A few weeks ago, I bought a nice new Apple Macbook. It is the first laptop that I've owned in probably 5 years or more. My last laptop was an HP laptop with a 1Ghz CPU, and a 20GB hard drive. My new laptop has dual 2.2 Ghz CPUs and a 120GB hard drive. Essentially, I've got 4 times the CPU power and 6 times the storage space in a device that is smaller, lighter, faster and cheaper than that last laptop. You gotta love technology.
Why did I go out and spend all the money on a laptop when I've already got a screaming Mac Pro at home that blows even this laptop away? I'd like to say that I bought it for work or to take notes at conferences (which is true!) but the simple fact is, I bought it because it was a nice toy. The Mac Pro is great for pure power, but for portability it sucks. The Mac Pro is still my primary computer, but this laptop will certainly have it's uses as well. There's something truly cool about parking yourself in the recliner, with a laptop on your lap. You can sit there programming, surfing the web, reading email, etc. while you are watching TV on your big, thumping surround sound system! You don't even feel like your working.
What was the event that finally made me decide to go out and buy this laptop? A few weeks ago, I attended a Microsoft .NET all day show where they discussed various new .NET programming technologies. At the time the only thing I had to take notes with was my little iPod Touch. While the iPod Touch is certainly capable of taking notes and visiting the programming web sites they mention, it is just too slow to type on it. You need a real keyboard and computer for that. I didn't have one. So, the next weekend I took a trip down to the local Apple Store and bought myself one. I bought the midrange Macbook with (at the time) a 2.2Ghz dual core CPU, a 120GB hard drive and 1GB RAM. Of course a few days ago Apple upgraded the equivalent Macbook that I just bought to a 2.4Ghz dual core CPU, a 160 GB hard drive and 2GB RAM. It figures! Oh well. The new Macbook is only slightly faster than this one. Plus I was already planning on upgrading the RAM to 4GB (which I did) so the 2GB doesn't really matter. Plus, I was going to upgrade the hard drive to a 7200 RPM, 200GB hard drive, so the slightly bigger hard drive doesn't make much difference either. I think I'm going to stick with this Macbook. I could just return it and get the newer one, but I doubt I will. It's not worth the effort. I've already upgraded it to 4GB of RAM (more memory than my Mac Pro!) and I'll likely upgrade the hard drive to the 200GB 7200 RPM drive soon.
I've been very impressed with how OS X handles laptops and wireless networking in general, since I bought this laptop. Whenever you do a system upgrade on the laptop, it warns you if you don't have the laptop plugged in. This is a great thing to do because if you run out of battery power while upgrading, you can screw up the operating system to the point that it won't work without reinstalling the operating system.
It also works very well in a networked environment. While I've been using Macs for a couple years now, I've never really done much related to networking them. Yes, I have an old Power PC Mac Mini sitting on my network, but I never really used it for much. It was still very much a single computer network since I used the Mac Pro 99% of the time. Now that I have two Macs that I actually use regularly, it's been a real education. OS X Leopard has a nice feature that shows an icon showing what the actual computer looks like when you browse the network for other computers. In other words, my Macbook looks like a Macbook on the network, my Mini looks like a Mini on the network, and my Mac Pro looks like a Mac Pro on the network! Yes, it's a little thing, but it's yet another one of those nice little OS X touches that I love. Also, I was easily able to set up my Macbook to print to my networked laser printer in the home office. It's really cool to print something and hear the printer in the other room start up! All this with no cables! This Macbook is the first laptop I've ever owned that was truly practical to run completely wireless. My old laptop required a network cable running across the floor of the house, connected to the network, plus a power cable plugged into the wall. Not exactly a portable setup there!
Now that I have this laptop, I can take it to those conferences to take notes, as well as other uses. Right now I'm sitting in the cafe at Whole Foods Market, writing this entire blog wirelessly. Gotta love that! The reason I'm sitting here in Whole Foods writing this, rather than at home is because I just dropped my car off at the Sound Advice store a couple of doors down to get some work done on the stereo. I'm getting some upgrades to the iPod player in my car, which are going to take an hour and a half or so, so I figured I'd walk over here and take advantage of their free WiFi to kill some time. I can easily kill and hour and a half on my Mac if I have access to the Internet! I also brought along my Cocoa programming book in case I want to do some studying of that while I'm here.
I'll be sure to post more blogs about my experiences with this laptop in the future...