Best Law School Laptop for the Money

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HBK
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Best Law School Laptop for the Money

Postby HBK » Tue Mar 30, 2010 2:35 am

I am planning on attending LS in the fall, and am looking for a good deal. I've been looking at the Acer Timeline series, but was wondering what the infinite wisdom of TLS recommends.

I am not a gamer; the only games I play are generally Sporcle, a couple Facebook games, and online crossword puzzles.

Also considering getting a PC for cheap (buying the one I use from my office) for storage, downloading music, etc- I want to keep my LS laptop clean and quick.

I've seen some good prices on open-box and refurbished laptops. Any advice or horror stories?

Let's keep it in the $500-$800 range guys. Thanks!

JOThompson
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Re: Best Law School Laptop for the Money

Postby JOThompson » Tue Mar 30, 2010 2:37 am

Interested to hear TLS opinions on this.

SandyC877
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Re: Best Law School Laptop for the Money

Postby SandyC877 » Tue Mar 30, 2010 3:19 am

The ones sold at T14 schools obviously.

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Chupavida
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Re: Best Law School Laptop for the Money

Postby Chupavida » Tue Mar 30, 2010 3:22 am

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Last edited by Chupavida on Tue Jul 19, 2011 10:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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legalease9
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Re: Best Law School Laptop for the Money

Postby legalease9 » Tue Mar 30, 2010 3:30 am

Look at your law school's website to see if they have any special deals/partnerships regarding laptops.

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quickquestionthanks
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Re: Best Law School Laptop for the Money

Postby quickquestionthanks » Tue Mar 30, 2010 4:17 am

The one word of advice I can offer is that "door buster" or other newspaper specials are often so cheap due to a high defect rate of that particular model. Don't go for some crazy deal just because it's the most computer for your money, you'll be sorry.

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dlac
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Re: Best Law School Laptop for the Money

Postby dlac » Tue Mar 30, 2010 4:20 am

I'm currently shopping around for a laptop to use for law school as well. I have a number of PCs and laptops, but they aren't practical solutions for intense graduate work. While laptops are an obvious choice, I haven't entirely ruled out netbooks either. The strides being made in netbook computers are remarkable and they are starting to incorporate respectable processor chips into them (although they are a tad girlish). I stay away from refurbished/open boxed items as a rule, these are for people too lazy to hunt and do their homework on computers. I would say especially for a law student, his/her laptop is the key piece of equipment to fork out cash over.

Here are my key things to look for in a laptop:

Size: Must be within 10" and 13" screen size range, with a weight around 3-4 lbs. I don't plan on carrying 30 lbs of law school books plus a 10 lb laptop.

Processor: Intel Atoms are older (generally in netbooks), Intel Celerons are cheaper but slower than the newer Intel Core 2 Duo chips. CULV (Consumer Ultra Low Voltage) processors are made by Intel and use relatively little energy thus extending your battery life. Try to go for a Core 2 Solo SU3500 (Single-Core), or Core Duo SU9300 and up (dual core/faster). In a year or so we will probably be seeing a wave of i3, i5 and i7 processors starting to hit the market but I think these are generally overpriced for now.

RAM: 3-4 GB ideal, 2GB minimum. You want to be able to start up and shut down your laptop quickly between classes, be able to use resource heavy applications and websites while simultaneously running Office 2007, etc. While this is entirely possible to do with 1GB RAM, it will come at the cost of having to deal with cpu lag and resource hiccups.

Hard Drive Space - Pretty obvious but generally 250-320 GB is good enough. I will be backing up my files routinely in my external HDs.

Keyboard: This one's a crapshoot, pretty much try out various keyboards of brandmakers at your local Best Buy/Fry's until you find a style you like. The "chiclet" style keyboard is starting to become more prominent in Sony Vaios and also some other brands, but I can't really get used to these. They're supposedly super comfortable though. I like Lenovo/IBM keyboards as they are more sturdy and well-built. Then again it doesn't matter because there are tons of customizable keyboards out there...

OS: Stick to Windows XP or if you can afford it, Windows 7. Vista is a disaster and is unstable--if you want to risk losing your entire semester's coursework once the OS decides to do a brain dump, then by all means go ahead. No comment on Macs but they are generally reliable and have a good user interface. Plus you can always use Bootcamp to run windows if your school's software requires it. Would recommend Windows still, however. I have seen and used Macs but generally find them to be 1) overpriced and 2) lacking in third party software.

PRICE: OP and everyone else is probably waiting on this one. Depending on your needs, a decent midsized laptop/netbook should run you anywhere from 200 - 600 USD max! Check deals websites like Slickdeals, Fatwallet, Techbargains, etc. regularly to catch these deals (Sorry OP I haven't been able to track down any hot deals at this time).

Brand: Dell has decent netbooks (Dell Mini 10, 10v) that range from $200-400 but sacrifice speed and reliability. While they build reputation quality is questionable at times, I've never had major problems with laptops i've purchased from them. Right now their Inspiron 11z and 13z series are promising, and can be had for as low as $300-400 with coupon/promotions. I also highly recommend a laptop like the ACER 1810 or 1410 depending on your budgetary restrictions, but you can't go wrong with either. ASUS also makes nice 13" laptops, such as this http://www.amazon.com/UL30A-A2-Light-13-3-Inch-Silver-Laptop/dp/B002P3KMNU, or http://www.amazon.com/UL30Vt-A1-Light-13-3-Inch-Silver-Laptop/dp/B0032FOKXS/ref=pd_cp_pc_1, although these are larger and cost around $600-700. Lenovo/IBM make the most reliable/sturdy laptops i've seen to date, but are going to cost you more than $400-800 for comparable specifications. For the more baller TLSers out there, definitely check out the Sony Z-Series as these are the top-of-the-line of portable business notebooks. Like I said before, Macs are good machines, i'm just familiar enough to speak at length about them.

Hope this helps; when I make a decision on a laptop or find a nice deal on one i'll be sure to let you guys know.
Last edited by dlac on Tue Mar 30, 2010 4:32 am, edited 3 times in total.

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HungryHippo
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Re: Best Law School Laptop for the Money

Postby HungryHippo » Tue Mar 30, 2010 4:24 am

One word of advice I got from a 2L was to find a keyboard that was comfortable.

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goblue1646
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Re: Best Law School Laptop for the Money

Postby goblue1646 » Tue Mar 30, 2010 4:30 am

i'm going for a macbook pro. macs are always dependable and have never given me any trouble. the one time i got a windows laptop, it was a total nightmare. the last thing i want in law school is to worry about tech problems. i figure a little extra money is worth the headache reduction.

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dlac
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Re: Best Law School Laptop for the Money

Postby dlac » Tue Mar 30, 2010 4:38 am

Before buying a Mac, make sure your LS doesn't require you to run a windows-based application for test-taking/researching purposes. I was already warned at UCLA not to buy a Mac, or if I already had one, I needed to make sure it met their minimum requirements. Examsoft was the name of their application. It sounds like a massive pain because you have to basically emulate windows XP on your mac and then run their test taking app. I can imagine that would be more stressful for a student that's unfamiliar with emulating windows.

motiontodismiss
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Re: Best Law School Laptop for the Money

Postby motiontodismiss » Tue Mar 30, 2010 7:13 am

Something that won't crash right before exams, or worse, DURING exams? :mrgreen:

I agree. Doorbusters are doorbusters because they're usually selling the lemons that nobody would buy at full price. I also have a rule on new models-NEVER buy the first iteration (greatest chance you'll get a lemon) and NEVER buy within the first 6 months of the model being released. I call it a "test period".

Go with the adage "If it's too good to be true, it probably is."

That said I would not hesitate to shell out $2k for a Macbook pro. A PC? I wouldn't spend more than $1k for an equivalent unless it was a lenovo. At 40 months mine's still holding strong. Its PC predecessor? The screen physically separated itself from the body at 38 months.

Stick with Apple or Lenovo. They're the best in class.

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mayosmith
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Re: Best Law School Laptop for the Money

Postby mayosmith » Tue Mar 30, 2010 7:49 am

iPad. Obvs.

jetlagz28
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Re: Best Law School Laptop for the Money

Postby jetlagz28 » Tue Mar 30, 2010 8:02 am

--ImageRemoved--

rando
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Re: Best Law School Laptop for the Money

Postby rando » Tue Mar 30, 2010 8:11 am

I used to get the super cheap stuff and just plan on using it for a year. But after having a computer so bogged down by viruses and freezing up on me, I just caved and got a mac. Best decision I ever made. Its worth the extra $

ram jam
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Re: Best Law School Laptop for the Money

Postby ram jam » Tue Mar 30, 2010 8:23 am

Chupavida wrote:Sorry to do this, but 13" MBP > all.


+1

HBK
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Re: Best Law School Laptop for the Money

Postby HBK » Tue Mar 30, 2010 9:30 am

dlac thanks for your post. It was really informative.

legalease9 wrote:Look at your law school's website to see if they have any special deals/partnerships regarding laptops.


See, I've looked at a couple of these, and they all still seem ridiculously over priced- as in I could get the same products or better for cheaper with just a google or bing shopping search.

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Sauer Grapes
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Re: Best Law School Laptop for the Money

Postby Sauer Grapes » Tue Mar 30, 2010 9:45 am

Check out http://www.slickdeals.net for good prices on laptops. You may have to check back several times on different days until a deal you like shows up.

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legalease9
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Re: Best Law School Laptop for the Money

Postby legalease9 » Tue Mar 30, 2010 10:32 am

HBK wrote:dlac thanks for your post. It was really informative.

legalease9 wrote:Look at your law school's website to see if they have any special deals/partnerships regarding laptops.


See, I've looked at a couple of these, and they all still seem ridiculously over priced- as in I could get the same products or better for cheaper with just a google or bing shopping search.


Fair point. I think its an important place to look, but you should definitely still shop around.

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kalvano
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Re: Best Law School Laptop for the Money

Postby kalvano » Tue Mar 30, 2010 10:44 am

What about Netbooks with a full-size keyboard?

savetheturtles
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Re: Best Law School Laptop for the Money

Postby savetheturtles » Tue Mar 30, 2010 10:47 am

For the most part, I agree with what dlac said...just want to add a few things:

Screen size: 11"-13" is ideal. Anything bigger than 13" is too big when you have a bunch of law books to carry around. However, 10" is probably going to be too small for most, not to mention the 1024x600 screens on those blow and you'll be scrolling around all day.

Processors: If you are going for a CULV, I'd suggest you at least go with a dual core CULV (I think it starts at SU4100). They are pretty standard on most 13" CULV laptops.

Touchpad: Try out the touchpads in the stores because you will be using them all day for months. Some like the Toshiba laptops have one long button instead of two (you still push down on either the left or the right) and I believe the Dells don't have hard buttons. Some touchpad surfaces are kinda glossy, some are part of the palmrest itself (with a different texture for the touchpad area), and some are very small.

I personally really like Vaios but their lower end stuff kinda sucks. Lenovos are great and they have an 11" Thinkpad netbook out there too.

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dlac
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Re: Best Law School Laptop for the Money

Postby dlac » Tue Mar 30, 2010 11:12 am

--LinkRemoved--

Found a warm deal on a 12" Asus UL20A notebook. It's the lowest price i've seen for this lappy although by no means is it an amazing deal. The processor is a somewhat dated dual-core (SU7300) but is still very good. No video card but it's a non-issue unless you're looking to frag some zombies in Torts class. Overall it meets the specs of my above post for $538.

(For those of you familiar with Bing cashback, visit this page http://www.bing.com/shopping/pages/stores.aspx?scope=cashback&FORM=R5FD1 and select the retailer (J&R) for another 5% off the price. Comes out to $511 with free shipping and no tax in most states.

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nealric
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Re: Best Law School Laptop for the Money

Postby nealric » Tue Mar 30, 2010 11:17 am

Processor: Intel Atoms are older (generally in netbooks), Intel Celerons are cheaper but slower than the newer Intel Core 2 Duo chips. CULV (Consumer Ultra Low Voltage) processors are made by Intel and use relatively little energy thus extending your battery life. Try to go for a Core 2 Solo SU3500 (Single-Core), or Core Duo SU9300 and up (dual core/faster). In a year or so we will probably be seeing a wave of i3, i5 and i7 processors starting to hit the market but I think these are generally overpriced for now.


Atoms are NOT older processors. They are in fact newer designs than the Core2 chips. But they are a bit slower because they are first and foremost designed for lower power consumption.

Also, there are several flavors of atoms. You do NOT want the older N270 atom processors. Ideally, you want the "pinetrail" based netbooks with a HDMI out. The HDMI out will come in handy for hooking the computer up to an external monitor or TV.

i3/i5/i7 processors are pretty overkill for law-student purposes. Since the OP just wants a 10-13 inch computer, I think an Atom based netbook is the way to go. No need to spend more than $350 or so. Make sure to get one of the higher resolution ones. CULV based laptops aren't a bad idea either.

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j.wellington
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Re: Best Law School Laptop for the Money

Postby j.wellington » Tue Mar 30, 2010 11:20 am

Related question: is there any disadvantage to using a Mac at law school? I've noticed a few schools require that you have a Windows-equipped laptop to run their software. This struck me as strange, but I'm wondering if it's actually pretty common. I'm a life-long Mac geek and loathe to give it up.

09042014
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Re: Best Law School Laptop for the Money

Postby 09042014 » Tue Mar 30, 2010 11:23 am

HBK wrote:I am planning on attending LS in the fall, and am looking for a good deal. I've been looking at the Acer Timeline series, but was wondering what the infinite wisdom of TLS recommends.

I am not a gamer; the only games I play are generally Sporcle, a couple Facebook games, and online crossword puzzles.

Also considering getting a PC for cheap (buying the one I use from my office) for storage, downloading music, etc- I want to keep my LS laptop clean and quick.

I've seen some good prices on open-box and refurbished laptops. Any advice or horror stories?

Let's keep it in the $500-$800 range guys. Thanks!


Just buy the cheapest one you can find in the size you want. Filling the harddrive with music and video will not make it run slower.

If you only need it for web, word processing, and social networking your laptop will be almost disposable. It will have cheaper build quality than a mac or lenovo, but the primary components (CPU, hard drive, and Ram) will be just as reliable.

In three years the 1500 dollar mac book and the 500 dollar Accer will both be extremely outdated, but you'll be paying a 1000 dollars in law school debt back on the apple. Not worth it.
Last edited by 09042014 on Tue Mar 30, 2010 11:28 am, edited 1 time in total.

steven3579
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Re: Best Law School Laptop for the Money

Postby steven3579 » Tue Mar 30, 2010 11:26 am

Acer Timeline series. The new versions should be released soon and on paper get 12+ hours of battery life.




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