How many Macs does a person need?


Dear SSIS Parents –

Next Wednesday, Thursday and Friday (23-25 April 2015), at both drop off and pick up times, representatives of the local Apple reseller, Future World, will be on campus to show parents current models and take orders for this spring. As all Apple laptops and desktops carry a world-wide warranty, parents can decide for themselves whether to purchase machines here in Vietnam or at home during an upcoming holiday. No matter what they choose to do, the machines can be serviced in Vietnam should anything need repair.

As with many of you, our family is contemplating the changes in the Elementary, Middle and High School next year as SSIS moves towards becoming a full Apple School. Fourth and fifth graders will bring Apple laptops, and I have a son moving into  fifth grade. Middle School students will no longer pay the yearly tech fee and will, instead, bring Apple laptops. Once again, I have a son in sixth grade this year. And finally, with two daughters in High School, I may have to consider yet another laptop purchase.

We have been an “Apple Family” for some time now, so I have some older Macintosh laptops which I may hand over to the boys. The laptops are from 2010, so they still run the latest operating system. I know these laptops won’t serve my sons too much longer, but I’m hopeful that I can avoid buying three new machines this summer.

But clearly I’m going to have to purchase at least one new laptop. While each family will have different choices to make, I thought I would share with the community which models I am considering and which I am not.

I was very excited this Spring when Apple announced the newest Retina MacBook. The retina screen has a very high pixel density and is one of the clearest, sharpest screens I have worked on. When the retina screen was introduced a couple of years ago, my wife and I took one look decided that we would never purchase another computer without a retina screen – it is so much better for the eyes. I also like the thinness of the new MacBook, the new trackpad and keyboard, and the price.

In the end, though, I have decided that this is not the machine to buy for my children. Any computer I purchase has to last for at least three to four years. My concern about the Retina MacBook is the processor. While its fast enough for today, it still lags begin older models in speed. I’m concerned that, with updates to the operating system and software over the next few years, the laptop will be frustratingly slow in two or three years.

So instead I’m looking at two other models – the MacBook Pro and the MacBook Air. While I like the MacBook Air because it is so light, I am not really considering it for my children because it doesn’t offer the retina screen.

That leaves the MacBook Pro, in either the 13-inch or 15-inch size. I like the 13-inch, because I travel quite a bit and smaller is better. Besides this, I have a desktop machine to use when I need a bigger screen.

However, when a laptop is a student’s sole computer, many prefer a larger screen. I’m always in favor of more RAM, as much as 16 GB, so that is a preferred option for me. While Apple offers different processor speeds, I don’t think the difference is worth the money.

The latest retina MacBook Pro also comes with the updated keyboard and trackpad found on the retina MacBook which I’m excited about.

The last three things I’m thinking about is a cover, a case, and a bag. In our house we all use plastic laptop colors from Speck which provide protection against bumps and scratches along with decals that provide absolutely no benefit – they just look cool. My children and I also use cases, my favorite being the BookBook from TwelveSouth which looks as little like a laptop case as anything I have seen. There are many great cases on the market, though, from which to choose.

Finally, my children will need book bags that can accommodate the laptop and their other school supplies. We deliberately did not create SSIS bags for students because we believe that many different colors and styles of bags will draw less attention in the neighborhood and be safer for our students.

Of course, as I finish writing this I am reminded that I’m typing on my personal 2013 13″ MacBook Pro with retina display. Maybe I should give this laptop to one of my children and buy a new laptop for myself !

Mark Iver Sylte

Head of School