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Columns & Editorials

by Steve Siercks, Jordan Streiff, & Chris Rogers
computer news with the teen perspective

Help! I Need A Computer For College! What Do I Get?
by Chris Rogers
May 18th, 2000

As this school year comes close to an end, some of us are heading off to college. If you are reading this, most likely you are a Mac person. Something was brought to my attention recently. What exactly does the freshman in college need to get his/her job done? If you look around at most college requirements you will notice that most colleges require you to have either a PC or a Mac. The best part is the top machine that most of these schools recommend is of course an Apple. Out of curiosity I've surfed through the sites of Dartmouth and others just to see what they recommend. On all of them, I have seen Apple Machines as the recommended choice. iMacs for the average student that just needs to do word processing and use the school network equipment. G3 and G4 towers are recommended for architect students and graphic artists. I've been thinking these are great things that you will need but there is still more you need.

The Look, The Power, The Mac

Depending upon what you are doing, your choice of computer can differ. To help you with your choice (or convincing your parent's to get you something cool and fast) I've devised this article for your enjoyment.


We know, everyone wants one! G4s are for students who are doing some pretty complex things. G4s are built with the velocity engine to "speed things up." If you are doing 3D image rendering, building design (architecture), video, audio, engineering or anything that is really technical, you'll need a G4. If you have a question about whether you need G4 send me an e-mail with what you'll be doing and I'll let you know whether the G4 is right for you.

Isn't that the darn cutest iMac?

For the average Joe, an iMac will do. iMacs come with everything a student will need: AppleWorks for word processing (check back later for an AppleWorks 6 Review!), iMovie for quick movies (or fun), the Apple Internet Connection Kit, and The Mac Observer's favorite bundled iMac game, Nanosaur! The iMac is for the student who is not really all that interested in computers but of course needs one to get work done. For the most part, iMacs are low cost, small, and come with everything you really need. This is the kind of computer you know you won't add to all that much, though now they have FireWire and 2 individual USB channels, expansion is greatly improved.

But What About the Laptops?

Laptops are probably the best computer for what I call MRCCU's or (Midrange College Computer Users) The main advantage to having a laptop, compared to a desktop, is that you have portability. Though you will be paying more for the computer, you will have the portable feature. For most, the Laptop is the ideal computer. What also is a good choice would be our "A Powerful, Yet Cheap solution to a Laptop" Article and a desktop machine in which to do most of your main work on. One of the best feelings is taking your laptop out to a cafe and enjoying a cup of coffee or enjoying a juice while checking your e-mail.

Alright Doofus, Which one do I get?

As everyone knows, Apple has two kinds of laptops, the iBook and the G3 PowerBook. Both are extremely cool as well as fast but there is a big difference. If you are a Power User and need expandability and upgradeable power, the G3 is your kind of laptop (starting at $2499.00) If you are like most users and don't like computers or just need something to get you by the school year, the iBook is perfect for you! Check out our iBook Specials (or these specials)!

Honestly, when purchasing a computer for college you want something a little more than you need. The last thing any student wants to do is have to go buy more additions to their computer to help them get through a course. Spend that little extra money on the DVD-ROM, spend more on upgrading the RAM on your machine, and get the fastest processor you can possibly get, even if it means washing the dog! If you think about it logically, why buy a 400MHz computer that will be out dated faster than the 500HMz? I know that sometimes money is an issue but really when it comes to computers, buy the machine that is right for you (e-mail me if you have any questions on what's best for you) and buy the top of the line. Might as well stay on the top of the dog pile a little longer eh?

Alright Jerkey! What else do I need?

Well you'll need a printer bucko! Lucky for you, great Ink Jets and great Laser printers are getting cheaper. Epson and HP have some of the nicest printers you will find for roughly $150-200. Check out their web sites for more. The best part is any new printer you buy will have USB on it which I can say with 99% accuracy, there's a Mac driver for it and you can run it! Also one of the best things I ever purchased was a printer server for my Epson which you can find at which allows any of my computers, over ethernet, to use the Epson printer! This is also great if you share a room with another person, anyone can use it and it's fun to use.

I'm Sick of WORK what about FUN!

Nuf said here, get Connectix VGS and Play some Playstation Games on the Mac. Also check out some of Bungie's new releases as well as Mac Observer reviews. Go grab a joystick or two, it makes studying nights even more f un!

Platform Compatibility

No doubt you will be running into some cross platform stuff. The easiest way to deal with this issue it to get Virtual PC for interacting with Windows People, and get either LinuxPPC or MkLinux for working with Linux. See our Linux Articles for more info!

Did I forget something? If I did let me know! I'll be glad to add it in soon! Until next time everyone, Peace and Click safely!


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