A new laptop

posted by Jeff | Monday, June 18, 2012, 11:17 PM | comments: 0

When Apple announced the new "retina" laptop a week ago, I ordered it immediately. That sounds as if I have a serious gadget problem, but I'm putting it into perspective... I bought the last one more than three years ago. If I really had a problem, I would have bought either a MacBook Air or a standard 15" with the high resolution screen in the interim. I didn't buy either one.

Fortunately, my previous one found a good home with a friend, and he's getting the SSD in it, too. I suspect he'll get many years out of it. I found the old receipt, and can't believe that I paid nearly $2,700 for it. That sounds like a lot, but consider that it was top of the line everything at the time, and no one made laptops with screens that nice, or big. Considering it's still more than viable, and sellable, after three years, puts that price in perspective. I had a little bit of purchase regret at the time (mostly because I got laid-off six weeks later), but I got a whole lot out of it.

I figured I'd replace it at some point this year, if they did some combination of the features that made sense. They had to do a 15" with solid resolution, though they ended up exceeding "solid" ridiculously, and it had to be thinner and lighter. Adequate RAM and an SSD had to be part of the package, and they announced all of the above. It had to be something that would last me the next three years, and it would be nice if it was a little cheaper. $500 cheaper is good.

In any case, it came today, and my initial reaction is awe. If you've used a new iPad, you know what it means to not see pixels. I'm surprised to have the same thing on a laptop. Now tweak the settings to allow "more space," and I essentially have the real estate of the 17" only with much sharper text. It also weighs more than two pounds less.

Obviously I haven't done much in the way of real work on it, but I copied over my Windows VM, and grinned when it booted in nine seconds. Since I got the 16 gig model, I can give the VM 8 gigs of RAM. There are still 5 free overall. Everything is just so ridiculously fast.

The thing that surprises me most is that they really figured out the heat problem. I recently got out my old 15", the first MBP,  released in 2006, and I did a restore to send it to the recycler for a few bucks. That thing always got too hot. This new machine barely breaks a sweat, pushing to 110 degrees in certain parts with the VM running, but you can't tell. It doesn't feel hot, and you can't hear the fans blowing, despite allegedly running 2000 rpm.

There are some minor issues in the short term. Chrome hasn't been updated to use the display, so it's ugly with jagged text. They have said they're working on it. In the mean time, I can get by using Safari, though it's not my favorite. Where it really shines is with Aperture. Photo people are just going to love it.

The haters complain that you can't replace anything on it, but aside from replacing the DVD drive with an SSD on my old one, I didn't do anything to that in three plus years. There are some people hanging on to those old days when you replaced parts on your computer continuously, in a non-stop upgrade. That was sort of fun, I guess, always trying to make stuff go faster, but I have no interest in ever doing that again. I just want to turn shit on and see it work, and get three or more years out of it.

So the initial impression is, holy crap did they build a great computer. If what you do for a living involves software development, why would you cut corners on something that isn't as good? Again, critics suggest you pay too much for Apple, but I tried to price a Dell with similar specs and can't get it cheaper. Ditto for HP and Lenovo.

Nine seconds.

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