Purchasing a Mobile Device

Mobile Computing at the Medical School

This FAQ will assist you in choosing a computer to bring with you to Medical School. If you have further questions, contact the LRC Help Desk at 734-936-2239 or by e-mail at lrc_help@umich.edu. One of the LRC computer consultants will be available to assist you with your computing questions and concerns.

Laptop requirement at the U-M Medical School
Computer Sale at the Computer Showcase
Financial Aid
What should I get and where should I buy it?
UM Computer Showcase
Home Internet Options
What about printing?
Further questions?


You are required to have a mobile computing device (e.g., laptop, tablet, etc., but excluding smartphones) at the Medical School. Purchasing a device is a large expense, so we recommend that if you already have a fairly modern device (four years or less), bring it to campus and try it. You can purchase a new device later if you need to upgrade. You can evaluate the suitability of your computer in advance at the following website:



Students think that laptops are necessary, and that use of a smartphone and/or a tablet is of additional utility. Desktops are considered not necessary.


Students have found that having a smartphone helps keep them connected and up to date.

Comment: "Smartphone [is useful], so I can quickly google things and get emails."


Students have found that tablet are useful, like smartphones, because of their portability and relatively larger screen. Many resources are accessible via tablet such as email, lecture resources, and for electronic note-taking.

At this time, we are hesitant to recommend a tablet as your ONLY computing device. There are still certain educational programs that will not operate optimally and/or the workflow of the learner does not support using a tablet completely. There are times when a full computer (laptop or desktop) is easier.

Comment: "iPad + laptop makes studying portable."


Laptops are considered useful and often recommended by students. You can do many things on a tablet, but not everything. The traditional student workflow of using multiple applications and screens, for studying and project purposes, is easier to manage on a laptop.

Many use lightweight Windows or Mac laptops for their day to day operations. Full-sized desktop computers are available in our computer labs.

Comment: "I appreciate the portability and functionality (Large Screen) of the laptop."


Most software that is used here is web-based and free of charge (e.g., lecture videos, virtual microscope, course resources). The University subscribes to Google Docs/Drive and M+Box cloud storage, which provides many productivity software products free of charge. Microsoft Office is also available for purchase for $50 at our on-campus store, the U-M Computer Showcase. Other educationally priced software is alsothrough the U-M Computer Showcase.

What should I get and where should I buy it?

There are many models and sellers of mobile computing devices. A name-brand laptop with a good warranty will run between $350-1500. Students often purchase Apple, Dell, HP, and Lenovo brand products. That said, we do not recommend one brand or vendor over another. However, regardless of what and where you buy, we do recommend you purchase a warranty with full accidental coverage, when available.

Financial aid

Financial aid is available to students to help cover the cost of a new mobile computing device. The Medical School Financial Aid Office can offer a one-time alternate loan application. However, you must request this alternate loan application. Upon approval, you can present a receipt of purchase from a store or have the computer purchase billed to your student account (from the U-M Computer Showcase - see below for more information about the Showcase).

The amount you owe, after financial aid has been applied, will appear on your Student Statement of Account in August or September.

For more information about your financial options, go to:


The University of Michigan Computer Showcase

The U-M Computer Showcase is a not-for-profit sales center that negotiates educational discounts on mobile devices, supplies, and software. The Showcase offers several model choices and payment options (cash, credit, student account billing).

Student account billing cannot happen until after July, 2013 with a minimum purchase of $250. However, cash and credit purchases can be done at any time.

Prices are negotiated with each manufacturer and, when you consider the warranty, are very competitive. Mobile computing devices purchased at the Showcase are available for pickup only.

For more detail on products, sale dates, and restrictions, see:


Hardware requirements and recommendations

The hardware requirements and recommendations listed below have been selected to ensure that your laptop will be able to use the software and other computing systems necessary for your curricular computing activities. Processor and operating system recommendations are specific to a PC; others apply equally to a Mac or PC.



(computer speed)


Pentium 1.5 GHz or faster recommended

Memory (RAM)


2 Gigabyte or larger recommended

Screen Size


14" is recommended - it will provide a good balance between screen size and portability

Hard Drive
(storage space)


80 Gigabytes or larger

Operating System
(any version)


Windows 7 and Mac OSX




802.11g/n aka: WiFi



1000 built-in Ethernet adapter (should be a standard component)

Optical Drive


DVD Reader & CD Burner Combo drive, or DVD Burner

Removable Storage
(not required, but strongly recommended)


• USB Key Drive (1GB or higher recommended) – will simplify document management and file sharing

• External Hard Drive for making backups



Because you will be transporting your laptop to and from school, a lighter and less bulky model would be preferable over a heavier and more bulky laptop



3-4 years of coverage. Highly recommended to get Complete Care (accidental damage warranty), or equivalent



Some of the software used for coursework requires headphones



A laptop carrying case (i.e. saddlebag, backpack) to transport your laptop and accessories is recommended

Ethernet Cable


7 foot Cat 5e Ethernet cable

What about my home Internet access?

High-speed Internet (aka: Broadband) access is recommended. Many students use the Internet to download and stream lecture videos.  These files can be over 300MB for each hour recorded.  Download speeds vary with Broadband service.  Here is a quick table listing speeds and the estimated time to download an average 300MB lecture video.

Downloads Speeds Approximate time to download a typical lecture file (~300MB). You may expect 3-4 lectures per day. Comcast AT&T U-Verse
3 Mbps 22 min - Pro
6 Mbps 10 min - Elite
10 - 12 Mbps 6 min Performance* Max
15- 18 Mbps 4 min Blast* Max Pro
24 Mbps 2 min - Max Turbo
50 Mbps 1 min Blast -

We feel that the 10-12 Mbps is sufficient for most Medical Students´ needs with regards to lecture videos. However, your needs may differ. You can always increase your bandwidth later if necessary.

* Note: PowerBoost provides bursts of download and upload speeds for the first 20 MB and 10 MB of a file, respectively. Actual speeds vary and are not guaranteed (Comcast, 2012). After the PowerBoost, the speed is reduced to roughly half advertised speed, hence why we list Performance as 10 Mbps, not 20 Mbps (as on their website), and Blast Plus as 15 Mbps (not 30 Mpbs). The Extreme 50 and 105 services do not use PowerBoost .

Additional information about the Comcast options: http://www.dslreports.com/faq/15643

What about printing?

You have 400 pages of free black and white printing per semester at Medical School and other campus computing labs. The cost of black and white printing at these labs is 6 cents per page once the 400-page limit is exceeded.

Printing from a Mobile Computing Device at Michigan: You can print from your mobile computing device to the Medical School printers (LRC and Furstenberg labs) as well as to many printers around UofM's campus by using mPrint. That said, at this time the mPrint provides printing results that may vary depending on the contents of your document.

Who can I contact for laptop support or further questions?

Contact the LRC Help Desk M-F, 8 am–5 pm at 734-936-2239 if you have questions. Or email us at lrc_help@umich.edu and one of the LRC staff will be available to assist you with your computing questions and concerns. We will help you with your personal computing needs as much as possible (free of charge). If we don’t know the answer, we will help you find someone who does!

Finally, during the first week of medical school, an orientation to the technology resources, policies, and support will be provided. Staff from the LRC Help Desk will also be available throughout the year to assist with your technology needs and questions.