IT setup when starting MFE program?

i am about to start an MFE program in Sept and welcome any suggestions regarding technology setup. i have been in need of a tech upgrade at home and am using the excuse of starting school.

  • Name-specific laptop? (i saw Andy mentioned he preferred Thinkpad in Feb 2010)
  • o/s - windows or linux?
  • software (free or fee both ok)
  • smartphone
  • other relevant hardware
I'm still on my T60 which I bought 4 years ago.
If you install Ubuntu, you can get pretty much all software for free.
If you go Win, you can get Visual Studio for free.
Python, R are free.
Use Google Docs for all your word, excel need.

I would recommend a Blackberry + data plan (3G) for email/web on the go.
If you sit in front of a computer all day, good keyboard is a must (hence Thinkpad and Blackberry recommendations)
I was about to start a similar thread...

My choice of laptop is a Thinkpad T series, I'm not sure if i'll go with the T410 or the T510. - I'm lucky to be able to benefit from the employee rebate ;).

I'll be using two os : win 7 pro 64 and a linux distro ( I havent made my mind - i'll need to lookup which one is more compatible for all my driver needs )

Softwares : Matlab , Visual Studio, R
I'll also be using Office 2007/2010 for Windows. I've used openoffice before, but I've been a bit disappointed with its compatibility when handing out homeworks by internet. I've had the same problems with Mac Office with my previous computer. I think Office 2007 for windows is much easier to use and more "convenient" when sharing files.
My choice of Thinkpad T is a lesson learned after several bulky Dell, Compaq, HP.
Most important feature is lightweight. Secondary is durable.
You should not look past the 5lb category.
It should handle drops without problem. That's why fancy laptop like the Mac Light isn't for this.
Widescreen is good for video, not for coding, working. My screen is 14.1" 1400x1050.
Get plenty of RAM.
Get a modern browser (Chrome, Firefox).
Dont install games or too many stuff on it. Keep the software installed to a minimum.

Back up, back up, back up.
andy, thx for the color. last time i was in school i used a fujitsu lifebook s and loved it. it was durable and lightweight. i also had a handspring treo (ok i am dating myself) for the great keyboard (at that time).
Do not buy any software right now, most definitely your school offers all the popular packages such as Win 7, MS Office, etc. for symbolic prices.

---------- Post added at 08:33 PM ---------- Previous post was at 08:00 PM ----------

All the Core i3,i5,i7 laptops only come with widescreen displays, but that's quite alright, you can buy T410 14" 1440x900, or better Lenovo T510 15" 1920x1080 - that's the resolution I have on my laptop and it's excellent for programming.

Win 7 + free Visual Studio Express + $100 Matlab + MS Office from your university store + maybe R (free) or SAS if it's required by your program it will also be available at the store with discount - that's all you need. Slim chance you will also need a database but Sql Server express is also free.
I would disagree with Connor on the multifunction printer. I think that a monotone laser printer would be the best choice, or even a colored laser printer
When the occasion comes up that you need to print a high quality photo, just go to a store that prints photos and pay the 81 cents. Buying a printer
that has actual use for printing photos just eats up ink.

I do agree with the opinion that non-widescreen is better than widescreen for programming. Though it is uncommon, make sure you're looking at laptops
marketed toward "small business" or "professional."