[teknoids] UNM laptop requirement program passes!

Tim Gritten tgritten at nd.edu
Thu Apr 6 17:25:39 EDT 2006

The slowest processor speed you find is almost certainly faster than 
anything a typical Law Student (ie. one who does not have time for the 
latest interactive games) will need.  For now, students probably won't 
need the Core Duo processor.  Starting approximately with the end of 
this year, the next generation of Core Duo processors may run on as 
little as 0.5 watts of power, which some have speculated will lead to 
battery lives in the tens of hours.  You can imagine the advantage for 
students with that processor.  As long as a student stays with Windows 
XP for the next three years, you can get away with 256MB of memory, but 
you really should have at least 512MB unless you want students 
frustrated by slow laptops.  Hard drive requirements seemingly depends 
more upon how much music the student intends to save than anything else, 
but 40GB is probably sufficient for a budget laptop.

You are trying to find an inexpensive laptop.  But let us suggest that 
10-15 percent of all laptops will have a catastrophic failure at some 
point. (I'm probably being quite conservative with that number; I 
haven't totaled our stats for the year.)  Any given laptop might last 
years, and some of our students are tech savvy enough to replace broken 
components.  What do we offer for the student who gets frightened with 
any technological interaction beyond the power button?  A three-year 
warranty becomes paramount for these students.  Warranties are 
expensive.  Should a student spend $350 for a warranty on a $500-$800 
laptop?  It doesn't seem economically viable.  To make the warranty 
worthwhile, a student would need to upgrade the quality of the laptop.

Ultimately, you might want to recommend officially that _if_ students 
want a laptop, then they should spend a minimum of $1000-$1200.  
Otherwise, perhaps your library can buy a couple laptops, which you can 
then checkout to students during the day.  Unofficially, I tell 
hard-pressed students that they can buy a budget laptop without a 
warranty, but be prepared to replace your laptop a couple times during 
their Law School career.  Then if the original laptop does survive--bonus!

I hope this helps.  If you have any questions about our specifications, 
please let me know.  Thank you.

Kind regards,

Dean, Cyndi said the following on 4/6/2006 12:16 PM:
> I am amazed but on Tuesday, the full faculty voted a laptop 
> requirement program beginning fall 2006. We will do a minimum spec 
> requirement rather than a specific brand.
> My challenge is to come up with minimum specs that will suit their 
> needs while keeping the cost as low as possible. Our students are not 
> permitted to work the first year and it is a financial hardship for 
> many of them. I talked to the wife of one incoming student last week; 
> she made it "real" for me how hard it is to support a family when the 
> primary breadwinner can't work. The thought of buying even a thousand 
> dollar laptop made her very upset.
> So...I've looked at many of your specifications but now need to get 
> something out to our accepted applicants quickly. Our medical school 
> is recommending the Intel Core Duo processor. I am inclined to go with 
> a Pentium M at a minimum of 1GHz. Our students do word processing, 
> Internet research, email, and an occasional PowerPoint presentation. 
> What does the collective voice of Teknoids say?
> Thanks...
> Cyndi
> Cyndi Dean
> Assistant Dean for Information Technology
> UNM School of Law
> (505) 277-0695
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Tim Gritten
Student Computing Consultant/Analyst
Notre Dame Law Library
205-G Law School
PO Box 535
Notre Dame, IN 46556
tgritten at nd.edu
(574)631-6371 (fax)

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