Friday, February 24, 2017

New Laptop, woohoo!

I've been lugging around my reliable, but tired, MacBook Pro for seven years now. While I love the real estate of the 17 inch screen I've grown weary of the heft that comes along with it (I estimate the weight somewhere between twenty and thirty pounds, for those who are wondering.) I've been thinking about a new unit for a couple of years now, having never had a laptop survive past the 5 year mark, I've been a bit wary for some time. I'll point out that my old MacBook is the first laptop I've ever had with a metal body, and that seems to be the difference-maker in reliability. Yes, it costs a good bit more, but I've hauled it from Munich to Ushuaia, on planes, trains, and automobiles. It's been to board meetings and horse shows, and it's never skipped a beat. I upgraded the hard drive a few years ago and replaced the battery at about the 5 year mark and it's still chugging along - but my shoulders aren't getting any younger and I'll hope to have plenty of opportunity to haul a laptop around in the future, so I took the leap.

Apple is offering special financing with Barclays if you get an Apple credit card, so I decided having many months to pay without interest was a compelling reason to order, along with having the time to get everything swapped over before an upcoming trip. I opted for a 15 inch with most of the whistles and bells. Since the late 90's (when CPUs passed the 300MHz mark) I've never gone for the fastest processor available, I've always chosen to invest those dollars in more RAM or storage. This time was no different. The incremental difference in processing power (less than 10%) for nearly 10% of the total system cost just doesn't add up for me. While I do a fair amount of video editing, it is on an occasional basis, so the impact of any time savings would be barely noticeable over the long term. I'm also not a gamer, so there wasn't anything to be gained there. I am a bit of a digital hoarder, so I did go for 1TB of storage.

Side note - my first "real" computer was a Gateway 486/66 with 16MB RAM and a 1GB hard drive (the largest available on a consumer basis at the time) My new laptop has a 2.7GHz processor, 16GB RAM and a 1TB SSD drive, for about half the dollar spend before inflation adjustment. What a difference (nearly) 25 years makes! It may not strictly adhere to Moore's Law, but it certainly comes close. Yes, I still have that 486 and it still boots an early version (kernel 1.2?) of Linux.

The new laptop is nice so far - the keyboard has larger keys (thanks to the virtual row of function keys) and a nice feel - they're slightly recessed instead of being raised, so hopefully they will stay a bit cleaner. The predictive text display in some apps is pretty useless for me, as I'm looking at the screen as I type and I'm not inclined to look above my fingers to see what the computer thinks I'm typing. When it comes to more challenging words I may find myself looking there for assistance, but that remains to be seen. It is nice when emojis pop up, especially when using Messages or social media.
Being able to unlock the screen with a fingerprint is quite convenient and after just a few hours of use I'm starting to use that feature out of habit. Other than the virtual 'escape' key I'm having difficulty imagining any potential pitfall of having virtual function keys (and frankly I have yet to identify a failure mode that the 'escape' key would play part in.)

The new trackpad is HUGE and it seems that there may be a bit of a learning curve with the click-hold behavior, but I'm not sure yet. (No, I haven't looked for any documentation, that would remove some of the mystery!) SSD storage means it's slim and weighs about the same as 3 credit cards (estimated) Overall I'm well pleased and getting everything moved over from my old unit has been relatively painless. I was initially concerned that the pads of my hands might wreak havoc as they rested on the upper corners of the trackpad, but now that I've relaxed and allowed my hands to rest naturally I can't detect any issues there, either.

The display is amazing, the weight is incredible (approximately six drams, by my estimation, YMMV) and the entire package is responsive. I look forward to dropping it in my Timbuk2 backpack and hauling it around a bit to see how it feels in transport.

Yes, you pay more for a MacBook, but in my opinion it is worth the investment if you're looking for something to haul around for a period of years.

No comments:

Post a Comment