“Keep your major in mind. A student of cinema or graphics arts may be wise to consider a Macintosh, because those fields tend to be loyal to Apple. An engineering student might do better with a Windows-Intel configuration,” writes Edward C. Baig for USA Today.
“I strongly suggest a notebook with wireless capabilities. It will let students exploit increasingly common Wi-Fi networks for accessing e-mail, the Internet and the college networks from campus hot spots,” Baig writes.
Baig looks at Apple’s 12-inch iBook, “You could quarrel with the size of the screen (12.1 inches) and puny memory (though you can add more and still remain under $1500). But the specifications only tell part of the story. The iBook is a perfect student companion for more substantial reasons. At less than 5 pounds it is light and small enough to fit into a backpack, and the battery provides enough oomph to carry kids through four or five lectures. Of equal significance: the reliable OS X operating system plus the sweet suite of Mac multimedia software including iTunes, iMovie, iPhoto and iChat.”
Baig continues, “The machine is equipped with a pair of USB ports and a 1394/FireWire connection for, among other purposes, hooking up an optional iPod music player. Quibbles: Though the system is generally quiet, while I burned a CD, the combo drive whirred distractingly in the background, and the speakers are merely ordinary. Moreover, the system ran sluggishly at times, which is why I’d go with 256 MB of memory as a minimum.”
Full article here.
USA Today also offers a “cheat sheet” for buying a laptop, “Mac or Windows? It comes down to individual choice, as well as which type of machine is recommended in your field of study. But if you choose a Mac, be sure to get the latest version of the OS X operating system; on the Windows side, pick XP Professional, which has more advanced networking capabilities, over XP Home.” Cheat sheet here.