IBM StinkPads

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April 8, 2008

3:27 AM

Within the span of two weeks, two of my friends had their hard drives replaced by Information Technology. One fine day, just as any other one, they tried to turn on their computers and all they got was blinding black screen. Our freshman year is not even over and they have lost all downloads and documents.

Why is it that everyone I talk to seems dissatisfied with these laptops?

On my train ride home last weekend, I stared at an “Internet Explorer cannot display this page” screen while a guy sitting across from me was cracking up to a funny YouTube video on his Mac.

I was led to believe that this laptop was a necessity for my education at the College. Last summer before freshman orientation, I thought the IBM ThinkPads came with additional features and installations that were not included in other laptops.
Nope, I was thoroughly misled.

Some of my rebellious classmates have different notebooks and are doing just fine. I fail to understand why we were not encouraged to bring our own laptops. Yes, it is more convenient when everyone has the same one, but so many other colleges still function well without this uniformity.

While the College promotes the use of these laptops, entering freshmen are given the freedom to buy them independently and install the same software. The College does not force anyone to buy them, but many students are under the impression that these laptops are necessary. Friends have shared with me their concern that not having the ThinkPad would make them incompatible with the College.

Personally, other than a bad internet connection, I have never experienced major laptop problems. But since my roommate and suitemate lost their files, I’ve been paranoid every time I push the power button.

There is, however, one advantage of having these laptops. The four-year warranty allows students to have their computers fixed free of charge at the IT center. The IT specialists are dependable and repair laptops in a reasonable amount of time.

I am positive that laptops from other companies also come with similar plans. There is also the fact that these laptops are quite pricey — they cost over $1500 excluding Microsoft Office and other software.

The College has definitely made a progressive step by highly recommending all entering freshmen since fall 2006 to purchase a ThinkPad. It is important that all students have the necessary technology to achieve their highest academic goals. But, it is also important that they have internet connection on seven-hour train rides and reliable programs.

Not to say that everyone will encounter computer malfunction or that ThinkPads are useless, but in the past month, too many people around me have made trips to Jones Hall for a visit to the IT office.

Kalyani Phansalkar is a freshman at the College.

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