It is strongly recommended that you purchase a laptop if you do not already have one available. There are many advantages of having a personal laptop while attending the College of Law.
- You are able to study at your personal carrel and use your laptop while having access to the College of Law Library materials and other students.
- You will also be able to access and use Westlaw and Lexis-Nexis which are online legal research programs.
- The College of Law also uses the ExamSoft testing application SofTest which can be run on a Windows or Mac machine.
- Most of the current College of Law students take their tests on laptops during finals and midterms. You are also able to use your laptop to take the Idaho Bar Exam.
I have a Mac. Is that OK?
There are two main issues for Mac users:
- First, the University of Idaho is a Windows oriented campus. This does not mean a Mac will not work here on campus. Our suggestion is if you are familiar with the Mac operating system and applications, a Mac will be able to do all the work required by the College of Law.
- Second, the College of Law and main campus Help Desk are not Apple Certified and may not be as familiar with Macs should you need technical help.
Notice: OS X 10.5 Leopard is not supported by Examsoft and will not run Softest. See Operating System under Specifications section.
Windows Oriented Campus
The University of Idaho is a Windows oriented campus through a Microsoft campus agreement. This agreement provides access to Microsoft software through Microsoft Office 365 SkyDrive. The University is moving all students to Microsoft Office 365 for e-mail and Office application access. More information on this will be provided at a later time from the main ITS services here at the University. This also means that the majority of all campus faculty and staff will be running a Windows machine. The University network and printing capabilities are also Microsoft oriented with a Microsoft Printing Network and Active Directory shared drive access to student storage drives.
Please visit the University Bookstore Vandal Tech for more pricing information.
You may also want to visit Microsoft DreamSpark, they provide Microsoft professional tools and applications at no charge when you sign up with your student e-mail.
What type of laptop should I get?
This largely depends on how you will use your laptop. The vast majority of your computer use will be word processing and Internet use. Most new laptops will handle these tasks well.
Below is a list of the major components of a laptop:
Processor Speed – 2 gigahertz (GHz) or faster REQUIRED. If you are buying new, even the most low-cost options will likely have a processor speed over 2 GHz. This is the "engine" of your laptop. High-end models have processor speeds up to 3.0 GHz and over,, which may not be necessary for your purposes. Also, for the majority of casual users, there is no difference between a Intel and an AMD processor.
Memory (RAM) – 2 gigabyte (GB); REQUIRED. 1 GB is the absolute minimum required for Windows XP and SofTest (Finals Exam Software), but you will find that even that isn't really adequate. Most new laptops today come with 2 gigabyte (GB) or more. More memory makes your computer smoother and faster when using multiple applications. For those of you with older laptops, RAM is one of the easiest (and relatively cheap) things to upgrade. Check out Crucial or Kingston for the right RAM upgrades for your laptop.
Video Card – 8MB video card; another category you don't have to worry about if you buy new. Most Laptops have onboard video cards that meet this requirement so you don't have to worry about it if you already have a laptop since it is not easy (or cheap) to upgrade.
Hard Drive Size – 40GB; generally, the bigger the better. 60 GB may be enough of space for your law school papers, Office applications, Examsoft testing application and a small music/video collection.
Network Interface Card – 10/100 preferred; this is also a standard on most laptops.
Wireless Network Card – Must have if you want to surf the Internet. Brands to look for include Linksys or Cisco. The card must be 802.11g or 802.11n compatible, most laptops produced after 2003 have these types of internal wireless cards. It is likely that your laptop will include an internal wireless card, making an external one unnecessary.
Screen Size – Generally as screen size increases, so does weight, which is definitely a concern if you will be lugging your laptop around. If the laptop will be your only computer or you will spend the majority of your time using it, then it is worth getting at least a 14.1 inch display.
Display – Your computer display needs to be able to run a resolution of 1024x768 or higher.
CD/DVD Burner –. This really isn't a need specific to law school, but a handy thing to have, nonetheless. CD's are an inexpensive way to back up your data. DVD's, also inexpensive, hold more than 5 CD's worth of data.
Operating System – Windows XP Professional (SP3), Windows Vista (SP1) or Windows 7. Mainstream support for Windows XP ended on April 14, 2009. Extended support will continue until April 8, 2014. We recommend you have the Windows 7 operating system. OS X 10.6, 10.7, 10.8 are all supported versions you can have installed on your Apple laptop or desktop.
Work Processing – The most common suite is Microsoft Office, which includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook. Students will have access to Office 365 which will provide access to Office Suite applications when connected you are connected to the internet. This service is provided with your student e-mail from the main ITS services at the University of Idaho. Many in the legal community also use WordPerfect but these documents can be opened using the Office suite. There is also a free suite called Open Office that will work fine if money is an issue.
USB Ports – Many, if not most, add-on devices connect to your computer via a USB port. This includes external keyboards, optical mice, and flash hard drives.
Webcam – Some students use webcams to communicate through video chat for student conferences, distance learning and client communication.
External Optical Mouse – Nice to have if you don't like touchpads on laptops.
External Hard Drive – It is always a good idea to back up your work. This will also help you in times where your personal computer is not available. You can use your external hard drive with any campus computer lab to continue your work while your personal computer is unavailable.