Dell vs. Mac

By on September 24, 2008

One question on the mind of many incoming Quinnipiac freshmen is often whether to purchase a Mac or a PC as their college computer. With the frequent complaints about the computers offered through the university’s laptop purchase program in the past, it has usually been an easy answer to invest in the Mac. However, with this year’s laptop program upgrade the answer has become less obvious.
The university now offers the high-end Dell XPS M1330, as opposed to the midrange Latitudes it offered as part of the Laptop Purchase Program in the past.
According to CNET, a prominent technology website, the XPS can hold its own against a Macbook. They gave the XPS a rating of 7.9, while the latest edition of the Macbook received an 8.3.
According to Media Production Professor William O’Brian, it’s no longer about Mac vs. PC; it’s about Mac and PC. He said that in today’s world, students must learn to use both platforms.
“The school laptops serve ninety percent of students well. Where else are you going to get a free four year warrantee?” O’Brian said, “They don’t allow freshmen to bring cars. So your computer crashes, what are you going to do? Send it back and wait until it gets fixed?”
While a Macbook with a three year warrantee can be purchased for roughly the same price, or slightly less than the cost of an XPS, the closest Apple Store is in Westfarms Mall, roughly a forty-minute drive from Quinnipiac.
Many students still feel that the security of having an Apple is worth the risk of being left without on-site service.
“Having a Dell is like playing whack-a-mole, you fix one problem that it isn’t too difficult to fix, but then an unrelated problem occurs,” said Quinnipiac sophomore Andrew Greene. “With Macs, they don’t get viruses, don’t crash, have all PC software capabilities, have more features and are easier to use.”
According to the CNET reviews, the only big advantage that a Macbook has over an XPS is much longer battery life. In their tests, the XPS lasted two hours, twenty-three minutes on one battery charge, almost an hour less than the Macbook. This could be an important factor when it comes to students toting their laptops around campus.
Quinnipiac’s program laptops also include some extra advantages over the standard XPS. They have Computrace tracking software that comes with a money-back guarantee should the laptop be stolen. There are also the on-campus support services offered through the Help Desk and E-Star program. Although many students find these services lacking, they are certainly more readily accessible than the customer support for any other computer.
Professor O’Brian added that the students most likely to benefit from having a Mac are Interactive Digital Design or MEP majors.
“Some students already have high-end Macs, giving them the ability to edit their own projects,” said O’Brian.
He went on to say that while ten years ago, a good Mac editing station may have cost $40,000, one can be bought for roughly $1500 now.
“If a student wants to bring a Mac to school and edit in the comfort of their own room, there’s no reason not to, as long as they have a dual-platform system,” said O’Brian.
Apple has made the transition to dual-platform easy by including Boot Camp free in Leopard, the latest version of OSX, Apple’s operating system. Boot Camp is a program that allows users to start in either OSX or Windows, essentially giving Macs all the benefits and capabilities of a PC.
There are also some even more convenient ways of running PC programs on a Mac. A new piece of software called VMware Fusion allows Mac and PC programs to be run side-by-side simultaneously.
As both Dell and Apple continue to introduce new developments in hardware and software technology, the “Mac or PC” question may soon be obsolete.

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