While we don't recommend any particular brand of computer, there are a few things to keep in mind when selecting a laptop computer:
- Size and weight: This should be a very important factor in choosing a laptop. You'll need to carry it around with you for much of the day (along with textbooks and other materials) so lighter is better. The size of your computer is also important for reasons of convenience and storage. A small laptop is easier to fit into a backpack, however, the keyboard size on a small computer may be uncomfortable for some. It's best to try a laptop out in-person to see if it is physically right for you. Note that there may me a substantial trade-off in price and power if you choose a lighter model.
- Battery Life: While our larger classrooms have power outlets at each seat, many of our seminar rooms do not (although there are a number of wall outlets). You may wish to invest in a higher capacity battery for prolonged computer use in areas without electricity, especially outside of the law school. If you do decide to add a higher capacity battery, please be aware that this can add substantial weight to your computer.
- Warranty: You should try to purchase warranty coverage that will last throughout law school. The university's computer repair center covers most major computer manufacturers' terms.
- Apple vs. Windows PC: This is a matter of personal preference. Both can be used on final exams and are fine for use in law school. The law library computer lab is run on Windows, however, it is an easy matter to convert documents from one platform to another. It may be important to keep in mind the fact that most law firms are using Windows computers, so if you are not familiar with the Windows operating system, you may wish to make this adjustment early in your legal career.
- Operating system age: We recommend the latest version of Windows (currently Windows 7) or Apple's operating system (currently Snow Leopard). Although many computers in the law school run Windows XP due to its overall stability, we expect some applications, such as our exam software, to end their support of XP over the next year or two.
- Processing Power: Your computing requirements in law school are generally limited to word processing, email, web-based research, and the occasional powerpoint presentation. Therefore, you do not need a top-of-the-line laptop computer. Many students are happy with netbooks costing a few hundred dollars. On the other hand, if you are planning to use your laptop beyond your coursework (ie. for entertainment) you may want to purchase a more powerful computer.
- Educational Discounts: CSU has a partnership agreement with HP which allows students to purchase an HP computer at a discount. Generally, the discount is comparable to sale prices often offered to the general public at stores such as BestBuy. Apple computer also offers a discount to those with a student ID. Software can be purchased through the university bookstore (in the new student center) at a substantial discount. Microsoft Office is available for around $100.
- Wifi: The entire university is covered by a wireless network. As a student you will have access to it through a secured connection. Guests can also access it through a guest network.
- Final Exams on Computer: C|M|LAW uses a software package known as Exam4 for use on most mid-term and final exams. This software is free for your use, and can be downloaded prior to your exam period when announced by the law school's IT department.