It is our concern to equip students with the best possible device to ensure that the computer is a helpful working tool for a long time - if possible for the entire study period. It is also important to us to support our customers beyond the purchase in order to be able to provide fast, inexpensive and effective help should problems with a Neptun laptop occur.
Project Neptun was launched in 2001 at ETH Zurich as part of the ETH World Initiative with the aforementioned goal: To provide ETH students with mobile computers of the highest quality at a price that is affordable for students. For this purpose, an evaluation and test procedure was developed, which examined in detail both the hardware and the support and warranty services of the manufacturers.
After successful establishment within ETH Zurich, the project was successively opened to all universities in Switzerland between 2005 and 2007. The offer was adapted in such a way that, as far as possible, students from all courses of study, including non-technical ones, could find a device that met their requirements.
Since the opening of sales to all universities meant that distribution by ETH Zurich was no longer justifiable, a spin-off took place in 2011. With VSETH in league, Dominik Candreia and Lisa von Boehmer, both long-time project collaborators, founded Stonepine Labs GmbH. The non-profit commitment was maintained despite the founding of the GmbH, and the project was continued with a handful of employees to cover costs for the benefit of the students. In May 2016, Project Neptune was finally integrated into the non-profit foundation "Stiftung Studenten-Discount" (SSD).
Differences to other student offers
In contrast to other offers for students, our focus is on the most comprehensive service possible, which, in addition to the selection of high-quality equipment and direct price negotiations with manufacturers, includes advice before the purchase, satisfactory processing of the order by our sales partners, but also support for hardware problems after the purchase.
Quality & Evaluation
If possible, a laptop should not have to be replaced several times during your studies. This is easier on the wallet and ultimately benefits the environment. The laptops on offer are therefore mostly from the manufacturers' business range and are often not available at all in the specially assembled configurations on the open market, or at least not at comparable conditions for end customers.
In order to meet the quality requirements, we still carry out a large evaluation of laptop manufacturers every three years. For this purpose, all hardware manufacturers located in Switzerland are invited to submit offers according to a predefined list of criteria. Laptops and the support and warranty services offered by the manufacturer are put through several tests. Criteria such as robustness or battery life, which are of particular interest in everyday student life, will be looked at very carefully during the evaluation. The evaluation committee, which consists of IT experts and student representatives from various educational institutions, finally selects the laptop models that receive the best overall score after a multi-stage evaluation process. We enter into a collaboration partnership with the manufacturers concerned for a period of three years.
Since it is not our goal to simply sell laptops and leave students to their own devices in case of problems, we offer technical support at the Neptun Help Points at ETH Zurich, the University of Basel, the Hochschulzentrum vonRoll in Berne and the University of Lucerne. If our Help Points are too far away, you can contact us via email to get remote support.
Support laptop and laptop rental
If a Neptun laptop needs to be repaired, we provide students with a support laptop free of charge for the duration of the repair. Employees and alumni pay a handling fee of CHF 50. In case of theft or irreparable defect, a laptop can be rented at student-friendly conditions to bridge the time until a new one can be purchased.
After purchasing their laptop, all Neptun customers receive a code with which they can obtain commercial virus software and a reliable backup solution free of charge.
Due to the restriction to time-limited sales windows, we are able to achieve very high discounts on the offered hardware. Also, the availability of the offered models in the corresponding configuration is guaranteed - something that is usually not feasible with year-round sales. Windows devices can optionally be ordered with a US keyboard. Where available, we offer a Linux version, or devices without a pre-installed operating system (DOS devices).
Fall and Spring Waves
Recommended hardware can be ordered during two Sales Waves each year, which open for four weeks at the beginning of each semester. Sales are online only, with payment in advance. Our hardware partners are Apple, HP, Lenovo and Microsoft. For accessories and telecom, we have changing partnerships and offers.
Since the recommended devices can only be ordered online, our team visits a number of universities throughout Switzerland during the sales windows. On our Demo Day Tour, the devices are presented and students have the opportunity to ask questions or get advice. Due to Corona pandemic measures, we were unable to organize Demo Days in Fall 2020 and Spring 2021. As a substitute, various online consultation options were offered and the laptops were exhibited at the Help Point / Showroom ETHZ Hönggerberg in compliance with the protective measures.