No strings attached: Wireless students roam free

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    Computing anywhere, anytime, any place.Laptop computers have allowed students to take their technology with them from class, back home and to many places in between.

    “Over the last few years, we have seen many people switching over to laptops,” said CompUSA manager Matt Jackson. “The obvious advantage of owning a laptop is increased mobility,”

    This semester, 2,282 students have their wireless cards registered on their laptops to take advantage of TCU’s wireless network, said Dave Edmondson, associate provost of information services.

    When wireless was first offered in fall 2003, less than 400 students were registered, Edmondson said.

    That semester, it was only available in the Smith Entrepreneurs Hall, which was built at that time to accommodate wireless Internet, he said.

    Because of universitywide funding last year, Mary Couts Burnett Library, Brown-Lupton Student Center, University Recreation Center, Kelly Alumni Center and all academic buildings began to provide wireless Internet, Edmondson said.

    Junior early childhood education major Kendra Jackson said she bought her laptop to keep up with the times.

    “In this age, it’s not practical to have a desktop,” she said.

    Kendra said her laptop is useful when doing group projects at other students’ houses and at the library during finals week when she does not want to wait for a computer.

    Increased mobility takes on an even stronger meaning for junior biology major Alejandro Gomez, who takes his laptop overseas with him a few times a year when he goes home to Venezuela. He said he brings his laptop with him on the flight, something that he could not do with a desktop computer.

    The library has 30 laptops at the Information Commons desk to lend to students, said Justin McLeod, a graduate student studying history who works at the desk.

    There is a constant flow of laptops being checked out, and during busy times in the semester, they are constantly in use, he said.

    Much of the laptops’ popularity is because students are able to access Internet from anywhere in the building, Edmondson said.

    He said the plan is to have every point on campus covered by TCU’s wireless Internet network within the next four years — including residential, outdoor and administrative areas.

    Michelle Green, a graduate student studying biology, said she not only used her computer in the library, but also to perform research in her lab in Winton-Scott Hall.

    Green said laptops are good for students on the move, but desktops might be more valuable to students who have interests in gaming or keeping music on their computer.

    However, Gomez said he keeps more than 2,000 songs on his laptop without a problem.

    Matt explained how the evolution of the laptop has taken attention away from the desktop.

    “Over the past few years, the performance quality of the laptop has begun to match that of a desktop,” he said.

    Matt said that when laptops first came out, they lacked the storage space and functionality found in desktops.

    He said now that laptops have matching power more people – especially students on the move – are buying them.