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Again, I'll save you a lot of time. If you're a mac person and can't imagine not having a mac... get the mac. People that fit that description and did were happy. Some that didn't weren't, it's not rocket science. Although I'd been a mac person in the past I used Windows at work, and didn't want to have to deal with booting up a second operating system. Some things are a little funky like some Excel shortcuts not working, OS wrinkles with running Windows on a Mac and obviously they're more expensive. My computer was cheaper, lighter and I was fine using Windows 8 so I went that route. Deep down you know which you want, just do it.
I used to lug a 5+ lb ThinkPad around NYC and my lower back is a real S.O.B. so I knew I wanted the lightest computer I could find. I knew I’d be lugging this one everywhere I went and didn’t want to have to debate bringing it when I traveled or resent carrying it to from class, meetings, my apartment, the parking garage etc. Mission accomplished, it was 2.5 lbs. I’m not saying you have to go to that extreme but I recommend paying extra if you can save a pound or two. My work laptop this summer is the same as the Dell bundles were and I can’t say I’ve ever been more sure about my decision.
I wanted smaller so I settles on 13 inch. 15” comes with more weight, 11” is not very much real estate for Excel, etc. so my decision was made. It's not crazy HD, but I didn't need the absolute best and it's still great resolution. There are people with those size screens who love them, just a matter of preference. I also wanted a matte screen (reflections drive me nuts) and purposely didn’t get a touchscreen because they’re heavier and cost more. If you use one now you know if you use it or not. If you don’t you probably won’t.
You WILL have a lot of things open at once. Your main tasks will be getting around on the internet, e-mail and office, particularly Excel and related plug in programs that run data analysis. For those you will want to have sufficient power, to run scripts and analysis, but unless you edit high def video in your spare time or something you don’t need to go crazy. I bought an IvyBridge 1.4gHz i5, 4 MB of RAM and a 128 GB solid state hard drive. SSD = lighter computer. No that’s not a ton of room but it was enough. I bought a 500 GB external drive just in case for like $60 and never had to use it. If you get a mac you’ll need a bigger hard drive since it will be split in half and allocated to the two operating systems.
I’d say the two biggest drawbacks with this computer were 1) because it is so thin, it only has micro ports and needed adapters to plug into HDMI (you will need to plug into second screens almost daily) and for ethernet (not a big issue) and 2) the battery is not great, but it is fine. I was excited about the haswell chips but they weren’t widely in use when I had to pull the trigger and I saved a ton by getting an older computer. The battery isn’t great, but it’s not bad. I can watch an entire HD movie on it and then some. When it gets low, I plug it in. It has two USB ports, a 3.0 that I keep open and a regular USB that is permanently occupied by a wireless mouse (definitely get one, $10 on Amazon) that I never had issue with. Oh, that reminds me: the trackpad is awful which is noted in many online reviews. Updating the driver helped, but I just use said wireless mouse instead and it's a non-issue.
The guys at Darden are awesome. The 9 different portals, log in’s and sites you need deal with are not, but they’ll help you survive all of your emergencies. I was told they’d help me even if I didn’t have a bundle and they were great. (secret tip, they’re who you go see when you need paper for a printer and they can help you get your phone on the wireless network). As for Samsung, my computer had 5 black lines appear across the screen a little over a week ago when it was in the last month of warranty. They gave me a shipping label and had it back within a week-ish.
So there you have it. I love my computer. Think about what matters to you and what doesn't, spend money accordingly, and you will too. If you’re rich or a prince in your home country or whatever just buy the coolest, lightest one they make and that also works. Remember, it's a poor craftsman who blames his tools and a cheap idiot craftsman who buys crappy tools right before starting business school.
Bring on the questions.