A laptop or desktop PC?
A laptop can easily be used as a desktop when you're home with the family. Just get an external keyboard for the kids to whack on.
The problem with a laptop though is that they are much more expensive for the same computing power. If you're on financial aid you'll end up getting a very low end laptop, but could get a decent desktop.
Portability of laptops are great, but they are also prone to damage and theft.
Anyway, for someone on a tight budget, I'd recommend a desktop.
Notebook or desktop, you need a Mac. Forget all that crashing nonsense. Trust me, you'll love it.
Benefits of Mac:
No viruses, or any other malware for that fact. (This is due to Mac OS X's UNIX underpinnings, not "lack of users" or "low market share.")
Seamless integration. Your hardware will work perfectly with your software, because both are designed by Apple.
You will enjoy many advanced features that are not available in Windows, even Vista. Features like Exposé, Spotlight Search, a built-in dictionary that can be invoked in any application with a simple keystroke, easy to build scripting using Automator, zero-configuration networking, system wide spell checking and many more.
Macs can dual-boot with Windows or run Windows within Mac OS X itself. With BootCamp, you can dual-boot with Windows and run any PC application, even high-end games.
Excellent support and customer service. Apple is well known for it's support. I had a wonderful experience with Apple when the logic board in my Mac mini went bad. (This was due to a power issue in my home, not the Mac.)
Great software. Most of the software made for the Mac is better than similar software for Windows. Crap doesn't survive on the Mac market. iLife is absolutely amazing. Mac OS X is compatible with many file formats, right out of the box. As I mentioned before, you can run Windows applications. With a Mac, you can have it both ways.
Beautiful hardware. Quality hardware. Apple puts the sex in tech. Apple hardware is always beautiful, as well as functional. Apple has extremely talented engineers. One look at an iMac will tell you that much. The hardware is of excellent quality and built to last. Macs are well known to have a longer life span than PCs.
Upgrades? Who needs them. A seven year old iMac can still run the latest release of Mac OS X. Sure, you can add more RAM or get a bigger hard drive, but your Mac will run beautifully for years to come. When a new version of Mac OS X is released, you won't need to scramble to purchase upgrades in order to run it. (Leave that to the Vista adopters.)
Crashing. It doesn't happen. I'm not saying Mac OS X is absolutely perfect, but it's damn close. Most problems are easily fixed within minutes. Macs don't require the constant maintenance needed by PCs.
Value. When all of these things add up, you'll actually be saving money, as well as time, in the long run. You'll find yourself actually doing more on a Mac. Things you never thought of doing on a PC.
Heinz M - Mac OS X is much easier to learn than Vista, which is probably what her new system would ship with. Proprietary? That's why they work so well. Mac software doesn't cost more than PC software. In fact, Mac OS X upgrades are only $120. Compare that to Vista Ultimate for $499. And remember, there's only one "edition" of Mac OS X. You get everything. As for the availablitity of software, that's entirely irrelevant. Now that Macs can run Windows natively, this means there's more software available to Macs than any PC. Know your facts.
i think you'll need laptop anyways, as it may be require further on, check with teachers of courses, and what they'll prefer as well,
...but note you're doing online course, not actual school, so maybe desktop for online could be better, if courses are for graphics, most users prefer mac, but if you are used to pc, stay with what you know, unless otherwise advised through school,
...you mention other older computer crashing, if within last 5 years old like xp, not that old then,and suggest running scan disk error checker, clean up old cache/ temp files, and check with defragmenter now and then,... if older, like win98, it's still good, just need to do best one can for updates and compatibility, have extra free space and ram, and check drives with scans,
To tell ya the truth, I have both. My desktop is a little older cuz I got the laptop for work. I REALLY like having the convenience of a laptop because, like you said, you can do whatever from wherever. However, the problem could come in with the internet. If you dont have a wireless router, you would have to be hardwired the whole time you wanted to use it anyways, which would pretty much take away the whole point. You can buy anywhere wireless cards from like Sprint and stuff, but they arent cheap. if you dont have wireless, you would have to get a router, which is another 50-80 dollars. its really up to you. Laptops are MUCH more convenient, but if its gonna cause such a ruckus, might not be worth it. I wouldnt let anyone else make the decision for you though. YOU are the one starting college, and YOU are the one who truly NEEDS it, especially if the family has an old computer your son could use. As far as price goes though, you can get the same features of a desktop and a laptop for about the same prices. Maybe try ibuypower.com to help you out with a desktop. Good luck!
The laptop. This is Your education, not your husbands or sons. There is an old computer? so update it for the rest of the family. Faster processer, more memory. Stick to your guns, 11 is to young for unsupervised computer time, which a laptop would be, remember pedifiles?
For usability at home AND at school, a laptop is the only way to go.
I prefer desktops myself and have 3 of those (I build them myself), but one always has to look at the use.
As to the MAC hawker above, you would have to learn a new operating system, AND being proprietary, your software will cost 3 times as much AND a lot more of that is available for PCs because there are over 30 times as many people using them.
For College i recommend a notebook, maybe a tablet if you can afford it. That way you can take it on campus and into the library to work on or goof off between classes. If you have the money get a alienwar notebook if you are on a budget like most college students are they dell would be your best bet, Notebooks are by far the way to go for college.
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