Shoe Money Tonight

Occasional ramblings by an anesthesiologist/mother (and sometimes her husband).

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

The Shiny New Toy

I promised a few weeks ago that I would blog about the new toy soon. I've now had a few weeks with my shiny new MacBook Pro, and I've had enough time to piece together some thoughts.

First off, a brief list of the computers I used prior:
Apple ][+
Apple ][e
Apple IIgs
Performa 600
PowerBook 1400cs 117
PowerBook G3 Series Rev. 2 266
iBook G3 600

Each of these computers was an older, lower-end model when I received it. I have never been at the cutting edge of hardware, since neither my needs nor my finances were right for it. Furthermore, I found that I pretty much replaced a model when it was a little over 4 years old. I had known for several months that I was going to need to replace the iBook sometime soon. Even though I had upgraded it with a 60 GB hard drive and an 8x SuperDrive, it was starting to get a little long in the tooth.

I create all of my daily lessons and worksheets in Pages, since what I really need is a page layout program, not a word processor. I never liked Word, and Pages just worked better than AppleWorks. The problem was that Pagess isn't exactly optimized for the G3. I was getting little slowdowns all over the place, and MenuMeters was telling me that I was pretty much flatline maxing out my CPU just moving items around in Pages while listening to iTunes. Plus little annoyances like not being able to watch h.264 encoded videos in Quicktime (although for those still on a G3, VLC Player will handle non-iTunes Music Store videos on a G3 quite nicely) The time had come for an upgrade. The question was what to replace it with?

I've always been an early adopter. Though I've never had cutting edge hardware, I at least upgraded software as quickly as possible. I used OS X back in the early days when it was slow and didn't fully support my PDQ 266. Once I had tried it I simply couldn't go back to OS 9. I've always pushed my hardware to the limit and had no problem dealing with occasional hiccups for the fun of being on the cutting edge. The basic point being that if I was going to plunk down over a grand for a new machine, I was not going for a PowerPC Model. Any intel model is going to give me more years of use now than a PowerPC.

If the rumor mills are to be believed, Apple will soon be releasing the successor to the iBook, apparently a 13.3" widescreen to be dubbed "MacBook." My first thought was that the consumer model should be sufficient for my purposes. I then checked Mactracker to see what the current model of PowerBook was at the time I got my iBook. I realized that if I had that machine now, it would probably be at least a year or two more before I needed to upgrade. Bottom line - the pro machine would give me more active service.

My wife & I then trotted off to our local Apple Store. We flagged down a familiar looking clerk who asked me if I was ready for my MacBook Pro now. After replying in the affirmative I walked out with a shiny new 1.83 GHz model.

The Screen: Gorgeous, bright, and spacious. I was worried that it might take some time to get used to, but it didn't. It is a huge help when I'm throwing together lessons and have to have the worksheets, calendars, and state performance indicators all in front of me.

The Backlit Keyboard: it's taken me a bit of time to get used to. Being slightly larger than the keyboard on my old iBook, muscle memory has had me hitting the wrong key on occasion. But it has a great feel, and my wife no longer gets annoyed when I play with the ambient light sensors and the backlighting.

Front Row: unqualified coolness. Having such easy access to my movies and photos is a lifesaver. So many times have I had to crouch on the floor to activate an iPhoto slide show while running my iBook through the tv. Now I can just plug in and use the remote.
The remote itself is amazing. I've found that I can pretty much point it at any part of my MacBook Pro from any angle and it will register. About the only thing the signal won't go through is the screen. The flexibility is great.

MagSafe: a magnetically attached power cord is a life saver. I once sent my 1400cs flying because someone tripped over the cord. I had to bend the plug to get a charge, and further attempts to repair it myself ended up frying the motherboard. To those who complain that it's too easy to accidentally pull out without noticing, I have 3 words: just pay attention.

Scrolling Trackpad: I lived without this how?

Bottom Line: The big part about the experience of a new machine, at least one from Apple, is how easy you get used to it. Migration Assistant brought over all my data and applications flawlessly. I was up and running by the time I had finished making dinner. When I went back to my old iBook to clean it up and reformat it so that a certain USN Officer Candidate can use it I realized how spoiled I had become by the screen.

I expect this machine to render me flawless service for many years to come. The Apple experience is about the care they put into every detail. It's the sort of care that you simply don't see from other manufacturers. Everything just works. If you haven't tried it, go to the Apple Store and play around. You might like it.

An aside from dr. nic - Is it a bad sign that most of the clerks at the apple store know us?


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