I’ll admit, I’m not the most technologically savvy. Sure, I can manage my way around InDesign and crank out a video in Final Cut Pro, but most of the time I use my laptop to watch the latest Community and catchup on celebrity gossip. That’s why I was thrilled when I saw Anderson’s laptop requirements. Perfect, I thought! Let me print it out and drive to the closest Apple store (have I mentioned I’m a Mac girl?). But wait, what’s that? Office for Mac is not supported? I need to install Windows on my Mac? Waaah? Perhaps I should consider a PC? I guess off to Best Buy I go…
Thirty minutes later, I’m in the middle of Best Buy with Mike, a sales associate and self-professed geek, the store manager and the floor rep. “She needs 250+GB SSD? Why is she a film student?” “The only computers we have that fit those requirements would be the Mac with Retina Display. But wait, oh. Then maybe a PC?” “This makes no sense.” Oi. If these three are having so much trouble I guess this might not be so easy. Here’s what I learned from the purchasing experience.
If you’re looking for an investment piece, consider going with Anderson’s Recommended specs as they will guarantee you a top of the line computer. If, like me, you are thinking of getting a computer just for your time at Anderson (and buying a new one right before graduation to maximize on that student discount), consider a mix of both Recommended and Minimum requirements.
Finding a laptop with 8+GB of RAM and a 250+GB SSD hard drive will essentially limit you to Apple’s Mac Book Pro with Retina Display. (The MacBook Air unfortunately only has 4GB RAM which might be a bit small to run Parallels.) All sizes of the Retina Display boast Apple’s flash storage, aka SSD, which guarantees a much faster response (trust me, I saw them in action). Choosing this model takes care of just about every item on Anderson’s Recommended column (including the Dedicated Graphics). Things that you won’t be able to find, such as an Ethernet port and an optical drive, are a little outdated and therefore might be hard to find on any top of the line computer (note: you can easily purchase an external optical drive).
While I looooove Macs (durable, user friendly, beautiful designs, and Mac support!), you might seriously consider that Anderson’s educational softwares run only on Windows environments. Getting a Mac therefore means that you would need to install either Bootcamp or Parallels in order to run Windows on your Mac. While Parallels has received great reviews, and I’ve been guaranteed that the transition between Windows and Mac OSX is rather seamless (no need to reboot, easily drag documents between the two), I can’t help but wonder how this would affect your actual laptop. I’ve heard of many silly little glitches such as specific keyboard functions not working properly while in Windows. Also, remember that Windows is vulnerable to viruses. And while any virus you might obtain would be confined to the Windows part of your hard drive, it could still damage your computer.
The other thing to consider is price. Macs aren’t exactly cheap (full price breakdown below) and consider that you will need to purchase either Bootcamp or Parallels (about $79 each), Windows for Macs (can be purchased at a Microsoft store) which starts at $119 (if you have a previous version of Windows on your Mac, you can purchase the Windows 8 upgrade for $69.99 with your student discount), and, finally, Microsoft Office 2013 (Home and Student $139.99).
Lastly, by going Mac you would not be able to enjoy Windows 8’s touchscreen appeal.
It’s a Mac.
MacBook Pro with Retina Display 13in, 2.6GHz: $1699.00
Student discount: $100 plus $100 gift card to Apple Store
BootCamp + Windows 8 + Office: $337.99
Total: $1,936.99 And this not counting any protection plan!
If you decide to purchase a Mac, here is more info about running Windows:
Although I am sure some people are able to find their dream computer, it was impossible to find a PC that met all of Anderson’s Recommended specs at Best Buy. You can customize a Dell to meet the requirements but expect to shell out a minimum of $1549.99. If you decide to go the PC route, I suggest eliminating the 250GB SSD requirements. From my understanding, unless you are a crazy gamer or planning on making films, you do not need this. You might also decide that you don’t need 8GB RAM. For suggestions on specific brands, I suggest checking out CNet:
It’s not a Mac.
Price, price, price! By going the PC route, you save dollars and hassle by skipping the Windows 8 installation. Forget about Parallels, your computer comes with Windows! As a student, you will also probably be able to get a free version of Microsoft Office with the purchase of your laptop. This will most likely be Office University and is only valid for 4 years. Also, note that any deal that will include Office will be for the 64 bit version, and not the required 32 bit.
About half of the new laptops are now touchscreen so you can play around with Windows 8!
On average, you can expect to find a PC + Office for about $1,000.00
As you may have guessed, I opted for a PC.
While I already miss my Mac and am so confused by Windows 8, it simply made more sense for me to get a laptop which includes Windows and came with a free Office 2013 pack. So yesterday I purchased my first PC, a touchscreen Sony Vaio 14in Fit, 8GB RAM, 750GB hard drive + 8GB SSD. Including insurance and the virus protection, it came out to $1100.
Ready for school to begin!