article, though I wouldn't bring it to the dorm, I don't want that stolen either.
  • 0 Hide
    mbmcavoy , July 22, 2008 6:37 PM
    njalterioThat is the absolute cheapest Mac you can get.


    Except for the $600 Mac Mini.

    Did you read the article? Page 5 is "Budget Laptops", that is what I'm posting in response to. That means cheap laptops, and not mid-range desktops.

    The hardware you get from that laptop at it's base price is terrible.


    Compare the MacBook specs with the others listed in the article. It holds its own, matching or exceeding most of them. OS X isn't as resource-intensive as Windows, so it's OK with less memory. And for most uses, the smaller hard drive is adequate.

    Sure the screen is smaller than the others, but it's the same resolution, and crisp. The keyboard and partially multi-touch trackpad are by far the best of any laptop I have ever used. (My work laptop feels crippled!)

    Compared with the other budget laptops in this article, the hardware is solid. But of course, I didn't buy my MacBook for the hardware, and that's not why I recommend it. I bought it for OS X, Time Machine, and the iLife suite, and it hasn't disappointed. That is well-worth the premium - especially for a student who isn't inclined to be their own IT department.

    I'm even thinking about replacing another Windows desktop with that Mini. If it had a good discrete video card, I'd Boot Camp/VM Windows (for occasional games/CAD) on it and dump my other boxes completely. :) 
  • 1 Hide
    rievax , July 22, 2008 8:58 PM
    " Students who don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars on an Office suite have a slew of alternatives available to them. And although not all are created equal — and there really isn’t any true replacement for Microsoft Excel — Google Docs is a fine alternative that comes with an attractive price "

    Why not using OpenOffice.Org (www.openoffice.org). It is free. It is MUCH more powerfull than the Online Google Docs and it is really a good replacement for MS Office for Students (and even professionals).
  • 0 Hide
    njalterio , July 24, 2008 4:51 AM
    @ mbmcavoy: Well we seem to have reached an agreement that there is less value in Mac hardware for the price compared to other laptops (less RAM, smaller hard drive, etc.)

    I guess we will have to agree to disagree regarding the usefulness of OS X.

    I'll admit that iLife is cool, but I don't see why a student would need to spend more money for software such as that. Students are generally very strapped for cash (I can vouch), and the software that comes with the Mac just doesn't seem like a reason to spring for the extra cash. Time Machine is alright, but Windows also has it's own built in back up utility in addition to support for an array of third party programs.

    Rest assured, you do not need to be your own IT department to use Windows XP or Vista. The only people I know who have that level of difficulty using computers are in the 60+ age group. If a student is experiencing difficulty using a Windows OS, well then they should re-evaluate if college is for them. lol.

    Good luck with putting a discrete card in the Mini. I doubt you will find one that even fits, and I do not see any expansion slots in that mini case. Plus you are going to have some serious over heating issues if you put any capable card in such a small insulated space.
  • 0 Hide
    Chriss CH , August 13, 2011 10:05 AM
    Nice bags but i would recommend Designer Laptop Bags for best use and for fission as well.