What computer should you bring? That's probably the most common question asked of us by both students and parents. There is no easy answer - really just a series of questions that we can use to break the components of this decision down into manageable chunks:
- Pull the Power! A very strong recommendation is to get a laptop with a removable battery! It is not uncommon for liquids to get spilled on laptops. If you cannot remove the battery, there's a lot more damage that will occur as fluids cause a short circuit and overheat the battery. However, most laptops aren't coming with a removable battery anymore, so if you can't get a removable batter, don't worry. This is just a recommendation.
- Don't Switch! Are you a Mac person, or are you a Windows person? Have you typically worked on one or the other? Whichever you have used or are used to, we recommend you stay with that unless there is some very significant reason to switch. Both work just fine.
- Tablets are NOT primary computers! While they are convenient, fun to watch a movie on, and can be great for reading, with no keyboard they do not make a sufficient computer for writing papers or doing classwork. Get a computer with a REAL keyboard, not a cover that doubles as a keyboard.
- What will your major be? While many programs run quite well on both platforms, the programs that some academic fields use often work better on Windows or on Macintosh. For instance, Psychology uses SPSS for their statistics and it runs much better on Windows than on Mac (reportedly, IBM is working on this); Economics uses STATA which, at CMC, is mostly Windows. Do some research and plan accordingly.
- What does your budget look like? Remember, you can use some Financial Aid to assist with a computer purchase (check with the FinAid office for details). With this in mind, remember that Macs are typically more expensive.
- You are here for four years - get a warranty that matches (or comes as close as possible.) It does you little good to buy a computer your freshman year and have it go bad your senior year, when your stress levels are highest, you're trying to do your Thesis, etc. - and you have no warranty! That warranty is peace of mind!
Here are two other things to keep in mind:
- Remember that laptops do not bounce. Yes, this sounds facetious but even the most solidly built computer will not withstand a 3' drop well.
- Laptops tend to go bad all at once. If you (or your roommate or friend) spill something on your laptop, it will likely affect the entire computer, not just your keyboard. If you have a desktop, you can replace just the keyboard or mouse for around $25; not so with a laptop!