If you want loads of CDROMs downloaded then you need to go for a big Hard Disk capacity. Laptops unlike Desktops are not very easy to upgrade (sometimes impossible). Most PCs are compatible with most software. School specific stuff (e.g. Smartboard Software) could be problematic ; educational software has a (justifiable) reputation of being rather poor. You might get a laptop running Windows 7 and specific software only runs on XP or Vista, say. The software companies web site will usually give information about compatibility. Photo and Video editing are two seperate issues ; Video editing requires a fair amount of processor 'clout' and memory and hard drive space, because video uses up lots of each. Again it is difficult to be specific without knowing how serious you are about this and which package, again the software should give some recommendations about what sort of machine you need and there are usually user forums where you may be able to ask how well it runs on a particular specification. Macs are fine but there are likely to be software issues with things like the Smartboard. Again it depends what CD Roms you are talking about - if you mean music it doesn't really matter but if you want to use education software on your laptop there is much less for the Mac. Laptops are all really fairly similar ; you get more and faster memory, faster processor, better screen etc. (have a look at one before buying) but fundamentally they are much of a muchness.