Freshman Laptops: Worth the Jealousy?

Yidi Wu

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This year the incoming freshmen at Harriton have received new laptops, the MacBook version 7.1 (in place of the old MacBook 6.1 that all Harriton students received in 2008), along with a blue laptop bag that is decidedly less bulky, more attractive, and easier to carry than our old laptop cases.  It also can be noted with an infinitesimal amount of bitterness, that this year’s sophomore class, i.e., last year’s freshman class, received the Class of 2009’s laptops instead of getting new ones.  Yet, since this particular sophomore has dropped her laptop too many times to count, she will hold all further personal comments for the sake of the reader.

It is in the natural order of things for Apple to continually unveil newer and shinier models, and it is even more so in the natural order for those who can afford them to fall in love with these products. They are slightly sleeker and slightly more advanced each year, and they make us feel slightly more outmoded whenever we compare our decrepit and aging model to the youthful model onstage at the Apple store.

What exactly, then, is improved in the 7.1 MacBook? We all have caught glimpses of the smoother shape and less destroyed exterior (though time will do its work).   We are all also aware of the inconvenient irremovable batteries that we loved to gloat over.  Yet, new MacBook, for those who do not possess one, is a mysterious creature.

To begin with, the “inconvenient” battery is capable of holding a ten-hour charge, a great improvement over the old 6.1 MacBook.  However, the other capacities of the new laptops are less impressive. In actuality, very few students attending Harriton probably care about or would actually notice the differences. The differences between 6.1 and 7.1 are few and small. The processors are different: the old has a 2.26 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, whereas the new has an improved 2.4 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor. However, the amount of memory on both is the same, as well as the image resolution, and almost all other aspects regarding function. Due to the better processor, the new laptops should be at improved performance, but it is certainly not significant enough for us to shoot jealous glares in the direction of the freshman.

Therefore, the most prominent difference between the two versions is that the new laptops are more aesthetically pleasing than the old ones. The 7.1 has edges that are more exaggeratedly curved, a one-piece built-in touchpad mouse, and is a tiny bit slimmer.

Yet, the new case is also eye-catching. It can be carried with a shoulder strap more easily than those from last year because it has a wider strap. Held by hand, it is similar to a cute, blue, briefcase, in contrast with the awkward shopping bag that the old (sophomore) laptop cases resemble. It can be opened like a suitcase, and the laptop can remain within the case while being used. It elevates the laptop slightly, though overheating could be an issue (it has not presented as a problem as of yet). There is a small pocket on the inside and a larger one on the outside, for the various important things that students undoubtedly carry.  Although the tech center strongly recommends against it, a charger could fit inside the case (though it would be cramped).

The new laptops are sleeker and more visually pleasing, and they run a little faster than the rest of the MacBooks at Harriton High School. The new cases are prettier, but it is reasonable easy to swap for one if you have a freshman friend who happens to not want his or hers.  Since the new cases are rather heavy, some prefer not to carry them.  Although we still my eye the new laptops with envy, for now we just have to resign ourselves to it.