First, have you heard of the Megabus and what do you think about it? Second, what do you think about the mobile computing package and would you recommend it?

Megabus is a great value if you need travel from Albany. I was able to ride Megabus back to NYC for $15 a ticket, which is extremely affordable. The bus also as AC outlets and wifi which is a plus.

It really depends on what major you are, and what type of computer you prefer. The warranty is great if you are clumsy and the laptop might have software that you will need. That being said, don’t force yourself to buy one just because it’s the RPI one. If you find a better value or use a Mac, choose what makes you happier.

Hi, I’m a chemical engineering major. Do you know if buying the school laptop is necessary or if I could just get a mac? I was originally planning on getting a mac but now I’m not so sure because of programs and such. Thanks!

Ah, the ever-unanswered laptop question… I’ll try to summarize the arguments, but it is very much a decision you have to make yourself.

Pros of the school laptop program:

  • A great computer at a reasonable cost
  • Programs you will “need” are already installed
  • EXCELLENT service on campus and a great warranty
  • It’s what you know and love.
  • You like it better.
  • It’s just as good for regular computing, maybe better.

The general dilemma of getting a Mac:

If you get a Mac, you’ll need to make sure you have all of the right programs. To be frank, the school computer comes with more programs than most students (98%, I’d say) will ever need. Rarely have I needed many of the technical programs on the laptop, but you will NEED to use some of them from time to time. With a Mac, you’ll be responsible for buying/supplying these programs, though you can get them (at a cost) through the campus computer store.

Personally, I have the school laptop and it has served me well for the last three years. Sure, it’s ugly compared to a Mac, and Windows is only starting to compare to Mac in terms of OS, but it gets the job done. I’m going to have the fan replaced when I return in August, and that will be free… so that’s nice. BUT… I did buy a MacBook Air last week, which I plan to carry to class and to most of my daily computing from. It’s lighter, the flash memory is excellent, and the battery lasts much longer.

Really, I can’t make the decision for you. If you’re a Mac user, you’ll probably be happier to have a Mac and occasionally deal with the minor issue of dual booting to a Windows partition and acquiring some needed software.

What kind of software do the RPI laptops come with? i want to get some sort of photoshop for the laptop but now im holding back on it because im thinking that some sort of photograph editing, etc will come on the rpi laptop

In the past, RPI laptops have come with Photoshop Elements. I can’t guarantee that this will be the case for Fall 2011, but I imagine it wouldn’t change much.

I’d like to make you aware of student discounts for software. Through the Campus Computing Store, you can get software suites (including a variety of Adobe packages) for VERY discounted prices. I recently got Adobe Design Standard CS5 for a few hundred dollars.

The lower portion of this page describes software that came with the Fall 2010 Laptop: http://www.rpi.edu/laptops/laptops10/specs10.html.

How much room you should typically expect in classes (ie. desk space). When I toured I remember visiting an auditorium, maybe a science lecture hall, where the desks were tiny and confined to the area around the seat. Are most classes going to offer you more room? Does it depend on your major? My question stems from the fact I need to make the decision to either keep or sell my 15″ laptop in the next month or so and am wondering whether I will be able to use it to take notes or whether it will dominate my work space.

It depends on the classroom. Most of the lecture halls use the tablet arm (where the little desk folds up from the side of the seat). In other cases, you’ll be in a classroom, where you will have a rather large table with ample space for a computer and a notebook. I think most students would agree that you will always have space for either a computer or a notebook on your desk, sometimes both.

I think that you should base your decision more on whether or not your current computer is powerful enough for RPI standards. Unless you’re planning on having two laptops (which isn’t exactly rare), you should make sure that the 15” laptop has the power you need. Take a look at the specs for the laptop that students joining the program in Fall 2010 received: http://www.rpi.edu/laptops/laptops10/specs10.html.

Don’t worry about it fitting on the desk. My class has 15.4” displays and it fits well.

Two things actually; Which housing option do you think is the best for freshmen? Dorms like Bray, Crockett, Cary, etc, or Barton, the Quadrangle or BARH? And how exactly does the whole laptop situation work? I know they offer a deal on a really good laptop, but what was your experience with that?

Calling any residence hall “the best” is an impossible choice to make. Depending on your lifestyle, you may prefer one hall over another. For starters, athletes tend to live in BARH, as it’s close to ECAV and the dining hall is open until 8:30pm. That being said, if you want to live in BARH and you’re not athletic, you can still fit in.

The Quad is often considered quieter because there are no hallways. This is where I live, and there is still plenty of social life. Also, BARH and the Quad hves upperclassmen living on the third floor; it can be nice to know older students. Quad is also really close to classes, especially compared to BARH. Quad residents typically eat at Sage.

Barton and the Freshmen Five are essentially equal in distance to ECAV, Commons, and the academic part of campus. Barton is just nicer and sometimes called “Hotel Barton.” These dorms overall are the most social because of their hallways and openness. Really though, everyone makes friends.

The laptop situation: RPI offers a Lenovo laptop for about $1800. The laptop comes ‘imaged’ with most of the software you need for classes and a four year service plan. This year, we got W500s. Some students complain about the quality of the laptop, but I’ve found them to be pretty high speed and the service plan is nice. Laptops with any problems can be taken to the Help Desk at the VCC and they will try to fix the problem or lend you a loaner laptop while they work on yours, if need be. If you don’t have the RPI laptop, the Help Desk can help you, but you won’t get full replacement parts and you have to chase down (and sometimes pay for) the software. You can find more information here: http://www.rpi.edu/laptops/