Posts for Tag: laptop

"Leasing" Macs and the true cost of Macs versus Windows PCs

Of course, after speaking of the coolness of the new Mac Mini, I ordered one from Amazon - $595, no sales tax, $3.99 next day shipping. Just this morning, I sold my current Mac Mini on eBay for $644.98. I did upgrade the RAM to 8GB at one point which cost me about $100 so the total cost of my old Mac Mini was about $745. The price difference of about $100 could be viewed as a "lease" for the use of the old Mac Mini for about 13 months worth of use or about $8 a month. Not too shabby and I get the latest hardware for another XX months (I'm guessing about a year). I've been playing this game for about 2-3 years now with my Macs (Mini and laptops) and it's a very acceptable way to upgrade your machines at a very nominal cost. I think the one year churn is perfect since your outgoing hardware still has great value. As I've stated before, Macs hold their value pretty well compared to PCs. Add in the fact that Mac productivity software is cheaper than PCs ($79 versus $279) and you don't have to buy anti-virus software (yet), the value of buying that Dell laptop doesn't really look that great.

Beware of speed loss tether-ers...

I'm sitting at the cafe (which doesn't have WIFI) and doing some work. For instances like this, I use a non-sanctioned tethering app - HandyLight (one of the best $0.99 apps ever). Don't bother looking for it - Apple yanked the app on July 20, 2010. It takes a few semi-complicated steps to get everything setup but once you've gone through it a few times, it takes less than 30 seconds to tether your iPhone to your laptop. One thing I did notice was that things seemed to be slower than usual when surfing on my tethered laptop. I did a quick speed test and noticed that the download speed on my tethered laptop was almost 33% slower than directly to the iPhone itself. Upload speed was almost 40% slower. Not sure if the physics behind tethering means there will always be this speed degradation no matter what method you use - sanctioned or unsanctioned. If so, the value proposition of paying $20 EXTRA a month to tether your laptop to your iPhone seems much less appealing.

Laptop thief backs up victim's data, mails it to him

... around a week later, the professor says he received an envelope. Inside was a USB stick ... The thief, it appears, took pity and spent perhaps hours making sure that the professor got all of his unbacked-up information back.

As a victim of laptop theft, this is a confusingly heart warming story. Let me not beat you to death about this (of course, I will), but everyone should have a "set it and forget it" backup system in place. For those of you using Macs, go buy an Apple Time Capsule. Don't fret over the price - JUST. DO. IT. Last time I had a hard drive failure, it cost about $1000 to retrieve the data off the drive from a data recovery company who had to remove the platters in a clean room. Since I've had my Time Capsule in place, I've had two hard drive snafus. Both times, I didn't sweat one bit. Took the laptop to the Apple Store, had them fix the problem and then brought the laptop home and restored from the Time Capsule. ZERO DATA LOSS plus I didn't have to reinstall any programs (Time Machine handles that for you). $1000 each time or $278 once? You decide.

For my PC brethren, go use a service like Mozy. It's great and stores all the data in the cloud so you don't physically have to be near your backup drive in order for the magic to happen. It's free for 2GB or $5 a month for UNLIMITED storage. Not a bad deal, if you ask me. The restore process isn't as seamless as the Time Capsule for Mac (and you'll have to reinstall your programs) but it's good enough.

But remember, if someone steals your laptop there is no way to recover your data. Stories like this one are the overwhelming exception to the rule.

Laptop comparisons

So I was accused the other day of being a Mac snob which is odd given that I only started using them a couple of years ago (not counting my Apple IIe days). The first Mac I bought at that time was a Macbook Air. I had been using a 15.4" Dell Inspiron which was pretty heavy and also on its last legs so I thought it was a good opportunity to try a super-light computer. Also, I had been using the iPhone for about 6 months and wanted to see how pairing a Mac with an iPhone would be. The experience was good so my next machine was an aluminum Macbook (the one that was stolen). During that time, I wouldn't have been against going back to PC laptops but there weren't any compelling reason to do so. When I switched from the Inspiron to the Air, it was because I wanted the lighest laptop available at the time. Is there a PC laptop that could make me want to switch back? I guess I did my version of the Laptop Hunters commercial...

I had pretty strict requirements for my laptop. 13" to 14", about $1200, light, and must have good battery life. On the Apple side, the 13" Macbook Pro was the standard by which I would compare all the PC laptops. Here's the rundown on what I found:

Dell M2400
14.1" WXGA+ LED
2.53ghz Intel Core 2 Duo
160GB 7200RPM Hard Drive
DVD burner
3-4 hour battery
Backlit keyboard
$1,464 after $328 instant savings

HP Envy 13
13.1" HD LED
2.13ghz Intel Core 2 Duo
250GB 5400RPM Hard Drive
DVD burner
~6-7 hour battery

Sony Vaio SR590
13.3" LED
2.20ghz Intel core 2 Duo
250GB 5400RPM Hard Drive
DVD Burner
5.5 hour battery

It actually looks like the Sony Vaio SR590 is pretty decent. Still not enough to make me want to switch back to a PC laptop but I think it's a good laptop for the money.

I don't blame Microsoft. I blame the hardware manufacturers.

Ever since my unfortunate incident, I’ve been working on a Lenovo R60e spare laptop we have in the office.  It’s a huge adjustment to make going from an Macbook to a plastic feeling laptop.  But it’s a hardware adjustment and not a software one.  For the record, I actually really like Windows XP Professional.  It’s stable, easy to use, and very effective for most work related tasks.  Office 2007 has its issues but it’s no biggie.  I actually prefer Office 2003 but maybe that’s because I’m just more used to it.  Vista and Windows 7, however are garbage but I’ve already discussed that before.

Though this is an older laptop (probably circa 2006), I haven’t really seen a huge leap in usability/comfort/innovation from PC laptop manufacturers.  Either they build really expensive machines with a bunch of useless features (Sony VAIOs or Lenovos for instance) or they err on the side of cost effectiveness and build cheap laptops that make CFO’s happy but are lackluster from a usability standpoint (Dell, HP, etc).  Yes, I can buy a Dell Vostro for under $500 but it’s heavy, bulky, and feels cheap.  The really sad part is that in about 6 months, the value of that machine is basically halved by a combination of its cheapness and the fact that Dell builds its computers to be relaced within 2 years.  When I bought my Macbook Air in early 2008 for about $1600 (got a sweet deal).  I sold it over a year and a half later for about $1200.  It held 75% of its value 18 months after I bought it!  When was the last time you could say that about any computer technology?

With rumblings of an update to the Macbook Pro line coming soon, I’ll hold off on getting another Macbook until then.  I’ll probably just pick up the version just before the latest one and save a few bucks.