I’ve been rethinking my PC-buying plans.
For years now – ever since the first TiBook, in fact – I’ve been planning on buying a 15-inch PowerBook as my next PC. They are, without a doubt, the sexiest pieces of laptop hardware on the market. Gorgeous, well-built, industrial-strength BSD-based OS, beautiful interface, great apps, sweet little details like backlit, ambient light-sensitive keyboards. Every time Apple releases a new model it becomes my new de-facto object of desire.
Nonetheless, I’m starting to reconsider this plan. A number of factors have contributed:
- It’s a bad time to buy a Mac portable. Apple is in the midst of a major shift, unhitching their wagon from the lagging PowerPC architecture and moving to Intel. The new MacBook is a sweet machine, but it actually drops a few features (like Firewire 800 and S-Video out) that the old PowerBooks had. Now that Intel-based Macs are out it makes no sense to buy a PowerBook; but it seems safe to assume that Apple will be ironing out transition issues for the next few model revisions.
- My mental image of my ideal usage pattern has shifted. Formerly I had a workstation+laptop model in mind, with a powerful workstation for serious work and a lightweight portable for doing less demanding tasks while lounging in the back yard or in bed. However, now that I’ve had an [obsolete] laptop to work with for awhile, I’ve realized something: I want my laptop to be my primary workstation. The laptop, underpowered as it is, has been a revelation in convenience. In fact, in that it has meant being around Stacey when I would otherwise have been down in the basement working at the computer, it has been nothing short of a marriage-saver.
I’ve also realized that weight isn’t really a big deal for me. I don’t travel very often, nor do lug a laptop to the corner coffee shop. And having used a monstrous Toshiba widescreen laptop at work for the past few months, I don’t really mind having a heavy laptop resting on my knees.
Consequently, I’m no longer looking for a svelte, lightweight machine to supplement a desktop PC. I’m looking for a desktop replacement.
- For all their excellent design, Macs have screwy keyboards. They are missing some perfectly useful keys like “backspace”. And, of course, the built-in touchpad has only one button. Yes, I know, I can attach an external mouse; but that defeats the purpose of a LAPtop.
- I’m not a big-time gamer, but it would be nice to be able to boot native Windows for the occasional LAN party. Yeah, maybe a MacBook will be able to boot Windows, but I’m not really interested in trying to make it work.
- Apple’s built-in Airport Extreme cards aren’t supported by Linux. I don’t know if this is still an issue with the new MacBooks.
- I’m a pixel whore. I’ll take screen real-estate over CPU speed any day. Even the 17″ PowerBook, which is not an option for reasons stated above, can’t match the 1900 horizontal pixels that some of the latest widescreen PC laptops support.
- Perhaps most importantly, I just can’t afford the “Apple tax”. All that lickable design doesn’t come cheap. The simple fact is that I can get a lot more bang for my buck if I buy a Dell or an HP. And I don’t have a lot of bucks.
So what do ya’ll think? Should I give up my dreams of Mac-based computing for the near future? Does anyone have laptop recommendations?