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Switcher Hangout The place for switchers to discuss their new machines, and how to work with OS X. General support can be had here for newbie stuff, like "How do I restart my new iMac?" :)

College student dilemma: iBook or Mac Mini?


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BtotheRAD
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Hey all,

I have a slight dilemma on my hands. I REALLY REALLY want a Mac for college just because I'd like to learn a new OS, they seem to be more practical for the things I actually do, and they're incredibly cool. My problem is I can't decide which one to get! Here's what I can get for around $1,000.00:

Mac Mini:
1.25 gHz
512 mb ram
40 gb HD
4x SuperDrive
Wireles Keyboard, Mouse, and bluetooth
Airport Extreme
ATI Radeon 9200 (32mb)
that leaves me with about $220.00 to get a 15 inch flat panel display

or...

iBook:
1.2 gHz
256 mb ram (+ $42.00 for another 256 mb ram from crucial)
30 gb HD
Combo Drive
Airport Extreme
12 inch screen
ATI mobility Radeon 3200 (32mb)

Which one of the two do you mac addicts recommend? I think DVD burning would be nice, but its not a necessity. My basic uses would be: Word processing (does appleworks play nice w/ ms office files?), internet, music, burning cd, and watching dvds. IF anyone is in college right now, is portability worth it? Thanks in advance to those who post...!
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witeshark

 
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I personally like the iBook. More portable!
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Avid6eek

 
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Member Since: Jan 13, 2005
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I'd go with the Mini. With the extra RAM and your student discount, it comes to $546. You can get at least a 17" LCD with it, and a good mouse and keyboard.

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shimanok2

 
Member Since: Jan 25, 2005
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im at university of new hampshire, and having a laptop(not even a mac) helps a lot. theres a ton of kids who think there stupid because you cant upgrade them as easily. but these are mostly people who are in ther rooms all day playing counter strike. the portability is great to have. more and more of out buildings are becoming wireless so i just take mine to class with me all the time. its great. and if you really want to burn dvd's, you could always a save up the money after you buy an ibook and buy an external DVD burner. there not that expensive. I WOULD DEFINITLY GET THE IBOOK. i do pretty much the same things as you, and the ibook rules for them. hope i helped.
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coach_z

 
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having a laptop is definately a luxury and sometimes useless at campus.

it is great to bring to class to take notes if you are going to resist going on the internet...

it is great to bring to the library and study with. you arent going to get stuck in some computer lab with 5million other loud students around...once again, must refrain from internet

a downfall to getting the laptop would be it sitting on your desk all day long like mine does more often then not. since i have access to a free ftp site on campus sometimes i just sent myself files and use the several computers that i have guranteed access to

i would go for the ibook in your case, because sometimes you will just want to bring your laptop with you and if you have the mini your not going to have that option


are you a very studious person...my gf is always carrying her brick (aka ibm thinkpad) around campus and doing homework and such on it all the time...myself on the other hand do not really do homework ever but will bring it around to do the occasional work

you can also think of it this way...my school...Bryant University up in RI...increased tuition for new students which gives them a new IBM Lappy after their sophmore year and then they get to keep it....BU is a business school and they think that laptops are extremelly beneficial to learning and the world as a whole (bryant is one of the best business schools in the north east)

good luck deciding....ill give one vote for the lappy

-chris

ps...i didnt re read or edit this post in any way, hope it made sense
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trpnmonkey41

 
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I used my powerbook the first semester but got myself an iMac over break. I found that I rarely brought my laptop out of the room. It was too much of a hassle to disconnect everything just to go work somewhere else. I have a thumbdrive and network space where I store everything that I would work on off of my computer and if I do have to go to the library I just go into the lab downstairs and plug in and do my work (maybe 1 or 2 times a month). I do like how much more desk space I have by having my iMac over the powerbook. With the powerbook I would have it slid up to the front so I would be able to type, but then theres all the space behind the laptop that is just cables. With the iMac at the back of the desk and bluetooth mouse and keyboard I have much more space on the desk

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mdavis71

 
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just so you know you can get a 17" mac LCD right now at best buy for 179.99
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BtotheRAD
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The only thing I'm truly worried about is compatibility issues with software at college if I go with the iBook. I'm going to be a biochem major or a pharmacy major, and I don't want to be held back because I chose a Mac over a PC. I love the iBook, but if it isn't going to do what I want it to, I"ll be very disappointed.

I've decided to go ahead and get a laptop, but I still have to choose windows or mac. Ugh...
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coach_z

 
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call up or go to the school and see what programs they use...my school is 100% IBM, but i have no problem using my powerbook because i manageed to get all of the programs that they use

-chris

ps. i do find myself going to the computer lab for some math courses though
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walkerj

 
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Regarding the form factor...laptop or Mini, well that's one practical issue which has been addressed. Good luck with that.

As far as a Mac playing nice with MS outputted apps (ie Word/Excel) I have found that Appleworks doesn't seem to want to play nice with Word files. However I downloaded Open Office, and while it's still stuck in X11 land (requiring you to install X11 but that's not a big deal) and is a tad on the slow side, does indeed work fairly nicely with Word/Excel files. Also there are word viewers that are free. There is also the option of buying MS Office for the Mac, but that's kind of out of your price range but can be considered for the future. In the meantime OO can act as a stopgap.

As far as everything else (networking, sharing stuff with Windows machines) Macs have proven to work about as close to flawlessly as you can find. One thing I have found is that some USB peripherals (a USB-serial converter, and a scanner I have) don't always "just work" with a Mac. The USB-serial converter I bought to work with my Palm IIIxe flat out didn't work (drivers were for MacOS 9, and were useless on Panther) and my scanner required updated drivers from Canon, so it was a bit more painful than it should have been.

Just a couple of caveats. A Mac of any form-factor should serve you well in education (plus not having to worry about worm/virus infested .edu networks helps a lot.)
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mig.gentry

 
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Get the iBook (if you decide against windows), laptops are great even if you don't take them to class or anywhere outside your room. The best thing in the world is not having to get out of bed to check my email

A mini may be small but it's still confined to the desk
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mynameis

 
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How much time do you spend on a computer on average? If it isn't alot I would go with the iBook, but if you spend considerable amount of time using it, a 12in screen might not be the best option. If you go with the mac mini, you can get 17in LCDs for around $200.

If I was living in a dorm, on a budget, and didn't need a laptop a mac mini + 17in LCD TV would be my choice.
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technologist

 
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Ahem.
http://www.apple.com/education/store
Forum members are asleep on the job today.

If you do end up doing biochem, having a Mac should be an advantage, since the sciences tend to favor Unix over Windows. Pharmacy, I'm not sure about.

Before you make any decision, check out the school's website, especially the department you'll be majoring in. It's very likely that all you'll need is a web browser, eMail client, and a copy of Office:mac.
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mynameis

 
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With a mac mini you may not want to spend the money on an airport express card since you may not be able to use it at your school.
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Jefe3223
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I'd get ms office for ease of use (but only if it's cheap at your campus). I generally don't have problems going from one system to the other (unless they're using a really old MS software).
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