My Next Mac

I just ordered one of Apple’s new MacBooks. They just released them so this seemed like the best time to buy. There won’t be any new notebooks released until MacWorld in January, and if anything is released then it’s likely to be a MacBook Pro rather than a MacBook. I don’t use my laptop as a primary machine, just for traveling, so weight is more important to me than screen size. Thus I prefer the 13″ MacBook to the 15″ and 17″ MacBook Pros.

The Pros do have a faster graphics card, but it’s not like I’m going to be playing WarCraft on my laptop. The Pros do have an option to have a matte screen instead of a glossy one. The MacBook is glossy only. Generally, I prefer the matte screen; but that they just be what I’m accustomed to. Hopefully, after a week or two, the glossy screen will look normal to me. To clinch this one, the MacBooks have a smaller native resolution (that is, a larger pixel size) and I prefer not to squint.

A few years ago the iBooks were crippled relative to the PowerBooks–for instance they could only mirror the desktop to a second monitor, not expand the desktop across two displays–but these days the main difference seems to be screen size. The newest MacBooks use the same basic chipset as the Pros and the CPU’s only about 10% slower. All but the base model even have a dual layer SuperDrive. Possibly the speakers are a little weaker in the MacBook. The low-volume speakers have been my biggest disappointment with my old TiBook; but even if they are, the smaller size is still more important to me.

I was tempted to wait for the hypothetical, solid state, ultraportable MacBook, but I don’t really know if any such project exists, or when it will come out if it does.

I ordered the base 2.2 GHz white configuration with a larger 250GB hard drive. 250GB is what I have on the main partition in my desktop, and I’ve long wanted to be able to just blast the desktop onto my laptop without worrying about choosing files and folders to exclude. Now I can. On the other hand, I’ll probably install Parallels, Windows, and Ubuntu on the laptop too. My desktop doesn’t have these, so I may have to make space anyway. Bleah. I have to do this because Mac OS X’s Java support is still anemic more than seven years after Steve Jobs promised “to make Mac the best Java delivery vehicle on the planet.” This is really nothing new though. I’ve been switching back and forth between Mac and Windows and Linux for ten years now. At least now I can do it without moving my chair.

This will also give me a chance to try out Leopard and iLife 08 without risking my main machine. If all goes well, I can install Leopard on my dual G5 tower in a few weeks; or I may just wait until I upgrade that machine too. It’s not quite as long in the tooth as my laptop was, so I’ll probably just wait until MacWorld to see if Steve has any tricks up his sleeve. Other than the introduction of the 4-CPU, 8-core Mac in April, the PowerMacs haven’t been updated in over a year so they’re overdue. Maybe we’ll even get new ones before MacWorld.

I only got the stock 1GB of RAM. I’ll rip that out almost immediately and replace it with 4GB. However Apple wanted $750 for a 4G upgrade, and I can get it from Ramjet for only $249, plus I’ll be left with some possibly resalable 512MB modules when I’m done.

I also picked up a couple of Mini DVI adapters. Apple used to throw in a monitor adaptor for free, but I guess now that they’re using a less common connector, they figure they can sell these. I’m not complaining too much, though. After tax, free shipping, and educational discount (got to love that adjunct professorship) the total package came in a little under $1600, about half of what I paid for my TiBook five years ago.

5 Responses to “My Next Mac”

  1. Adrian Says:

    4GB ? Even with a couple of large Eclipse instances I don’t seem to hit the wall with my 2G. Although it’s nice not to have to think about it.

  2. Elliotte Rusty Harold Says:

    My desktop has 2G and I hit the wall on occasion, and I’m not trying to run Leopard. Linux, and Windows simultaneously. Virtualization really raises the bar on how much memory (and disk space) you need.

  3. Clarence Odbody Says:

    I’m running Leopard on my main computer, a 2GB Macbook Pro, which typically has running Textmate, MAMP, Locomotive, Azureus, my broker’s java-based trading application, and the usual stuff (Mail, Safari, etc.).

    I’ve had two fatal errors, forcing a hard restart. Were it not for those two incidents I’d be delighted. Obviously I’m much less so, but still I’m not yet even considering going back to 10.4.

    Time Machine is simply amazing, and is worth it to me all by itself.

  4. Clarence Odbody Says:

    Hmmm. Another kernel panic today. I hope Apple has this one figured out in the upcoming 10.5.1.

  5. David Says:

    My MacBook Pro arrived yesterday, November 19, from Shanghai. Apple’s site said it would come with Leopard, and it did, only on DVD. It booted up in OS X 10.4.10.

    Does getting the academic discount entitle you to a little extra labor?

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