Debated Explained

Leveling The New Apple Portables

I had three subsequent requests from friends to weigh in on the best value for Apple’s newly released laptops. Twitter ate my short thoughts, so I might as well lengthen it a bit.

Before I continue, I should note that a great place to always go is the Compare Models page on the Apple Store. It’s the best way to get a side by side comparison.

# Generally Speaking

Ever since the iBook and Powerbook were retired in favor of the MacBook and the MacBookPro, I’ve held the belief that unless you’re in the specialty niches that require a specific feature on the MBP (the ExpressCard/34 slot for mobile broadband, for instance), 90% of consumers will be fine with the MacBook.

Nothing released today has changed that base level assertion. Not even the multi-touch track pads on the MBPs.

# MacBook

First things first: the BlackBook remains a $200 uptick for a different colored case and a 90GB increase on the hard drive. (You can get the hard drive upgrade separately on a white MB for $100.) The BlackBook’s market remains people who explicitly *want* a black notebook. If you’re looking to extend your dollars, there’s no reason to buy it.

Thus, we’re left looking at the other two models. I will call these “Low-End White” and “High-End White”.

If you take Low-End White and add the hard drive bump and the RAM bump found in High-End White, you come in $50 less than the list for the High-End White. So in that $50 you’re getting a decent clock bump (300 MHz) and a Superdrive – which makes High-End White the smarter choice here.

# MacBook Pro

I am frequently baffled by Apple’s pricing, and here’s one of those instances.

Like the BlackBook, the 17″ MBP is for a certain breed of people who just *have* to have a 17″ display. People who merely want *a laptop* and not a *17″ bohemoth* – there’s no need. And frankly, I question their commitment to Sparklemotion.

So again, we’re looking at the two options, thus dubbed “2K” and “2.5K” solely based on price.

What does the $500 jump get you in this case? Er, well…

* A rather meager 100MHz bump on the CPU
* 3MB more of L3 cache
* 50GB more disk space
* Double the VRAM in the video card

The hard drive bump can be duplicated for $50, so you’re looking at $450 for a tenth of a GHz, a bit of cache, and a significant bump on the VRAM. But keep in mind that the VRAM bump doesn’t provide higher resolutions on the display – it will likely only be useful if you’re playing Crysis under Boot Camp or doing some high end media work.

Thus, I must strongly recommend that if you need a MBP, the 2K model is more than good enough.


Burnt Out

My [magic streak]( has not held up.

Buttons Checks His RSS Feeds

I came home tonight to a faint scent that I could not place. It smelled warm – perhaps my landlord had decided today was the day to turn on our heat. Our heaters are electric, and they always smelled a bit odd.

I did not take the hint that my iMac was off, even when I knew full well that it was still alive and online not 90 minutes beforehand. I rebooted without thinking.
The message struck home when I got up thirty minutes later and noticed that it, again, was off. This time, I sat and watched it reboot. The login screen appeared normally, but not a second after I attempted to type, *boom*. Darkness. I subsequently pulled open the casing and, while I could not locate any particular source of the damage, the burning smell was confirmed to be coming from somewhere on the motherboard; most likely, a blown capacitor.
There is some irony to this. I have been aware that due to my technolust, I have what has been deemed by others to be an absurd upgrade cycle for my hardware. Alternating every year, Katie or I have replaced our primary hardware:

*2000* – I purchase a Mac Cube. It actually held up terribly well.
*2001* – Katie receives her first iBook, a G3/500.
*2002* – I received my iMac G4 as a graduation present.
*2003* – Katie replaces her iBook with an iBook G4/800. This is the first Mac hardware we purchase on our own.
*2004* – I replace my iMac G4 with an iMac G5/1.8GHz.
*2005* – Katie replaces her iBook G4, which had now ground to a halt, with another iBook G4/1.42GHz. This happens enough in advance of the introduction of the MacBook that I don’t feel completely shafted.

This year was the year I had promised to break this cycle. The year I was sure my iMac G5 was not going to start feeling uncontrollably slow, even while I picked up a MacBook Pro at work and had a very direct comparison with the latest and greatest.

But no, the hardware had to die through natural causes. Now my hand has been forced, and I will be trekking to the Apple Store this weekend to take what has become a mandatory upgrade.


The Incredible Invincible Hard Drive

Despite all of my technology training and knowledge, occasionally I manage to do something immensely stupid to my computers. I am not immune to stupid keystrokes or misreading instructions. I have hardware issues just the same as everyone else.

Rarely, however, are such problems fixed by magic.