On occasion I have been one of the resources to which a friend has turned for help with his computer questions and issues. Last night I received an email from him asking my advice once again. His son, whom we'll call Ben, enters a large midwestern university this fall as a freshman, and he needs a laptop. My friend, whom I'll call Bob, wants advice about what things he needs to consider when making the purchase of a laptop for Ben's college work.
In Bob's email he made this request, "Can you possibly help us in our orientation toward getting him the best, but being sensitive to what he wants as well — the X University is a wireless campus so I guess we'll need that stuff too."
He continued, "Any help, insight, commentary, recommendations would be greatly, greatly appreciated." And then in conclusion he added the line that makes this request really interesting when he said, " … money is really not an object (well, for the most part, you understand I think)."
The constraints should be obvious.
Ben needs a laptop to use as his computer during his college career. It will need to be light enough to maneuver around campus to the library, the dorm, and the classrooms with ease, but it needs to be powerful enough to serve as his primary computer and should have enough storage to meet his needs. Ben intends to be a business major rather than graphics artist or architect or physics major, but he has been a gamer in the past. So a fast machine with good graphics capabilities will make his leisure time more enjoyable, I'm sure. He is also "into" music, so Ben is likely to want to use it to entertain himself or as a processing station for his "tunes" for his IPod. Ben has done some work in his hometown as a disc jockey, so he might even want to do a podcast at some point. He needs to be able to produce written assignments for classes, tie into the university's wireless network, use the resources such as printers and scanners that may exist at school and have a software package that covers all his basic needs at school. He doesn't need to be hassled by having to recover from virus or spyware infestation or hardware malfunction. The laptop needs to be sufficiently current and reliable that it will last him for the next 4 years.
So I turn to you, my readers with experience in choosing and using a laptop, for your comments to help Bob and Ben and me to choose a laptop for Ben. Given the requirements as spelled out by Bob's email, and expanded upon by me, and given the opportunity to choose a laptop without undue concern over cost, what would you choose for your hypothetical 18 year old son, just heading off to college? What factors do you think Bob should take into consideration? And what specific computer would you recommend? (A link to the specific configuration would be great.)
Please be aware that because I have moderation turned on to all comments, it may take a little while for your comment to show up here.
One final bit of information, Ben himself in his message to his dad suggests a computer that a friend of his has recently gotten, a laptop that Ben says, "looks like pretty much exactly what I envisioned." That laptop is the Dell Inspirion E1505.
Is that laptop the best choice for Ben, or do you have other ideas? Should Ben consider a Tablet PC, a Mac, or what? Any and all comments about this subject will be welcomed and appreciated.
And thanks for your help.