Nov 28, 2013
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Hi All,

I was wondering what experiences you have had with laptops and/or tablets in graduate school. I have a 4 year old dell laptop that cost about 400-500 bucks so it isn't holding up to well these days so before I start graduate school I wanted to do some research on what I should be looking for since there are seemingly countless brands out there. What are your thoughts/opinions?
 

coldsweat

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I know it can be expensive, but I would recommend the Macbook Pro. Apple offers discounts to students which reduce the price of laptops by 1 or 2 hundred dollars, I believe. I strongly preferred PCs in the past (and I still use my lab's desktop PC frequently), but Macs have some great features. It's easy to run Unix programs and connect to Unix servers, which is useful for me because some of the research work I do is on a Unix server. You can run most of the major stats programs on Mac (R, Stata, SPSS, etc.), and you can use a Windows emulator for the programs for programs that only work on Windows. I've also found my Mac to be more durable than my past laptops which have been PCs. But that's just my personal experience.
 
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WisNeuro

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Are you just running basic stats things, like SPSS, R, etc? If so, no reason to spend more than a few hundred bucks. If you need some more computing power for things like AFNI and fMRI analysis, maybe then go for a computing beast, but there's no reason to waste money for basic functions.
 

bmedclinic

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I find coldsweat's post interesting- valid thoughts for sure. As a linux user of 5-6 years, my thought was "go safe". It's been my experience as a tech saavy psych person that a fair number of people in our field are reluctant of using different or new technology. To that end, I'd go with something that will provide you the least hurdles when doing your work. And that is windows. You never know if your advisor/3rd party researcher you're working with will say "use this program" and its a pain to say "oh, I cant do that- I use a mac". Generally that's not really an issue, but it can be. So, be thoughtful of that.
 

Therapist4Chnge

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I'm a Mac guy, so a MB Pro would be my rec. I used a Compaq in grad school (15.4" 8+lb beast) and it was a PITA to lug around. No matter what brand you get....make sure it is truly portable but still comfortable to type on for long periods of time.

As for compatibility....there are programs like BootCamp, Parallel, etc. that can run PC only software on a Mac.
 
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Nov 6, 2013
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I am another Linux user here, and personally I have found that using something running Windows is preferable. I've had to deal with a lot of software that only works on Windows and had issues with virtualization which has meant spending a lot of time in the lab in person (where I have access to Windows and the necessary software) even when working on projects that could be done from home. I've seen my PI struggle with necessary programs due to difficulties using Macs as well, even running a VM. My experience trying to conduct undergraduate research has been such that I believe I will probably purchase a second, Windows-based laptop for graduate school.
 
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Jan 25, 2011
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I have an ASUS G750JW, and love it. I regularly use SPSS, SAS, R, and Matlab. It is not lightweight - my backpack weights 17lbs when loaded with the laptop and powero brick alone.
 

LM02

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Hi All,

I was wondering what experiences you have had with laptops and/or tablets in graduate school. I have a 4 year old dell laptop that cost about 400-500 bucks so it isn't holding up to well these days so before I start graduate school I wanted to do some research on what I should be looking for since there are seemingly countless brands out there. What are your thoughts/opinions?
My recommendation is to wait until you get to school. Departments can vary widely in terms of mac- vs. pc-friendliness, you may find that you will need to run certain software that requires one vs. the other, and you may find that your university will only support software on one vs. the other. When I was in grad school, our department's IT staff were way more mac-savvy than pc-savvy, and with a few holdouts, the entire department ran on macs. In my postdoc, everything was pc to the point where I couldn't even obtain access to SPSS unless I was using a pc. As a faculty member in an academic medical center, I can only access our hospital's electronic medical record if I am using a pc (even though I prefer mac). It's not worth taking a chance now to later regret it, in my opinion.
 

cara susanna

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I have a 13.3" inch that's very lightweight so it's not bad to carry around.
 

Therapist4Chnge

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As a faculty member in an academic medical center, I can only access our hospital's electronic medical record if I am using a pc (even though I prefer mac). It's not worth taking a chance now to later regret it, in my opinion.
Very good point. I actually made being "Mac Friendly" a requirement of employment for me. Our hospital system is only PC, but most of the people in my dept are Mac people, so getting a MB Pro in my office was easy enough. Now I just need to convince my boss that I need a Thunderbolt (27" Apple monitor) or include it in my budget for my next grant app. :D