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anthrovagabond

technology question for those studying in religion

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So, I will be an MDiv student this fall at BU, and my current netbook is almost 5 years old. Thus, I'll be upgrading to a new computer or tablet this summer. What do you use (or, if just admitted, what will you buy), or what would be more useful, for the humanities: an iPad or a laptop? If you've used both, which one do you find you use more? Pros / cons to each? (and, if you do use an iPad, how has it been for writing papers...?)

This is probably an incredibly dumb question, and I apologize in advance.

Thanks,

Anthrovagabond

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First off, do not get a tablet. You simply cannot use it in many of the same ways. Writing papers on a tablet sucks (even with an external keyboard) and for how much they cost you could get a decent laptop/netbook.

What size laptop do you prefer? How much can you spend?

I'm a graduate assistant for the biology/physics profs here at BC, so I work a lot with professors picking computers, software problems, et cetera.

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Definitely forget the tablet option for serious academic work. They are fun but not quite there yet as far as academic software and paper editing is concerned.

As a student in the MDiv program (BTW I got in BU's MTS) you will be studying Greek and Hebrew. You should strongly consider the expensive but incredibly useful software like Logos (Mac/PC), Accordance (Mac), and Bible Works (PC). They alll pretty much do the same thing though each has different collections, user interfaces, and overall feel to them. They are basically powerful software programs that allow you to analyze Biblical languages in great detail. You have tools like lexicons, dictionaries, bible commentaries, textbooks, maps, and more. These programs, while available for the iPad, are significantly stronger on an actual laptop.

I personally use a Macbook Air and it works flawlessly. No CD Drive but I haven't needed physical CD's/DVD's in years. For when I do I just use an external CD drive (~$80) I personally have no gripes with PC but I would say Mac's are much smoother, have a prettier user interface, and are more user friendly and less "clunky." PC's are powerhouses for gaming and obviously have more software available to them, though. Macs are useful for graphic design, photos, and practically any media editing though PC's definitely do that as well.

If you do go for a laptop, regardless of Mac or PC I'd say you need at least a dual-core processor, 1-2 GB RAM but I'd get as much RAM as possible within reason (I have 4 GB RAM), a Solid State Drive does wonders but any HD with more than 80 GB should be good (if you download significant amounts of videos though you will obviously need to make use of external drives or upgrade your hard drive).

I'm sure you know a lot of this stuff already so forgive me if I'm saying obvious things.

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No, it's an excellent question! What type of machine -- tablet or laptop -- will dramatically impact your quality of life as a humanities student cranking out papers weekly. Figure out what purpose you want it to serve: is it an all purpose machine for class notes and writing term papers? Or, is it for something more specialized like just taking notes?

From my experience, I would recommend getting a good laptop. I had a macbook through div school; it didn't weight too much to lug around the city on the T (I, too, went to school in Boston). A good laptop will obviously cost more money but a good one should last. I had some friends with tablet devices who used them mainly for class notes; however, these folks had to purchase an external keyboard to type quickly.

Also, since there's a new iPad now, the iPad generation 1's are much cheaper. I just purchased one off of craigslist for $50.

Great advice! I'll probably be writing a lot of papers, so maybe laptop? And... great idea concerning the iPad 1! It's the same as the "new" iPad (just a little slower), right?

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First off, do not get a tablet. You simply cannot use it in many of the same ways. Writing papers on a tablet sucks (even with an external keyboard) and for how much they cost you could get a decent laptop/netbook.

What size laptop do you prefer? How much can you spend?

I'm a graduate assistant for the biology/physics profs here at BC, so I work a lot with professors picking computers, software problems, et cetera.

First, nice on the GA in bio/phys! I'm an RA in an immunology/parasitology lab.

Second, I'd probably go with a laptop no larger than 13", and my budget is whatever the school allows to be part of financial aid.

Thanks for the reply!

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Definitely forget the tablet option for serious academic work. They are fun but not quite there yet as far as academic software and paper editing is concerned.

As a student in the MDiv program (BTW I got in BU's MTS) you will be studying Greek and Hebrew. You should strongly consider the expensive but incredibly useful software like Logos (Mac/PC), Accordance (Mac), and Bible Works (PC). They alll pretty much do the same thing though each has different collections, user interfaces, and overall feel to them. They are basically powerful software programs that allow you to analyze Biblical languages in great detail. You have tools like lexicons, dictionaries, bible commentaries, textbooks, maps, and more. These programs, while available for the iPad, are significantly stronger on an actual laptop.

I personally use a Macbook Air and it works flawlessly. No CD Drive but I haven't needed physical CD's/DVD's in years. For when I do I just use an external CD drive (~$80) I personally have no gripes with PC but I would say Mac's are much smoother, have a prettier user interface, and are more user friendly and less "clunky." PC's are powerhouses for gaming and obviously have more software available to them, though. Macs are useful for graphic design, photos, and practically any media editing though PC's definitely do that as well.

If you do go for a laptop, regardless of Mac or PC I'd say you need at least a dual-core processor, 1-2 GB RAM but I'd get as much RAM as possible within reason (I have 4 GB RAM), a Solid State Drive does wonders but any HD with more than 80 GB should be good (if you download significant amounts of videos though you will obviously need to make use of external drives or upgrade your hard drive).

I'm sure you know a lot of this stuff already so forgive me if I'm saying obvious things.

That's awesome you'll be a student at BU this fall! We'll have to meet up! Also, I'm nervous that an iPad just isn't adequate enough for academics. Right? I am eyeing the MacBook air (smallest one), and I will pretty much only use it for the Internet and writing papers and Netflix. (I'm fine with a small screen. Currently, while x-training for a marathon, i watch movies via Netflix on wifi on the stationary bike... Haha... So 13" would be ok I think.)

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That's awesome you'll be a student at BU this fall! We'll have to meet up! Also, I'm nervous that an iPad just isn't adequate enough for academics. Right? I am eyeing the MacBook air (smallest one), and I will pretty much only use it for the Internet and writing papers and Netflix. (I'm fine with a small screen. Currently, while x-training for a marathon, i watch movies via Netflix on wifi on the stationary bike... Haha... So 13" would be ok I think.)

If you don't mind spending 1k+ then the Macbook Air is what I was going to recommend. Most of the faculty I deal with use Mac (although a lot of their lab equipment is PC only). But I have been an avid PC user all my life, mostly because specific software I use.

Also, as another user suggests, software such as BIbleWorks, Logos, ect., will only be useful with a laptop, not a tablet. But honestly, MANY theology students will never need such a tool. Most programs (M*) do not require specific training in Greek or Hebrew, thus such a tool might be a bit overkill, especially considering the cost (although there are "ways" of getting the software for free).

If you are looking to spend less than 300-400 a 10-12" netbook is always an option. I have used several models and been happy with their speed (usually a small ram upgrade required). For around 500-600 you can buy a really nice PC that will last you years. As for the Mac, the only model I see that is really worth is (for a student) is the air, because of how small/light it is. I REALLY would love a 11" Macbook air..and perhaps one day I'll buy one. For now, I'm using an upgraded Alienware M11x....but I do my fair share of gaming ;).

Edited by jdmhotness

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If you don't mind spending 1k+ then the Macbook Air is what I was going to recommend. Most of the faculty I deal with use Mac (although a lot of their lab equipment is PC only). But I have been an avid PC user all my life, mostly because specific software I use.

Also, as another user suggests, software such as BIbleWorks, Logos, ect., will only be useful with a laptop, not a tablet. But honestly, MANY theology students will never need such a tool. Most programs (M*) do not require specific training in Greek or Hebrew, thus such a tool might be a bit overkill, especially considering the cost (although there are "ways" of getting the software for free).

If you are looking to spend less than 300-400 a 10-12" netbook is always an option. I have used several models and been happy with their speed (usually a small ram upgrade required). For around 500-600 you can buy a really nice PC that will last you years. As for the Mac, the only model I see that is really worth is (for a student) is the air, because of how small/light it is. I REALLY would love a 11" Macbook air..and perhaps one day I'll buy one. For now, I'm using an upgraded Alienware M11x....but I do my fair share of gaming ;).

Hey, thanks for the reply! I have a netbook right now, and they are pretty good. I love mine, but it's almost dead. I may go with an 11" macbook air. interestingly, they can be had (with the educational discount) for about $900. if it can last almost 4 years, then that's money well-spent, right? i have an iphone, too, so i'd like everything to be on one platform (or whatever it's called). i also love how tiny and cute the macbook air is :-)

Alienware is sweet!

I would answer this, but JDM already took the cake on this one :D

haha it was a great answer!

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You can also add the expense of your computer to your projected costs for financial aid... I believe once every 2 or 3 years?

Good call, never thought about that!

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so, any apple "rumors" about upcoming laptops?

also, I'm going to check Craig's list for iPads. If I could snag one for $100, that would be cool!

I'm not sure if you will be able to find one that cheap. Although the new iPads just came out, so I imagine the old ones will be a lot cheaper now.

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Good call, never thought about that!

That's what I'm going to do! I think they give up to $2200, but I'm not sure a laptop or desktop for humanities students would need to even cost half of that :-)

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Regarding programs like logos and bibleworks, I can only speak about logos since that's what I have, but any library worth anything will have whatever resources the programs have. What the programs are good at however are languages. They can do tons of stuff that only computer software can do. So if you're planning to work in two or three foreign languages you might consider getting a language package. Wait for the sales though, and see if your school can get you the 50% discount, otherwise you can get a 30% student discount.

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I would recommend getting a laptop, but trying not to use Logos or Bibleworks too much. Rather, struggle with the material, looking up each word that you don't know, and trying to commit it to memory. The bells and whistles are very nice, and indeed time-efficient, but there is something about the struggle of learning that makes learning all the more memorable (and memorizable!)

I have a friend who uses an Ipad to organize his material, but other than that, it's mostly a toy.

Also, Diablo 3 is coming out 5/15/2012 so...yea... time to upgrade.

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I have been using BibleWorks for three or four years and it truly is an amazing tool. But, as mentioned above, using it too early when learning the languages can be harmful to actually retaining the words/forms.

And yes, Diablo 3 deserves a new machine. I have been on beta for awhile now and am pretty stoked to say the least...

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Agreed! I think technology is moving towards touch screen laptops or maybe even tablet computers altogether. In the meantime, the Macbook Air is worthwhile. By the way, it is near the time when it will be updated so hold off on buying it if you want the upgrade, which could include more RAM and most definitely a better processor. You could also wait for it to be released and just buy the currently available model as it will have a reduced price. Use this website to keep track of it.

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Not to high-jack this thread, but I have two technology questions as well:

1. Right now, I have a standard sized HP. I used to carry it around with me on campus all day, but it was unbearably heavy. I use my laptop to take notes during class. I was wondering should I invest in a tiny netbook (doesn't have to be brand-name or anything) to make the trek around school easier? Another reason I'm considering this is because my laptop now takes up major amounts of space in class as well. What netbooks are worth purchasing (without spending too much money)?

2. You guys are talking about software tools such as BibleWorks and the like - are there any out there in Qur'an version?

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Not to high-jack this thread, but I have two technology questions as well:

1. Right now, I have a standard sized HP. I used to carry it around with me on campus all day, but it was unbearably heavy. I use my laptop to take notes during class. I was wondering should I invest in a tiny netbook (doesn't have to be brand-name or anything) to make the trek around school easier? Another reason I'm considering this is because my laptop now takes up major amounts of space in class as well. What netbooks are worth purchasing (without spending too much money)?

2. You guys are talking about software tools such as BibleWorks and the like - are there any out there in Qur'an version?

Sarah,

1. You can find something for around 200-300 if you know where to look. Recently I found a good deal on a Samsung netbook for a xmas present off overstock.com. I think i paid around $225 for it, then spent another 20 bucks on upgrading the ram (did myself). That or you could always use craigslist to buy something second hand. Although that option is a bit more iffy.

2. Not that I know. BibleWorks is amazing at certain things, namely lexicons, parsing, ect., but falls rather short on others. The fact that it doesn't include any critical edition Vulgate always struck me as odd. Now that you mention it, I have NO CLUE what you would use for studying the Qur'an. Anyone know?

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Not to high-jack this thread, but I have two technology questions as well:

1. Right now, I have a standard sized HP. I used to carry it around with me on campus all day, but it was unbearably heavy. I use my laptop to take notes during class. I was wondering should I invest in a tiny netbook (doesn't have to be brand-name or anything) to make the trek around school easier? Another reason I'm considering this is because my laptop now takes up major amounts of space in class as well. What netbooks are worth purchasing (without spending too much money)?

2. You guys are talking about software tools such as BibleWorks and the like - are there any out there in Qur'an version?

I bought a toshiba netbook over 4 years ago (wow...maybe 5 almost...), and it's still going (though dying now--but will take me through the rest of the semester). I wouldn't spend more than $350. I spent $300 ( brand new ) on mine on Amazon when I got it.

Actually, I'm in a physiology class at the moment, and this girl has a HUGE laptop with her... looks cumbersome!!

Go netbook if you don't want to spend more for a MacBook air.

I really wish iPads were more functional!

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I think netbooks in general have hovered around the same price. I think this is due, in part, because the world's economy stinks, thus costs for parts are up, ect.

Also, if anyone is moderately tech-savvy you can convert a Dell Mini to run Mac OSX. I have done it several times for the biology department here at BC and doesn't take more than a coupe hours (no hardware modding, just a couple steps with thumb drives). Anyways, it's a cool option for those that love OSX but can't afford that oh so sweet macbook!

cheers

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I think netbooks in general have hovered around the same price. I think this is due, in part, because the world's economy stinks, thus costs for parts are up, ect.

Also, if anyone is moderately tech-savvy you can convert a Dell Mini to run Mac OSX. I have done it several times for the biology department here at BC and doesn't take more than a coupe hours (no hardware modding, just a couple steps with thumb drives). Anyways, it's a cool option for those that love OSX but can't afford that oh so sweet macbook!

cheers

Can you put the new apple os on any netbook? will the netbook still run quickly? If so, that's tempting...

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