Best Law School Laptop for the Money

(Applications Advice, Letters of Recommendation . . . )
03121202698008
Posts: 3002
Joined: Fri Jul 17, 2009 2:07 am

Re: Best Law School Laptop for the Money

Postby 03121202698008 » Tue Aug 03, 2010 9:29 am

Duralex wrote:
blowhard wrote:Many schools have mac version of exam software that runs without bootcamp/windows. In fact, I'd be surprised if any didn't at this point.


What? That's not accurate, if it's ExamSoft.

From the ExamSoft FAQ:

# I am an Apple Macintosh user, can I install SofTest on my Mac?

In order to use SofTest on your Apple Macbook or Macbook Pro, you must have:

* Mac OS X Snow Leopard (v. 10.6) or Mac OS X Leopard (v. 10.5) AND
* A valid copy of Windows XP, Vista or 7 installed using Apple's Bootcamp Assistant. Use of virtualization software like VMWare, Fusion, Parallels, etc is not allowed.

Important:

* Bootcamp Assistant is available in the Utilities folder on your Macintosh HD
* Microsoft Windows is not included with the Mac OS or SofTest, it needs to be purchased separately
* Older versions of Mac OS X will require an OS upgrade in order to use Bootcamp and SofTest. To check the version of your Mac OS, click the Apple icon on the top left of the screen and then About this Mac


ExamSoft/SofTest is Windows only. If your school uses it, as mine does, you need a PC or you need Bootcamp. As far as a netbook is concerned, here are the PC system requirements:

PC System Requirements:

* CPU = 1 GHz Pentium III or Industry Equivalent
* RAM = 1 GB
* Drives = 50 MB of free space
* Operating System = English 32-bit Versions of Windows XP, 32-bit and 64-bit Versions of Windows Vista and Windows 7. SofTest may not be used in virtual operating systems.
* Software = Internet Browser
* Internet Access for SofTest Installation, Exam Download and Upload
* Screen Resolution must be 1024x768 or higher


So you'll need a netbook with 1GB RAM or more and a decent screen.

I'd also consider whether writing exams on a netbook might put you at a slight disadvantage to those with a larger screen and normally spaced keyboard.


Yeah, I didn't realize Examsoft hadn't brought their mac version out of beta yet. I think they are the only ones left.

User avatar
Duralex
Posts: 447
Joined: Sat Dec 05, 2009 9:25 pm

Re: Best Law School Laptop for the Money

Postby Duralex » Tue Aug 03, 2010 9:36 am

Heh. Figures.


/shakes fist

Although I'm not sure I'd want something like ExamSoft messing with OS X's internals. I run a lot of stuff I'd imagine it would want to shut down (like TextExpander, Growl, Quicksilver, etc). I'm kind of more comfortable with booting into a Windows partition for that kind of thing so I can more easily blow it away and restore if it gets wonky.

I need to do a hard drive swap-out this week to get my loyal c2d macbook ready for school. It's amazing how cheap 640GB 2.5" drives are now. If I had more cash, I'd just get an SSD.

User avatar
Duralex
Posts: 447
Joined: Sat Dec 05, 2009 9:25 pm

Re: Best Law School Laptop for the Money

Postby Duralex » Tue Aug 03, 2010 9:47 am

timshel wrote:yo what you experts think about the Toshiba Satellite T135? I'm interested in the basics: web surfing and school work. I'm lookin to go and as portable as possible while still having a decent screen and keyboard. Also, I'm really lookin' to keep the price reasonable. I can get this one for under $500.

--LinkRemoved--

Anyone know of anything better? Or is this a decent pick-up?


That processor seems awfully slow to me. Also the HDMI port is kind of misleading--that video card won't do full HD playback. HDMI saves space, though (or keeps you from needing an adapter.) Note also that it lacks an optical drive and has Win 7 home edition rather than pro, although this is not nearly as big of a difference as XP Home vs Pro.

I dunno. Probably a decent machine, Toshiba is still a business world workhorse brand (I have a Satellite Windows 98 laptop somewhere that still runs--although now it runs Linux), but probably not a model I would pick.

And regarding what was said about Macs above--it's true that desktop Mac Pros are (mostly) for media oriented people (especially since geekier people, ignored by Apple's hardware lineup, are more likely to experiment with OSx86 on desktop PC hardware.) However, I'd say that since Apple's switchover to Intel the laptops have become quite popular with computer geeks outside of the music/photo/video world due to the appeal of OS X's UNIX internals and the ability to run or virtualize other OSes. The Intel switch felt really weird when it happened, but it's worked out brilliantly (for everyone except Motorola, heh.)
Last edited by Duralex on Tue Aug 03, 2010 12:27 pm, edited 4 times in total.

03121202698008
Posts: 3002
Joined: Fri Jul 17, 2009 2:07 am

Re: Best Law School Laptop for the Money

Postby 03121202698008 » Tue Aug 03, 2010 9:52 am

Duralex wrote:Heh. Figures.


/shakes fist

Although I'm not sure I'd want something like ExamSoft messing with OS X's internals. I run a lot of stuff I'd imagine it would want to shut down (like TextExpander, Growl, Quicksilver, etc). I'm kind of more comfortable with booting into a Windows partition for that kind of thing so I can more easily blow it away and restore if it gets wonky.

I need to do a hard drive swap-out this week to get my loyal c2d macbook ready for school. It's amazing how cheap 640GB 2.5" drives are now. If I had more cash, I'd just get an SSD.


Yeah, EBB justs keeps you from Cntl-Tabbing out of it. It just locks the focus.

User avatar
Sogui
Posts: 621
Joined: Mon Feb 23, 2009 12:32 am

Re: Best Law School Laptop for the Money

Postby Sogui » Tue Aug 03, 2010 3:31 pm

Can someone explain the Thinkpad love in this thread?

I've been considering Toshibas, Asus, and a Gateway based on web reviews. Performance and features are my concerns, not weight and battery life.

So I look up a Thinkpad since TLS has a hard-on for them and for $650 (+$100-150 more than the alternatives) I am getting 2gb of ram, no web-cam or built-in microphone, barebones graphic card, and a 250gb hard drive. The processor looks nice but what's the point if every other component reeks of a $400 economy laptop.

User avatar
beach_terror
Posts: 7254
Joined: Tue Dec 01, 2009 10:01 pm

Re: Best Law School Laptop for the Money

Postby beach_terror » Tue Aug 03, 2010 3:34 pm

Their build quality shits on other laptops heads. And 1) who cares about a webcam, are you chatrouletting looking for tits? 2) 2gb is plenty, you can buy 2gb off newegg for 45$ and get 4 if you want, 3) if you want a gaming pc with a real gfx card, look elsewhere. The title of the thread is the best law school laptop for the money. For most of us, Thinkpad's are the perfect bang for the buck.

User avatar
Duralex
Posts: 447
Joined: Sat Dec 05, 2009 9:25 pm

Re: Best Law School Laptop for the Money

Postby Duralex » Tue Aug 03, 2010 3:35 pm

Because they aren't built like flimsy, loosely fit pieces of crap, basically. No one said it was a cheaper option. Quality construction carries a premium. Thinkpads are well engineered (and actually well designed, too, as long as the utilitarian look appeals to you.)

"Mobile gaming" gfx chipsets are are largely a bad joke, by the way. Unless you're going to buy FalconNW or someone else who knows how to build them properly (won't be cheap), gaming laptops are rip-offs.

User avatar
ResolutePear
Posts: 8614
Joined: Fri Jul 02, 2010 10:07 pm

Re: Best Law School Laptop for the Money

Postby ResolutePear » Tue Aug 03, 2010 4:18 pm

Duralex wrote:Because they aren't built like flimsy, loosely fit pieces of crap, basically. No one said it was a cheaper option. Quality construction carries a premium. Thinkpads are well engineered (and actually well designed, too, as long as the utilitarian look appeals to you.)

"Mobile gaming" gfx chipsets are are largely a bad joke, by the way. Unless you're going to buy FalconNW or someone else who knows how to build them properly (won't be cheap), gaming laptops are rip-offs.


I'll expand on this:

There's a large hard-on for thinkpads because they're proven. Look at one from 1999 and look at one today; What? You mean, you can still find them being sold on Craigslist in working order? Amazing you say? No kidding!

Besides, if you're *really* hurting and need a good laptop... look to see if your school has a discount on Thinkpads. Most do. Better yet, I've gotten companies some pretty good deals on refurbs from them. They were going to be field-issue laptops anyways and they still allow a service contract.

On that note, please - the only reason you'd want anything other than a Thinkpad or Mac is because it "feels" right... but I said it once and I'll say it again: Remember me when your laptop fails on you right before 1L finals. Is saving 200 bucks really worth landing below median?

User avatar
kalvano
Posts: 11725
Joined: Mon Sep 07, 2009 2:24 am

Re: Best Law School Laptop for the Money

Postby kalvano » Tue Aug 03, 2010 4:20 pm

A timely post, this.

I got my Thinkpad Edge 14" in the mail. Very impressed. It doesn't feel as heavy as you'd think it might, and it looks nice.

Some pictures:


Not real keen on the fact that the box advertises what's inside.
Image


Tightly packed little bugger.
Image



Comes with a nice "security seal" sticker so you know that no one has been jocking your shit.
Image
Image



Glad I went with the matte cover. Fingerprints drive me crazy.
Image


I like the way it looks and feels. The wider wrist rest is very nice. Also, the UltraNav (red dot) is awesome. Much, much easier to use when it's in your lap or something like that.
Image



The touchpad is big. Buttons at the top for using the Trackpoint and at the bottom for the touchpad.
Image



It's not that thick at all.
Image



The "cheap" hinges that some reviews commented on. They only look cheap next to a T-series.
Image
Image









All-in-all, I really like it. My wife's Asus is really nice, but I prefer the Lenovo. I really like the Trackpoint, and it definitely has the build quality.

If anyone wants to know anything specific, inquire.

User avatar
ResolutePear
Posts: 8614
Joined: Fri Jul 02, 2010 10:07 pm

Re: Best Law School Laptop for the Money

Postby ResolutePear » Tue Aug 03, 2010 4:23 pm

Very nice!

03121202698008
Posts: 3002
Joined: Fri Jul 17, 2009 2:07 am

Re: Best Law School Laptop for the Money

Postby 03121202698008 » Tue Aug 03, 2010 4:28 pm

kalvano wrote:A timely post, this.

I got my Thinkpad Edge 14" in the mail. Very impressed. It doesn't feel as heavy as you'd think it might, and it looks nice.



All-in-all, I really like it. My wife's Asus is really nice, but I prefer the Lenovo. I really like the Trackpoint, and it definitely has the build quality.

If anyone wants to know anything specific, inquire.


Gotta love USAA! It does look decent. I always liked Thinkpads but once I switch to Apple I never looked back. I understand that it's not a fit for everyone though.

User avatar
Sogui
Posts: 621
Joined: Mon Feb 23, 2009 12:32 am

Re: Best Law School Laptop for the Money

Postby Sogui » Tue Aug 03, 2010 9:51 pm

Eh I'll take one more look at the Thinkpads, but honestly, aren't these the same components as every other laptop? What makes Thinkpads immune to a part failing?

As for the webcam, my SO will be in China. I have a USB webcam but I'd much rather have a decent one built in so that I don't have to lug a silly USB cam around.

I don't mind the utilitarian look, and I'll look into the "sturdiness" of Thinkpads, but it seems to me part of the appeal is weight and battery life... two things I couldn't care less about. For the same price of a Thinkpad I could get a new Inspiron with a student discount that has a built in webcam, better video card, 2x size hard drive, more RAM, faster processor, etc... many of these components are coming from the same factories that provide Thinkpad components, do Lenovo engineers just screw their parts in a little tighter or what?

A link to prove my point:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... _-08032010

Is a Thinkpad really worth a $200 price premium over this laptop which seems to have superior specs compared to:

http://shop.lenovo.com/SEUILibrary/cont ... 4487A0A719

I dunno, maybe I prefer the hard numbers compared to hearsay about Lenovo's reliability.

User avatar
beach_terror
Posts: 7254
Joined: Tue Dec 01, 2009 10:01 pm

Re: Best Law School Laptop for the Money

Postby beach_terror » Tue Aug 03, 2010 9:57 pm

You can get a student discount with Lenovo as well. Furthermore, if you google "lenovo coupons" you can find an additional 5-10% off usually.

Summary of why Thinkpad's are better:
Active Protection System – Temporarily parks the hard drive when the laptop detects a fall or sudden movement via an air-bag like system
Roll Cage – Serves as a protective frame around the internal components where the data resides and processing takes place
Shock-Mounted Hard Drive – Offers extra protection around the hard drive to protect data
Spill-Resistant Keyboard – Withstands spills of up to two fluid ounces on select laptops allowing liquid to drain beneath the keyboard

Also, Dell's suck. It's like the opposite of Lenovo build quality. My UG stocked dells, and I worked for the IT department there. If I had a dollar for every time I saw a build-related flaw, I'd have enough to buy a laptop no problem. Seriously, broken hinges out the wahzoo, and 50% of them were from normal wear and tear. Pretty awful. HP is going to be the same probably.

Note: The Thinkpad Edge is made to be more affordable, and therefore lacks some of the above features. However, build quality is still superior to any other notebook I've encountered beside my dad's original IBM thinkpad, which he still uses. I love my 14'' Edge, for the price, I wouldn't find anything better. Got it for 615$ shipped.

I dunno, maybe I prefer the hard numbers compared to hearsay about Lenovo's reliability.


Do some research yourself? This information isn't any harder to find than browsing newegg for laptops.

User avatar
cranberry
Posts: 116
Joined: Fri Sep 25, 2009 3:33 pm

Re: Best Law School Laptop for the Money

Postby cranberry » Tue Aug 03, 2010 10:33 pm

FTR I ordered an HP a few weeks ago before ordering a Lenovo yesterday. The first arrived with a broken hinge, and the second arrived with a broken key. They wanted to send me a third computer but I said no thanks and just returned the thing. HP was pretty nice about giving me free shipping and my money back (still waiting for account credit though). They didn't seem terribly surprised to hear about the damage.

Allitigator
Posts: 23
Joined: Thu Jul 29, 2010 11:49 pm

Re: Best Law School Laptop for the Money

Postby Allitigator » Tue Aug 03, 2010 10:37 pm

I just bought this sucker...

Toshiba Satellite L505-LS5014 PSLU0U-08D035 Notebook PC - Intel Pentium Dual-Core T4400 2.2GHz, 4GB DDR3, 250GB HDD, DVDRW, 15.6" Display, Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
Image
http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications ... ER-_-Deals

It looks good and like it will do the job come exam time.

I have a separate netbook that I plan on using for notes. I found this thread a bit late....

User avatar
ResolutePear
Posts: 8614
Joined: Fri Jul 02, 2010 10:07 pm

Re: Best Law School Laptop for the Money

Postby ResolutePear » Tue Aug 03, 2010 10:46 pm

Sogui wrote:Eh I'll take one more look at the Thinkpads, but honestly, aren't these the same components as every other laptop? What makes Thinkpads immune to a part failing?

As for the webcam, my SO will be in China. I have a USB webcam but I'd much rather have a decent one built in so that I don't have to lug a silly USB cam around.

I don't mind the utilitarian look, and I'll look into the "sturdiness" of Thinkpads, but it seems to me part of the appeal is weight and battery life... two things I couldn't care less about. For the same price of a Thinkpad I could get a new Inspiron with a student discount that has a built in webcam, better video card, 2x size hard drive, more RAM, faster processor, etc... many of these components are coming from the same factories that provide Thinkpad components, do Lenovo engineers just screw their parts in a little tighter or what?

A link to prove my point:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... _-08032010

Is a Thinkpad really worth a $200 price premium over this laptop which seems to have superior specs compared to:

http://shop.lenovo.com/SEUILibrary/cont ... 4487A0A719

I dunno, maybe I prefer the hard numbers compared to hearsay about Lenovo's reliability.


What you mean hearsay? Have you not read a single word I said through this entire thread? If you any more 'hard evidence' go look for it yourself or buy yourself a Foxconn(HP, Apple, Dell) Laptop with horrible QA from dead employees.

User avatar
ApexChaser
Posts: 153
Joined: Tue Sep 08, 2009 6:10 am

Re: Best Law School Laptop for the Money

Postby ApexChaser » Tue Aug 03, 2010 11:04 pm

Sogui wrote:Eh I'll take one more look at the Thinkpads, but honestly, aren't these the same components as every other laptop? What makes Thinkpads immune to a part failing?

I don't mind the utilitarian look, and I'll look into the "sturdiness" of Thinkpads, but it seems to me part of the appeal is weight and battery life... two things I couldn't care less about. For the same price of a Thinkpad I could get a new Inspiron with a student discount that has a built in webcam, better video card, 2x size hard drive, more RAM, faster processor, etc... many of these components are coming from the same factories that provide Thinkpad components, do Lenovo engineers just screw their parts in a little tighter or what?


A bit of extra thickness here and some reinforcement there can make all the difference between robust and crap. Yes, the internals are sourced from the same place. We're not paying extra for performance but rather the extra protection a Thinkpad case provides. I tried to avoid the Thinkpad wagon and babied my laptops; still, I got fed up with shoddy design work and ended up getting a Thinkpad this time around. The extra cost is worth it IMO if I can choose to buy a replacement rather than need to buy one next time around.

My previous Acer fell apart at the seams within 3 years due to the worst designwork I've ever seen. On the other-hand, I know people still running T4x Thinkpads (circa 2003) that are no worse for the wear. In terms of specific design areas, lots of laptops have weak support for LCD panels; can you apply pressure on the case and have it register on a lit panel? I can do that on almost every consumer grade Dell, Acer, Toshiba, Sony, and HP I've played with.

User avatar
Duralex
Posts: 447
Joined: Sat Dec 05, 2009 9:25 pm

Re: Best Law School Laptop for the Money

Postby Duralex » Tue Aug 03, 2010 11:29 pm

I have an 80486 era Thinkpad subnote (IBM BL/2 CPU--knock off 486dx, I think) that still boots. Sure, it boots PC-DOS (not MS-DOS!) and Windows 3.1 and runs at 50mhz, so who gives a shit, but still--that's pretty damn cool. IBM built stuff to last (case in point: Model M keyboards, beloved of crusty old programmers --and legal secretaries nostalgic for DOS WordPerfect -- everywhere. When they get dirty, you can put them in the dishwasher). While Lenovo's newest models aren't quite as good, as many people here and elsewhere have said Thinkpads are worth the premium (if you care about longevity, reliability, etc.)

User avatar
goosey
Posts: 1543
Joined: Tue Aug 19, 2008 11:48 pm

Re: Best Law School Laptop for the Money

Postby goosey » Wed Aug 04, 2010 12:11 am

I cant go through this entire thread but what are peoples thoughts o the soy vaio eb series? its coming out to $944 with a 2 yr accidental damage warranty (very necessary for my clumsy self) and an adobe bundle (which is free)

User avatar
Duralex
Posts: 447
Joined: Sat Dec 05, 2009 9:25 pm

Re: Best Law School Laptop for the Money

Postby Duralex » Wed Aug 04, 2010 12:22 am

VAIOs are love em or hate em, in my experience. Have you tried one out in person for more than a few minutes (even if not the same model?) If so, OK.

Sony is very strange hardware-wise. Expect that nothing will be repairable by anyone but Sony, if it breaks. Lots of non-standard connectors, adapters, etc.

If between the manufacturer's warranty and the breakage policy everything is covered, then you're probably OK. I've been talked into fixing laptop hardware for some of my network consulting clients before, but I'd never agree to crack open a VAIO.

Also, for that kind of money, I'd buy Macbook.

User avatar
goosey
Posts: 1543
Joined: Tue Aug 19, 2008 11:48 pm

Re: Best Law School Laptop for the Money

Postby goosey » Wed Aug 04, 2010 12:28 am

Duralex wrote:
Also, for that kind of money, I'd buy Macbook.


thats exactly what i was thinking--the problem is I will need to get windows for mac then...and also microsoft office...I can get microsoft office for windows free from school so if I get a macbook and buy widows for mac, will i just use the regular version of office i get from school?

anyone know how much it costs to get a mac running windows?

User avatar
Duralex
Posts: 447
Joined: Sat Dec 05, 2009 9:25 pm

Re: Best Law School Laptop for the Money

Postby Duralex » Wed Aug 04, 2010 12:35 am

Bootcamp itself is free, so it's just the cost of Windows. $150 at Zip Zoom Fly. Or ask a geeky friend if they have any older machines w/a transferable XP license (CD key) they're no longer using much. Business workstations left to rot in a corner are often good candidates. When you call MS to re-activate just tell them the old motherboard failed and "the rest of the system was transferred." They'll know what's going on--you're transferring an old desktop license to a machine with a new laptop CPU--but they generally don't care.
Last edited by Duralex on Wed Aug 04, 2010 1:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
ResolutePear
Posts: 8614
Joined: Fri Jul 02, 2010 10:07 pm

Re: Best Law School Laptop for the Money

Postby ResolutePear » Wed Aug 04, 2010 12:42 am

Duralex wrote:VAIOs are love em or hate em, in my experience. Have you tried one out in person for more than a few minutes (even if not the same model?) If so, OK.

Sony is very strange hardware-wise. Expect that nothing will be repairable by anyone but Sony, if it breaks. Lots of non-standard connectors, adapters, etc.

If between the manufacturer's warranty and the breakage policy everything is covered, then you're probably OK. I've been talked into fixing laptop hardware for some of my network consulting clients before, but I'd never agree to crack open a VAIO.

Also, for that kind of money, I'd buy Macbook.


Yeah, VAIOs are the most horrible computer to repair. I usually refuse to open them if they're older than 3 years.

User avatar
Cemoore4
Posts: 41
Joined: Tue Jun 30, 2009 2:21 am

Re: Best Law School Laptop for the Money

Postby Cemoore4 » Wed Aug 04, 2010 2:33 am

Hey guys,

This thread is gold but one question that I can't quite find an answer. Can someone explain the difference between the T410i and the normal T410? The only difference I can see is the i3 vs. the i5.

Second, are these differences (i3 v. i5 and any others you may know of) of any importance? Notebook is strictly law school so I won't be doing games, etc.

Thanks in advance.

User avatar
Sogui
Posts: 621
Joined: Mon Feb 23, 2009 12:32 am

Re: Best Law School Laptop for the Money

Postby Sogui » Wed Aug 04, 2010 5:14 am

One last post on Thinkpads. You guys make compelling arguments for them, and suggested I do my own research, but (as I'm sure someone has linked before) there is a website on laptop failure rates (Squaretrade) and it notes that Lenovo's actually have above average failure rates.




Return to “Law School Admissions Forum”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bing [Bot], Exabot [Bot], mrtux45 and 5 guests