RE: Laptop for graphics, writing and fun

Subject: RE: Laptop for graphics, writing and fun
From: "McLauchlan, Kevin" <Kevin -dot- McLauchlan -at- safenet-inc -dot- com>
To: "Edgar D' Souza" <edgar -dot- b -dot- dsouza -at- gmail -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 26 Nov 2008 11:13:25 -0500

Edgar D' Souza [mailto:edgar -dot- b -dot- dsouza -at- gmail -dot- com]rebounded with:

> On Tue, Nov 25, 2008 at 11:21 PM, McLauchlan, Kevin
> <Kevin -dot- McLauchlan -at- safenet-inc -dot- com> wrote:
> > On the third hand, this would be a private machine for working from
> > (I normally work at the employer's office using their supplied
> > XP-Pro 64 desktop machine) or while traveling, and for recreation...
> > _me_... so having a Mac instead of a Windows laptop (that she's
> > accustomed to) would lessen the likelihood of Dear Wife taking over
> > new pride-and-joy.
> LOL!
> What about Ubuntu Linux (you did mention Compiz)? Isn't that daunting
> enough to lessen the chances of take-over? :-)

She's already accustomed to SuSE/opensuse Linux and is annoyed by its
deficiencies compared to Windows, for the kind of stuff she does. It
might be more accurate to say that she's annoyed with my setup (for my
purposes) of opensuse. She's also accustomed to dual-boot. I'd have to
make sure she didn't see me using Windows on a Mac... :-)

> > DELL Laptop descriptions refer to Core 2 Duo, but don't mention
> > 2.
> > What does one want in a laptop for the best blend of power versus
> > battery life?
> >
> > My understanding is that Centrino 2 combines the processor and other
> > elements to optimize portable performance, so Core 2 Duo is just the
> > processor flavor (covering a line of speeds), but not necessarily
> > integrated as thoroughly as when it's Centrino-ized. What am I
> > here, when I try to comparison-shop DELL laptop offerings against HP
> > laptop offerings? I feel that I'm just one or two smidgens of
> > information short of being able to make a confident choice. Not that
> > there's a rush, but we have to start somewhere.
> Apparently (from some forum posts), if you order an Intel WiFi with
> one of the newer C2D processors, you have Centrino 2 - but I don't
> think it's that simple. Tom's Hardware has a review -
>,1969-2.html -
> which may help gain better insight into Centrino 2. They do mention
> that the GM45 chipset enables switchable graphics (swap between the
> built-in graphics core or discrete GPU without rebooting).

The systems that I've seen advertised that actually promote that
function are....... Macs (except the 17-inch MacBook Pro that lists
only the nVidia 8400M processor where the smaller MacBooks have both
embedded 9400M and discrete 9600M - what are they thinking).

So far, both on-list and privately, I've received very persuasive
arguments to get a Macbook Pro or to get an HP. Yes, those did come
from different people, and are much appreciated.

It's hard to know what weight to assign to this-or-that characteristic
of a proposed machine.

I know that I feel inherently safer doing banking and other business
from a non-Windows computer, so that suggests Mac (which can also do
Windows when needed). But every computer that I've owned in the past
dozen years has had dual-boot Windows and Linux, as would a new HP (or
whatever brilliant Windows-based laptop somebody will now suggest), so
how much of a selling point is that, really, for Mac?

I know that the old DELL laptop that I tried to use as a travel machine
years ago had a battery that quickly lost much of its capacity, and then
limped along (as did most of the others at the company) able to stay
charged for barely longer than it takes to unplug, run down the hall,
and plug in again. That was a company laptop, so I didn't spend any
money on it - nor did I (or the company) want to spend $100+ for a
replacement battery that would go the same way. So there's years of
pent-up annoyance simmering there.

I also know that I preferred the "eraser nub" pointing device on a
Thinkpad to the trackpad/touchpad input devices on older DELLs and
others. Presumably trackpad/touchpad technology has improved in the
interim if Macs use it exclusively.

I love the look of the glossy, sharp new screens, but I'm old enough to
remember screen glare as a problem on CRTs (before they went
flat-front). On the other hand, I don't honestly see myself sitting in a
meadow with my laptop, so does it really matter that people say the
shiny screens are more glare-ish? What then becomes important is that
you can tilt it to avoid glare and the picture is still clear (usable
viewing angle, both horizontally and vertically).

At least 95 percent of the time, the intended device would be a desktop
replacement. But then that 5% on road-trips or waiting for a
class/meeting/seminar would become quite important on the basis of:

a) whatever one is doing right now is very close to 100% of the "right
now" experience and
b) we tend to remember negative experiences more readily than positive

Video is now more important as a medium of interaction on computers,
from video-skype to YouTube to vlogs to instructional stuff. I know how
antsy I get when a stream or file playback is halting or jittery or
otherwise less perfect than the experience of a dedicated DVD player
showing a rented movie on my TV. I'd want to ensure the best possible
chances for future video-ish things that I might watch.

So, while the revitalized HP company has a very good reputation these
days, and its new laptops are very well regarded and provide superior
bang for the buck, the Macs are one-shop pre-integrated beasties.
Anything that I ever want to do with Apple-provided - or Apple-blessed -
hardware and software should "just work". By contrast, while a
factory-configured HP and most Windows software should be very reliable
and smooth, the Linux that I would install (dual-boot) might very well
not have full driver support (or I might have to wait many months for
it) or have other annoying peculiarities that stem from the inherently
non-specific nature of Linux distros and open-source apps.

Both Apple and HP are good about providing updates (I hear), and both
use nVidia video cards, so driver updates would be equally accessible
there, too.

Another consideration - more for the Windows computer than the Mac I
suppose - is that buying something that's a year or two off the bleeding
edge is a good way to ensure that the product wasn't a lemon, that the
glitches are fixed, that Linux drivers are more likely available, etc.
But when buying something that you'll keep for another five years, do
you really want it to be (effectively) seven years old by then? By the
time Consumer Reports has fondled them, they're wa-a-a-ay out of date.
New popular models aren't truly bleeding edge anyway. If they were
extreme and esoteric like in a high-end gaming system, I couldn't afford
'em anyway, so a mainstream, better-than-entry machine seems to reside
at the "good for the next few years" sweet spot. Oh yeah?? I heard
that snicker. Well other than rationalizations like that, how do YOU
stave off buyer's remorse?

This is me, taking the stream-of-unconsciousness route toward thinking
of all the things that might prove important in the daily
computing/working experience.
Jeez! Doesn't that sound old-fashioned now? "Computing experience"?
These beasts are closer than ever to becoming appliances, aren't they?
Not there yet, but closer, much closer. Hmm. Whirlpool or Miele? Not
the Maytag, never the Maytag! Ahem.

Any further insights on-or-off-list will be welcomed. It all helps to
put things in modern perspective. I'm sure that others are constantly
arriving at the same, or similar, necessity, since nobody on this list
works without computers.

- Kevin
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Re: Laptop for graphics, writing and fun: From: Edgar D' Souza

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