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Laptop for an English major?

caskercasker 1 replies1 discussionsRegistered User Forum Champion
Hi! I'll be attending UVA next year as a freshman and will most likely be majoring in English.... I was wondering if anyone knew exactly how much flash storage I would require? Right now I am using a Macbook Pro with 250 GB (I have used 88 GB during the 4 years I have had it) but it's pretty broken down, so I am getting a new laptop. I'd prefer to get an ultrabook if 128 GB will be enough storage, and personally like the Apple interface much more after having used it for four years.

My parents gave me a budget of $1,200, and are pushing for the Samsung Series 9 ultrabook, which only has 128 GB and is $1,200. I feel like if I am going to buy a laptop with only 128 GB and a pricetag of $1,200, I'd rather get the Macbook Air. I already have Microsoft Office software, but I'm wondering if I will end up having to purchase extended warranty for the Macbook.... My Pro ended up requiring over a thousand dollars of repairs that were covered under Apple Protection, but I don't know if that's an anomaly for Apple products.

Help?!?!
edited May 2013 in University of Virginia
10 replies
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Replies to: Laptop for an English major?

  • grp2013grp2013 26 replies3 discussionsRegistered User
    FYI, here is the UVA computing CavLink, which shows Cavalier Computers offerings for specific colleges:
    CAV Student Computer Programs | CAV - Cavalier Computers

    With that said, here a few pieces of advice (coming from an IT person):

    On-computer hard disk storage isn't as important as it once was for actual data storage or speed. Now that all new laptops should generally have USB3 (or both USB 3 and thunderbolt for Macs), external storage options are many, and are perfectly fine from a speed perspective. HDD size is important for OS, applications, and your key data - school files and maybe a subset of music/media.

    From a backup/file access perspective it is much more important to keep copies of your data stored away from your laptop in case of computer failure or theft. With the proliferation of services like DropBox, SkyDrive, Box, etc. it makes sense to keep your school files somewhere you can access them if your laptop is stolen or broken. Losing a laptop is one thing (financially), losing your school files is another thing completely. Remember that these services do keep a copy of your files locally on the laptop, so this doesn't alleviate the need for hard drive space - just saying that you should not leave all of your important school files just on your laptop and a physical external drive, both of which could easily "walk away."

    Personally, I do think 128GB could be a bit tight for a school laptop - depending on if you ever expect to do anything with video, photography or music (rendering needs some temp space). Remember, unless you're buying a new one every year, this one should last you 3-4 years - so think forward. 256GB would be plenty, especially with external storage options, but I might think twice about only 128GB - unless it's upgradeable in which case in 2 years you could easily move to a larger HDD if needed and start with the 128GB now. Many ultrabooks are upgradeable - a MacBook Air is not.

    As for warranty. Mac hardware can fail just like anything else. Always a smart idea to get 3 year protection on any laptop, especially in a school or business environment.
    edited May 2013
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  • blueiguanablueiguana 74 replies1 discussionsRegistered User
    You might want to check the Apple forums to see what you might expect from the MBA reliability, keeping in mind that people who post on forums are more likely to have had a service issue. Don't forget you are eligible for a student discount. It's not a lot, $50 off for the MBA, but I just thought I'd remind you to take advantage of it if you do purchase with Apple. I'll let someone else answer your question about the storage. I don't have any experience there.

    note: crossed posts with grp2013...great information.
    edited May 2013
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  • woosahwoosah 9 replies0 discussionsRegistered User New Member
    Always a smart idea to get 3 year protection on any laptop, especially in a school or business environment.

    We did this and S2 has had to use Cav computers over his 3yr stint at UVa a few times. They have been most helpful and the cost was next to nothing for the repairs. One was a substantial one that if we did not have the warranty it would have been over a thousand dollars. Well worth the money as grp2013 stated for school, business or home use computers.
    edited May 2013
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  • charlieschmcharlieschm 34 replies2 discussionsRegistered User Junior Member
    Cav Computers will cost much more for Windows computers than other sources. There are pros and cons of using them.

    Because Macs don't often get discounted, it may make sense to buy from Cav Computers.

    I've personally bought several nearly-new refurbished computers from Dell's business outlet website. There are coupon codes you can get by email or through a google search that offer 25% off already discounted prices. The end result is they are half off retail price. I bought Dell Latitudes with solid state harddrives and extended warranties for both of my kids off that site. The solid state hardrives are supposed to be much more durable because they have fewer moving parts, and the Lattitutes are much more durably constructed than other Dell laptops. They are designed for business travelers, not for home use.

    Cav Computers sells MS 2010 Professional Office Suites for $15 and MS Windows 7 Professional OS upgrades for $15 to students, after you get your student ID. I don't know if this offer will change now that MS is trying to pressure students to rent 2013 Office software instead of buy it. In any case, don't spend much money on Microsoft software until you can investigate what is available cheaply through the University.

    If you have an old laptop, you might want to bring it to college as a backup in case there is a problem while you have a deadline.
    edited May 2013
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  • shoebox10shoebox10 4 replies0 discussionsRegistered User Junior Member
    Once you have your Student ID (you may be able to pull something up from SIS too to verify enrollment), you can get an educational discount from Apple.

    While I think having an old laptop as backup isn't a terrible idea (mine broke during finals over the spring finals of second year), it might get stolen easier than a laptop that's always on you. Have you thought about getting a tablet?
    edited May 2013
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  • caskercasker 1 replies1 discussionsRegistered User Forum Champion
    Thanks so much, everyone! I will take into consideration all of your advice :)

    @shoebox10, I am awful at using tablets. I think I'll bring my current laptop along with me in case.

    I have another question about external hard drives... Say that I wanted to get the 128 GB laptop because of price constraints, and ran out of space. Currently I use my external hard drive as an exact copy of my laptop. But if I kept some files in storage on it, that wouldn't have space to fit on my actual laptop... if I synced the external hard drive and my laptop together, would everything erase so that the hard drive would match the laptop completely? I want to use it like a flash drive, I suppose, but I'm technologically stunted. Sadly.
    edited May 2013
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  • charlieschmcharlieschm 34 replies2 discussionsRegistered User Junior Member
    Essential Computing Info for New Undergraduates

    The above link is official computer advice for new students. Scroll down the page and it also describes storage options that are provided for students by UVa. In any case, everyone should have a portable drive that you don't carry around with your laptop. You can now buy a one terrabyte portable drive on sale for under $100. (It is even better to keep one of your backups in a different room in case of a fire).

    I wouldn't personally depend entirely upon a cloud backup - some people have lost all of their files when a website was closed down.
    edited May 2013
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  • AVA55AVA55 4 replies0 discussionsRegistered User New Member
    Four years ago an advantage of buying a Mac Book Pro from Cav Computers was one could get at 4 year warranty instead of the standard 3 year one offered by Apple directly.

    DS made it four years w/o a problem, but that is more luck than anything else.
    edited May 2013
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  • WDStrongJrWDStrongJr 1 replies0 discussionsRegistered User
    Now the big plus is that we (cavalier Computes) offers four-years of Accidental Damage Protection for all the student computer packages, which also includes a loaner computer while their computer is being fixed.
    This is a first to have accidental damage protection for Apple computers.
    edited May 2013
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  • grp2013grp2013 26 replies3 discussionsRegistered User
    I would agree with WDStrong - for an Apple especially, if you are considering buying it new and also getting a 3 year AppleCare warranty (which is an additional $350), even with the student discount it works out to only about $50 more through CavComputers - and for that you get 4 years of warranty plus Accidental Damage for the full 4 years (plus loaner capability), which is huge. We got ours used, so can't take advantage of this, but if you're buying new you should really consider it.
    edited May 2013
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