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waltzforzizi

Is an ultraportable laptop a necessity for grad school?

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Hey!

I know there are threads on grad school supplies, but I still want to ask this question. I have a gaming laptop that is annoyingly heavy. I doubt I'm gonna lug it to school every day. I am not sure about the facilities at Berkeley ( *oops just checked that their library resources are great and they will loan you a laptop or iPad), but I feel I'll be able to most of my work on campus without a laptop. Am I wrong? What would you suggest? 

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Personally I can't imagine how I'd do my work without access to some electronic device, but maybe that's just me lacking in imagination. I write, read, create slides and teaching materials, do stats, create experimental items, and probably do 17 other things a day, on my laptop. I quickly search through pdfs for data (instead of lugging around whole printed papers, not to mention the waste of paper if I printed everything I thought I might want to read at some point), and I take notes directly on my pdf, which are saved and displayed in my bibliography manager for easy access. I use the internet to quickly browse for papers on topics I am discussing with students or that might help me in writing/reading/etc. I take notes on my computer for meetings (and as a student, I did the same for classes). I know people who got by with an iPad most most days, especially if they had a portable keyboard. Speaking for myself, I prefer to have my laptop with me. It doesn't have to be ultraportable, but I think some kind of device you can take with you to classes, talks, etc is pretty important. 

The only way I can imagine this working for you is if you come to campus solely for classes, take notes on paper, and then do everything else from home. That's a good way to miss out on a lot. You'll likely have an office and you'll benefit from working on campus beyond just during class time. Not to mention that even for classes and meetings, a way to access papers and data at a quick click of a button will be very useful. 

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I'm sure it's possible, but it seems terribly inconvenient. Having a portable, lightweight laptop will make your life a lot easier.

One alternative is to get a tablet and take notes on that, but by the time you get a tablet with a keyboard to take notes in class or the kind that you can use a stylus with you could probably get an inexpensive laptop for a similar price.

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Hmmm... well, I didn't have a lightweight laptop for most of grad school. I had a clunky older laptop that I either left at home (during my MA, when we were all provided with desktops as part of our GA positions) or that took up a semi-permanent residence on my desk (PhD program). I did eventually get a more portable laptop, but that was partially due to fieldwork and the travel that required. 

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So I'm a 'do work on the computer constantly' person and I had a HUGE very heavy computer for undergrad (its name is Marty McFly) that I still have to this day. I knew that I didn't want to carry it everywhere but on that ~grad student stipend~ a newer computer wasn't really an option, so I opted/would highly reccomend a Chromebook. They're as cheap as $150 and SUPER lightweight (mine weighs like nothing). It's awesome because most days I toss it in my bag and go and I'm able to do work. They also have an insanely long battery life. 

Caveat: they only run Chrome OS. So if I need to run SPSS or Stata or something, I have to use my regular PC, but for just writing papers and reading articles and responding to emails, this thing has been amazing. Plus I do everything in Google Docs anyway so if I use my other computer, it's all there. 

1,000,000/10 would reccommend as a solution if your campus doesn't have a lot of computers for free use! 

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I rarely bring my laptop to campus, but I use my phone for a lot of things I'd rather do on my laptop. I'm getting a tablet soon, and I think that will help in my situation. It's possible that a laptop may be more/less important depending on your program. Personally, I would hold off on buying another laptop until you get a feel for how much you need it.

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