|Posted on August 26, 2011 at 5:25 PM|
Of all the tech in my home, it is probably a close tie between my Theater System and my laptop which gets more use. On the one hand, we watch A LOT of TV and movies and listen to a bunch of music. On the other, I loves me some computer. But between the two, only one of them actually makes me money. While I’d love you all to dearly believe that I write solely for the purpose of freely titillating and amusing you all, the truth is, the majority of *real* writing is the stuff which brings in the paychecks. And when it’s writin’ time, it’s breaking out the laptop time.
And with that in mind – understanding that the laptop is less a bit of tech and more of an actual money generating tool – you would probably expect that I treat it with the utmost respect. Polishing it with microfiber clothes, and storing it neatly into a well cushioned case and keeping it well away from any jabby, probey, aggressively thrustry fingers of one Miss Lauryn Q. But, no. Sad to say, I have not treated my laptop with the love and car it deserves.
First, there was this little incident at CEDIA almost exactly a year ago. The one where I ran to catch a bus and tripped flat on my face and the laptop went sliding down the concrete sidewalk. Yeah. Not good. Then there was the time when I spilled that full, piping hot cup of coffee onto the keyboard. Sadly, the monitor has never returned to full performance since. Also after almost three years of full-on usage, the battery is starting to suck. Like suck-diddly-uck. I think I get like 2 hours time out of it. And it takes so long to go through the Vista boot-up cycle that I basically have enough battery life on a plane to pull it out, turn it on, open Word, formulate a though or two and then save before “CRITICAL BATTERY WARNING!” scares me into shuttin’ her back down again.
In short, I think it’s time for a new computer.
Now, as much as I know about tech, I don’t really know a lot about computer. You would think, “John, you’re so up on technology and audio and video, surely you know computer!” but the truth is, computer is a whole different animal. Computer changes so quickly, with the new memory this, and the different video card that. For me, computer is a tool, not a passion. So I thought I’d float out a help balloon to my micro-little Twitter-verse and ask for some input from those that might know more about computer. “I'd like to get a new laptop for CEDIA. Light weight, max battery... Any recs?” I tweeted.
Soon the suggestions started rolling back in and they were an overwhelming support for one product:
From @rfregosa: “Macbook Air - it's no contest there days.”
From @XtremeAV: “I will second the Macbook but Pro and not Air.”
From @OmegaAudioVideo: “macbookAir”
From @chrisheinonen: “I use a MacBook Air 11" after always being PC only. With VMWare Fusion I can run PC apps in their own windows. No dual boot.”
So, the Mac clan was weighing in and loudly. Now, I’ve never owned a Mac. It’s not for being a hater or a PC fanboi (are there even such things?) but more because Macs were always a lot more money and there was historically such a divide between what you could do on a Mac and what you could do on a PC. Until recently, many programs were simply not meant to run on Macs. Now you can run Windows on a Mac in emulator or dual boot mode or whatever it is, but that still means buying a more expensive Mac and THEN buying a copy of Windows.
But, armed with these suggestions I headed up to Best Buy last night to pick up some Harmony remotes for our store. And while I was there I headed back to the computer section. And there, all gleaming and white and shiny was the Apple station. So I headed over, and there was the MacAir. Now despite what Gizmodo says, that is one sexy piece of tech. An edge so thin you could shave on it. You want light, you want portable you want to look like a total cool kid while you type away, all on a piece of text that is so thin and light you could use it to fan yourself with on hot summer days? The MacAir is all about ALL of that. But it doesn’t have a disc drive. Which would mean no DVD watching or popping in those press releases discs from the few companies that are still clinging so desperately to handing out releases on CD. And while the drive is solid state, it only has a pretty paltry 128 Gigs, little more than my iPod. And for a 13-inch screen it costs $1299! Damn!
The entry MacBook Pro is a slightly more reasonable $1199, but even though it is more powerful spec-wise, sitting next to the Air it just didn’t look as cool and the 4.5 pounds feels like a frickin’ ton of lead after the 2.3 pound Air. Despite my protests, the Apple salesman assured me that I was indeed cool enough to be a Mac Guy. (Perhaps just wondering aloud if you are cool enough, is one of the signs that you actually are. I’m not sure.) I like that it will do FaceTime with our iPad, and I have heard nothing but great things about them, but be that as it may, I just don’t know if I want to spend $1299 on a laptop.
So I head over to PC land and start nosing around. Immediately the majority of machines feel heavy, cheap and clunky. Seriously, HP and Samsung and Acer and all you other people, just take a few days off work. Spend some time *looking* at Macs. Maybe some Italian sportscars and wander through a museum of modern art. Something. Maybe you’ll get some inspiration to come up with something different than a clunky plastic chassis.
The Blue Shirt that walks up to me and asks what I’m looking for and I repeat my desires for something light, portable, and with good battery life. And HE says I should get a Mac. No matter what PC model we look at, this guy is convinced Mac is the superior way to go. “You know we don’t get commission, right? So it doesn’t affect me one way or the other whichever you buy, but I’m telling you, the Mac is the better machine. Hands down.”
So, as I’m getting ready to leave, I notice this. It’s a Sony. A VAIO. Styling-wise it is pretty sleek. It is also almost a pound lighter than the MacPro. And it has a Blu-ray drive. And a 500-gig hybrid harddrive for faster boots. And it is under $1000. The keyboard, she feels really nice. The trackpad thing – which is still inferior, in my mind, to the good old-fashioned IBM nubbin – works well. It is part of Best Buy’s Blue Label program which means that it includes some extra goodies: 3 years of PC Theft Defense, Intel Wireless Display to beam stuff to my TV, and double the warranty. Plus I found that Sony makes this battery think called the Sheet Battery that will give me FOURTEEN HOURS of battery life and only add a pound of weight.
I don’t know but this is starting to feel like everything I want. On the one hand, I know PC; I know my Ctrl-+ key combos. I know how to work (near) magic in MS Paint. I like MS Word and the mouse double-click and right click. On the other hand, not going with a Mac kind of feels liek spitting in the face of destiny.
Weigh in, people, tell me why I need to pony up to Sony-ville OR abandon all cash and return to the Mac bar...