Laptop uprgrade opportunity for undergrads

For $675 sophomores, juniors and seniors can replace their current laptop for a newer model, the Lenovo ThinkPad X200 netbook.

The models currently used by students are the T61, T60 and R60, which are used by sophomores, juniors and seniors, respectively. Freshmen already use the X200.

Freshmen and transfer students receive their laptop during new student orientation. The University has been giving students laptops since the fall 2003 semester as part of the Academic Computing Initiative, a program launched to give students equal access to technology.

The University started the upgrade program to give students a chance to trade their laptop for a newer model, said Maura Woods, vice president of information technology.

Lenovo’s Web site’s most recent listing price for a ThinkPad X200, with similar specifications, is $990. The X200 weighs about 3.5 pounds, has 160 GB of memory, a 2.4 GHZ processor and six hours of battery life. Like the older models, the new netbook will be preconfigured with MS Office 2007, Windows XP and anti-virus software.

Justine Woods, a junior English major, said she decided to trade-in her Lenovo T60 laptop because she was unhappy with its performance.

“It had a lot of problems,” she said. Woods cited poor battery life, slow processing, and frequent crashes and freezes as factors that motivated her to get a new laptop.
She added that she would have spent more on the repairs than the cost of the upgrade, so she opted for the X200. She said she chose the University notebook over other options because on-campus technical support and repairs would make “it easier and more convenient.”

Another student, senior Kelly Zukowski, said she does not plan on trading in her laptop.

“It’s deplorable,” she said. “They just want more money. I already pay so much tuition that I’m not going to pay to upgrade to a crappy computer.”

Currently, graduate students are not allowed to participate in the program. To receive the X200, eligible students must arrange an appointment through their St. John’s UIS account and have fulfilled their financial obligations for the fall 2009 semester.

The University will charge the amount to the student’s term bill. Payment can be made in full or in three installments. If the student has a credit on their University account, that credit can be used to pay for the X200.

Additionally, students must turn in their old laptops in order to purchase the ThinkPad X200. The old laptops will be “repurposed” and “deployed” by the University, said Woods. They will be distributed to University faculty and staff, and loaned to students who need extensive repairs made to their laptops.
About 100 students have already purchased the X200 and Woods expects this number to increase. The University will continue to offer this deal through the spring semester.

Woods said she is unsure if they will continue the program next school year.

“We’re evaluating the program,” she said. “We want to see what the students think”