College Students Great at Purchasing Technology, Poor at Researching Purchases, Survey Finds

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Duck Dodgers

I read the headline and immediately though "Apple". Not that anything is wrong with wanting a Mac, it's just that most kids want Macs for the wrong reason. And how the h%ll can a college aged kid not know how to properly use a computer? They practically grew up with one.

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Engelsstaub

It's not always just the "hip-factor" in my world (though I know that's a big key for many who are college-aged.) As a primary Mac user (I use a PC too for a few things) I hear a lot of dumb things from people asking me about switching to OS X. "They're better for video editing, right?" Wrong. A computer is as good as the software installed on it and most of the specialized software I have on my Mac is cross-platform. You can do the same exact things on Windows with little exception.

I can think of very few reasons why anyone should "need" a Mac. They are a more expensive than the competition and that should factor into many people's decisions. (I personally feel the extra expense is worth it in laptop-form but that's just personal preference.)

People will similarly pay extra for a BMW even though it's basically the same car as everything else in its class. They buy the name and the reputation. (And some indeed just feel it makes them look cool.) Whatever works. I just get sick of narcissistic little flame-baiters on the internet who think the whole world revolves around them and their opinions. They are so cocksure that everyone who owns a Mac, and is hanging out in a WiFi hotspot, is trying to impress them personally...how asinine and self-centered is that?

FWIW I would rather just build a PC (that's why my Mac-liking ass reads this magazine!) than buy an overpriced/under-updated Mac Pro. My choice in laptops is going to remain brushed aluminum ones with glowing fruit whether anyone likes it or not. IDFC. ;)

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JimGarb

I work at a College, in IT and I would say about 2/3 of the students have Macs purchased by Mom and Dad. They come in, not knowing how to use them, having never used a Mac in their lives. It's a status symbol, especially at the school I work at.

I'm sorry, but we purchase MacBook Pros for Creative Arts professors that do high intensity video and photo editing. Our configuration is the 13" MacBook Pro. The students who come in with the 15" retina display MacBook pro, the machines they get are just OVERKILL. A student should not have a better laptop than the video editor professor who gets paid $100k a year! It's ridiculous! Not to mention the work its creating for our IT staff when professors get papers from the students written in Pages, and their Windows machine cant open it. And we refuse to buy into Apple's licensing for iWork. Apple markets its product to college students, but their purchasing program for applications makes it near impossible to implement in a College IT related world.

Don't even get me started on the stupid iPad. Yea, its a great device, has a lot of potential. Apple is marketing it for the classroom. Now I've got professors asking if they can teach with their iPad in the classroom. So we purchased an Apple TV ($99) to attempt to use the AirPlay system. Well it turns out the AirPlay system doesn't "Play" nicely with Cisco networking equipment. Not to mention Bonjour just wants to open your whole computer up to everything on the net. AND, the college made the decision to purchase iPads for certain Faculty members. Well, in an effort to perform some sort of lockdown and policies, we had to jump through hoops, use MORE Apple Product (Purchase 2 Mac Minis for use as Mac Servers) in order to push down configuration policies to the iPads. Everywhere we turn Apple just wants to buy more of its equipment to get its equipment to work. If you're going to market it for the education world, then its time to get on board with standards, not create your own.

Unfortunately, I'm the only person in our IT organization that has Apple Background, so I have to configure and set them all up. For uniformity, and control and lockdown, they're a bear!

If you're going to spend $1400 on a decent laptop, we suggest a Dell (I know don't get all mad about this, its not my suggestion) but the $1400 includes a 4 year warranty that covers what you do to it.

Sorry for my little rant, but sometimes Apple just really irks me.

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bling581

"I would say about 2/3 of the students have Macs purchased by Mom and Dad"

Well this is probably the main cause of the problem. Mom and Dad are more likely to be duped into buying something they don't really need. Mac products are higher priced so obviously sales has a reason to push those first. The Best Buy where I live has this big area in the front of the computer section just to display half a dozen Mac products and all the sales guys stand around it. The rest of the PC's are packed down a few aisles in the corner.

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sundropdrinker3

My laptop that I wrote about down below is a Dell, an XPS 15, L502X. I love it. Only problem I have had was where the cord plugs in. It was constantly bent due to the angle of where the laptop usually was, and I guess it broke a wire, as the comp would no longer recognize the power supply. It wouldn't recharge and it wouldn't go into turbo. I just called up Dell and had a new one sent, since I still had about 1.5 months left on warranty. Works great again.

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ubuwalker31

According to consumer reports, around 33% of laptops break by their fourth year. So, it isn't so surprising that more than a third of students are unhappy with their laptop purchases.

The fact of the matter is that you can research the hell out of any piece of computer equipment and it can still suck balls.

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jaygregz

Who isn't unhappy with their laptop?

Common issues with laptops...

Overpriced, underpowered, battery life sucks, screen too small, too small of a hard drive, screen resolution is bad, keyboard feels bad on your hands, speakers sound horrible, not enough ports.. I could go on but I think you all get the point.

To get a laptop you will be happy with you pretty much have to overpay or luck into a good used one.

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sundropdrinker3

I have an i7-2720QM proc, so that's not a problem.

Sadly, a GeForce GT 540M with 2 or 3 GBs ram(can't remember the number anymore).

I have a 750GB harddrive spinning at 7200rpm. Before this laptop, I had 2 Raptors in Raid 0 for a whopping 74GB.

Battery life DOES suck, but I have so much power hungry crap in the laptop.

Screen isn't large, I grant you, but is 15.6", roughly the same size as an old 17" CRT monitor. Also, my screen is 1080P, so the resolution is just fine for me.

The keyboard actually feels pretty good to me, and doesn't make the horrible clicking noises when you push a key in. Plus, it's back-lit so I can type in the dark.

The speakers are actually pretty good, and a LOT better than I was expecting.

As to the ports, I semi agree: they don't have enough, but you can always get a USB hub. I have 1 USB 2.0 and 1 USB 3.0, and an HDMI out, an ESATA port, and some other port that I don't know what it is.

I payed $1400 for this laptop a year ago, and while some may say it was too much, it was actually cheaper than most places I looked last year, and for lesser computers. I also got Microsoft Office with the comp.

My Windows Experience Index scores, with best possible being 7.9:

Processor - 7.5
Memory(RAM) - 7.6
Graphics - 4.1 (horrible. I don't know why this score is so low but my gaming graphics is higher)
Gaming graphics - 6.4
Primary hard disk - 5.9

EDIT*- Did a little messing around and reran the test, and now the graphics score is 6.7, as is my Gaming graphics score. I know no one really cares, just thought that I would post it anyways.

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NavarWynn

What's the problem here? We all know college kids are often as dumb as rocks, so why would it surprise anybody that their loan/grant/FA/ mommy's money hits their account, and they grab up the sexiest looking machine they think they can afford... Nevermind that it has 2gb RAM a 160gb HDD, and a 1.8ghz single core processor inside (*snicker*) - w/ integrated graphics.

I would say that the only reason that number (36%) is so LOW is because 75%+ of the kids only surf, watch netflix, watch DVDs and type up the occasional ppt or doc on their laptop. They game on their xbox or PS3.

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Cold_Teeth

I researched for 10 minutes and got a workstation laptop for 1k. 2 ez.

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Happy

Maybe that third is unhappy because they bought from one of the two among the top three PC computer companies. Not Lenovo, Lenovo is good but the other two SUCK from what I've read. That 1/3 of the students is probably unhappy because their laptop broke after a few months or a year because it had cheap parts because those two companies don't care about building a quality computer, they just want to build a computer with the cheapest parts possible so they can sell their computer for a cheaper price than a quality computer like a Lenovo and then get more people to buy their piece of crap because people don't know any better. They make sure it usually fails not long after the warranty is up. Then you're screwed and they don't care because they already have your money.

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Cleaver

Provided you removed the shovelware from OEM PCs, even sub-$400 laptops are quick and responsive out of the box especially for basic tasks such as word processing, internet browsing, etc. Problem most college students run into is irresponsible internet browsing coupled with lack of a good antivirus which for many of them leads to ....inexplicable.... computer slowdown. (and ffs people, we know what antivirus are good at this point: http://www.maximumpc.com/article/features/choose_your_defender_10_anti-virus_programs_reviewed_and_compared)

Either that, or their particular system didn't buy them the social status they wanted (see: Mac)

I am in college, and I know that I am the master of my computer. If there is something there I don't want, it's time for that item to get off of my system. Computer I built 2 years ago still running as fresh as when I first finished it.

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Hey.That_Dude

+1. Don't I know it.
"My computer's not working good, can you fix it?"
*looks at computer* "What antivirus you using?"
"None, it wouldn't let me torrent this one file I wanted."
*facepalm* "It says AVG right here... which means that's likely your virus."
...
*removes fake AVG*
...
computer works fine... DUH!

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TechGoudy

I own a laptop and a tablet that I looked for and researched myself. I bought my laptop when I was High School and my tablet after I started my second semester of college. Granted I love technology and have been working with computers for quite some time, I knew what I wanted and how I could achieve it.

The problem I see here is that they don't really know what they want, or maybe they do know what they want, but don't know/understand how the hardware and software relates to what they want.

The students nine times out of ten probably want it for things other than school work in the first place, i.e. games, movies, music etc. For parents buying this technology (unless they are into it), they could care less as long as they achieve the goal of buying their child a laptop or tablet that functions as a device that will allow things like email, browsing the internet, and writing word docs and powerpoints.

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bling581

I know a few people that bought tablets and ended up disappointed later on because they didn't really consider it's limitations. I can see how a tablet might suck for college, especially something IT related because of the inability to install software from a disc. If the app you need doesn't exist then you're SOL.

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iheartpcs

"When pinged how they would use a tablet, 61 percent said it would be beneficial for research projects"

Projects like; researching laptops?

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kixofmyg0t

That...and anything else they want.

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loozer

Half end up buying macbooks-not happy
The other half are poor or cheap, and buy underpowered $400 windows bricks-not happy.

Maybe the school should recommend/supply a decent semi-light, intel, possibly with dedicated graphics for $800 to $1000.

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bling581

I went into Best Buy this weekend (just to buy some cheap DVD-R's, that's it I swear) and I saw about 3-4 families crowded around the Mac section looking at the iPad and MacBooks. I just shook my head. On top of that, most Best Buy salesman don't know squat. They sold my sister a MacBook and told her she didn't need any AV software because Mac's don't get viruses. I stand there sometimes and listen to what they're telling these people and they just make stuff up if they don't know the answer.

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Engelsstaub

Currently you don't "need" AV software on a Mac. I had ESET for over a year on mine and it's worthless. Catches nothing. On Windows it does work and is worth having.

A passive scanner is what is currently most beneficial to Mac users. Active AV is a solution to a nearly nonexistent problem and the toll it takes is worse than the likelihood of virus infection on that platform. The frequency of current malware targeting OSX is so slight that users will hear about it just as fast as some AV company could catch it.

It's not a selling-point and doesn't make OSX "better" than Windows. Windows 7 has very good security given what it's "up against." MS has its own very capable AV solution in MSE as well. It just is what it is. Same as the people standing around the Mac section. Nothing to get mad or disgusted about. They're not eating into Windows marketshare currently.

...but listening to Best Buy employees is as far from helpful or informative as one can get. I wouldn't trust them with ANY computer or computer advice.

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bling581

My AV expired many months ago and even though I purchased a new one I have yet to install it. Never had a problem with a virus. The one thing that's more important than even AV software is knowing what not to browse or download online. I lectured my Dad big time when he told me he clicks on those sidebar ads that show up on his favorite websites. Most people don't know jack about what they shouldn't be clicking on.

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USraging

A lot of the computer work i do freelance comes from people that took their system into geek squad or had a relative that knew how to work on pc's work on there system.

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jnite

My very first laptop was supplied by the college (tuition went up that year by coincidence). It wasn't very good (imagine slow brick), so a few years later I went to purchase a new one.

Problem was that I was new to buying computers and frankly didn't know very much despite doing some research. There is a lot of stuff to consider and unless you are specifically told what to look for, it's difficult to research. In the end I got one that cost way too much for the value and was tricked into the buying antivirus and a useless warranty. I look back at that time and wish I could kick myself.

In the end the laptop was pretty good, but ended up not being what I really wanted. A couple of years later after I had really gotten into the PC world I figured out exactly what I wanted, got it, and sold the previous one.

Point is that I'm not surprised that a college student would buy a computer and not do enough research and not be happy in the end. Hard to do research on something you have no experience with. I tried but still turned out badly. Best to find someone who already went through the headache, are familiar with computers, and ask them what they suggest to pay attention to and what is considered a decent value.

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Engelsstaub

Don't feel bad. Everyone's been there at some point. I know many people act like it these days, but we weren't born with all the knowledge we need ;) We all have to learn the hard way and by trial and error sometimes.

You now know computers and what you want now so they won't get you again. Help someone you know who's currently in the same situation.

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jnite

I work at a store that repairs computers now, so I actually get a lot of chances to help people figure out what to look for in a new PC.

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Engelsstaub

Awesome :)

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Supall

This is what you do:

http://imgs.xkcd.com/comics/shopping_teams.png

Don't pair up with another nerd...

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Thral1

Hmm, I spent months looking into what laptop I wanted. I guess I'm the exception to the rule.

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Khoiboi

Only a third of college kids surveyed are reportedly unhappy with their purchase - the article title makes it sound like it's closer to 90% or something. Don't feel special, bub, about 2/3 of college students apparently don't regret their purchase - chances of you falling into that zone is much higher.

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Khoiboi

Only a third of college kids surveyed are reportedly unhappy with their purchase - the article title makes it sound like it's closer to 90% or something. Don't feel special, bub, about 2/3 of college students apparently don't regret their purchase - chances of you falling into that zone is much higher.

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legacy2013

I do the same thing. When I know I'm going to be upgrading a computer (or anything for that matter), I begin doing research on current products even if I'm not planning on the purchase for months. It gives me time to evaluate the field, learn whats new, and see when the next generation of the product will be coming out and whether or not it would be worth waiting for that

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Supall

Sure.

This sentence: "One in four students surveyed said a tablet would help improve their grades" means "I want an iPad because its cool!"

This one: "At 92 percent, an overwhelming majority of students view a laptop as a necessity, but over a third -- 36 percent -- said they're not completely happy with the one they bought." means "I know I need a computer but I don't really know why."

And finally: "one in three students own an item purchased by a parent that they don't like or use" means "I rely too much on my parents rather than taking a proactive role what I want."

Point is, most college students cannot explain the difference between memory and hard drive. In most cases, they don't know what the hard drive is. All they know is brand names and the ones they do are Apple and Alienware. Let them suffer.

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Neufeldt2002

"one in three students own an item purchased by a parent that they don't like or use"

I would take this to mean that Mom and Dad bought a laptop that doesn't game, but does fine for taking notes and doing research. Or, they didn't get a Macbook or ipad because Mom and Dad thought it was too expensive.

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loozer

Correction: the only one they do is Apple. They're unhappy when they can't convince their parents to buy them a shiny new macbook pro.

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USraging

Agree. A better contrast would be primary memory vs secondary memory. Anyways good comment:)

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