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What Kind Of Computer To Bring To College?

timothy posted more than 11 years ago | from the just-lots-of-powerstrips dept.

Education 1154

Elfan writes "We've discussed laptops in education before and the importance of condoms and lockpicks. However, since its not to early to think about the Fall semester for incoming freshman, I was wondering what electronic devices people found most useful for college now. How do you keep yourself organized, a PDA of some sort or an old-fashioned calendar? What to take notes with, pencil and paper? Laptop? Palm pilot? Tape recorder? Or just too cool to take notes like in high school? One laptop for everything, with a docking station back in the dorm perhaps, or just a desktop? Both? All of this is made more complicated, of course, by the lack of funds most college students enjoy."

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For GVSU ... (5, Informative)

jmays (450770) | more than 11 years ago | (#6098225)

A Palm m125, a lighter and a Wi-Fi capable laptop seems sufficient enough for most students I know.

Re:For GVSU ... (5, Informative)

mattlary (595947) | more than 11 years ago | (#6098343)

Unless you plan on wasting your 4+ years at college sitting in dorm room playing computer games, this is probably sufficient. I've also found that it's nice to run (or have access to) a server to throw your stuff onto while you're running around campus.

Might sir suggest (5, Insightful)

gazbo (517111) | more than 11 years ago | (#6098235)

The lost art of paper and pen?

You'll do well to find anything that can organise you better.

Re:Might sir suggest (2, Insightful)

Alex Pennace (27488) | more than 11 years ago | (#6098285)

The typical college student will keep too much crap in their Crapper Keeper to be organized. A note not found is a note lost.

Re:Might sir suggest (5, Funny)

archen (447353) | more than 11 years ago | (#6098305)

Better yet, take really bad notes with a paper and pen. Then find a really cute girl who pays attention and compair notes with hers. Of course if you're taking CS courses this might be easier said than done.

Re:Might sir suggest (2, Interesting)

FrEaK7782 (588564) | more than 11 years ago | (#6098307)

Except that a computer is a necessity for most. I know it is at my college.

OT: It's such a necessity that we are required to purchase a laptop. To answer the question of the original post, all students buy the same laptop through the school

Re:Might sir suggest (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6098389)

Laptops are also required where i go, UD. Why? It's because of the business majors. And the publicity from having a lot of computers, and the fact taht schools can promote themselves by claiming a lot of computers and network crap. Really, it's all publicity, as computers have no use in my classes other than lab, where they have to be provided anyway. FSCK laptops, hard to upgrade, repair, ect

Re:Might sir suggest (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6098408)

Does the bookstore sell inkjet cartridges at 500% retail too?

Re:Might sir suggest (5, Funny)

deadsaijinx* (637410) | more than 11 years ago | (#6098353)

What I love about notebooks is observing the inevitablity of entropy. My history notes start out uber oraganized and informative and then slowly degrade to the point where there is one illegible sentence per day. Finally, the notes stop all together and I just sleep in class. Damn you third law of thermodynamics! you win again.

Argh... (5, Funny)

Doomrat (615771) | more than 11 years ago | (#6098238)

I was SO tempted to spam the link to a laptop I'm selling on Ebay... but sometimes it's just not worth having the Internet hate you.

Re:Argh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6098339)

I hate you anyway.

Re:Argh... (1)

EMH_Mark3 (305983) | more than 11 years ago | (#6098364)

.. so instead you put it as your user's website address. Sneaky.

iBook (5, Informative)

krisp (59093) | more than 11 years ago | (#6098242)

Personally, I bought an iBook half way through last year. Before then I had only a desktop. Let me tell you, having a laptop with 802.11b on a wirless-enabled campus is great. I was able to take notes in class, chat with my friends, and look up more information on an in-class topic in the event that I am confused about something.

I chose the iBook because I liked it's look and its price isn't nearly as high as a Powerbook or high-end Dell laptop. It also has 6 hours of battery life.

If I were you, I'd buy a laptop.

Wireless notebooks in class (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6098279)

Isn't it harder to pay attention if you're IMing, pulling tunes and pr0n off Kazaa, and so on than if you're taking notes on paper?

Re:Wireless notebooks in class (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6098347)

Nope. Kazaa doesn't run on Macs. :)

Re:Wireless notebooks in class (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6098376)

Virtual PC does.

Can Winblows run OS X?

Re:Wireless notebooks in class (3, Insightful)

FrEaK7782 (588564) | more than 11 years ago | (#6098366)

As the professors at my school like to point out, you're paying for the education. If you choose not to take advantage, you're throwing your money away. But it's your choice.

Re:iBook (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6098332)

An iBook is the way to go if you're looking for a note taking machine. Specifically get an original sized iBook, not the 15 inch one - the larger one will consume more battery life and be much larger and heavier to lug around. If you go powerbook, get a 12", but be warned that the iBook will give you at least 5 hours battery life, while the powerbook will be closer to 2.5-3.

Whatever you get, think small. Get a laptop with a small footprint and have a monitor (no need for a dock) in your room.

Re:iBook (5, Interesting)

bobdinkel (530885) | more than 11 years ago | (#6098420)

Hey, That guy just stole my comment.
But really an iBook with an Airport card is a recipe for success. The aforementioned battery life is excellent. And personal experience has proven to me that a mac is less likely than a PC to implode while you type a paper.

No - I am not Ellen Feiss.

PDAs are pretty tough to take notes on in my experience - plus you'd look like a collosal tool. Pen and paper do just fine for note taking. There's something to be said for actually writing the words and the effect this has on retention.

Rackmount servers. (4, Funny)

sulli (195030) | more than 11 years ago | (#6098246)

So convenient to carry around to class!

Re:Rackmount servers. (1)

wronskyMan (676763) | more than 11 years ago | (#6098378)

Or if you're concerned about theft, go with a PDP-11. :-)

Laptop (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6098250)

I would recommend having a laptop, even if you don't bring it to class. There are many other reasons that you will want it. For instance if you go home for the holidays, you can bring it with you.

Re:Laptop (2, Informative)

Pxtl (151020) | more than 11 years ago | (#6098351)

That depends if there's a home machine already. If so, ditch the laptop and bring a real PC. Or, if you want the laptop, get the laptop but pick up an external keyboard, mouse, etc. Your hands will thank you.

Notebooks, all the way (0, Troll)

Acidic_Diarrhea (641390) | more than 11 years ago | (#6098251)

I am currently a graduate student and have always found that pen and paper in the classroom work the best. When I become disinterested, the worst I can do is doodle in the margins. If I had a laptop, I'd be playing on my NES emulator. It's still possible to stay a bit focused if you're doodling BUT, as we all should know by now, Super Mario Bros. requires all your attention!

iBook (1)

klyX (116477) | more than 11 years ago | (#6098253)

Graduating senior who works for campus networking here.

as far as bang for the buck, and ease of use on campus networks (read: little to no configuration, built in wireless), the iBook is where its at. even the $999 flavor

I got one 2 years ago and everyone who sees me using it asks to check it out. I have 6 friends who have bought them to use at school.

Re:iBook (1)

Mike Bruce (1286) | more than 11 years ago | (#6098388)

iBook bad.

Slow, ugly, nearly impossible to service, awful pointing device.

Get something made by a company that knows what it's doing, laptop-wise: IBM.

tiBook (5, Funny)

sporty (27564) | more than 11 years ago | (#6098255)


You have unix and windows apps in one little box. AND you can pick up chicks /w it. Actually, the second is a lie. But I can dream.

Stinkin college kids! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6098260)

So you think you are better than dad, huh? You stinkin college boy! You little PUSSY! You think just because you can read books, then you are better than me, HUH? DO YA??? Well... You sure do got a PURTY MOUTH boy! Come on over'n here now!!!

Who needs a computer? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6098261)

I made notes on the back of labels I removed from my forties. old E, baby! That's the most useful knowldge to have in college.

You need (4, Funny)

Tebriel (192168) | more than 11 years ago | (#6098262)

a phat 1337 gaming rig. Use that bandwidth, baby.

Since you asked /. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6098263)

since its not to early

The kind with a spelling/grammar checker. ;-P

Laptops? (5, Funny)

Rorgg (673851) | more than 11 years ago | (#6098265)

Why, back in my day, we didn't HAVE laptops. We had clunky old XT machines that weighed about a ton and you were lucky if your desktop held them! You took notes then booted up your computer to put them in via edlin, and by the time you were ready, you were too drunk to care! Damn kids, get off my lawn! (Sorry, just realized new collegians this year were born in 1985. Caused a bit of a panic attack.)

Go Retro (3, Insightful)

SanLouBlues (245548) | more than 11 years ago | (#6098269)

Bring a pack of Bic pens, and a few notebooks with paper instead of silicon. Personally, I find my 59c wallet-sized notepad more useful than my friend's Palm.

But if you do get a real notebook, try to make sure you get built-in wireless for the school network (or network-to-be). It's a lifesaver during finals when all the jacks in the library are taken.

Re:Go Retro (1)

sporty (27564) | more than 11 years ago | (#6098397)

There's one really REALLY neat thing about having your notes in one of them thar' computers. Cut-paste and management. Ever try to do a find in a notebook?

What's also neat, is attaching a small directional mic to it, if you can, and recording lectures. Turn them into mp3's.

Downfall, ever try drawing using a mousepad? Yuck. But hey, if you are on 802.11g, you can easily find pics off the net to paste in.

Additionally, you never have to worry, at the same time, about forgetting a notebook. It's all there /w you... even your old notes.

My experiences at (1)

papa248 (85646) | more than 11 years ago | (#6098270)

Personally, while I was at the University of Michigan in Engineering, I just had a Desktop. I graduated in 2001, and most of the kids I knew had desktops, only a couple with laptops.

As I went forward in my geekiness^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H career, I bought my first PDA, which was a Handspring Visor (because I couldn't afford a Palm.) I was a Franklin user before that, and I actually used my Visor quite a bit for organizing and scheduling, but never for note-taking. It is just so much easier to write by hand when you're taking notes in electrical engineering classes with schematics and j-omega terms, etc.

I also bought my first laptop, a Compaq Presario with an AMD K6-2. It wasn't a bad machine, but I kicked myself in the pants after a week because it was too damn heavy to lug around--10 pounds plus for just a measely 12.1" screen and a DVD drive. If I had a lighter one, I still doubt I'd take it to class for note taking (have you tried to write down diff. Eq's in standard office applications?)

I probably would have taken it to the libraries and such if it wasn't so heavy. Umich has wired 10/100 almost everywhere, with WiFi coming soon supposedly. If I could have done it again ( and could afford it), I would have gone with a laptop+docking station. Keep it light, a smaller screen would be ok, with decent battery life and a combo DVD/CD-RW.

As a side note, I also began using AMD products in college, and now I buy only AMD processors. For me, they were all I could afford at the time, and now I appreciate the bang/buck ratio. I encourage college students, especially the geeks, to experiement. Since we don't experiment in sex or drugs (being geeks), try a different hardware, OS (I also became a Linux user in school), and different gadgets, ie Audiotron for your huge frat part works great!

for me, a college student.. (1)

ketamine-bp (586203) | more than 11 years ago | (#6098271)

I have a iMac in dorm, with a old palm Vx docking besides it with a USB cable, and now i'm typing this with the iMac (flat panel)....


Re:for me, a college student.. (1)

Alan Partridge (516639) | more than 11 years ago | (#6098427)

AN iMac, retard

Tape Recorder (1)

Accord MT (542922) | more than 11 years ago | (#6098273)

<i>I was wondering what electronic devices people found most useful for college now</i>

A tape recorder for those boring lectures. Get one. They're cheap.

Make sure it's not digital though, or you may run into DMCA issues recording the professor's no doubt copyrighted lecture.

Depends on the student (1)

dunkan44 (537519) | more than 11 years ago | (#6098280)

I think it really depends on the individual.. I have seen students (mostly women hah) that are super organized using a simple planner and pencil, and others using a pda etc.

Myself, half scribled notes on pieces of paper and a wifi laptop do the job...

A light laptop (1)

Martin Kallisti (652377) | more than 11 years ago | (#6098282)

A very light laptop, maybe 1.4 kilograms/3 pounds is very, very nice to have when studying. Since you'll be carrying books, booze, fellow students and whatnot around most of the time, you'll be very happy to have a lightweight laptop. Back it up in your room with a good 19" CRT monitor - those are cheap these days - and external keyboard and mouse. Unless you're a die-hard gamer, I believe this to be the best solution. Oh, and mind battery life, too.

PDA & Foldable Keyboard (2, Interesting)

Slayback (12197) | more than 11 years ago | (#6098283)

I've used this for four years and can take notes about 4 times as fast as those using pen and paper. It's nice to be able to pay attention and not worry about getting behind in my notes. While I'm using an old Palm Vx with the Palm foldable keyboard, there are infrared keyboards now available, as well as the kind that just roll up. At any rate, it sure beats getting a cramped hand and fits easily in your backpack. Very few people carry full laptops because they're just too big and professors may think you're playing around. I've seen people have their laptops shut, but I've never had any negative experience other than the few looks on the first day of class.

Just bring a friggin' PC. (5, Informative)

Pxtl (151020) | more than 11 years ago | (#6098287)

All the people with laptops stop bringing them to lectures damn fast, ditto palms. Just get some good (paper) notebooks and use a PC. You'll get less funny stares, and it doens't really help anymore to have it on disk.

Software, on the otherhand, is different. Whether its Waterloo Maple (my recommendation), MATLAB, or Python with NumPy, get a good mathematical analysis tool onto your computer and learn it. They will not teach you, but the assigments may very well be impossible without it.

And flip-flops. Bring flip-flops, or your feet will regret it.

Fake-ID is a must. Doesn't matter if its good or not in most towns, as long as the bouncers see something its usually good enough for plausible deniability on their part.

Re:Just bring a friggin' PC. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6098419)

"And flip-flops. Bring flip-flops, or your feet will regret it."

Real men don't wear fag-flops.

Kids these days... (3, Funny)

TopShelf (92521) | more than 11 years ago | (#6098289)

Why, back in my day, we hauled a 35-pound PC on our backs from class to class, hoping there'd be a wall outlet and a spare seat available to plug in and set up the monitor. We could only type up about 4K worth of notes, and stored the results off to cassette tape at the end of the day and weeeeee liked it...

12" PowerBook (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6098290)

Get the now reduced priced 12" powerbook [] ($1599), or with super-drive($1799).


My College Exp. (1)

Sophrosyne (630428) | more than 11 years ago | (#6098291)

Used a m125 to take notes and keep track of everything including my schedule, (also to avoid carrying around so much crap)--Sometimes in large lectures, desks are too small for a laptop which kind-of ruins the purpose of having one.
I am thinking about upgrading to a palm zire 71... Back at home I use a mac, sync the palm up and I'm good to go.

Powerbook and a good Cell Phone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6098298)

Get a big personal-theater G4 (the 17") and a phone with PDA-like functionality (Like the Nextel i95c). Then you can a) watch pr0n on a big laptop, b)sit on laptop in class, and c)set up reminders to call mom to ask for more money.

Beer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6098300)

all one needs in college is beer. Other stuff is mere accessories so you can fit in, so you can maybe look cool and perhaps pass a few classes every couple semesters. But everybody knows you're really there for beer.

A big A$$ tank of a computer (5, Interesting)

dnoyeb (547705) | more than 11 years ago | (#6098301)

Do not bring laptops because they will be 'lifted.' Bring a big ugly honking computer. as long as it has a Ethernet connection, you wont need to move it. Strap it to some 45lb weights or something. if their going to steal it, make them disassemble it.

You should not need a palm pilot or the like because your schedule will be the same for 3-4 months straight. If you cant remember to get to class, then you should drop out :D

Re:A big A$$ tank of a computer (2, Funny)

Dr Caleb (121505) | more than 11 years ago | (#6098361)

Bring a big ugly honking computer

The bigger the better. If your funding runs out due to excessive power and A/C bills, you can always live in it.

Re:A big A$$ tank of a computer (2, Interesting)

IIRCAFAIKIANAL (572786) | more than 11 years ago | (#6098401)

This is a good point - buy a security cable (or whatever those things are called) for your laptop and use it. Also, if you have a locker (some post secondary schools do) don't put your laptop or expensive things in it. We had a few laptops disappear at my school.

Compact 802.11 laptop (1)

essaunders (469150) | more than 11 years ago | (#6098302)

12" ibook or 12" G4 ---- or even the little Sony units. Anything small and rugged enough to lug around without a special case. It needs good battery life too. I did college with a laptop but it was never small nor rugged enough to use regularly.
The tablet concept might be nice (engineering class notes often require drawn diagrams), but a wacom USB drawing tablet might be easier for that.

Get an iBook or other mac (1, Insightful)

Dr Reducto (665121) | more than 11 years ago | (#6098303)

I am going to college next year, and I am going to get a new mac before I leave, cause Macs are good for 4 years compared to PC's, which only last 2. Although someone pointed out that I will probably have my laptop stolen, so maybe don't bring a laptop.

Important news (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6098304)

Please note that I cannot post this under my real identity.
My life and those of my family would be in jeopardy if I did.

My name, for purposes of this expose, shall be "Ken". I am a molecular
biologist in my mid 40's. In the early 1990's I was hired on by the US
government to perform work on what was then called "Project BioHole". The
purpose was to create a man-made object from biological components
which would be able to create a mini-black hole at will. This directional
black hole would be useful for so many things we thought. Our government
had much more nefarious intentions, as you will soon find out.

In July of 1998 we had our first prototype. This mild mannered creature
would, at command, create the proto-hole which would instantly suck in
any material objects within a 20 metre radius.
Following the first several weeks of testing the following memo was received:
The Pentagon


We are pleased to see that Project BioHole is ahead of schedule. We
feel that it is time to replicate more of these creatures for use in
the battlefield.

Yours very truly,


General Harry Dyck
US Central Command
We scientists were in shock! Our creation, this mild, gentle creature was to
be used by our military to annihlate enemy troops on foreign battlefields.
Immediately, Robert Oppenheimer's words when he saw Trinity explode echoed
in my head "I am become death: the destroyer of worlds." Indeed; we
had brought this creature to being and the nameless, faceless bureaucrats would
use it as a weapon of mass destruction.

There was only one thing left to do: we had to destroy our creation.

In an early morning during the Spring of 1999 three fellow scientists and I
went to the cage where we kept our lifes' work. The creature looked at us with
almost human emotions showing in its eyes. Certainly it looked humanlike, but
our foolish genetic experiments led us to think we were gods.. This was no
human; it was just tissue.

We led the creature to a van parked nearby. We drove to a predetermined spot
in the woods. I think the beast knew the end was near, yet panic didn't appear.
We walked to a hole nearby, the creature followed. None of us had bothered to
hold the leash we would later remember.

It leaned over the hole. Another scientist held a 45 calibre pistol to the base
of the animal's skull and squeezed the trigger. It fell forward into the hole
without a whimper.

We stared and cried for what seemed like hours as our innocent creation lay there
dead, another victim of government. We buried the body and drove back to the compound
vowing never to speak of Project BioHole or our horrid deed again.

Then, in 2002 the other scientists started dying.

A car accident, a heart attack and an apparent suicide: I'm the sole survivor.
This story must not be forgotten. To ensure that all proof of Project BioHole
won't be erased, I'm including a link to the only known photograph of our
creation at the moment it creates the BioHole. The picture is here [] . Please, please tell your
friends, family, media.. anyone who will listen.

I haven't much time left on this Earth, but only you can carry on the story of
Project BioHole.

Dr. "Ken"

Habits Before Technology (5, Insightful)

goldspider (445116) | more than 11 years ago | (#6098310)

Save your money and don't buy the hype. Just because you may look cool and all that with a $500 PDA, if you don't have any discipline, no chic gadget is going to get your act together for you.

If college freshmen want to really get their shit together, take notes on paper, and write down due dates on a calendar displayed in a prominent place in your dorm. Once that has become a habit, technology might make it easier, but until then, you have an expensive paperweight.

Take what you got (0)

czion3 (612261) | more than 11 years ago | (#6098311)

I say bring you're desktop computer you are using at home to collage and get a very cheap laptop. The cheap laptop will just be for notes; I can't type fast enough with a palm. The desktop will handle everything else. It might not be a super computer but it will get by for 4 years.

Unless required to (5, Interesting)

Jonsey (593310) | more than 11 years ago | (#6098313)

I strongly reccomend a desktop.

While laptop thefts aren't a horribly common thing, college freshmen brainfarts (tm) are. I say this while enjoying my first year standing. However, having spent a great deal of time with small office/home office/home-use computer consultants, I can say that laptop theft is *much* higher first year, than other years combined. (Non-scientific data gathering, to be sure).

Use common sense: If you make it portable, it is more likely to get stolen. It will also be more convienent, and probably better used. In my experience though, a desktop will be just as useful. If you need a computer on the other side of campus, you can probably find one to use.

Disclaimer, I go to RIT, all comments should be taken as though they are from someone who goes to school at an Institute of Technology

Laptop Is Useful But... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6098314)

I bought a laptop my sophomore year, and it saved my butt more times than I can count. It wasn't that useful for taking notes and what-not, but doing projects and last-minute assignments was a major plus. I could work on my stuff anywhere, even during a class. This came in handy during power outages, fire drills, and when my roommate needed "quality time" with his girlfriend.

I commuted during my Senior year, and totally forgot about a paper and presentation due. With my trusty laptop I was able to pount out an A presentation and B+ paper during my classes and in-between time.

However, it didn't beat the speed of a desktop, making gaming a little harder.

Don't buy a computer before you start. (5, Insightful)

pokka (557695) | more than 11 years ago | (#6098316)

You need to get a feel for your college's environment before you know what computer you need. Some colleges are strictly Windows, others are strictly Linux, and most are somewhere in-between. I would recommend just bringing along whatever computer you currently have. It will be good enough for the first few weeks, and will give you time to find out what kinds of computers upperclassmen are using. That "standard dell package" that your school recommends might be overkill, or it might not be right for your major.

ask for a graduation gift... (1)

elluzion (537796) | more than 11 years ago | (#6098319)

Personally, I like the laptop + docking station idea. It lets you use your computer in a conventional, comfortable way (keyboard, mouse, monitor) but also lets you get away from your asshole roomie, bring the PC home on break without packing 100 lbs of crap, and lets you use it as you wish.

Also, most universities these days have wireless networks. So I would go for that if you can afford the extra cost, but don't give up your ethernet port. WiFi should be strictly in addition to regular ethernet.

As for note-taking, just get a pen and some paper for Chrissakes. You aren't going to read them anyway, so why waste precious disk space?

As tempting as the iBooks are... (2, Interesting)

emmastory (660486) | more than 11 years ago | (#6098324)

Although I considered buying a laptop many, many times (mostly because I type so much faster than I can write by hand), I ended up sticking with old fashioned pen-and-paper. The main reason is the fact that I live off campus and commute to NYU from Brooklyn - I'm already carrying an entire day's worth of textbooks when I leave my apartment in the morning, and the added weight of a laptop would only add to the back problems I've already started to develop.

At NYU (and most schools), students are given the standard smallish chunk of web space on a university server, which I used to store papers in progress and other files I'd need both from home and from school - that way, I could still work on whatever I needed to from a lab between classes without having to lug around a second machine.

There's a healthy percentage of laptop users around NYU, but I'd say the majority are still sticking with notebooks. PDAs, however, are absolutely everywhere.

Bring the old-fashioned pen and copy book (1)

melted (227442) | more than 11 years ago | (#6098325)

One of the most important skills you'll learn in college/university is picking the more important bits of information out of what your professor is saying. When you write you actually systematize the data in your head and that's something you can't relly learn without.

Those recorders are just stupid. And as far as laptops go, how are you going to type formulas and diagrams into them in real time? Even Tablet PCs won't help because if I write in the realtime it's going to slow me down and won't give me any additional benefit because my realtime chicken scratch is much worse than its non-realtime counterpart.

Laptop + wireless (1)

Alizarin Erythrosin (457981) | more than 11 years ago | (#6098326)

They are great if your classroom has wireless access. I could download the outlines posted by the profs and make my own notes on them while in class, rather then printing them out (my printer's ink cartridge has been empty for about a year now). Plus, if you're bored you can check your email or read /. (I did that alot)

Some profs seem to not like students having a laptop in class but I feel that if a student isn't interested in the lecture anyways, not having a laptop isn't going to force them to listen... they'll draw or read another textbook or just flat out leave anyways.

Grammar Error (1)

prestomation (583502) | more than 11 years ago | (#6098327)

However, since its not to early to think about the Fall semester for incoming freshman

Shouldn't it be too? :p

Personal electronics for frosh (2, Funny)

Medievalist (16032) | more than 11 years ago | (#6098329)

Girls: Taser.

Guys: Personal faraday cage.

Both: Cell phone with non-metallic case.

Apple 12 in Powerbook (4, Informative)

RobPiano (471698) | more than 11 years ago | (#6098330)

I have an Apple 12 in Powerbook. I can recommend it without hesitation for most use.

It has the advantage of being very portable, and will allow for most things you would need at a school. It can use common college things like Microsoft Word, but its also a great portable UNIX-like box.

Basically it allows me to do everything I would with a PC, but also lets me use software that is traditionally MAC like MAX/MSP and Peak.

Only disadvantage is alitte expensive and alittle hot.

Get it with the extra memory and airport!

Kind Regards,
Robert Ferguson

When I was in school (1)

IIRCAFAIKIANAL (572786) | more than 11 years ago | (#6098333)

we had school assigned laptops. I would do assignments on it and setup appointments in it, but otherwise I mostly took notes by hand. For me, a tablet PC would have been ideal (computer engineering technology) as I always prefered being able to draw and write big equations easily.

In fact, as we also had network access, in a few classes you were required to close the lid during lectures so you wouldn't distract people behind you. That and clacky keys are noisy too. You should take your school policy under consideration - right or wrong, they may have policies like this that make your nice laptop a great paperweight.

Course, in the working world I also need to take notes, so it's probably good that I still know how to use a journal and pen. Learning a bit of shorthand is also pretty useful so if you're stuck w/o a laptop, look into it.

be minimalist really, cuz if you slack, you slack (1)

Sp4rtikuz (653755) | more than 11 years ago | (#6098335)

Too cool to take notes, ending up with something to write with in class is definitely a bonus on quiz days however (because bumming pencil AND paper is pushing it). But otherwise, stick with pencil and paper, its too hard to draw pictures and tablet PCs, just don't hack it (I borrowed one from work to try it in fact).

Laptop is very useful, not to bring to class per se, but just so you can take to library, other peoples places to work on projects and such, plus sometimes its nice to just get out of your room. Having a laptop which runs a unix painless is a very good things for CS people. Desktop seemed optional for me, just get a nice monitor for your laptop (i found i didn't move it enough for a 150 dollar docking station.

Write assigns down on paper, a pda is only so good as it can nag at you, otherwise you just forget things and thats ok too it seems.

Other devices... those new game boys are great in class.

Not Too Early? (1)

Schlemphfer (556732) | more than 11 years ago | (#6098337)

From the summary:

However, since its not to early to think about the Fall semester for incoming freshman, I was wondering what electronic devices people found most useful for college now.

No, it is to early to think about buying stuff for the fall semester. Wait three months and do your shopping then, and you'll get a better selection and 20% more for your money.

Not Worth the expense (1)

Kanan (527196) | more than 11 years ago | (#6098338)

I had a laptop in class, its not worth your time, effort, or money if the only reason you are using it is for in class note taking. You can upgrade a desktop much more easilly, and it works just fine. Unless you need portability for some other reason, just get a desktop. I was told having a laptop was essential for my CS courses, which was a blatant lie. All it served to do was distract students from what we were supposed to learn (a guy playing diablo 2 for example during class). For in class note taking, just use a pen and paper if you feel you need to take notes. I think most people would be better off writing less and trying to learn instead the concept. Write only what is absolutely necessary has been my motto, and so far my 3.9 after 4 years (still one more to go) attests to it working fairly well for me.

Depends on Major (2, Informative)

ParadoxDruid (602583) | more than 11 years ago | (#6098340)

As a college student myself, I can state that your computer needs really depend on your major.

A creative writing major or history major may get my with just a desktop, though many may enjoy just a low-end laptop... If they play computer games, I'd stick with just a nice desktop.

Engineers, at the schools I've seen, spend much more time working in groups and on-site working on projects. I'd recommend a high-power laptop, with a docking station and keyboard back at "home"

The hard sciences rely on a lot of visual information, often best communicated by graphs and figures... For many, I'd just recommend a desktop. A laptop won't be that useful in class, because you won't be able to draw figures fast enough.

But... I'm a biochemistry major, and I use an Acer Travelmate Tablet PC. It's totally revised the way I do work-- For anyone who deals with figures and graphs and diagrams all day, I can not recommend a Tablet PC enough. I don't even have a paper notebook for classes anymore-- With my Tablet PC I can take all my diagrams and notes, and search them and organize them. It's great!

Back in the day. . . (1)

emrys79 (94821) | more than 11 years ago | (#6098342)

When I was a student at UC Santa Cruz (class of '01), I started with just a desktop, bought a used laptop at the end of my first year, and bought a Palm IIIe at the beginning of my third year. Probably used the desktop the most, the Palm a lot, and the laptop only ocassionally. Really depends on whether you like to spread out on big tables at the library(they prefer laptops), as some folks I know, or whether you prefer to sit in your room, listening to tunes, drinking, eating, and distracting yourself by visiting all the hot girls on your hall (I prefered the desktop in the dorm room). The Palm I used all the time, but I also was involved in student government, choir, theater, and worked as an A/V tech, so I had plenty of things to keep track of. I think the most bang for you buck these days is a good desktop and a cheap PDA.

Don't let others know about your printer... (1)

mtrupe (156137) | more than 11 years ago | (#6098346)

If you have a printer, keep it hidden (somehow). Every damn person on my floor wanted to use my printer, but nobody ever offered to pay for ink or paper, which can get damned expensive. Since they were friends I couldn't say know, so after a while I just started telling people it was out of ink, and if they are willing to buy me some more then they can print.

Hopefully these days (10 years later), most students have their own computers/printers.

None (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6098349)

This might just be me, but having a computer with you at all times is a distraction. I recommend using the campus computers. You might as well use them, since you pay for them through tuition and fees. Same goes for printers - I recommend using campus printers because they are usually better than cheap Epson/HP/Lexmark Ink-jet that come with most (new Dell, Gateway, Etc) computers. The downside to using campus equipment is that you have to be in a lab to use it.

Laptops and other gadgets (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6098355)

How come that a college student, who, by definition, knows nothing much and is not all that important, seems to require PCs and laptops and PDAs, while so many very accomplished engineers out there, with lots of years of experience nad savvy, can make do without that paraphernalia?

K.I.S.S. (5, Interesting)

spray_john (466650) | more than 11 years ago | (#6098359)

1. Notes with a pen
2. No palm - use your head.

I (physics undergrad) use a biro and a pad of budget paper for notetaking.

My computer is a big, completely unportable hunk of steel. It suits me fine. Laptops are useful for group work on campus though - it allows you to create an ad-hoc office anywhere. If funds permitted, I would like a laptop too, but my geekness demands that my computer be built with my own two hands.

Here is the important part - I have two friends, one with a Clie, and one with an iPaq. They don't use them. They were carried around for around a month, and then ditched. They use them in their rooms for reading documents in bed. I save money, using xpdf instead :-)

"Funds that most college students enjoy" (1)

Hellraisr (305322) | more than 11 years ago | (#6098363)

What makes you think most college students are loaded full of money?

I always worked 1 job while in college, and for a while I even worked 2 and 3 jobs. I even graduated with high grades.

People need to stop watching TV and movies where the typical college student doesn't have to do anything but their school work. It's largely incongruent with reality.

Pen and paper (1)

strider3700 (109874) | more than 11 years ago | (#6098365)

I took notes on pads of paper and then each night or so typed them up in nice formating on the computer. When taking notes you learn very little It's just a mad rush to get everything down. At night I learned a lot or at least got a second chance to review the material.

The most important thing I got at university was in my third year I upgraded from a 486 100 to a p3 450, cutting my java compile times from an hour to 2 minutes. Worth every penny. After graduating I preplaced my 15" monitor with a 19" and wish I had done that years before. Beyond that I didn't need anything else to go to school. A discman was nice untill we got mp3's playing on the sparcs after that I just packed around a set of headphones.

A laptop may have been easier since I moved close to a dozen times over the years, but other then that I found that a pc with high speed connection is all I really need.

From the perspective of a Mac user... (4, Insightful)

Millennium (2451) | more than 11 years ago | (#6098371)

Get a laptop. And if it's a Mac, get the Omni Group's excellent OmniOutliner software; that thing is a freaking godsend when it comes to taking class notes. Best money I ever spent in school. I still use it for all kinds of other stuff, now that I'm out of school.

My Gear (1)

jgrumbles (515918) | more than 11 years ago | (#6098373)

Computers: I'm a freak so I have 3 here, one is a laptop. As far as college goes, unless your university has some computer program, hauling a laptop around isn't the best of ideas, especially if you're just an undergrad. You really won't benefit from having a laptop with you in class everyday, most likely it will wind up being a distraction.

Notetaking: Pencil and paper (unless you're a PDA master, but PDAs just don't allow for as much freedom with the notes as pencil and paper)

Assignments/Scheduling: Handspring Visor Deluxe 8mb and I use the software '4.0 Student'...this is all you really need to keep organized, color screens are unnccessary and 16mb memory for a PDA in this case is definitely suffice.

In sum, the most useful electronic devices that I use everday in college are probably my little PDA and my Creative Labs Nomad II MG for strolling around campus.

Apple iBook (5, Interesting)

danrees (557289) | more than 11 years ago | (#6098379)

I got one of these in my second term at university and it really is a lifesaver. My 12" iBook [] is small enough to fit into a standard satchel and is light enough to carry around everywhere I need to take it (especially when much of my time is spent in the central library, particularly with exams coming up).

My reasons for choosing the iBook over a PC laptop were various. There's the gorgeousness factor which is just hard to resist. More seriously though, Mac OS X is just a dream to run, and once you've got used to your iBook waking from sleep in about 2 seconds, you can't help but feel for those poor PC laptop owners. The 4 hour battery life is also very useful for studying out in the gardens. :)

Desktop PCs are a real PITA at university since you will inevitably end up taking handwritten notes, and if you're writing is anything like mine, they'll be redundant by the end of the year. They're also a great pain to carry up and down stairs (inevitable).

As for PDAs, I've certainly not felt the need for one since most of my contacts come in through e-mail and I'm near my laptop to check my calendar most of the time. That might just be the nature of our university network though...

Get yourself an iBook!

Wait a bit (3, Informative)

cethiesus (164785) | more than 11 years ago | (#6098380)

I've found it useful to wait a bit into the year before buying electronics. Two or three weeks into the semester you'll have a feel for your classes and college in general. You'll know exactly what you want/need to help yourself along, plus most large-ish colleges have a lot of good deals on not only computers, but a bunch of other electronics deemed "useful." If your college isn't big enough to have stuff like this there's always other students to buy second-hand off of like you do with textbooks. I'd bring a cheap-o desktop that can do the basics and save your money till you get your bearings.

Any yes, lots of powerstrips.

Pens, Notepads, Laptop Bag (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6098381)

The laptop bag is to conceal the bong.

My computers is smoking...!! (1)

Foofoobar (318279) | more than 11 years ago | (#6098382)

How about a laptop that doubles as a bong?

too broad a question I think. (1)

pyros (61399) | more than 11 years ago | (#6098383)

It really depends on your intended field of study. What would you use a PDA/laptop for when studying fine art? I'd think just for general consideration, a recorder (tape or digital or whatever you like), a notepad, and something to keep track of contacts and assignments. I liked using a PDA because it has an alarm on it. I think I'd find typing too slow and noisy to take good notes in class, and writing notes on a PDA would be a fast track to nerve damage before graduating. Having a net enabled laptop in class for discussion oriented classes would be good, I think, for looking up facts and such.

Dorm Desks (3, Informative)

mgaiman (151782) | more than 11 years ago | (#6098385)

My advice to you, is to see what kinds of desks your school provides. I go to GW [] and half the desks are exactly wrong for desktops. It's almost like somebody decided that they didn't like desktops (large monitors, etc) and made a desk to that it wont fit.

Laptops are nice solely because it is easier to move them around (which becomes a big deal when you're switching dorms every year).

Less is more in college.

Make it easy on yourself (2, Interesting)

Eharley (214725) | more than 11 years ago | (#6098391)

Choosing a computer depends on what kind of services your school provides.

My college (HMC) has deployed a great 802.11b wireless network in the dorms, academics (classrooms, labs, offices), and in most of the common areas. If a freshman asked me what kind of computer to bring to HMC, I'd say a laptop. You can escape your room without leaving your email.

As far as Windows vs. Mac vs. Linux, I guess if you have to ask yourself how comfortable you are with computers and what you will be expected to do with your computer. If you are going to be writing a lot of papers and turning in documents electronically, Windows will be critical to run Microsoft Word. Frankly, AbiWord and WINE may be alright alternatives but when the deadlines come a barkin' things need to just work.

However, if your college has a large Mac infrastructure (Reed, Dartmouth, etc) then a Mac laptop will probably be more appropriate. Here at Mudd they're making a switch over to Windows ActiveDirectory for application distribution, logging into the network, and file servers. Things will still work with the Mac but the IT dept. has other things on its mind right now.

If I had it to do all over again I would not buy an old PC desktop from an eBay auction and instead spend a few hundred more on an Apple iBook. The size, reliability, and features of a Mac laptop are very attractive and price competitive.

It all depends.... (1)

jyak (112533) | more than 11 years ago | (#6098392)

..on what type of person you are. Laptops are good if you know they will be useful (I know I would play games in class if I had one). If you forget things easily, you better write down what you have to do or where you have to be. If you handwriting is chicken scratch, then don't use a small book calender and you better get a PDA. I would be lost if I didn't have one. I personally like the idea of a desktop in the dorm with a ftp server running so you can access any file you may need at any time. For all the questions you have asked, ask yourself, "What would suit me the best?"

For those who want to record lectures... (1)

Agent Green (231202) | more than 11 years ago | (#6098395)

...burn those hideous microcassette jobs and get an MD recorder. I've had mine for the last few years and it is by far the best thing I've ever used for lectures.

MP3 recorders are NOT good for this kind of application because:

1.) Lectures don't take up a lot of bandwidth and ALL mp3 at 96k or below sounds like junk...even on something as simple as a lecture.
2.) MD discs are nice and cheap on eBay.
3.) Standard MD recorders will get you about 2 1/2 hours of record time in mono mode at near CD quality.
4.) MD discs are a piece of cake to reuse.
5.) A few sets of rechargable batteries and you can record as long as you want!
6.) Profit! (If you're devious enough to sell copies of the lectures you attended...but don't get caught or the professor may expressly forbid all forms of recording)

I used to keep the discs around for the lectures I attended, but since I listen to them anyways while studying, I record them onto my PC and transcode them into a 38k vorbis file which has acceptable loss for archiving of a lecture.

It doesnt matter (1)

dlb (17444) | more than 11 years ago | (#6098396)

Whatever you bring, don't spend your whole college career sitting in front of it.

this is easy... (1)

claude_juan (582361) | more than 11 years ago | (#6098404)

a laptop computer. it sucks to spend hour upon hour looking at your dorm wall when writing paper, programs, or whatever. trust me on this. get a laptop.

for gaming get a console. your friends dont want to huddle around your computer screen anyway and lets face it. you wont make loads of friends sitting in front of a computer anyway.

for notes go with pen/pencil and paper. if you honestly think someone wants to hear you pecking away on a keyboard during class you are sorely mistaken. only on those rare instances where laptops are invites should you use them.

a palm/pocketpc is useless unless you are a club nut. i know people like this who have so many meetings that they need something like that to keep them organized. but at the same time, a roomy personal calendar will work too.

oh, and please turn off or mute your damn cell phones when you go to class! i plan on getting my phd someday and if your cell phone goes off in my class you can be damned sure its going to hurt!

Oh God (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6098405)

You fags couldn't get laid if your life depended on it.

What to bring to class (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6098406)

700mhz iBook (For notes)

Pen and paper (For doodling)

Laptops in the classroom (5, Interesting)

drdale (677421) | more than 11 years ago | (#6098409)

As a professor, I think I maybe had about 2 students using something electronic to take notes in class for the last two years (out of maybe 300 students total). One had a laptop, and one a Palm with folding keyboard. These were actually both students I had the year before last. I teach in the humanities, so I probably have fewer students who are really excited about computers than faculty members in other fields. I have to say that I wish students would stick to paper and pen, or at least find quieter keyboards; I could very distinctly hear the students in question typing, and it was sort of distracting. Although if a few tap-tap noises are the biggest problem I have to face in the next school year, I'll count myself lucky! I'd be satisfied if I could just get people to remember to turn off their cell phones.

a couple of tips (5, Informative)

theflea (585612) | more than 11 years ago | (#6098410)

-- get a laptop with 802.11

-- make your computing environment ubiquitous. Consider something web-based (or that syncs) if you happen not to have your laptop.

-- make your computing environment conform to the way you arrange things in your head. I've watched people turn "productivity software" into something they copy just all their notes, addresses, and appointments into for no real benefit. It just becomes redundant.

-- consider that some things might not be easier/faster/better with your computer.

Laptop/desktop (1)

Jacer (574383) | more than 11 years ago | (#6098411)

I opted for buying a low end laptop (700mhz with 192 megs of ram and a 10 gig drive) and the whole power-house desktop. I just finished my first year off at school, and the laptop was indispensable (atleast for me) Taking notes on it was a big plus, I could organize them in a much better fashion after lecture. I'd just copy and paste them in the order that made the most sense to me. Then I'd get back to my dorm and synchronize the files.

don't over buy... (1)

buddhapkt (549319) | more than 11 years ago | (#6098415)

People seem to convince themselves they NEED all these new gadgets, but honestly A simple $20 planner and paper notebooks/3 ring binders are all the average student really needs to keep organized when used in conjunction with a good desktop computer. Anything beyond that is nice, but not required by any means. Use the money for more imporant things like beer... haha.

Your college will suggest computers (1)

peter303 (12292) | more than 11 years ago | (#6098417)

Your college might have a slant towards Linux, Apple or MicroSoft in their courseware or administrative software, so they may suggest certain computers and platforms. However, much of this has migrated to the Web which is less platform-dependent.
Second, you might check for certain group deals they might have for certain hardware and software. Sometimes this is the way to go.

Laptops (1)

Nevistar (540522) | more than 11 years ago | (#6098426)

From having lived on a college campus for the past 4 years, I can attest to the usefulness of something as portable as a laptop, though they are *highly* prone to theft, much moreso than a desktop. If cost is an issue, you should weight in the price difference between a desktop and equivalent laptop. Furthermore, most universities are equipped with sufficient computing services across campus. If having a laptop is a necessity in the classroom, then there is no contest, but if someone just needs a computer, there are a number of reasons to purchase a desktop instead.
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