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Hello everyone,

 

I just wanted some input from current students and students of 2014 as to what type of laptop they have and what they would recommend or maybe change.

 

I realise that a lot of your time will be spent on whatever I purchase and I didn't find anything too recent in the forum.

 

Any input would be recommended even if its a "do not buy this" comment.

 

Thanks so much.

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Each year for the past 8 years, Apple has offered a Back to School promotion where you buy a Mac and get a free iPod (of some sort). Last year it was a Mail-in-rebate for the value of an iPod Touch 8GB...

 

Typically, this promotion launches mid-June and runs through the middle of September, so you might want to hang on a bit if you're considering a Mac (though no blaming me if they don't run it again this year)...

 

You can purchase online through Apple's Education store if you're not yet in Calgary (there is a computer store on-campus: http://www.campuscomputerstore.ca/ucalgary/).

 

Jazon

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I have an eee 1201n (asus, netbook). if you can deal with the smallish keyboard of a netbook - and at 12" this one is not that small - it's a great computer for the price. All the eee's are very reliable (I've had four over the years; my first one is still running fine in my mom's hands) and very good for basic computing. This one is actually powerful enough to run games; I can play portal 2 quite well, and even starcraft 2 will run moderately well.

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From the sounds of things from the Aye Ayes, professors put up notes half an hour before class or later, so most people use a laptop to take notes. People use both PC or Macs to annotate the notes, so you can go with whatever your preference is. While I do have a four year old macbook that still works great, I am looking at getting a slate tablet with an active digitizer to take notes on. I've taken notes on my macbook before and while it is functional, commenting on pdfs in Preview leaves something to be desired, although I have yet to try Evernote. For me, I'm looking at getting a tablet PC so I can use a stylus and OneNote to take notes on. I've only tried OneNote for about 5 minutes before, but it seems to be an excellent program to use for both inking and organizing digital notes if you have a PC.

 

The computer I'm currently looking at getting is the Fujitsu Q550. It's actually just started shipping this week so there aren't too many user reviews yet, but on paper it looks like it will meet my needs. It has an active digitizer for stylus input and multitouch, good battery life (manufacturer quotes up to 8 hours but before reviews get published I'm guessing somewhere around 5-7), a matte IPS screen (that is, high quality colour, contrast, and able to be viewed outside, unlike some glossy LCD screens). It however is a slower computer (intel atom processor) and doesn't have a full keyboard like convertible tablets, but all I want is a portable electronic notepad since I still have my macbook.

 

EDIT: It seems like the atom processor might not have the oomph to deal with large OneNote files (i.e. the ones that would be expected in medical school). While the Q550 might be nice and portable, something like the Asus EP 121 (see below) will most likely be needed for notes.

 

The Asus EP 121 is similar in concept to the Fujitsu Q550, however it is larger, has a Wacom vs Ntrig digitizer, much more powerful core i5 CPU, but has a much lower battery life (2-4 hours). Alternatively, if you want the latest and greatest processor power with decent battery life, the Lenovo X220T is a convertible tablet with a Wacom digitizer that's been getting great reviews. However, it is a bit pricer.

 

If you don't care about stylus input or inking and are looking at getting a Mac, I'm also quite smitten with the new Macbook Airs, although hold out on buying one for a few weeks as there should be an upgrade with the new ultra-low voltage sandy bridge processors on the way in June sometime. And yeah, you get a "free" iPod.

 

In the case you don't want to spend that much money, then using your current laptop will probably work fine so long as it's still functional. If not or you don't have one, you can get netbooks pretty cheap, and as Erk said, some of them don't have half bad specs as well. For taking notes though, typing will be a significant factor on how usable it will be so make sure you go and try out a few different keyboard layouts before you get one though. I find that smaller keyboards, specifically the multilingual ones that have those half sized shift keys drive me nuts, as I can never type properly on them. So if that's the case, choose one you can actually use.

 

Also, if you're looking at purchasing MS Office for a new laptop/upgrade, I would suggest to also check out the Professional Academic edition, which includes a few more programs than the regular Home and Student version, and is also cheaper. I believe it's only valid for a single licence instead of the three the Home and Student version provides, though, so if you have more than one computer you want to install it on you may want to weigh the difference in price.

 

So yeah, what kind of laptop you should get is dependent on how you would prefer to use it and how much you want to spend. If anyone else has any insights or preferences I would love to hear them too, as I still am looking at all available options.

 

tl;dr: Here are my recommendations:

 

Cheap option: use existing laptop OR get a cheap netbook that has your preferred style of keyboard

Slate tablet: Asus EP 121. Changed from Q550 as discussed below.

Convertible tablet: Lenovo X220T

Apple: Macbook Air (though wait until the sandy bridge refresh)

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I have been using a ThinkPad with a Wacom Bamboo to take notes in my most recent classes. It works really well, but carrying a full laptop with a separate tablet input is a little cumbersome.

 

Microsoft OneNote is...AMAZING! You will laugh at people (and your previous self) for trying to take notes/format in PowerPoint, Word, OpenOffice, etc. It seemlessly combines all note formats and lets you edit them in one spot. After using it I don't think you would ever want to go back. My only caution with OneNote is that if you get an older version it will NOT work properly on a new 64-bit OS. However, the link ChemPet sent is for the newest version which is an awesome deal and works great on all newer PCs.

 

I think the Atom processor is a deal breaker for me with the Fujitsu. If you have some large notebooks open in OneNote the Atom will be very laggy and annoying to navigate on.

 

I agree that the battery life of the Asus Eee Slate is really disappointing. I'm hoping that there are ample outlets in the lecture halls...? Any comments from current students? Based on my experience (sounds like Erk loves Asus too), Asus and Wacom products are top notch, and a full-powered 12" screen with a Wacom digitizer and a free companion keyboard is tough to beat. I'm just debating whether I should abandon my current setup with 6hr battery life for a more convenient setup with 2 hour battery life...

 

Ps. For those of you not willing to part with your Mac, the Wacom Bamboo works well with Macs too...though you are SOL when it comes to OneNote.

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You make a good point with the Atom and OneNote, pubert. I actually do not have any meaningful first hand experience with tablets including the thinkpad, and have simply been doing a bit of research to answer the laptop question this past week. After a quick google search, it does seem that OneNote needs more cycles to navigate larger files even if the atom can ink fine, so that does negate the usefulness of the Q550. Thus, by process of elimination the Asus EP 121 is the slate of choice, albeit with the short battery life. Like you, I would also like to know about the prevalence of outlets in the lecture halls to know if this is going to be an issue or not.

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I'm so glad I stumbled on this thread as I was also thinking of getting a tablet. I was personally eyeing the HP touchsmart as I have been a loyal HP user for some time. However seeing as how there is no mention of the touchsmart, Im beginning to wonder if it s an inferior product? I don't know much about computers so I'd really appreciate it anyone could comment on this.

 

Thanks!

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The HP TM2-2100 has the same CPU as the ASUS EP 121 as an upgrade option (low voltage i5), and instead of a solid state drive has a standard laptop hard drive. The biggest difference is that it is a convertible laptop, versus the slate tablet form factor. The keyboard and larger battery add some weight but certainly more functionality to the device as compared to the EP 121. It also does not have as great of viewing angles as compared to the IPS screens. Compared to the Lenovo X220T the HP is cheaper, although it does not have the latest sandy bridge chips the Lenovo have, which give a battery life boost. The TM2 is rated for up to 6.75 hours by the manufacturer though (read: about 5 hours real use), which is still pretty good though not as good as the Lenovo if I recall correctly. Engadget has a decent review here.

 

Basically, if you like HPs go for it, it's not a bad machine at any rate, although for a convertible the X220T has a bit better specs with newer chips, although the HP will certainly be cheaper and a very functional convertible tablet. From anecdotal experience, the HP laptops I've seen of late have not weathered well and do not last perhaps as well as they should. Lenovos are known for their durability, however statistically they are still not as well off due to defects, though better than HP. This article depicts the reliability differences between laptop brands well, based on 2009 data. Hope that helps.

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HP has been good to my family for laptops, but is the TM2 even available anymore? I checked it out last year and liked it quite a bit but opted to go for my cheaper setup at the time. I can't see it in stock anywhere though...

 

 

I guess these are the two I'm seriously considering at this point:

 

Asus Eee Slate $999

 

Fujitsu Lifebook $1049 w/2 year warranty $999 w/1 year warranty

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So I noticed that a lot of people will be buying tablets. The issue that I am having is that at this point in time I use my laptop as my desktop and those EEE pcs are not really enough for that. Will you be using this as a extra to your home computer then?

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So I noticed that a lot of people will be buying tablets. The issue that I am having is that at this point in time I use my laptop as my desktop and those EEE pcs are not really enough for that. Will you be using this as a extra to your home computer then?

 

The Asus Eee Slate is far more powerful than the Asus Eee Netbooks that have been around for the last few years. Unless your laptop is quite new, chances are that the Eee Slate has a more powerful processor.

 

If it's any help, only a handful of people in the class have tablets. I personally did not have a very good experience with my (now dysfunctional) tablet and would not recommend that people buy one.

 

Did you find that a regular laptop was easier to take notes on in your classes? Or was it just the model of tablet itself that was a problem? Are there lots of outlets available in the lecture halls?

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So I noticed that a lot of people will be buying tablets. The issue that I am having is that at this point in time I use my laptop as my desktop and those EEE pcs are not really enough for that. Will you be using this as a extra to your home computer then?

 

Agree with above poster. Also, like I said, my 1201n, which is now an older model, can do everything I need a desktop for. It can run new games, even; it runs anything I've thrown at it. I have a little workstation at home with a keyboard, monitor, and mouse... when I need to do serious work I just hook it up and go to town. They're a great investment.

 

That said, I'm now looking at a desktop PC for home use... my eee is lagging behind on starcraft 2, it doesn't get the framerate I need to compete with my friends. Plus I want to isolate my eee for just school use, and the desktop can be our home entertainment center and gaming computer so that I can clean up the laptop. Just the fact that I have to clean all the non-work-related stuff of my eee because it's been the core computer in our house for two years should be sufficient info on how well these little guys perform :)

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Good point pubert, TM2 has been discontinued. The elitebooks are HPs current tablets, I guess. Updated chassis and parts, everything else most likely still stands.

 

A tablet's certainly not for everyone, but having had to take notes on just a regular laptop and by pen and paper, I personally would prefer to take them on OneNote. I'm not overly concerned with the tablet lasting eternally, as I really only need to perform for the two years. It also certainly helps to have a main desktop/docking station if you have a light power notebook as well.

 

I'm still on the fence though, as there are still compromises across all offerings, and I could always just get by with what I have. I think I'll just end up waiting until the end of June though to see if there are any new offerings and reevaluate then.

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Damn you ChemPetE, you put the idea of a ThinkPad Tablet in my head! :) I went ahead and bought one today. I'll let you know what it's like when it arrives. All the reviews I read seemed very positive...

 

X220T

Core i7 - 2620M

12.5" Multitouch

4GB Ram - 1 Dimm

 

 

For anyone that's interested, I got the employee price and used a coupon code to get 12% off on top of that... saved me $430 which was the deciding factor for me. Just realized my credit card doubles the warranty to 2 years so that's another plus.

 

Now that I don't need it anymore, is anyone interested buying my Wacom Bamboo Pen and Touch for $50?

 

Anyways, if you want the employee pricing you can checkout the link at the top of the following page and use the coupon code provided too... Employee Pricing + 12% Discount.

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Each year for the past 8 years, Apple has offered a Back to School promotion where you buy a Mac and get a free iPod (of some sort). Last year it was a Mail-in-rebate for the value of an iPod Touch 8GB...

 

Typically, this promotion launches mid-June and runs through the middle of September, so you might want to hang on a bit if you're considering a Mac (though no blaming me if they don't run it again this year)...

 

You can purchase online through Apple's Education store if you're not yet in Calgary (there is a computer store on-campus: http://www.campuscomputerstore.ca/ucalgary/).

 

Jazon

This year's education promotion is a $100 card for the app store, iTunes, and iBookstore when you buy a mac. Just if anyone was interested.
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I just found this free, open source, anti-theft program that works for PCs, Androids, and Macs alike. Given that we will be spending a great deal of time in the hospital and other high traffic areas it might make sense to have a little extra security on your laptop. Reviews seem really positive. I can't speak to its efficacy but when I tried "stealing" my own laptop tonight it was able to email me a picture of the thief (me), the location, a screen shot, and other details that might make getting your laptop back easier. I especially like the ability to set off an annoying 30 second alarm blast in case your laptop is still nearby :D Anyways, just an option that hopefully never needs to be exercised for anyone.

 

Prey Anti-Theft

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This might be a good idea if you're forgetful with your gadgets. I've heard of a fair bit of stuff going missing in some of the areas we'll be frequenting. I had someone steal my friggin' monitor cable once. It wasn't even hdmi! Who steals a monitor cable, honestly?

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  • 7 months later...
Damn you ChemPetE, you put the idea of a ThinkPad Tablet in my head! :) I went ahead and bought one today. I'll let you know what it's like when it arrives. All the reviews I read seemed very positive...

 

X220T

Core i7 - 2620M

12.5" Multitouch

4GB Ram - 1 Dimm

 

 

For anyone that's interested, I got the employee price and used a coupon code to get 12% off on top of that... saved me $430 which was the deciding factor for me. Just realized my credit card doubles the warranty to 2 years so that's another plus.

 

Now that I don't need it anymore, is anyone interested buying my Wacom Bamboo Pen and Touch for $50?

 

Anyways, if you want the employee pricing you can checkout the link at the top of the following page and use the coupon code provided too... Employee Pricing + 12% Discount.

 

Hi I know you posted this a while ago but was wondering what you think of your X220 Tablet. Are you having any issues with the pen not working correctly at the edges of the tablet?

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x220t is great. You may also consider putting a SSD in it along with OneNote.

 

Onenote looks awesome. I've read really good reviews on it.

 

With onenote can you import a PDF or ppt file and then type/write notes over it?

Have you had issues with the digitizer pen on the edges of the screen?

 

What is SSD?

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