Law School Discussion

Nine Years of Discussion
;

Author Topic: Laptops - What are people using out there?  (Read 4157 times)

Revenant

  • Sr. Citizen
  • ****
  • Posts: 366
    • View Profile
Re: Laptops - What are people using out there?
« Reply #10 on: March 25, 2004, 11:33:05 PM »
I'm thinking Dell 600m (thin and light) or Dell 8600 (15'' screen is a plus). Both are pretty light weight (less than 8 pounds) but I don't know if the 8600 is too big to have in class.

Umm, I think most notebooks are under 8 pounds unless they're the desktop replacement type which might be 9 or maybe even 10. :)  Don't forget that you'll have to carry this brick everyday, and maybe with your other heavy law books?  I would go for something less than 6 lbs, and ideally around 3-4lbs.  However, with 3lb notebooks, you're likely to be limited to 12" screens and after using a 17" monitor during college, I'm not sure if 12" will suffice.  You can get a 4.5lb notebook with a 14" screen, which would be a decent compromise.

If you want to do really well at law school, get the lightest one you can.  They will usually come with crap in the graphics chip department (Integrated Intel Blah with Shared Memory, etc.) and you will less likely be tempted to play that new FFXII game that seems to be hording all my friends' time. :)

Centrino just refers to the notebook having a Pentium-M processor and a specific line of Intel wireless ethernet hardware.  As a result, don't worry too much about the Centrino designation.  It's not so much a technology than a name for a specific combination of hardware parts.  There's marketing for ya... I personally recommend getting anything with a Pentium-M processor (NOT Celeron, NOT Pentium 4-M, etc.)  a 1.4 Pentium-M is equivalent to at least a 2.0 Pentium 4.  And considering law school applications won't require much processing power (not much does, unless you want to game, render 3D-images, edit digital video, etc.), I'd just get the cheapest.  You won't notice a difference in performance but you'll definitely have a lot more left in your wallet.

Get 512MB ram, but not necessarily through the retail vendor, which is often the more expensive route.  If the deal is for 256mb ram, just get that and then go buy a 2nd 256mb stick for $40-50 somewhere else instead of the $90 usually charged.  (Side note: make sure your notebook can take 2 DIMMs, or else you won't be able to install the 2nd.)  512 is the ideal amount -- anything more (again all of this is aimed towards the typical law student who shouldn't have enough time to play games or do side projects) is a waste of money.

If you want a performance boost, the best way to do so is replace the hard drive.  The bottleneck, most of the time, is in the spindle rate of the hard drives that usually come with notebooks (4200RPM).  The ones for desktops are up to 7200RPM for normal desktops and 15K for comps with SCSI.  If you can get a 5400RPM or 7200RPM drive, it'll be a much better investment (your notebook will stop feeling so laggy) than getting a faster processor or more than 512mb ram.

I really like the Apple G4 Powerbooks but unfortunately, you can't take law exams on Apple notebooks at most schools.  Most schools (or all -- I haven't seen an exception yet) carry exam-taking software only for PCs.  And yes, this most likely means you need a floppy drive (external one will do, and u can always build one out of a 3.5" internal floppy drive and a USB enclosure of some sort, but that would probably cost the same as getting the $40-50 external floppy drives that come as an option for notebooks.

Other considerations: burner to backup data?  higher res screen or wide screen for more usable room?  the proper connector for hooking up an external monitor for those long, long typing assignments?  wireless or wired ethernet?  modem?  type of mouse device?  feel of keyboard?

Oh yeah, don't forget to check the battery life of the notebook.  The reason I recommend the Pentium-Ms is they allow for the longest battery life.  The bigger notebooks with all the bells and whistles usually are around 2-3 hours battery life, which to me simply sucks.  You may not be so lucky to always have an AC outlet nearby.  Notebooks with 1.4 Pentium-M can give you much longer usage (the IBM Thinkpads are 5-8 hours of battery life, depending on the model).

Hope this helps!

Revenant

  • Sr. Citizen
  • ****
  • Posts: 366
    • View Profile
Re: Laptops - What are people using out there?
« Reply #11 on: March 25, 2004, 11:37:49 PM »
I am waiting for the annual report from IBM to come out next month and then buy a computer for law school.  I would definitely go for 1GB of RAM and a slightly bigger harddrive.

Out of curiosity, what do you need 1GB ram for? o.O

Even with the massive resource hog that is Windows XP, 512mb is more than enough unless you are running a server or are into digital photography, 3d rendering, digital video editing, etc.  And I mean, *seriously* into that stuff.  I know ppl who think they are simply because they want to play with a 3d rendering program, but unless you really do that sort of thing as a serious hobby or as a job, you won't notice any difference going from 512 to 768mb even.  Plus, 1GB would require two sticks of 512, and the bigger increments cost alot more.

Just my two cents :)

Revenant

  • Sr. Citizen
  • ****
  • Posts: 366
    • View Profile
Re: Laptops - What are people using out there?
« Reply #12 on: March 25, 2004, 11:40:05 PM »
Haha, great minds think alike? ;)  I want a Powerbook too, but for obvious reasons, sigh...

I haven't tried a thinkpad yet, but that's the one that I keep hearing about.  After 4 years of fooling around on my desktop -- games, 3d rendering, video editing, etc. -- I think I'm going to try and study hard for law school.  With different priorities come new standards: a great LCD screen, a comfortable keyboard and pointing device, lightweight, durable and under $1500.  Sounds like a IBM Thinkpad to me :)

Personally, I would recommend getting an Apple (but that's just me since I have a 12'' Powerbook).  However, you might run into problems with that since most Law School Programs run only with Windows.  For example, NYU requires students to only have a Windows machine.  Luckily, Berkeley, in general, adores Apple computers :) 

Anyway, on to my suggestion.  I would recommend getting an IBM thinkpad.  Yes, they are very pricey--especially when you compare them to other laptops that are cheaper with much better specs.  I like the thinkpad because it's small and very sturdy!  IBM is also quite reliable when it comes to customer support.  If you don't plan on using your laptop for gaming or for photo manipulation, however, the lower specs found on an IBM thinkpad are fine.  IBM thinkpads do come with higher specs, of course, but they are so much more expensive.

I've had a compaq laptop for most of my years in college--> this stupid laptop would ultimately push me over the edge!  So, I then bought an Apple Powerbook.  Compaq's reliability has gone down hill.  And like the previous poster said, I'm sure HP will follow Compaq's path after the merger.  Dell is still relatively better than most other brands.  It's not as good or reliable as it once was, but it's not as bad as Compaq!  Gateway has also gone down hill.  Toshiba is also a nice brand, however, they're making their laptops bigger and bigger and BIGGER.  I wonder why the weird trend?  I would not recommend getting a Gateway at all!  Very poor customer support--at least according to epinions.com and Cnet reviews.  Sonys are sleek and affordable.  However, I question this customer support and the reliability of their products. 

That's just my 2 cents, I'm at work with nothing to do...so sorry for the long long long post.   


Revenant

  • Sr. Citizen
  • ****
  • Posts: 366
    • View Profile
Re: Laptops - What are people using out there?
« Reply #13 on: March 25, 2004, 11:44:15 PM »
The minimum requirements proposed by colleges, etc. are pretty funny, aren't they?  Frankly, P3 800mhz notebook is already more than enough for word processing, but I keep seeing minimum reqs go up (one school, I forget which, required as a minimum, 2.4ghz P4, 512mb ram, etc... I would think that'd be more of a recommended... a minimum should be more like 800mhz, 256mb ram ^^)

The other thing you might want to make sure you have is a wireless adapter.  If it doesn't come with wireless, then at least get a wireless card.  Make sure it isn't bluetooth as bluetooth is pretty much useless.

Also, you might want to find out what the school you are going to recommends.  DU requires a laptop.  Looking at the specs of what they require, it seems a little bit much for me, but that could be because I am an IT geek and most of what they require seems like fluff.

schoomp

  • Sr. Citizen
  • ****
  • Posts: 603
    • Yahoo Instant Messenger - schoomp
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: Laptops - What are people using out there?
« Reply #14 on: March 26, 2004, 12:17:34 AM »
As for the min requirements at several schools I looked at - they are a joke.  I've just finished an MS degree and used my 2 year old laptop for all of it.  I figure if I can run Oracle on it, I can definately so anything required at a law school.  I even lost a chip of memory and am down to 256k and it still is working.  Of course, I don't game on it and now that I am done with school Oracle is coming off  :)

Unless you are a serious gamer or plan to do some programming or graphics on the side, I agree that you don't need much.  512k of memory would be best, CPU-wise anything 1.2 or so would do (and probably less than that).  Also - check to see if your school has wireless, if so use it.  Then you don't have to carry a cable around!

Of course, I am biased because with the expensive of law school, my old faithful  laptop is going to have to do until it goes belly up  :P .

Revenant

  • Sr. Citizen
  • ****
  • Posts: 366
    • View Profile
Re: Laptops - What are people using out there?
« Reply #15 on: March 26, 2004, 01:42:45 AM »
I hope you mean 256mb an 512mb... as much as I don't condone 1gb ram, 256k would be a tad too little for my liking. ;)

As for the min requirements at several schools I looked at - they are a joke.  I've just finished an MS degree and used my 2 year old laptop for all of it.  I figure if I can run Oracle on it, I can definately so anything required at a law school.  I even lost a chip of memory and am down to 256k and it still is working.  Of course, I don't game on it and now that I am done with school Oracle is coming off  :)

Unless you are a serious gamer or plan to do some programming or graphics on the side, I agree that you don't need much.  512k of memory would be best, CPU-wise anything 1.2 or so would do (and probably less than that).  Also - check to see if your school has wireless, if so use it.  Then you don't have to carry a cable around!

Of course, I am biased because with the expensive of law school, my old faithful  laptop is going to have to do until it goes belly up  :P .

jas9999

  • Sr. Citizen
  • ****
  • Posts: 727
  • Actual Law Student
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: Laptops - What are people using out there?
« Reply #16 on: March 26, 2004, 11:45:04 AM »
An important note about screen sizes: bigger in not always better. You need to check the resolution in addition to the measurement.

For example, if a laptop is available with two different size screens, but they have the same resolution listed, you will not gain extra "screen real estate" with the larger one. The pixels will just be bigger, meaning the picture will actually be less sharp (focused).

This is something a lot of people don't realize - the maximum resolution (something like 1024 x 768 or 1600 x 1200) is what determines how much you see on the screen, not the number of inches.

Thus, for some people, a 12" screen may be easier on the eyes than a 14" at the same resolution, since the text will be smaller, but sharper. It's best to go to a place like Circuit City or Best Buy and look at them in person, even if you'll be buying through the law school's preferred vendor. Buying a laptop sight-unseen is a recipe for regret if it ends up being too heavy or too hard on the eyes.

jgruber

  • Guest
Re: Laptops - What are people using out there?
« Reply #17 on: March 26, 2004, 11:49:43 AM »
Consumer Reports says that it's worth the money to buy an extended warrantee for laptops.  They suggest 2 years.

I"m using a Dell Inspiron 8100 right now.  It took a definite downward turn in performance after 14 months, but I only had a one year warrantee.   :'(

dta

  • Guest
Re: Laptops - What are people using out there?
« Reply #18 on: March 26, 2004, 12:52:31 PM »
reformat and reinstall the OS and apps jgruber. It'll likely be good as new!

jgruber

  • Guest
Re: Laptops - What are people using out there?
« Reply #19 on: March 26, 2004, 01:45:28 PM »
Did that more than once.  No help.

reformat and reinstall the OS and apps jgruber. It'll likely be good as new!