Computer purchase guidelines
Deciding on a computer purchase
Do I have to buy a computer? Are computers and printers available for public use?
Middlebury has about 250 PCs and Macs in public computer laboratories, classrooms, and the libraries. Specialized department computer labs across campus contain over 200 additional computers.
Printing is readily available in public labs and a variety of public spaces (Mahaney Center for the Arts, MiddExpress, Proctor Hall, LaForce, and the Chateau), as well as both libraries. Students are not required to have a computer but most find it extremely helpful to have their own. Some students opt to bring their own printers as well.
What type of computer should I buy? What computers do most students use?
- Students typically prefer having a laptop to having a desktop. Laptops are more expensive than desktops of similar-quality hardware, but students generally value the portability that laptops provide. The libraries and other common spaces are equipped with outlets and wireless access so that students can easily use their laptops in multiple locations.
- PC or Mac: Both are well-supported on the Middlebury campus. Macs are more commonly used by students than PCs. The College Store is an authorized Apple Campus Store.
- More expensive doesn't necessarily mean more functional. Students use their computers primarily for word processing, email, music, and internet browsing; any popular computer model will meet all of these needs.
- Advanced statistical analysis, video / graphics editing, or gaming will require a higher-end computer.
- Netbooks, or low-end mini laptops, are extremely cheap and are capable of word processing, web browsing, e-mail, music, etc. Perhaps their biggest limitation is that the tiny screens and tiny keyboards can be uncomfortable to use.
- Portable devices like iPhones, iPads, Android tablets, and Chromebooks are convenient for quick Web searches and email access, but they have limited capabilities and typically cannot run the specialized educational software required for some classes. For this reason most students also use either public lab computers or their own laptop or desktop computers.
Where should I buy my computer?
We do not recommend any particular vendor over another. It pays to shop around and ask questions as many vendors offer some form of educational discount.
If you wish to explore local options, the College Store is an authorized Apple retailer.
Software and accessories
What software is available to Middlebury College Students FREE of charge?
Students at both the Middlebury and Monterey campuses are licensed to install and use certain software products on their personally-owned computers, including Microsoft Office 365.
For complete details, visit Software for a Computer You Own.
How do I purchase other computer accessories?
The College Store located in Proctor Hall offers a variety of tech-related accessories at competitive prices and is also an authorized Apple Store.
Accessories can often be purchased online for reasonable prices. Here are two good resources for reasonably-priced accessories:
- PriceWatch.com-- an index for pricing individual computing products from Ethernet cards to external CD-burners. Companies sign up to be listed and you may query Pricewatch's database of prices.
- Cnet.com-- an index for prices along with a resource for reviews of equipment. Product range is similar to PriceWatch.com.
Some local resources include:
- Chris Morse Computer Services, 29 Seymour St, Middlebury, 802-771-9071
- Computer Specialists Inc., 1590 Rte 7 S, Suite 3, Middlebury, 802-388-1444
- Main Street Stationery, 40 Main St, Middlebury, 802-388-6787
- Martin's Hardware (RadioShack), 859 Rte 7 S, Middlebury, 802-388-9500
- Michele Mondella, Middlebury College Bookstore, 802-443-2038
Where can I get help with my computer?
- The Technology Helpdesk is available to assist with computing-related issues. Visit their website (http://go.middlebury.edu/helpdesk) for contact information, valuable how-to documents, FAQs, and more. Although they do not perform hardware repairs on personally-owned computers, they can assist with hardware troubleshooting and diagnosis and can help you contact the manufacturer of your computer for assistance. Additionally, there are a variety of Internet-based help resources and manufacturer's help available. Local vendors are available to perform many out-of-warranty computer equipment repairs.
- The College Store has an Apple-certified tech who is available to help with software and hardware repairs on ALL Apple devices, including iPads. Please stop by the College Store for further details.
Security and protection
Is theft a problem with laptop computers?
Laptop theft at Middlebury College is not common but is a real concern nonetheless. Some computers have been stolen when students left them unattended in public areas such as dining halls, libraries, or lounges, particularly during transition times on campus (moving in/moving out). Statistics on crime at Middlebury are available from Public Safety.
Most thefts can be prevented by keeping rooms locked and / or using locking kits. Homeowner insurance policies can often be extended to cover a student's computer while at College; we recommend this when possible. Check with your insurance company for details.