Skip to comments.Mac Vs Dell: In search of the detail laptop
Posted on 05/09/2011 9:41:48 PM PDT by This Just In
Good day. We are on the verge of investing in a laptop for our child. Our child will be heading off to college and will be using this tool especially for composing music. We are not particularly concerned about the gaming capabilities.
Our family's considering either a Mac or Dell. If money were no object, we would purchase the MacPro, but that is unlikely. Here are the main issues were are concerned about:
1. reliability 2. customer assistance 3. durability 4. expansion options
Would any of you recommend purchasing a refurbished laptop? If so, why? If not, why? Is there any other brand you would recommend (Lenovo, HP, etc.)? If so, why?
Have I failed to consider other important issues/specifics?
Any further recommendations or advice would be deeply appreciated.
detail = ideal
As you can see, I’m typing “on the fly”.
See if the schools has any deals on campus. Any schools bookstores have students discounts,
The college sells notebooks, and I have access to students discounts at both Apple as well as Dell through the college.
All the Dells I buy are refurbished, they are considerably cheaper and come with the same warranty, I always upgrade that and buy the complete care guarantee with next business day in home service. I have never had a problem that they did not fix fast.
Just bought a nice HP, and they’re having a sale on their “Quick Ship” models right now.
We will not be able to visit the campus before closing for the semester. Also, financial circumstances considering, we must purchase the laptop shortly. I wish we had had more time to research and shop, but we do not. I know that Freepers will be able to lend excellent advice and recommendations, or steer us in the right direction.
I would never, ever, ever consider, nor recommend purchasing a refurbished laptop, or any computer or peripheral.
Reliable and computer is a relative term. You can have it fast, cheap or inexpensive, but you can only pick 2 of these.
PC windows is probably the most versatile, but the MAC is probably better in some regards like video editing.
Mac is more expensive, but most MAC users swear by them.
MAC is more expensive to upgrade, but my experience is, unless you upgrade in the first year, it’s not worth it to upgrade. You can most likely get what you want from the upgrade and more with a new purchase for just about the same cost.
Do you order the upgrades when ordering the refurbished laptop/pc?
Computers, like mattresses and underwear, are consumer products that should never be bought used.
Is your child using the computer to compose music as part of his/her college course work? If so, I would suggest you check with the school’s music department. They may have specific requirements or recommendations. My son’s school did (Architecture Department).
Also, you may already know this but Mac has the reputation of being superior in the fields of art and music. When we bought one for my son, they were offering special pricing for students and a free printer and/or i-pod (which we sold on e-bay to recoup some of the $). They have not started this promotion but probably will late May/ June.
Why do I know this? I am about to send *another* one off to college and she needs a laptop.... sigh.....
He replaced the motherboard all three times, once because the HDMI port stopped working, once because the AC adapter port stopped working and once because th new palm rest he had installed was defective. All visits and parts were covered. He also replaced all missing rubber pads. The notebook is like new even though it is 2.5 years old.
cheap or inexpensive
Wow....that was intelligent.
Fast cheap or good is what I meant.
Thank you. I don’t believe we’d be able to upgrade a Mac or replace it. It would seem more financially practical to purchase a Dell and upgrade to a newer model. What do you think?
This is for a formal music education? It might be wise to talk to some juniors and seniors in the music program to see what they recommend. There should be some music student organization on campus and the music department office probably has contact names and emails.
The primary thing I recommend is comparing Apples to apples. Don’t compare a cheap Inspiron to a Macbook Pro.
If you compare comparable models, the cost difference is about $250. Look at the Dell Latitude models.
The real issue is, “What software will your kid need to use?” If any is Mac software, the answer is clear, since it is easy to install Windows on a Mac, but the opposite isn’t true.
It is kind of like ordering a new one, you can choose from whatever they have on hand and buy whatever extras and warranty you want. They have business and a home/home office sides of the outlet store. The business models cost a bit more, but the support on the business side is better. I have bought some of both and have been happy with all of them so far.
I think if it has a good fast processor (name brand like Pentium or Mac), good video card, good amount of Ram it will most likely serve them well.
I would check deals found on slickdeal.net under hot deals for good prices that come in almost daily.
Yes, our child is majoring in music, and will be using the laptop with a focus on this major. I’ve already contacted the music department and they do not have any specific requirements other than what is listed on the colleges Notebook Guide page.
We have worked in the music industry for decades, but never used a Mac. I know that Mac’s are now the industry standard in film and music composition. I’m not sure we’ll be able to afford the ideal Mac for our child’s purposes. I was encouraged to see that the college did not recommend the Mac, which indicates that they’re able to work with what students have, provided the meet the minimum recommendations on their notebook hardware/software.
why do you think you would ever need to upgrade? what is your kid studying? rendering full length 3D animated movies?
Forget about upgrading. You don’t need it.
People may disagree, but in general, refurbished laptops are superior.
The reason is, the refurbished laptop has to checked four times and the component that failed has been replaced. Statistically, the likely hood that the laptop is going to suffer another component failure is lower than a new unit selected at random. (yes, there are exceptions, but they are few and far between. Like the root cause of the component failing was another component not replaced. Isn’t it great to have a warranty? )
Refurbished laptops include the full warranty and full support just like the new unit. If your refurbished laptop says these aren’t included, it isn’t refurbished.
Refurbished isn’t the same as a lease return, many sellers don’t clarify this, they just call them all refurbished.
Lets take an example:
New $986, Refurbished $786, Lease Return $280
Personally, Lease returns are good for me too, most are <2 years old and still have a good 3-5 years depending on the model of heavy use in them. Most failures on computers happen between new and 2 years and in excess of 5 years (used to be new and 90 days, thank the environmentalists for ROHs). At 2 years, the electronics have just been broken in.
For lease returns, things not to expect:
1. Operating System
4. Returns after 14 days
I have purchased refurbished computers and they have all been excellent and 60 to 75% the price of a new one. They also have a full warranty. You wouldn’t even know that they were refurbished.
I’ve had a few Dell desktops, a couple of iBooks (white plastic), and one aluminum unibody MacBook. The Dell desktops - with one notable exception - were reliable.
The one that was not reliable came with the notoriously bad IBM 75GXP hard drive which crashed, and it’s two replacements crashed as well. Dell always sent someone out very quickly who replaced the hard drive. I ended up taking the last 75GXP (Deathstar) out and installing a Maxtor in it’s place, until I had to return it (it was a lease).
The white plastic iBooks were crap, not fit for use as a doorstop. The plastic was so soft, and the design so poor, that they’d flex and end up with mainboard problems.
The aluminum MacBook was Apple’s last chance with me, and it’s a winner. The thing is solid in every way. Worth every excessive penny I paid for it. Had it not worked out, I would have built a Hackintosh and farted in the general direction of Cupertino, CA.
FWIW, I use computers all day, every day, to write software. I built my main development computer from parts.
Dont waste your money on a Dell. I had terrible experience with them a few years ago. I recntly bought a toshiba thru Tiger Direct and a Sony viao from them too. Bought four desktops from them over the past eight years too. I recommend the toshiba or viao highly. they have good sales.
Because the warranty is shorter and you have no real idea just how “refurbished” the machine really is. And you don’t even save all that much, especially on a laptop.
What is the difference between Latitude and other choices?
You can get a great Asus laptop for between $500 and $800, depending on the amenities. HP has some good laptops, too. Their more recent offerings are very durable.
I wouldn’t get a refurbished one. It’s like buying a salvaged vehicle.
Several posters have mentioned this (as I did in my previous post) Does your child need the computer for classroom music composition? At my son’s college - not only did he need a Mac - but he needed one with very specific capabilities, certain software, etc. He didn’t need all of this until his junior year, but we knew we didn’t want to purchase another laptop in 2 years.
Just adding some things to think about.....
Dell makes a good product. So does HP. There are quite a few decent laptops.
I don’t know the specs you are looking for and I haven’t spec’d one out at work for a few months, but you could probably get a decent one for $800 to $1000. There are cheaper ones one the market.
I would look at bumping up the RAM to at least 3 to 4 gig. You don’t need more, unless you want to run the 64 bit version of Windows.
A laptop won’t give you gamers abilities, unless you want to spend a whole lot of money. Even then, get a desktop.
The other thing with a laptop. This is the only time I consider getting the extended warranty. If a monitor goes out on a laptop, you are looking at $400 or more.
PS get him an ACER and tell him good luck! /sarcasm
One more thing. If you intend on buying a refurb MacBook, do it over the phone, and ask (and expect to get) a discount on AppleCare.
Speaking of 3D; would anyone recommend the 3D Dell? I visited the site and noticed this new feature.
Some on this thread seem confused, the sellers profit from this confusion. There is a big price difference.
Beware of dishonest sellers. A real refurbished unit isn’t anything to fear.
“Refurbished isnt the same as a lease return, many sellers dont clarify this, they just call them all refurbished.”
Can’t beat the prices of the Toshiba Satellite series.
Acer in the whole? LOL
The college recommends no less than 4gigs.
I’m leaning towards the Dell. I wish we could purchase the Macbook Pro, but the sticker price causes me to brake out in a rash.
“Because the warranty is shorter”
It isn’t refurbished if it doesn’t have a full warranty, the seller is trying to rip you off.
Seems to me that you've answered your own question right there.
Nice machine too. I have an Acer Aspire and the Vaio and the Toshiba is a little simple but it keeps up. Windows seven has been wonderful after my little trip into Vista world.
My Dell XPS is a beast.
On the whole, refurbished or used does not have the reliability of new.
Although I have had new computer come defective at work, I can't afford to have a system down.
Just looking at best practices.
If its’ a Dell, would you recommend the XPS?
I like Windows 7, too. I got mine from Best Buy for $299. Not bad for my needs.
Latitude is the line focused at heavy business users. Better construction and good technology. More or less, the flagship line. Intel Core-i5 and Core-i7 processors.
Inspiron is aimed at home users. Lesser construction quality, but decent tech. Intel Core-14 and Core-15 processors.
Vostro is aimed at low end business users who need good construction but lower performance. Older tech standards, but robust. Older Core2-Duo processors.
I have bought desktops and laptops from Dell Outlet since 2004 or so. I have been working in Iraq all that time. I generally keep my laptops two years and then give them to our church. I travel with them and they are exposed to the dust and heat and other elements here. I have never had one fail. I have bought them for 3 kids in college and for my wife’s business. We have never had a problem with any of them that was not fixed quickly. I have personally never had a problem with any of mine. The Outlet machines come with the normal Dell warranty but I always upgrade to the complete care. I do not see any difference between the outlet pcs and the brand new ones except for the price. I am an IT professional here and the Army uses Dell, so I do get to evaluate and pick the models I like before I decide which one to buy.
XPS is what I’m considering. What kind of an XPS do you own, if I may ask?
Go to CNET (www.cnet.com) look at the reviews, look the the customer reviews. Don’t look at the praises, look at the bad reviews.
That’s what I do when I spec one out at work. Especially when one of my bosses, just has to have “this specific one”.
Thank you for your service to our country.
I appreciate your advice. Judging by the advice provided on this thread, I will most likely purchase a XPS. Do you have any more suggestions? What about spills?
Praying for your safe return home.
Which would better serve our college student as a Music major, the Latitude or Inspiron?
The best advice I can give is get a netbook, preferably one with a N450 or higher dual core atom processor. The battery life should last them most of the day, wifi is everywhere on campus, and it’s powerful enough to let them use the netflix account to stream movies while studying.
They’ll thank you for it soon, as they’ll soon watch everyone with the big bulky laptops start leaving them behind while they still easily carry theirs. And by the end of the first semester, they’ll know what they really want for the rest of their college career.
Don’t worry about support, there’s hundreds of budding computer techs on campus. Just get light and small to begin with. And if they really want to, they can plug the netbook into a large screen monitor and plug in an external keyboard and mouse for an in room dock station. Plus, the power bricks on them are tiny for those extra long study sessions.