Top off your lap, sir?

The 13-inch 2011 MacBook Air

All I've ever asked is everything I've ever wanted. Does that make me a bad person?

When Competitor Group Inc. and I parted ways on the first day of the New Year I suggested that Herself should buy me a new MacBook to ramp up my mobility to full rumormongering speed for 2012.

I won’t tell you what she suggested that I do.

Some people hit the pubs or the comfort food as the wolf howls outside the door. Me, I examine the toy box and generally find it lacking a certain something. One wonders why Santa discriminates against the bad kids. There oughta be a law.

It’s not as though I’m lacking for laptops. The main machine is a 13-inch 2.0 GHz Intel Core Duo MacBook circa 2006, but there are others: a 12-inch 1.5 GHz G4 “Little Al” PowerBook, a 14.1-inch 500 MHz G3 “Pismo” PowerBook and even a 12-inch 800MHz G3 iBook that smells like a pencil eraser when I boot it up because of a poor adhesive selection by someone at Apple HQ.

The problem is that they are all old, slow and heavy, like their owner. And also nearing the end of their useful lives, but let’s not go there, even metaphorically.

All still work, but frankly the G3 ‘books are way off the back — still suitable for checking mail, writing screeds and light photo/cartoon editing, but the equivalent of Nash Metropolitans when navigating the modern Infobahn. The G4 is better, but it’s 7 years old — no biggie for a car (my Forester is also a 2005 model), but senior-citizen country for a computer.

And the MacBook? It’s only a year younger and has already disappointed me once, FUBARing a hard drive after less than three years of light use. I’ve never trusted it since — and never really had to, since the lion’s share of my work for the past few years involved helping edit the VeloNews.com website, which is tough to do on any laptop, unless you have a giant external monitor attached.

I used a 2009 21.5-inch 3.06 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo iMac with a second monitor, a 22-inch ViewSonic. Charles Pelkey used a PC with three monitors. His office looks like the bridge of the USS Enterprise.

Having abandoned professional web editing, I no longer require that kind of visual real estate. But I’ve gotten used to the speed of the newer computer, and it’s hard to go back in time when I hit the road, something I’d like to do more of in 2012 if only to rub up against some fresh ideas for irritating people.

Let’s see here — a guy can pick up a refurbished 2011 1.7 GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 MacBook Air for just over a G at the Apple Store. I wonder how much plasma I’d have to sell.

I need to lose a little weight anyway.

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12 Responses to “Top off your lap, sir?”

  1. Larry T. Says:

    I used a tiny Toshiba portege for many years, running through a couple of ’em, replacing the dead ones with refurbished units from a small outfit in SoCal. Just before leaving for Sicily a few months back, my current one locked up. I was lucky that a local PC place was able to yank the hard drive out and copy it onto a cheapo Dell Latitude’s….an under $300 refurbished unit…all within my 3-day departure window! For email and Quickbooks business software and some photo editing for the blog, it works just fine. After lugging it around all summer I might be very interested in sending back a couple of those light Toshibas for reworks for the future – a full-size keyboard and large monitor make ’em pleasant to use in the office and easy to take along to Italy. I bought one brand-new a few years ago and it croaked just weeks out of warranty – so $2-400 is all I’ll pay these days for something to compute with.
    The whole Mac thing is beyond me, the wife says the college kids’ Macs blow up as frequently as the PC’s and we’ve had plenty of clients have trouble over here gettin’ their Macs to connect to the web. I do understand for creative, graphics and artsy stuff they’re superior– but that means squat to me.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Larry, Macs used to be superior in nearly every way to Windows machines. More intuitive to use, fewer cooties, and more appealing industrial design and GUI.

      The biggest downside, as you observe, is a high price point. That’s the cover charge to the Cult of Mac. But it also used to pay off in terms of reliability and longevity, due in part to Apple’s ruthless control over software and hardware.

      A year or so ago when I recycled the second Mac I ever owned, a 1994 Quadra 650, it still worked flawlessly. I’m not certain its newer cousins will last that long. The 2006 MacBook’s HD failure is the only catastrophic issue I’ve faced (knock on wood).

      And I think the usability gap may have narrowed a bit. Herself switches back and forth from PC to Mac without issues. Me, I’m an older dog, so I stick with what I know. I could go PC, but then I’d need to buy some pricey Windows-friendly software (Photoshop, Office, etc.). So I’m not certain I’d realize much in the way of savings.

    • Idon't Know (@snookasnoo) Says:

      Windows is the same garbage it’s always been. Which is why it is slow, unstable, makes poor use of hardware resources, has a designed by committee interface, and is typically slapped on the cheapest piece of junk hardware the PC manufactures can put together. Forget about support.
      Buy some serious anti-malware, defrag, and registry cleaner software at a minimum or just reinstall Windows and your apps every now and then.

  2. BenS Says:

    I’d think twice about a 1.7 Ghz Air with Lion. Just upgraded my 2.1GHz 15 inch MacBook Pro (4 gig of RAM)from 2007 and while not a slug it is noticeably slower on Lion compared to Snow Lepoard. May just need some tweaking.

    The 13 inch 2.4 Ghz MacBookPro is very nice and fast if you don’t need the screen space. Not much more cash vs. the Air. Besides you already have an iPad.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Ben, I’ve managed to avoid Lion. I’m a late adopter, and so far I haven’t heard much good about it. I’m on Snow Leopard (the iMac), Tiger (the MacBook and G4 PowerBook) and Panther (the G3 PowerBook and iBook).

      I’ve had doubts about the Air, too — it’s mostly the form factor that appeals to me. Though I’m sure it would ugly up pretty quickly in my view if it didn’t do what I asked of it (process pix and cartoons, plus some light audio and video editing).

      I keep coming back to a refurbished 13-inch MacBook Pro 2.3 GHz dual-core Intel i5. I believe it comes with Snow Leopard installed*, and they can be had for $929 with free shipping.

      But as Herself notes, “A box of .22 longs only costs $10.” I might have to wait a while.

      * Wrong. It comes with Lion. Only the 2010 models still have Snow Leopard.

    • Idon't Know (@snookasnoo) Says:

      There is nothing wrong with Lion. It’s had several upgrades since initial release.
      I have no doubt that an Air will do everything you need. It also has a better screen than the 13-inch MBP.
      Next rev I predict the 13 inch MBP will go away completely and we will see 15 inch Airs.

      • BenS Says:

        This may explain my poor performance observation with Lion:

        From Techcrunch http://techcrunch.com/2011/07/21/os-x-lion-new-features/

        Leave It Alone For A Few Hours:

        After Lion launched yesterday morning, reports started pouring in that folks who made the jump from Snow Leopard to Lion were seeing terribly sluggish performance. Then, like magic, the sluggishness disappeared.

        Here’s why: Lion makes a good number of changes to the way the Spotlight search works. These changes seem to require a reindexing of your hard drive’s contents . The problem? Apple starts this reindexing immediately after Lion boots up for the first time, and it causes systems (even relatively new ones) to run like hot garbage until it’s done. Give Spotlight a few hours after install is complete to work everything out, and you’ll have a much better first impression.

  3. Khal Spencer Says:

    Where does she find Longs? I thought Long Rifle was nearly ubiquitous, unless one was obtaining 22 shorts to fire revolver at the indoor range. Even there, I used 22LR in my auto pistols. Not sure the shorts would chamber or eject properly. Also easier to buy LR in blocks of 500 for any purpose whatsoever. Kneecapping spouses, I suppose, included.

  4. Sarwin Says:

    Check the Price list on the Apple Insider website for deals as good or better than a refurb for brand new Macs. No tax and free shipping.

  5. Idon't Know (@snookasnoo) Says:

    http://www.appleinsider.com/mac_price_guide/

  6. David R Says:

    I’ve been running Lion now since a few weeks after it came out and couldn’t be happier. I too was a bit reluctant to make the jump from what I read on-line, but I’ve experienced zero problems. Some of the new features, like Mission Control, are great and the overall look and “feel” of the OS just work. And that, I think, is why I wouldn’t go back to a PC now at gunpoint.

    I’ve been a Mac user for seven years and for my 60 year old brain, their stuff just suits the way I process information, which is to say, very haphazardly; and I don’t do ANY “creative” stuff on it at all. I’m far from an Apple fan-boy, but I dare say that from what I’ve seen and heard, most of the folks that put down Apple’s OS haven’t tried it.

    As far as price is concerned, yeah, they’re expensive. But take a good look at what you get when you buy the unit. For one small example, price out what it’s going to cost you to add a good camera and mic to your PC. The clarity and quality of what came loaded onto my iMac is stunning, and of course it’s built in. Small things like that add up to the total cost. And, from what I’ve experienced, Apple tech support has been incredible.

    (I think I just sounded like an Apple fan-boy…)

  7. swellschultzswell Says:

    I was at the CX champs yesterday. saw the College gals as i arrived, they were working the course(in all fairness the winds were there sucking up the moisture from the mud & it was now like wall plaster) and stayed to watch the U23 guys. Had other commitments after but what a great place/venue. I could not help but think what the Wisconsin weather could have been, when I expected 10 degree temps and solid tundra last fall for this gig.
    Took a buncha vids – when I get time I will story them down & step on them for the Dog’s use.
    What is the class U23 anyway? Is it a between category for people between college & going Pro?

    Leaving then Alakazaam – there was a Polka band in the tent next to the med tent(think it was the Great Dane Brewery tent) , there were fetching gals wearing Sorels in the mud, and people were screaming competitive happiness. If there’s really a Heaven, it is CX in Wisconsin. It was a very nice place to be.

    I expect Katy Compton kicked it today. Prior commitments up North so I couldn’t go today.
    Coolest thing was all the kids there in racing togs with their bikes all covered with mud.. Goddam we have something here.

    And mud. And Brats. And Beer. Dear God, you can take me.
    I have seen you.

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