Mac or PC, Incentives Abound for Students

Deals for computers, printers and iPods can be found all over the Web.

ByERIC M. STRAUSS

Aug. 7, 2008 — -- Maggie Heintzman will join the University of Georgia Class of 2012 as a freshman next week. Nobody knows what the world will be like in four years, but Heintzman thinks she wants to study public relations and she knows she wants a new computer now.

"I have a really old hand-me-down computer that has hardly worked for the past two years. It has a lot of problems and I am excited to get a new computer for school."

Heintzman's school leaves the brand of computer up to the freshman and advises buying a computer -- a necessity for students to communicate, research and have fun -- that will last through the college years.

The school predicts the average computer can last about five years before it becomes outdated, so Heintzman knows her first major decision for school will be an important one.

"My grandmother left me money to buy a computer for college and I want this computer to last a long, long time," she said.

With just two weekends left before school starts Heintzman has modest plans of hanging out with friends, eating sushi and taking a drive with her father, Mark, to an Apple store to make that one last purchase.

"I decided it would be nice to switch to a Mac, because they are low maintenance and it comes with a lot of the software I'll need, so no extra downloading and configuring. My school is only 20 minutes away from home, but I don't think I'll get to visit that much so the built-in chat camera will be nice too."

She usually makes her electronics purchases at Best Buy, but this time a perfect storm of educational savings and promotions is too strong for her to ignore, including a rebate to cover an iPod Nano ($199) or a widescreen iPod Touch ($299) with the purchase of a Mac through Sept. 15, an educational discount and a tax-free weekend.

Apple's online educational store, retail stores and some authorized sellers are adding even more incentives this month to drag students off the beach and into stores.

Apple is not the only electronics giant offering deals to ease the stress of another year of hitting the books -- as virtual as those books may now be.

Dell is offering students and educators entry-level laptops with artistic covers at savings of more than $350 depending on what configuration you choose. A student can buy a customized Dell machine running Windows Vista and have it delivered in time for school at less than $1,000. If a more powerful -- and expensive -- system is needed, Dell will throw in a popular tiny "Flip" video camera (Retail $149).

And Microsoft's ubiquitous Office suite (Word, Excel, Powerpoint etc.) -- often a standard add-on purchase -- is offering many rebates on its already discounted Student and Teacher editions for Mac and Windows bringing the price closer to $100 versus $399 for home users.

These educational discounts are usually offered to almost anyone who is a student or works with or raises students. Join in the savings if you are a teacher, work for a school, study in a school or home-school, or even if you work for the PTA or school board.

With tax-free weekend starting to run down Heintzman and her father decided to visit PeachMac in Athens, Ga., which is dedicated to selling Apple products, but not owned or operated by Apple. Heintzman will be going off to college with a new MacBook a week from Thursday.

The MacBook is Apple's slim 13.3" consumer-focused portable computer and can be had by the typical working stiff, before educational discounts for $1,099, $1,299 or $1,499 depending on the configuration.

PeachMac matched the same educational discounts and incentives offered by Apple's online and retail stores, but not all resellers do.

Heintzman came away with the computer she wanted with an extended warranty, a free printer (after rebate), a free iPod Touch (after rebate) and figures she saved $713.17 over a nonstudent buying the same items.

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