My Sony Vaio has chosen a great time to have its hard disc drive presumably die on me or something as I've "Operating system not found" whenever I boot up the laptop. It comes as a time when I'm writing long essays and a dissertation (which I've backed up, but not recent enough to be any less of a painful setback), which is perhaps the worst possible time to occur especially when the library resources are already in such horrifically high demand. So at the moment I have to make do with university library computers. Problem is, they're short enough on desktop workstations as usual without a large influx of other finalists using the facilities for their dissertations. And when I'm not in the library I only have my iPad Mini, which is only good for casual browsing and Facebook. It's far from sufficient as an effective supplement until I decide to fully replace my Sony. Soooo...what shall I get? I'm not too keen on Windows 8, and I'm being talked into a MacBook Pro with Retina. Apple can offer discounts for higher education - however negligible the discounts are - but MacBooks are horrendously expensive for very, very unpromising specs (128GB of flash memory as opposed to cheaper HDD?) and to pick one up along with Office for Mac Home and Student would come at a considerable expense to me. Now I suppose I can just consult Google, friends and associates but I'm using this thread also as a subliminal excuse to see what machines the rest of you use and to gauge Windows 8 machines versus Apple ones. The fact that in lectures I see oceans of Apple logos on the aluminium back of screens suggests that Apple must be doing something right in terms of excellent laptop engineering, reliability and longevity. My Sony in contrast has a horrid, bendy plastic construction that probably provides little to no protection of the internal components, especially the hard drive. I fear that simply resting my wrists against it after a while caused it to malfunction. It's like the equivalent of a knight entering a bloody battlefield armed only with leather protection while others are decked with steel. Of course, I will strive to restore my Sony eventually. Not ready to totally give up my modest Steam library just yet and whatever else can be salvaged. Hopefully. For some reason I'm the reaper of laptops. Can't possibly break something like a MacBook so easily, right?