Social Question

SMdarren's avatar

Netbook, desktop, or laptop for college?

Asked by SMdarren (1points) August 19th, 2009
24 responses
“Great Question” (0points)

I’m heading to college soon and i’ve been confused about what to get. I was seriously considering a specific laptop (Gateway P7805u FX, gaming laptop, 1,090 dollars) and using it as both a note taker and a replacement for my slightly outdated desktop. I went to the store and realized this thing is MASSIVE, like 10 lbs and the size of my 20 inch desktop monitor. It wasn’t loud so i still thought it was a possibility as a notetaker. The seller asked me what my intention was with it and i told him and he got almost immediately directed me away from it and towards 10” netbooks, telling me everyone in college uses them and that i would look like a fool lugging that laptop around. I considered what he said but thought he might be throwing on a sales pitch to get me to buy a netbook for whatever reason (low sales ect). If i don’t get this laptop my other option is to bring my desktop from home and set it in my dorm and buy a cheap netbook to use for notes and than transfer it everyday. Or find a really small laptop. I’m mostly looking for peoples experience in college university classes and what they see people using (in terms of size, 10”, 15” ect)

Observing members: 0
Composing members: 0


Quagmire's avatar

A desktop would be too heavy to carry around to classes.

robmandu's avatar

Netbook is probably the most portable. But I’d think it’d only be good for notes and not much else. You’d probably want a “real computer” in your room for doing real work.

As a compromise, I’d consider looking at real laptops in the 13–15 inch range.

Think about battery life whatever route you go. Chances are you won’t have easy access to a power outlet and on your typical Dell, you’ll be lucky to get 90 minutes.

marinelife's avatar

You need the speed, power, and portability. I would think about a smaller laptop. Have you looked at Sony Vaio?

Quagmire's avatar

I have nothing but horror stories with my Vaio. And that includes repairs and customer service. Horrible. And now it’s broken, and they tell me $700 is what I should expect to pay them. Hell! I’m looking for a new laptop for that money or a little more.

I’ve looked into netbooks but decided against since they do not have their own internal cd/dvd drive.

chronohart's avatar

If you want to be able to game on the go, definitely go with a laptop. You won’t be able to do anything too strenuous like that on a netbook.

If you’d be happy to game in one specific location, but want portability for word processing and surfing the net, my suggestion would be to get a netbook and upgrade your desktop.

You’ll almost certainly want portability for something while in college, so I definitely would not go with just a desktop.

tramnineteen's avatar

Laptop. You will be frustrated with the speed of a net-book, and regret not having the portability with a desktop. Laptop is the best of both worlds. I highly recommend Apple w/ student discount.

Also, I second @Quagmire ‘s point about Sony. I used to sell computers and I urge you not to go Sony. My vote is Apple, or for a PC, I would go HP or Toshiba.

robmandu's avatar

Whatever brand, sounds like you should also seriously consider getting the extended warranty. It’s one of the few times that it’s worth the investment.

Quagmire's avatar

@tramnineteen, yeah, I REALLY like HP (except for their India-based tech support).

dpworkin's avatar

I own a Dell XPS M1330 that I purchased for school, but since I bought my Asus EEE netbook I have stopped carrying the Dell. I find no diminution in speed when web-browsing, or reading and writing Office documents. I did upgrade to 2Gb RAM, but that cost a $25 premium, rather trivial.

SMdarren's avatar

@Quagmire post #1
oh, you.

I think laptops would be what i want, but i also don’t want to look like an idiot or annoy other people with a huge screen during class, which leans me towards netbooks again.
The reason i’m not that keen to bringing my desktop to my dorm is because it’s like my baby, i’m a huge gamer and a nerd, and my desktop is, well, kind of too good. i7 core, SLI, watercooled, full size tower (really the reason i’m against it, for those familiar fullsize towers are massive, like 3–4 feet tall, lugging that during school breaks would be tuff)
Any recommendations on specific laptops? I have had good experience with HP, 2 slimlines in the past, but the all of the laptops i see from them are kind of large

fireinthepriory's avatar

Yeah, I’d go for a laptop, and I never even took notes on mine in college. In my experience, people “taking notes” on laptops are usually IMing their friends in class… However, it’s definitely worth the ability to do your homework and paper writing wherever you want, especially since you don’t know who your roommate is going to be. If you have a single, then a desktop may be fine for you, so long as you know you do work best in your room. I also liked being able to do homework in club meetings (I compulsively join clubs…).

My pick specifically would be a mac, mostly because I don’t know how to do anything on a PC. Can barely figure out how to check my email, it’s very pathetic. Plus you get a free iPod touch, and you can’t go wrong with that. :)

veronasgirl's avatar

I would get a laptop, the netbooks are fine, but the screen is so small and they don’t have as much memory, so you would probably have to have some sort of backup system anyway. I had a Dell laptop for three years and it worked alright, it got A LOT of viruses though, and I recently switched to a macbook and I will never go back to PC’s. But if you are into gaming, you probably wouldn’t want a mac, they aren’t much for gaming. I am a fan of HP, they have some great laptops for decent prices, and they are great for gaming. (Depending on the specs of the laptop, make sure you check out the graphics card on the laptop)

aprilsimnel's avatar

I also have an HP, but I give you these general laptop caveats: Buy another battery. I got a 6-cell with my HPdv6000 series laptop and it barely lasts two hours. Get a 12-cell and spare yourself the hassle of looking for outlets all the time. Get the best flat cooler you can afford. Laptops run hot and you don’t want to make your lap uncomfortably hot or warp surfaces that you’ll use frequently. Plus, it’s bad for the internals if all that heat has nowhere to go. Get a 2GB USB thumb drive, just in case something conks out. Why? Back up, back up, back up. Seriously. I lost a PATA HD (on my desktop) that had all 4 of my screenplays and the bible and pilot script for a TV show I’d written. It’s going to cost me well over US$2K to try and retrieve it all. I’d neglected to back any of it up. :(

Don’t let that happen to your term papers!

Facade's avatar

Get a laptop. I like my Mac :)

simpleD's avatar

I teach at a university. I’d recommend the 13” Macbook Pro. Small and portable enough to take notes on in class, yet powerful enough to use as a real computer back in your room. Game, edit video, crunch numbers, prepare presentations. Run Windows if you need it. Spend more time learning and having fun, and less time worrying about spyware and viruses. $1099 edu price.

robmandu's avatar

If you go the Macbook route and get the education discount which throws in a free iPod Touch, then consider waiting until September 9 before making your purchase.

September 9 is the current expected date for the next-gen iPod touch (double the RAM, plus a camera, and some other stuff no one’s guessed at yet).

SMdarren's avatar


If you don’t mind me asking, what class do you teach? and could you guesstimate a % of kids that use netbooks/laptops in class?

I don’t think i could use a mac tbh, especially at that price. I have a hackintosh PC, and i could never get used to the interface or how everything looked. It just didn’t suit me, and i would end up using it as a 1k netbook just for notes and word proccessing

Also, for those familiar i’m going to college with intentions to become a programmer (in several languages), so i’m back at laptop because i’m told by elder programmers that you >need< a decent laptop for programming. Gah this is confusing lol

robmandu's avatar

Fascinating. I’d’ve killed to have a powerful UNIX-based OS in portable form back when I was working on my Comp. Sci. degree. Yah, you could go a Linux route, but you were already looking at a $1,090 Dell when you posted the question.

SMdarren's avatar

actually 1,090 gateway :P i would never spend over 400 on a dell. Bad experiences.

Starting back in the fall of 2002,————————- State College began requiring all incoming freshman to own a wireless laptop. Beginning spring 2003, Framingham State College began requiring all transfer students to own a wireless laptop.

well than, i guess the college decided for me wether i needed a laptop. I’ma go look them over, thanks for the help guys

simpleD's avatar

I teach computer art and design. More and more students are bringing in portables to class. Maybe 25%. MacBooks are the leading seller here on campus, especially among programmers. They can easily program for UNIX, Linux, Mac and Windows. It might seem like a steep price now, but I think you’ll find the value will outlast a throwaway netbook, and you’ll be able to do so much more with it.

Ivan's avatar

$1000 is too much to spend on a computer.

I think I’m just going to paste that sentence in every relevant thread now. I find myself thinking it to myself a lot.

simpleD's avatar

@Ivan: I guess it depends on your expectations. My time is valuable. If I were to put a price on the time I’d spend if I used Windows fending of viruses and spyware, rebooting from blue screens, and reinstalling drivers, it would amount to much more than $1000. I’m willing to pay a little more up front for years of relatively trouble free and enjoyable productivity for a machine that elegantly integrates itself into my commercial and academic workflow, entertainment and social needs, works when I need it to work, and doesn’t stand in the way between me and my data.

Ivan's avatar


Well I spent $300 on new laptop and put Linux on it. I have no problems with viruses, spyware, blue screens, drivers, etc. It’s trouble free, and it does everything I need for school.

J0E's avatar

Just don’t be an idiot and spend too much like a lot of people end up doing, take your time and explore these websites.

J0E (13172points)“Great Answer” (1points)

Answer this question




to answer.

Mobile | Desktop

Send Feedback