At this time we are trying to keep questions on here to mainly to housing. Please check out your Class of 2020 Facebook group to get recommendations about laptops.
It’s really up to you and what you prefer for a computer. The RPI laptop program comes with a very robust warranty and has a lot of the software you might need already installed. But if you prefer a different manufacturer or OS, don’t be afraid to get something else.
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.
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.
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.
Yes, my laptop with a screen measurement of 15.4” (diagonal) fits comfortably on the small auditorium desks. I wouldn’t leave it sitting there while I walked away, but while typing on it, the fit is sufficient.
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.