New Macs diversify laptop options


The laptop program is introducing new Mac options, beginning in the 2014-15 school year. There will be eight options, four Lenovos and four Macs.

Rather than having one option, next school year will welcome in eight different laptop options, four of which are Lenovo models and four of which are Macs, from which students may chose. And don’t worry freshmen, sophomores, and juniors: you’re just as welcome to the new options as the incoming freshmen.

The purpose of the change in the technology program is to give “people some options and [try] to listen to the feedback of everyone involved,” Director of Technology Greg Russell said. “There has been a lot of parent and student requests for [the Macs] and they’re the ones using them.”

“I think it’s a cool change that we won’t all have the same computer, and we can have better variety,” freshman Madison Reeves said.

According to a Patriot survey sent out on April 23, 49 percent of students would prefer using Macs for their schoolwork.

Next year’s options include two MacBook Airs and two MacBook Pros, according to Russell. “Those are not touch[screen] or tablet. They are pretty much standard laptop MacBook Pros. You know, what the cool kids have,” Russell said. The Macs range from a price of $999-1299.

As for the Lenovo models that will be available, “there’s an X140, an E431, the ThinkPad Yoga, and the ThinkPad Helix,” Russell said. “The X140 is basically a standard laptop and the E431 is also basically a laptop, although it does have a touchscreen. The Helix was available to the freshmen this year. The Yoga model is a new model. [The Yoga] has a stylus and also a touchscreen, so it’s similar to what the freshmen have, although it’s thinner.” The Lenovos vary in price from $589-1849.

Junior Robert Hodges does not like the change. “We have to go out of our way to pay for them,” Hodges said. “We, as juniors, go to college in less than two years, so we should just use the ones we have now. Even though it isn’t mandatory, no one wants to have the old, cheap
computer, so there will be an imbalance.”

Macs have never before been part of the technology program. “The policy has not been to allow Macs, however we haven’t been rigid on it. In some cases it’s a matter of ‘Oh, I left my laptop under the tire of the car, and I didn’t buy the accidental coverage. Can I use my Mac?’” Russell said. They have been lenient on the policy, as “we prefer people to have something rather than nothing.”

According to the Patriot survey, nine percent of students do not use the school-required laptops. 88 percent of the students that use different laptops do so because they do not like the school laptops, and 38 percent use different laptops because their school laptop broke.

“The change gives a better variety and choice to students,” freshman Zach Rasmussen said. “It’ll be a great update from the older laptops.”

Perhaps the biggest difference between the Lenovo laptops and the MacBooks is the lack of touchscreen and stylus use in the Macs. “We’re sort of finding that [students who have Macs] seem to work around various challenges. I know some teachers say ‘you have to have the stylus,’” Russell said. Five percent of students use tablet mode often during class, and 29 percent never use it.

“You don’t want to just pick something because it’s popular if it’s not going to be functional,” Russell said, “but we don’t want to completely ignore something new simply because we’ve always done it this way. We don’t want to be anti-technology.”

Russell evaluates different laptops each year in order to find the ones that will best fit the needs of the students. “I evaluate the machines every year to just see what’s available. Is it a better price? Is it a better battery life? That’s certainly a big concern,” Russell said.

According to Russell, another concern is how sturdy the laptops are. “We’ve found the Lenovos to be pretty rugged and can take quite a beating in some cases.”

The Lenovos still have their problems, though. “I’ve joked with Lenovo reps over the years: ‘Everything weak on your machine, we’ve found,’” he said. The Tech Lab has seen everything from shattered screens to broken hard drives.

No need to worry, the Tech Lab can help out with the Macs you will have next year too. “You’ll still be able to bring them into the Tech Room. We can send it out,” Russell said. “We’ll really try to keep things up and running, as we’ve always done as much as we can. That’s our goal: to have students using the devices.”

Those working in the technology program are still working out how the Loaner Laptop Program will continue, but as of now there are no definite plans.

“I’ll be curious to see how people take care of [the Macs],” Russell said. “You hear people talk about them like ‘Ah I love my Mac and it’s so great and nothing ever happens to it,’ but we’ll see once 600 people get one.”

Lauren Glase is a News Editor for The Patriot and