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Where students can find links to the places they can purchase or acquire PCs, Macs, and software for both.

Recommendations

Hardware

Software

Recommendations

Brand

  • Apple is good but expensive.  If that is what you’re used to and prefer, it will be worth it.  The high purchase price may be balanced by a lower maintenance cost.  The Mac OS is less likely to have virus and adware problems.
  • For Windows OS any brand of laptop you feel you can get reliable service on would be good.  I'm more partial to Toshiba, Sony and HP than Lenovo, Dell, and Gateway.  I don't know enough about ACER or ASUS.

More important than brand is

  1. Processor – Intel
    1. Windows Laptop Processor
      1. 2nd Gen Intel Core i5 would be good
      2. i3 is a little older but still not bad, i7 is newer and faster but may add more cost than it is worth
      3. AMD is the other processor option.  I don't have hard evidence, but I'd still rather have Intel
    2. Windows Desktop Processor
    3. Mac OS Processor
  2. RAM/Memory - at least 4GB.  More is better, but there comes a point where the cost may not justify more (beyond 8GB?).
  3. Screen Size - I'm not as picky about this as others are.  For a laptop the bigger screen is easier to see, but adds weight when you're carrying it around.  It's a personal trade off.
  4. Hard Drive/Storage - 500GB at least.  Unless you're doing a lot of music and video files, 500GB should be enough.  Again, it's a cost trade off.  They may be offering a larger drive for not much more money.  If you can find out the speed of the drive - rpm - faster is definitely better and usually worth it.  Solid state drives are new, fast, and probably still adding more cost than benefit.
  5. Laptop Wireless - Purchases made today should have 802.11n support.  It would be preferable if the device had dual band radio support, ones that support 2.4 Ghz (802.11gn) and 5.8 Ghz (802.11an).
  6. Warranty - Adding an extended warranty isn't a bad idea as long as you can get service in the same town you are studying in.
  7. Laptop Extras – Consider adding a full size keyboard and mouse, if the small keyboard and touch pads annoy you.  Consider adding a large monitor that you can connect to when you're not mobile with the laptop.

Hardware Vendor Sites

Software

  1. Symantec Endpoint Protection (Anti Virus) download for home use.
  2. Wisconsin Integrated Software Catalog (WISC) Web site for Adobe, AutoDesk, Filemaker, and Macromedia, Mathematica, Microsoft, Minitab, Quark, SPSS.
  3. Free Kurzweil 3000 for Windows OS and Kurzweil 3000 for Mac OS
  4. Free AutoDesk and AutoCAD Software, become a member of the Autodesk Education Community and download the latest software at no cost.