Pro tips for choosing a laptop and tablet

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About this article

This article includes tips from the staff and students of TLT and User Services on how to choose the WSU laptop and tablet models that are right for you. These tips are based on personal experience and are not official university recommendations or guidelines. This article is intended for students and employees participating in the E-Warrior Digital Life and Learning Program who are scheduled to exchange their old devices or pick up new devices during the summer of 2015 and the 2015-2016 academic year.

Tips for all

These tips are for all students and employees:

  • I think the MacBook Air and the HP EliteBook are both great machines. Their Solid State Drives, 5th-generation i5 processors, enhanced graphics, and thin, light "ultrabook" designs make them very comparable. Either model will give you solid technical performance, so base your decision on what makes the most sense for you in terms of your productivity, academic and professional interests, and personal enjoyment. You are going to be using your laptop every day, so choose one that lets you hit the ground running and work as comfortably as possible. --Ken Graetz (talk) 07:38, 30 March 2015 (CST)
  • I have seen people choose a MacBook because it looks cool and then try to run Windows on it exclusively. That's a very bad decision. Although WSU supports a tool called VMware Fusion to allow MacBook users to run Windows applications in a pinch, it's not a satisfying, long-term solution. The Windows application will generally not run as smoothly and running Fusion really puts a strain on your MacBook. If you love Windows, go with the EliteBook. If you love OS X, go with the MacBook and try to stay away from Fusion if at all possible. --Ken Graetz (talk) 07:39, 30 March 2015 (CST)
  • Don't feel like you need to choose an Apple iPad mini if you choose a MacBook or vice versa. There is also no need to choose a Samsung Tab 4 if you choose an HP EliteBook. Android on the Tab 4 is a Google operating system and is no more related to Windows than is Apple's iOS. Thus far at WSU, the Apple iPad mini is more popular than the Samsung Tab 4, among both Mac and Windows enthusiasts. If you have never had a tablet or smartphone before, you might consider the iPad over the Tab 4. Apple's tablet strategy is much less open and much more proprietary than Google's and that has pros and cons. On the plus side, iPad users benefit from Apple's attention to usability and customer-centered design and iPad apps are generally better tested, developed, and supported. On the downside, there is probably less opportunity for open innovation with the iPad because it is controlled by Apple so tightly. Time will tell. In 2013, Android tablets outsold iPads worldwide by a large margin, capturing 63% of the market, but the next big Apple announcement is just around the corner. Such is technology. For your purposes here at WSU, either one of these tablets will serve you well and be more than enough to meet your academic and work-related needs. Choose the one with which you think you will be more comfortable. --Ken Graetz (talk) 07:39, 30 March 2015 (CST)
  • When it comes to tablets, we do our best to support apps that work on both iOS and Android. Sometimes it's just not possible. --Ken Graetz (talk) 07:39, 30 March 2015 (CST)
  • Regardless of the tablet you select, there are a couple extras you might consider. A stylus (kind of a rubber-tipped pen) might be a good addition if you plan to take hand-written notes. Also, there are cases available for the tablets that include a keyboard. These can be really handy for taking notes or composing documents in Word. Both are available through the bookstore, most large retailers and online. --Nthomes (talk) 08:33, 30 March 2015 (CST)
  • Many users choose to buy their own laptop accessories. A good hard-shell case for the Macbook laptops is very easy to find, and several options are sold right here on campus at our bookstore. There are also laptop locks in case you work in a public area and want to secure your device. Keyboard covers can help defend against dust, dirt, and debris, and a good microfiber cloth can help clean the screen, especially if you are a PC user with a touchscreen laptop. WSU provides you the hardware and the charger, but any other external accessories are completely up to you. --Travis Norman (talk) 09:40, 30 March 2015 (CST)
  • Using a new device can be a little like learning a new language. Some users opt to change for the sake of change, and while that can be empowering and offers many learning opportunities, try to ensure you're going to maintain business functionality if you switch to a different type of device. Ask yourself, can you still reliably get your homework done by the due dates? Can you still perform your work duties? TLT and DLC offer extensive, solid training if you're adamant about switching devices, and our learn wiki offers many self-help tutorials on how to acclimate yourself to a new device. --Travis Norman (talk) 08:34, 30 March 2015 (CST)
  • New to Mac? We've got tips for you. New to Windows? We've got tips. New to iPad? Yup, tips. New to Android? We've got you covered. What we want to express is that we're here to help you adjust to your choice of hardware. No matter how basic or how technical you may consider your inquiry, we want to work with you to answer it. There may already be a wiki page to address it and, if not, we are constantly adding pages at the request of our users. Please feel free to contact us and let us know how we can help! --Travis Norman (talk) 08:49, 30 March 2015 (CST)
  • I have a MacBook Pro and a Samsun Galaxy S5 Phone, so I have an understanding of both Android and Apple products. I was able to play with both the iPad and the Samsung Tablet for work and I found something that surprised me. I liked the iPad better than the Tablet because it was different than my phone. For me, the Samsung Tablet was like using an oversized phone. I love me phone, it can do some really cool things, but the Samsung tablet did all of the same things as my phone, so I didn't use it very often. The iPad on the other hand was very differnt to my phone. Even just the look at setup was different enough that i felt like I was using a tablet, so I used it more often than the Samsung Tablet. Sometimes it's just small things like distinguishing your phone from your tablet that might help you think to use your tablet more. The larger screen is really nice, and if your tablet has different qualities than your phone, it might help you to naturally want to pick it up and use it for some really cool things.--SEnzenauer10 (talk) 10:18, 1 April 2015 (CST)

Tips for students

These are tips for students only:

  • Even though you may not have a major yet, consult the laptop recommendations by college and major before making your laptop choice. Typically, these recommendations are based on courses within the major or program that require you to use an application that only runs on a specific operating system. For example, Microsoft Project only runs on a Microsoft Windows operating system. Recommendations are also based on current trends within a profession. For example, most graphic design professionals working today use Macs to do their design work. Remember, you do get a new laptop and can switch platforms if needed after two years. If you have any questions about college or major requirements, contact the Dean of the college or the Chair of the department or program. --Ken Graetz (talk) 07:43, 30 March 2015 (CST)
  • Entering students have it easy in terms of their tablet decision: they all get the Apple iPad mini. Students exchanging their devices after two years get to choose between the iPad mini and the . Think carefully before switching platforms. In the end, the name on the device is not important. What's important is whether you can do what you need to do with it. Either tablet will allow you to consume media (e.g., audio, video, ebooks) for academic and entertainment purposes. However, if you are struggling to use your tablet for academic or professional tasks above and beyond media access, it may be time for a change. --Ken Graetz (talk) 07:43, 30 March 2015 (CST)
  • Let's say you start the semester with a PC, but you're taking an app development course this semester that requires a Mac. This is a common scenario and Tech Support can help. Some courses, some professors, and some departments require that you use a specific piece of hardware in order to complete the coursework. Tech Support frequently facilitates hardware platform swaps as courses require them. As much as possible we try to coordinate with professors before the semester starts so that we can work together to get students up and on their feet as swiftly as possible with as little interruption to the student or the course. If you know you have to switch laptops/tablets for class purposes, please contact Tech Support with any questions or concerns. --Travis Norman (talk) 09:03, 30 March 2015 (CST)

Tips for instructors

These are tips for instructors only:

  • Note that the MacBook Air does not have an RJ45 network port for a wired connection to the campus network. The machine is designed for wireless use primarily. You will need an adapter or "dongle" if you want a wired network connection. Also note that the MacBook Air only has one Thunderbolt port, so you can't connect your VGA and network dongle at the same time unless you have a docking station. This is the second year that we have been offering these machines and I expected a lot more trouble with this than we actually observed. Most of the problems have been related to connecting to a classroom projector, so please test your new machine in your classrooms before the first day of classes. Contact TLT if you have any questions about this. We would be happy to meet with you in your classrooms to help with testing. --Ken Graetz (talk) 07:48, 30 March 2015 (CST)

Tips for staff

These are tips for staff only:

  • Because there are some mission-critical, business-related applications such as Uniface/ISRS that do not run on a Mac, all staff are strongly encouraged to choose the PC laptop option. Choose either tablet model. Ken Graetz (talk) 10:45, 29 June 2014 (CST)
  • If your department has tablets and you would like to better integrate them into your work day, we can definitely help with that. For example, if you'd like to start using your department iPad to schedule calendar events, contact us and we'll help you get it set up, updated, reformatted, train you on its use, whatever you may need. If you have an Android tablet around the office and you'd like to be able to use it for more work-related purposes, just give us a call or stop in and ask for assistance! Those are just two examples, but the point is that we want to empower all of our users to be able to use their laptop/tablet hardware exactly how it fits their situation. We are here to help. --Travis Norman (talk) 09:13, 30 March 2015 (CST)

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