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Postgrad computer setup (tablet vs etc...)


anjp

Gradschool computer setup options  

5 members have voted

  1. 1. What type of computer should I use?

    • Tablet (android) + bluetooth keyboard
      0
    • Ultranetbook laptop (chromebook with full linux OS)
      2
    • Normal bulky laptop
      1
    • something else
      2


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Hi folks,

 

I'm new here.  I am about a quarter of the way through a master's degree in Disaster & Emergency Management.  It's a humanities degree with lots of reading and writing.  My million-year-old Dell Vostro 1000 bit the dust and I need a new computer!  I'm currently running ElementaryOS Linux on my Vostro.  It meets all my needs from a software perspective, it's the hardware that is cumbersome (ZERO battery life, hot, heavy, etc.).

 

I've seen lots of threads in this very forum about tablets vs chromebooks vs laptops vs <insert crazy Siri wristwatch technology> but am hoping to narrow the focus here to a few specific options.  I'd like to hear from anyone who is using these options (or something similar to them).  I don't want to get something, dislike it, return it, and rinse & repeat forever.  So without further ado here are my 3 options:

 

1. Tablet + external bluetooth keyboard - This would probably be an Android. Perhaps the Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro + Logitech Galaxy Pro Keyboard.  My phone is Android and I'm deeply embedded in the Google ecosystem.  I even use Google Docs/Spreadsheets for most of my content creation.

2. "Ultranetbook" Chromebook running ElementaryOS Linux - I'm perfectly comfortable wiping, say, the Acer C720 and installing linux.  This allows for offline use, can run my own programs, etc. and the chromebook hardware ensures a nice thin, light, portable machine with long battery life.

3. Traditional Laptop - Tried, tested and true.  I would still wipe it and install linux, but it would be bigger, heavier, and likely shorter battery life.  Sort of a compromise.... perhaps a 14" model with an Intel i5 core

 

Some decision factors:

  1. Cost - let's say it's not a constraint
  2. I travel a lot - My job has me flying all over the continent, often to places without internet access.  My degree is blended meaning partially by correspondence and sometimes on campus.  I need something that's portable and easy to pack/unpack/use.  This also means an external monitor is not a realistic option.  I also want to maximize time spent on airplanes which means small + good battery life.
  3. I read and write a lot - My degree requires a tonne of reading & writing.  I need to be comfortable typing for extended periods (I will be writing a thesis).  I'm worried that an 11-12" tablet or chromebook screen will be too small.  I also like the idea of reading on a tablet (especially while travelling) instead of opening up a laptop.
  4. I have some loyalties - I'm tied into Zotero for all my referencing and notes, and the Google ecosystem for files & collaboration.  I do _not_ want an iPad or MS Surfance.  I've tried both and am staying away.
  5. I'd like to go paperless - My current reading method is to print all articles and read/highlight/take notes.  I'd like to do away with this and I thought perhaps a tablet would help.  Printed articles get to be bulky and heavy after a while.....and I'm destroying Fern Gully!
  6. I am in Canada - But I'm close to the US border.  So if it's not available here, I'm willing to have it shipped/go pick it up.

That post was much longer than I had hoped.  Thank you for staying with me.  If you have any experience using any of these options (or similar) please let me know what works and what doesn't.

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I use an Asus q302 which is a laptop that folds into a tablet when need be. Price point is $699 for a 13 inch touch screen, i5 processor, 6 gig mem, 500 gig HD, black metal shell. No cd-rom or wired network support. No headphone jack.

I am in sociology and do all my writing, GIS, and statistical analysis on it. Runs complex equations with 15 million cases in a matter of minutes.

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Thank you.  How do you find the 13" screen?  i.e. could you get work done on a smaller one?  And what sort of battery life do you get?

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If you are in disaster and emergency management I would suggest a "traditional" laptop if money is not an issue.  Since you mention sometimes going to places without Internet access it seems silly to get a Chromebook--unless of course you can use your cellphone as a hotspot. 

 

I have had a tablet since the first iPad was released and have tried to go paperless numerous times.  For many reasons it seemed more annoying than practical (I also had a Kindle Fire, gave it my mom).  I think tablets are a great form factor for certain things but in my opinion they are still years away from fully replacing laptops (and maybe decades for desktops?).  

 

If you want to use a tablet as an eReader while traveling then why not get a cheap[er] tablet and a mid-priced laptop?  I mean since you are considering a Chromebook and tablets my guess is that hardware specs are not much of a concern for you.  

 

I am currently on a 13" MacBook Pro (Retina) and my previous laptop was also a 13" MacBook.  When I got my first MacBook I was concerned I would find the screen too small.  Initially, I did, but quickly got used to it and it is no longer a concern.  For comparison, I also have an old 17" Toshiba and a 2012 15" Asus.  Both the Toshiba and old MacBook have been turned into Linux machines, by the way.  

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Thank you.  I'm not too concerned about using the chromebook offline because I would be wiping it and installing linux to make it into a full-fledged OS.  

 

I'm interested in your thoughts about tablets not being able to replace laptops.... what do you feel you're missing? (If you added a remote keyboard/mouse).

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Buy an ultrabook with great battery life.

 

Typing on an ultrabook is infinately better than a tablet: even if you add a keyboard to the tablet, its not as stable as the traditional laptop/ultrabook when typing on your lap (bus,airport,train,seminars). This is something that you will find annoying over the years. 

 

Tablets aren't as future proof as laptops: their thermal design is similar to cellphones which are designed to be replaced every 2 years (not everyone does, but thats what they are designed for). 

 

Overall, you wont be saving much money because you will have to replace the tablet much earlier than the ultrabook (probably). 

 

Also, its just more powerful. 

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Tablets do not have the power computers have, either desktops or laptops. You cannot run on tablets complicate software. The apps made specifically for them are good for what the tablets can do but let's be honest, you will not be able to do some video editing or designing an e-module on tablets as you can do on a computer.

Edit to add: or run statistics software packages. Tablets simply don't have those capabilities.

Re-edit to add that I am a huge fan of some tablets (iPads) but I admit they have their limits.

Edited by educdoc
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Tablets do not have the power computers have, either desktops or laptops. You cannot run on tablets complicate software. The apps made specifically for them are good for what the tablets can do but let's be honest, you will not be able to do some video editing or designing an e-module on tablets as you can do on a computer.

Edit to add: or run statistics software packages. Tablets simply don't have those capabilities.

Re-edit to add that I am a huge fan of some tablets (iPads) but I admit they have their limits.

 

 

this isn't true. Tablets have great editing software, and matlab is for ipad.

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Ok, you can do stuff on a tablet. But I wasn't talking about that, I was talking about software that is actually used in movie industry, in instructional design, etc. You cannot run that type of software on only 1 GB RAM and 1.4 GHz processor compared to over 12 GB RAM and processors with "speeds" of over 3 GHz. :)

Edit to thank you for matlab. I didn't know about it and it seems helpful.

Edited by educdoc
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  • 3 weeks later...

Thanks everyone.  I will be going for a portable, lightweight netbook and installing my favourite linux distro on it to get stuff done

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Thank you.  How do you find the 13" screen?  i.e. could you get work done on a smaller one?  And what sort of battery life do you get?

 

I used to have a netbook - an Asus. It was possible to do work on it, but it was difficult. My hands were too big for the keyboard and the hardware specs were comparably lower than other larger computers.

 

That was 4 years ago, though. I'm sure there are netbooks with decent hardware specs now.

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I used to have a netbook - an Asus. It was possible to do work on it, but it was difficult. My hands were too big for the keyboard and the hardware specs were comparably lower than other larger computers.

 

That was 4 years ago, though. I'm sure there are netbooks with decent hardware specs now.

 

Whoops, I meant notebook, not netbook.  I agree, I think a netbook would be a little underpowered for most of my work.

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Thank you.  I'm not too concerned about using the chromebook offline because I would be wiping it and installing linux to make it into a full-fledged OS.  

 

I'm interested in your thoughts about tablets not being able to replace laptops.... what do you feel you're missing? (If you added a remote keyboard/mouse).

It sounds like you made up your mind, but...

 

...tablets just are not there yet.  From a productivity standpoint they are the pits.  Sure, they can aid in productivity, and most certainly do, but on their own they royally suck if not coupled with a laptop/desktop.  Workflow absolutely does not flow in the same way it can on a laptop/desktop.  

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