December 30, 2008

MacBook or MacBook Pro?

With my Powerbook G4 giving up the ghost a week or two ago, I'm left with my life in limbo on a backup drive (thank you Time Machine). So here I sit, watching vodcasts on my AppleTV with football recording in the background, pouring over reviews and spec sheets trying to answer the most important question of the hour: MacBook or MacBook Pro?

I'm typing this on my work MBP, the 1st gen Intel laptop, which in all is a nice machine save for the massive welts on my lap when I do anything non-trivial. I can hear the fan whirring now, despite doing nothing but editing text, and I know that if I wasn't wearing jeans, I'd be hurting. The case bottom must get well over 110 degrees if I look at it funny. Short of work trips, though, I don't use it much day-to-day because when I'm at home I have the desktops and my personal data was on the (nice and cool) G4.

The new MBP, however, is larger and heavier, which gives me pause. The older generation has all the ports (including FW400 and DVI), though I only use DVI for work, so the $30 cable extra may not be an issue for a personal machine. The lack of FW400 for backups is tough, but I've already backed up Jo's new MB to a FW drive over the network, so I can get around it. The other use I have for FW400 is my Firepod for recording, but that's hooked to the desktop MacPro; I probably wouldn't do much mobile recording.

From the reviews, it seems that the screen on the MBP is much nicer than the MB, with better black levels and a wider viewing angle (in addition to being larger). I've never done much work on a MB, so I can't tell if I'd be ok with the smaller screen. It just seems wrong not to get the larger screen, as all my other laptops have been that way (even back to my Pismo G3 at 14").

Performance-wise, it doesn't seem to make much sense to go with the lower-end MBP as it's almost exactly the same as the "higher"-end MB, except $700 more. That pushes me at least $1k over the MB for the performance boost. Will I need it? I like to tell myself that I'll sit on the couch and build Camino or Chromium or work on some other open source projects of my own, but I know that's crazy-talk. The world already has enough temperature converters (even on the iPhone!). I also don't play games, so I probably won't ever notice the dedicated video. Snow Leopard might change that, however, but engaging it takes a huge chunk out of battery life (and requires you to log-out!).

If I need it, I guess I always have the work MBP, which I'll be using when I travel and visit the office. Perhaps I'm not as much of a professional as I like to think.

Posted by pinkerton at December 30, 2008 4:01 PM | TrackBack