Posted by: Staff | 01.07.2010

Beaver Students: Are you a Mac or a PC?

TAYLOR HAYES ’12

The biggest change at the start of the current 2009-2010 school year was the new laptop requirement, making it mandatory for all students to have a laptop. While this, along with the drastic schedule change, was originally a controversial idea, the laptop requirement has enhanced the classroom experience for students and teachers alike. With the ability for each student to have their own online calender that their teachers can add upcoming assignments and test dates to, student organization has been greatly improved. Another improvement would be that teachers are able to have their own website, where they can post documents and presentations. I always think it is interesting to see how each teacher personalizes their website with things like pictures or daily quotes related to their subject.

Since everyone has now settled into the high tech lifestyle at Beaver, a new question emerges: are you a Mac or a PC? Both brands are very popular, but very different. The actual requirements the school set were simple for choosing a computer, the only specific requirement being that the laptop includes built in webcam, so most choices were left up to the individual.

Macs are currently a popular brand. This popularity has only increased by the television commercials featuring actors Justin Long and John Hodgman in the roles of a Mac and a PC. While Macs are generally more expensive than PCs, they do come preloaded with lots of flashy features. A great example is the Dashboard, which allows the user to choose various gadgets such as Post- it notes, clocks, calculators, mini dictionaries, games, and weather forecasts. Since it is an Apple product, it uses similar software found on an iPhone. Amanda Healey ’12 says, “It’s fast with opening things on the Internet, and it has no viruses. Plus it’s easy to carry around and just easy to use; I’m not good with technology.” Upper School Art teacher and tenth Grade Dean Meriah Burman is effusive in her praise, stating, “I simply love my mac! Everything I ever try to do just works… and the processes seem very intuitive, once you get used to it.” Macs use cutting edge technology that just keeps advancing, making them a great laptop to own.

A PC computer has been around longer and provides more choices for the type of laptop you would like to get. Numerous brands like Dell, Acer, HP, and even Sony have very customizable computers that can fit any of your needs. Dell Inspirons seem to be very prevalent at Beaver with laptops ranging in colors like blue, red, and black. Another benefit of PCs is the option of getting a netbook, which is a miniature version of a laptop generally twelve to thirteen inches. Netbooks are great for carrying around in your backpack all day because they are so small and light weight. Upper School math teacher Joe Christy says that, “[The] benefit of the netbook is the size. I take public transportation to school, so I wanted something lightweight and small. ”

For the Fall Term, I took four classes, Photography, Algebra II, Spanish, and History. In all of my classes we used our laptops. I took a poll of how many people in my classes used Macs or PCs. According to my estimates (based off of the results from these classes and then plugged into the entire 302 student body), 58% of students use Macs and the remaining 42% use PCs. It isn’t that difficult to determine that Macs are more popular after a quick glance around a classroom. But I thought it was interesting that the percentages were so close, with just a little over half of the Beaver population using Macs.

Of course, all of this is subject to change. In upcoming years, people that originally preferred Macs may switch to PC’s, or vice versa. I think that the laptop requirement has improved the classroom experience at Beaver greatly. While spring of last year I was skeptical, now I am convinced. Being able to use Google Docs, while it is sometimes difficult to work, gives me the opportunity to complete my homework during free times such as X-block and lunch. Last year, when I did not have a laptop to bring to school, I found that it took me longer to complete my homework. Now I can easily take notes and open documents that teachers have “shared” with me via Google Docs. Regardless of what brand laptop you have, we are all being allowed a greater environment enriched with technology.

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Responses

  1. I can’t help but note that Windows Vista and 7 allow widgets much like the Dashboard, although they just sit on your desktop….

    In a lot of ways, it seems like the most important platform these days isn’t Mac or PC, but rather the Web. Google Docs exemplifies that.

    But that’s forgetting mobile! And that’s where all the excitement seems to be these days. Are you an iPhone or a Blackberry? 🙂

  2. Oh, and — one advantage of PCs is that, for years, you’ve been able to get “tablet PCs” with touchscreens, inkless “pens” (basically just a stylus), and special hinges that allow you to fold down the screen and use the computer like a digital notebook.

    Over the past 18 months, that has changed my notetaking experience dramatically, because it allows me to take notes digitally in even those classes like math that aren’t very keyboard-friendly.

    The imminent unveiling and release of the Apple “iSlate” (or whatever it’s called) could well both popularize and even revolutionize that use case. Who knows!

  3. What!? no one has said ‘other’?
    People should be aware of the existence of Linux, a huge family of mostly free operating systems. Although many can be confusing to casual computer users, I would recommend ubuntu (http://www.ubuntu.com/) to anyone looking for a free and, quite possibly, better alternative to either windows or OSX. The operating system can be installed on almost any computer, mac or pc, and you can download it for free!
    (I am a mac, android, and occasionally linux (penguin?)).

  4. I would also dispute the stuff about a pc computer being around much longer. Kinda a lie. They’ve been around about the same amount of time really. And personally, I’ve had the dashboard disabled for years, it’s pointless, I never use it, and it slows things down. A lot.


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