Laptops at Princeton

<p>Hey everyone!</p>

<p>Quick Question: I'm class of 09, and had some computing questions.</p>

<p>My whole parents are luckily in the computer mode these days, so I have to narrow down what type of computer I want (if I want one) at Princeton. </p>

<p><em>Don't feel obligated to answer all...just as many as you can</em></p>

<p>1) Do I really need a computer?</p>

<p>2) Is a laptop better, or a PC?</p>

<p>3) What companies are best? Some things that come to mind are Dell, Mac, etc., but which of these has the best and longest lasting qualities? I will be an econ, polisci, or ORFE concentrator. Based on those, what qualities should I be looking for in a computer? </p>

<p>4) Which additional software packages should I be looking for? I think word/power point is the basic stuff, but I will otherwise be using this computer primarily for homework (typing projects, etc.), communicating with friends and family, and iTunes.</p>

<p>5) Where should I buy the computer? I know Princeton offers computers, but my parents are understandably suspicious that these may have the prices jacked up. Where can I get the model for cheapest (preferably unused) and what are the advantages of buying a Princeton model v. one on eBay or at Circuit City?</p>

<p>1) You don't <em>need</em> a computer...there are plenty available on campus. But it does make your life easier, and maybe more fun, too. I'd recommend that you get one if you can.</p>

<p>2) That depends. There's a trade-off to mobility. Laptops cost more for the same computing power, they're much easier to steal, and they usually don't provide as much computing power as desktops. They also typically have smaller screens, annoyingly small keyboards and touchpads or other devices to move the cursor around that aren't as nice as a good mouse. (You could buy a mouse, but then you'd have to carry it around with you.) But todays laptops are probably way more powerful than you'll ever need to work on papers, check email, surf the internet, etc. You can move them out of the way, take them to the library, etc. I personally think the laptop is the way to go as long as you can afford the price difference. If money is not an issue, you can do what I do: use the laptop as a portable, then get a nice big screen and a nice keyboard and mouse that you can plug in when you're in your room. </p>

<p>3) I'm a mac head myself. If you haven't used a computer much, they're great, easy to learn, stable and pretty much all inclusive. They have a great quality rating. There are currently NO know viruses that specifically attack Mac's OSX operating system, compared to thousands that target PCs. The downsides: they're a lot more expensive (except for the new mini mac, which is a desktop.) Most people have PCs, not Macs, and while compatibility is becoming less of an issue all the time, it is still an issue.</p>

<p>That said, all my friends who have Dells think they're great. The price is certainly right. You do have to know what you want from a computer because you have so many options. You basically get to build your own computer.</p>

<p>Finally, make sure you get enough hard drive space for all your iTunes files. I usually get an external drive to use as extra storage and backup of important files. Hard drives do crash. Always backup somehow...</p>

<p>3) Microsoft Office is a good choice...almost everybody has it, so compatibility is not really an issue. It is expensive, though. Again, if money is an issue, look into the free open source program Open Office, which does everything basic that MS Office does, and you can't beat free. So much of the software you'll use for fun is free (web browsers, iTunes, etc.) that I wouldn't worry about getting too much more at this point. If you need something specific later, you can get it then, and probably get a nice educational use discount.</p>

<p>5) When I was at Princeton, the computers offered through the Ustore (Princeton's bookstore) were cheaper than you could get almost anywhere else. I bought my current computer through the USC bookstore (I got a grad degree at USC) and it was $400 cheaper than anywhere else. I don't know if that's the case, but it probably still is. But you should check. See the exact model P'ton offers, then check the apple or dell or whatever website.</p>

<p>If you aren't really computer savvy, I wouldn't suggest buying from ebay or a lesser known brand, and I would definitely suggest buying new so you get the warranty and the free customer service support.</p>

<p>Hope that helps...</p>

<p>The Princeton model has some software you will find useful. Go to the SCI site and you will see what it is. I don't think it's anything esoteric. Probably the best thing about getting it from SCI is that these are the computers whose problems they are familiar with. I certainly don't think the prices are "jacked up;" the year we bought they were lower than the employee price we were offered through a family member. But by all means, do some comparison shopping. </p>

<p>You will probably not want a desktop, because it will take up your whole desk, which you will want to be using since all your stuff will be in one room.</p>

<p>you need a laptop. my laptop just broke :-( and although I also have a desktop, it definately limits your opportunities. While there are clusters all over, I personally find it depressing to sit in the cluster for hours on end. Plus, all the dorms are supposed to be wireless next year. It's so much better to be able to leave your room when you have to seriously work, or even when you don't. If your roommate is sleeping, or a lot of people are in your room, its nice to be able to jsut pick up and leave. It makes it easier to get help with assignments (orfe uses a lot of computers) or to get your laptop fixed (just take it to oit). Also, when its nice out, you can go sit outside with the computer. Finally, certain study spaces, such as chancellor green, dont have computer clusters by them.</p>

<p>If you don't know much about computers and don't want to spend your first few days at oit, id recommend the sci computers. they're pretty good, light, have all the software installed, and are registered for the network. All you have to do is plug them in when you get on campus. Plus, they are a pretty good deal</p>

<p>I, on the other hand, did not buy an sci computer, nor will my new laptop be sci. I had already had a laptop, and now 2 of my best friends on campus are computer nerds who can help me to set it up. Really, its pretty easy and the oit instructions are very good, but if you really dont know how to use a computer, its a pain.</p>

<p>Any takers for the Ferrari Laptop? :p jks</p>

<p>Great thread! Thansk for the helpful replies/suggestions.</p>

<p>aparent5 - thanks for mentioning the SCI</p>

<p>Unfortunately, we can't access most of the information about the computers without our NetIDs (which we'll only be getting in June). </p>

<p>Approximately how many students purchase their laptops from Princeton as opposed to buying them from computer companies? Did the majority of students on campus buy their computers through the SCI?</p>

Probably the best thing about getting it from SCI is that these are the computers whose problems they are familiar with.

But doesn't the computer centre cater to all students with computer problems so anyone can bring their laptop to be fixed if it's giving them trouble?</p>

<p>Yes, it does, genevvieve. They are very helpful. If you were unhappy with the SCI deal, I wouldn't get it. All things being equal, though, it is our experience that the OIT is familiar with the problems that tend to come up in whichever models SCI is selling. They certainly try to negotiate a fair deal for students, and they handle problems such as hard drive crashes with a quick turnaround. Keep in mind that college students' laptops take a real beating, since students often keep them on 24/7 in order to get IMs and tend to bang them around the dorm room, library, train and plane home, etc. </p>

<p>Here is an article about sales last year:
<a href=""&gt;;/a&gt;&lt;/p>

<p>Thanks for the link to the article aparent5 - some interesting info.</p>

<p>When can we buy these laptops from SCI? Before we actually get there, I hope?</p>

<p>Yes, they deliver it to your home during the summer.</p>

<p>not for us internationals it doesn't :(</p>