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“iPad? Laptop? Tablet? Mac? PC? What’s the best choice for my incoming BU freshman?”

This is one question the Bellarmine IT Department gets asked a lot. Here’s our advice…

Consider The Major
There are a few departments that have specific computing requirements. For students majoring in Digital Art, Communication, Computer Science, or Music Technology, we encourage students to contact those department to see if they have any requirements related to software packages. Some packages may only be available for either Mac OS or Windows, so that will have significant impact on what students need to bring. If you have a student majoring in something other than the ones listed above, read on.

Computer First, Tablet Second
We love tablets and believe in their benefits for education, but we don’t feel that a tablet is best suited to be a student’s primary computing device. Our advice is go for a laptop computer first, tablet second.

The Technical Specs
Even low-end computers are quite powerful these days, but we recognize that higher-end computers give a better experience overall. There are no hard and fast rules here; we recommend getting a system that students feel will best match their usage. However, we do recommend that, at minimum, students’ machines have an Intel Core 2 Duo Processor, 4 GB of RAM, 320 GB Hard Drive, and 802.11g wireless.

Windows or Mac
Another cool thing about Bellarmine is that we are completely open to whatever system students prefer. As long as students have contacted their major’s department (see above), our advice is to go with what students are comfortable using it, and it makes you productive.

Software
One option available to Bellarmine students is to purchase software from http://bellarmine.onthehub.com, which includes various software packages at reduced cost. We recommend making this the first stop on your software shopping spree.

Antivirus
Having antivirus software on your system is critical for protection. While students could go with a paid solution, we recommend using Microsoft Security Essentials which is a free download available from http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/security-essentials-download.

Academic Discounts
The following links take you to sites that offer academic discounts, we recommend checking them out while you are shopping around.
http://www.dell.com/learn/us/en/6099/campaigns/welcome-to-dell-university
http://shop.lenovo.com/us/en/portals/students
http://hp.force.com/external/hpacademy

If you have any questions, feel free to contact us at the Technology Support Center (TSC) and we’ll be happy to help you out. Contact us by phone (502-272-8301) or email (tsc@bellarmine.edu).

Guest post by Eric Satterly (esatterly@bellarmine.edu), Director of Information Technology at Bellarmine University.

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