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Competing with the MacBook Air
September 5, 2011 9:04 PM   Subscribe

The PC industry is built around an idea of almost infinite variation: different Wi-Fi adaptors, different Ethernet chipsets, different GPUs, different USB3 controllers. This variety is then reflected in the systems available from manufacturers—and more importantly, it's reflected in the way the systems are actually built. … The big reason that HP wants to get out of the PC business is that it's simply not very profitable for HP—and that's true for all the major PC OEMs, Cupertino excepted. Cheap PCs are certainly important for making computing accessible, but they also mean that PC vendors have made themselves vulnerable: endless price cuts and a failure to emphasize the value of a quality product have cut revenues and slashed profitability. Desperate to compete on pricing and pricing alone, the mass-market PC OEMs have ended up cutting their own throats.
Ars technica explains why the PC industry is having such a difficult time trying to build a competitor to the MacBook Air.
posted by Jasper Friendly Bear (316 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite

 
Read the article, and it doesn't jibe with my experience. I too hate Mac keyboards, so I looked around at the offerings of HP, Asus, Dell, etc. and found a Sony that's laid out just the way I like. The diversity in PC laptops is one of the reasons I bought a PC.
posted by benito.strauss at 9:19 PM on September 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


That, and they aren't super-freaking expensive and, IMO, incredibly fragile.

Apple markets very well to people who think of a computer as a lifestyle accoutrement (more power to them). I just want something that works and is reasonably priced.

For all the flack Sony VAIO's get as laptops, they're easily the best I've ever owned (or car to own in the future).

Again, entirely IMO, but why would a PC maker want to to on Apple on their own turf? That sounds like suicide.
posted by bardic at 9:26 PM on September 5, 2011 [7 favorites]


@to take on Apple

Typing this from my office desktop which is, indeed a POS.
posted by bardic at 9:26 PM on September 5, 2011


The PC industry doesn't "compete" with Apple's products; it simply observes what Apple does, then produces a more-or-less-equivalent a year or two later and charges a fraction of the price - thereby grabbing a larger segment of the market. That way, people who are willing to pay a premium for the Apple cachet get what they want and are happy, and everyone else who's willing to wait gets pretty much the same utility for a lower price tag...and are happy. So what's the problem?
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:32 PM on September 5, 2011


That was an interesting read - thanks for posting.

I own a 2010 Sony VAIO laptop, and there is nothing particularly outstanding about it - same battery life as other comparable notebooks, same drive, same disk space, same RAM, same damn everything.

The writer made a good point: there is too much choice with laptops and PCs, but, ironically, it's difficult to find the product that you want.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:33 PM on September 5, 2011


For all the flack Sony VAIO's get as laptops, they're easily the best I've ever owned (or car to own in the future).


Wait, really? I bought a monstrously expensive Vaio Z last August and it's already in the process of imploding: the fan performance has degraded so noticeably that any CPU-intensive task will cause it to do a thermal shutdown (and it no longer plays games it did fine with six months ago). Just today, I noticed that the down and right arrow keys (which are also page down and end, most horribly) have mysteriously stopped functioning and don't respond even to direct pressure. The fingerprint reader winks in and out of consciousness at random. The hinges and the side of the screen cracked months ago, which is apparently an endemic problem in these models, and the battery life is like 4 hours even with very spartan display settings.

I am currently scraping down bits of cash to replace it, since it's, of course, just out of warranty. I'm looking at the Samsung Series 7, which is apparently coming out next month, and the MBP 13" or the Macbook Air, depending on what the next MBP refresh brings. Is there anything else I should look at that would have really rock-solid build quality? (I looked at some Lenovos, they don't really work for me.)
posted by derrinyet at 9:36 PM on September 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Man, I've always had horrible experiences with VAIOs. Thinkpads have been solid for me on the other hand.

Then again, now that I think about it, there's a pretty high correlation between whether they're machines I personally take of (Thinkpads) or machines used by people who happily download all kinds of crap whenever they want (VAIOs and HPs).
posted by kmz at 9:38 PM on September 5, 2011


The PC industry doesn't "compete" with Apple's products; it simply observes what Apple does, then produces a more-or-less-equivalent a year or two later and charges a fraction of the price - thereby grabbing a larger segment of the market. That way, people who are willing to pay a premium for the Apple cachet get what they want and are happy, and everyone else who's willing to wait gets pretty much the same utility for a lower price tag...and are happy. So what's the problem?

Macbook Air was introduced in 2008 - where's the PC equivalent? It seems the PC market has a very real problem with even attempting to copy Apple's innovations, much less coming up products of their own that differentiate themselves from their competitors.

But yeah you're right, it's all marketing.
posted by bradbane at 9:38 PM on September 5, 2011 [12 favorites]


the mass-market PC OEMs have ended up cutting their own throats

Dibbler-PC's. Now available on fine street corners everywere. Free cat 5 cable and sausage-inna-bun* with each purchase.

* Well, mostly sausage.
posted by mikelieman at 9:41 PM on September 5, 2011 [26 favorites]


Everywhere, even.
posted by mikelieman at 9:42 PM on September 5, 2011


Such a lengthy explanation for a problem that concerns a particular user. What the author fails to address is that by providing both the hardware and software across a family of devices, Apple is able to produce an integrated customer experience that Windows-based OEM's simply cannot as they have to compete on price against same-family manufacturers and are unable to make a foothold in newer markets like Apple has with the iPad because of the fragmented non-iOS choices. And by owning that hardware and software without competition, they are able to politely decline certain user preferences such as keyboard nipples.
posted by jsavimbi at 9:42 PM on September 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


where's the PC equivalent?

Where's the mass market for it?
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:44 PM on September 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Apple is aping Ford, while the other guys are aping Packard, Nash and Leyland. But hey, you can get a MacBook in any color so long as it's black brushed aluminum.
posted by infinitewindow at 9:45 PM on September 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


The PC industry doesn't "compete" with Apple's products; it simply observes what Apple does, then produces a more-or-less-equivalent a year or two later and charges a fraction of the price -thereby grabbing a larger segment of the market.

I disagree with that. No one in the PC industry has been able to replicate the build quality or aesthetics of Apple. The components in Macs have always been a full generation behind PC components and have been outrageously overpriced on a basis of computing power, yet people are obviously willing to pay for everything else. I'm always stunned by PC manufacturers never having caught up. Buying a pre-made PC is like buying a Daewoo when for a little more you could get a VW or a Toyota. Why bother?
posted by Mister Fabulous at 9:46 PM on September 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


Yeah, having had a good VAIO does not equate to "VAIOs are good". My first VAIO laptop was fantastic, awesome, one of my favorite computers ever and I'd still be using it if it weren't hopelessly antiquated (that was 12 years ago, for context). My second was such an awful piece of garbage in every way that I actually wince at the the letters SONY now, let alone VAIO.

I'm a pure Mac convert nowadays but I agree with the author about keyboard layouts, Apple's is obnoxious. I use it because it's an acceptable tradeoff for having a non-laughable OS that runs commercial software, i.e. not Windows or Linux, not because I like the keyboard. And I disagree about how great the trackpad is; another place Apple traded utility for aesthetics. The trackpad needs to be centered below the home keys, not centered on the unit itself.
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:51 PM on September 5, 2011


> But hey, you can get a MacBook in any color so long as it's black brushed aluminum.

I'll bet the next gen will have more options than aluminum.

But, if you want a PC clone of the current Macbook Air, you have options.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 9:52 PM on September 5, 2011 [4 favorites]


Macbook Air was introduced in 2008 - where's the PC equivalent?

Was the first Air even a success? I remember a lot of hype about it but not many people got them. I think it was only with the 2010 models that they started getting traction. And don't get me wrong, they're pretty damn nice machines now. But there's certainly plenty of competition in the ultrabook space coming from Lenovo, Asus, etc.

Personally I still can't deal with the limitations of ultrathin laptops. Gimme a Thinkpad X220s or T420s.
posted by kmz at 9:53 PM on September 5, 2011


"I disagree with that. No one in the PC industry has been able to replicate the build quality or aesthetics of Apple."

Why would they want to? As mentioned, Apple is a boutique brand for people who are willing to spend a lot more for product. (I guess you've got Alienware catering to gamers as well who have to go PC for their needs.)

"for a little more"

Oh c'mon, you can get a usable PC laptop out of the box for $500 dollars or less these days.
posted by bardic at 9:54 PM on September 5, 2011


(Also, TrackPoint 4 Life! I can't imagine using a laptop without a nipple.)
posted by kmz at 9:58 PM on September 5, 2011 [5 favorites]


But that PC laptop is often going to also be more lower end than the comparison Mac, just spec-wise, aside from build quality and aesthetics.
posted by floam at 9:59 PM on September 5, 2011


Apple is a boutique brand for people who are willing to spend a lot more for product.

1.1 million MacBook Airs sold in 2010. Doesn't include any Pro versions.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 10:00 PM on September 5, 2011 [7 favorites]


> I can't imagine using a laptop without a nipple.

Yeah, my reflexes have been sufficiently conditioned that I get pretty annoyed when there's no nipple. I shouldn't have to take my fingers off the home keys to move the stupid cursor.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 10:01 PM on September 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Desperate to compete on pricing and pricing alone, the mass-market PC OEMs have ended up cutting their own throats.

Those price cuts made PC technology affordable for ordinary people. Do we really want a return to the days of $5,000 laptops?
posted by Yakuman at 10:03 PM on September 5, 2011 [8 favorites]


Apple markets very well to people who think of a computer as a lifestyle accoutrement

FUD.

I am a network security engineer, and Apple caters to me because it is (basically) FreeBSD with a usable GUI.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 10:04 PM on September 5, 2011 [57 favorites]


From reading the article, I got the sense that the PC industry has ended up in a situation similar to the US airline industry. It almost feels like there is too much competition among PC manufactures to effectively compete against Apple in some market segments, and that this intense competition is making it impossible to reach the economies of scale needed to make the PC versions of the MacBook Air at the price that Apple is currently selling them for. I wonder if we're going to start seeing mergers among the big PC manufacturers.
posted by Jasper Friendly Bear at 10:07 PM on September 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


But that PC laptop is often going to also be more lower end than the comparison Mac, just spec-wise, aside from build quality and aesthetics.

I just spec'd a T520 that was equivalent to the base 15" MacBook Pro (but the T520 had better resolution). T520 was around $1300, MBP was $1800.
posted by kmz at 10:08 PM on September 5, 2011


Where's the mass market for it?

For thinner, lighter laptops with great build quality and battery life? Who could possibly want that?
posted by bradbane at 10:09 PM on September 5, 2011 [10 favorites]


Do we really want a return to the days of $5,000 laptops

That's a strawman. Find an equally priced PC laptop and compare the quality to a MacBook and you'll see why people buy them. I'm definitely a PC fan, and even then I know there isn't a comparison.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 10:10 PM on September 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


Maybe it has something to do with the way Apple manages it's relationships with foxconn and WinTek. I've heard Apple handles much more of the design in-house than PC companies.

I've been using a Dell something or other for a while. My actual desktop is on an ESX server somewhere.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:12 PM on September 5, 2011


Again, entirely IMO, but why would a PC maker want to to on Apple on their own turf?

Interesting that well-designed, highly desirable laptops are now considered 'Apple's turf', and one that cannot be feasibly infringed.

people who think of a computer as a lifestyle accoutrement

Some people buy them for that reason, sure. They're the same people who buy Dells with red cases to match their feature walls. But many who buy Apple want a Unix-like OS humming along gracefully under a gorgeous GUI and not have to worry about tracking down obscure drivers all the time, particularly for their portable electronics that are similarly well designed. More expensive? Sure, but my time is expensive, and so time saved trying to configure that wireless card that won't come out of sleep mode is money wasted anyway.

I run Ubuntu on my Acer notebook, but I'd rather have a Mac, like my desktop.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 10:12 PM on September 5, 2011 [26 favorites]


I buy Apple because I'm either a pretentious hipster (probably) or because I find the hardware of their laptops, at least, to be pretty amazing. I have an iBook G3 that still chugs right along and works fine despite being something like 10 years old. The biggest problem it has is it's too damn old to run much that's new, but what's on there still works great. My Macbook Pro is running just as fast as it was the day I got it and it's been 3 years now. By contrast, I've burned through a variety of PC laptops that always seem to have something going wrong with them or eventually just start breaking in various ways.

Plus I totally look cool chilling in the coffee shop working on my screenplay.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 10:13 PM on September 5, 2011 [12 favorites]


The 13 inch MacBook Air has a starting price of $1299. It's the 11 inch MacBook Air that starts at $999.

Amazing how sticky that lowest price is in people's minds.

Can I get a 15 inch MacBook Air?
posted by dglynn at 10:15 PM on September 5, 2011


All I know is that I want a new laptop, one that has dedicated graphics, a decent processor, and some portability, and aside from Alienware's 11inch, they don't seem to exist, outside of 17inch monoliths. I've had a Compaq (bad. very bad. hesitant to go near HP because of possible Compaq taint), a Dell (very meh, died badly three years in), and a Toshiba (6 years, but starting to fade, and six year old dedicated graphics is pretty damn sad). I'd happily get another Toshiba, but they don't have many dedicated-GPU models. I'm not crazy about getting a Sony, since I've never heard (outside of this thread) of anyone having a positive Sony experience, ever.

So, uh, any ideas? (and no, I don't want a Mac)
posted by Ghidorah at 10:19 PM on September 5, 2011


Why not?
posted by obiwanwasabi at 10:22 PM on September 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


> So, uh, any ideas?

Samsung's Series 9 ain't cheap, but is viable.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 10:22 PM on September 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


I would venture that the Air was Apple's _response_ to the netbook. Which is to say that the pc version of the air predated it by about a year by the first eee pc, which weighed 2.5lbs and ran an SSD. I'm actually typing this on a 9" eee pc that I've been using pretty much constantly for the last couple-few years. In essence, Apple put in some slightly nicer components and tripled the price.

The fact that typing in his requirements gave the author a bunch of netbook choices thus shouldn't really come as a surprise...
posted by kaibutsu at 10:25 PM on September 5, 2011 [12 favorites]


So, uh, any ideas?

Wait for the Series 7 I linked above (the 14-inch version comes in a 13-inch chassis due to the small bezel size, although it only seems to have a 6490M, which isn't a very impressive card). Acer also makes a few cheap, thin, and long-running TimelineX models with pretty great dedicated graphics, but I had a number of hardware problems with the original Timeline, so I'm a little wary. (The 3830tg is probably the one you want.)
posted by derrinyet at 10:29 PM on September 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


So, uh, any ideas? (and no, I don't want a Mac)
Take your question to AskMeFi?
posted by matt_od at 10:31 PM on September 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Waah, I can't get a Macbook Air with a nipple!

Oh grow up. The article whines that the PC industry can't compete with Apple because it gives customers too many options, and then he whines that he can't get the exact options he wants. You can't have it both ways.

But, if you want a PC clone of the current Macbook Air, you have options.

Someday. The Acer model you cited isn't in production yet. Projected release Real Soon Now for $750-950, if they can get Intel to give them free chips and Microsoft to give them free Windows. Actual delivery more like 2012 Q3 for $1500, $2000 if it matches the Macbook Air spec with SSD etc.
posted by charlie don't surf at 10:32 PM on September 5, 2011 [5 favorites]


Jesus, I bought an Acer Aspire for my wife and I consider myself lucky she didn't divorce me. What a godawful pile of stinky ass that thing was. Maybe in real life "Acer Aspire" doesn't have any more consistent implication of quality (or lack thereof) over time than "Sony VAIO" does, but just looking at the picture gives me an almost pavlovian need to smash that thing with a rock.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:35 PM on September 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


Someday. The Acer model you cited isn't in production yet. Projected release Real Soon Now for $750-950, if they can get Intel to give them free chips and Microsoft to give them free Windows. Actual delivery more like 2012 Q3 for $1500, $2000 if it matches the Macbook Air spec with SSD etc.

Apparently it's launching this month.
posted by derrinyet at 10:36 PM on September 5, 2011


It fairly boggles my mind that all these competitors can't significantly beat Apple's pricing. I just want a 2 lb laptop with a good screen that's less than an inch thick. How can Apple deliver that for $1000 but all these "Air killers" can't?

The article says:
The PC guys aren't convinced that they can beat Apple's pricing.

That's just unbelievable to me, considering Apple's pricing in the past.
posted by Monochrome at 10:37 PM on September 5, 2011


But many who buy Apple want a Unix-like OS humming along gracefully under a gorgeous GUI and not have to worry about tracking down obscure drivers all the time

This is exactly why I run OS X. The power of bash command line when I want it and idiot-proof automation when I don't. I'm a little bit worried about the iOS of OS X trend though, Apple seems to want to skew the balance away from bash and more towards idiot-proofing.
posted by yeolcoatl at 10:39 PM on September 5, 2011 [16 favorites]


Launch |= delivery.
posted by charlie don't surf at 10:42 PM on September 5, 2011


Ooookay.
posted by derrinyet at 10:45 PM on September 5, 2011


I had gone through a similar experience trying to find a laptop equivalent to the one in the article, and agree just trying to figure out if a particular model from any of the major PC manufacturers fit the profile of what I wanted was an exercise in frustration: just a series of buzz words like "multimedia" that bore no relation to to the intended use or capabilities.

And the pricing- when Apple starts looking cheap by comparison, you know something is very wrong.

And what it ultimately came down to was purchasing a discounted older model with a generic base configuration intended for institutional use (badged centrino), and buying the parts to configure it like I wanted.

You could call it modular design or some such.

A $500 Macbook Air equivalent? You betcha.

And I'll get to repeat the morass when hi-fi computer audio comes to town.

*sigh*
posted by quintessencesluglord at 10:46 PM on September 5, 2011


Toshiba checks in.
posted by ambient2 at 10:46 PM on September 5, 2011


obiwanwasabi: But many who buy Apple want a Unix-like OS humming along gracefully under a gorgeous GUI and not have to worry about tracking down obscure drivers all the time, particularly for their portable electronics that are similarly well designed. More expensive? Sure, but my time is expensive, and so time saved trying to configure that wireless card that won't come out of sleep mode is money wasted anyway.
Exactly.

I built my last handful of Windows desktop computers, so I'm very comfortable with them. However, when it came to a laptop in 2009, I couldn't find anything on the PC side that compared to the MacBook Air for size and weight. When you add how well the device runs with the aesthetics, the modest premium is well worth it.

There really is something to be said for having the same company make the hardware and software: the Macbook's mousepad gestures are elegant, the Macbook comes out of sleep instantly (or very nearly), the Spotlight (Find/search) is blazing fast, and the Mac OS has yet to cause me any grief (Windows 7 on the other hand... I've wasted weeks of my life trying to track down solutions to Windows bugs, driver issues, and whatnot... Several hours today, come to think of it, without success). [I also prefer the iWork software to MS Office, both for how well it works and for price]

Comparatively speaking, Macs just work. And the time and aggravation that has saved me is well worth the modest premium I paid. And then some.

Plus, my Macbook Air can fit inside a manilla envelope. How cool is that? :) It's three years old and it still get oohs and ahhs. :)
posted by Davenhill at 10:47 PM on September 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


I have a mac mini that has been running great for six years and a little acer netbook that has been going strong for three years. Now, these aren't powerful machines, but they do almost everything I want and they were both prices under $700 and $400 respectively. I have been looking at something with a little more 'oomph' for design work and the prices there get pretty scary. Just a nice wacom tablet costs more than my acer.
posted by runcibleshaw at 10:47 PM on September 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


When I read articles about this sort of thing (given how dependent the topic is on Apple's supply chain and management thereof), all I can think is, "Tim Cook, ladies and gentlemen. Tim motherfucking Cook."
posted by sparkletone at 10:47 PM on September 5, 2011 [13 favorites]


It also seems that the Sony Vaio X Series was a machine with pretty much exactly what this guy was after. Very thin, 11 or 13" screen, bluetooth, good processor, and for cheaper than the Air. It seems not to be in production any more, though.
posted by kaibutsu at 10:49 PM on September 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


And that's why I make my own PCs.

A strategy that doesn't work as well for ultra-thin laptops, I admit.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:52 PM on September 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


I actually have two Mac minis with dead hard drives. Gotta get those fixed.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:53 PM on September 5, 2011


When I read articles about this sort of thing (given how dependent the topic is on Apple's supply chain and management thereof), all I can think is, "Tim Cook, ladies and gentlemen. Tim motherfucking Cook."

From the link about the Toshiba unit:

Analysts at Nomura have expressed severe doubts about the viability of the ultrabook category, at least at the price point it seems to currently entail.

Analyst Richard Windsor said in a briefing a week ago that Apple, whose MacBook Air laptop may be said to have spurred on the category, would be very difficult to compete with, given the control it has over its supply lines.

"Here the magic price seems to be $1,000, but it appears that the PC makers are really struggling to make this price point and still preserve a modicum of profit for themselves," Windsor said. "This is the major reason why we do not believe that the ultrabook segment is really going to take off until next year."


Seems to simply answer the question in this thread: Management.
posted by ferdinand.bardamu at 10:53 PM on September 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


This article jibes with my experience fairly well. I was looking for a laptop with similar requirements, and the Air was far and away my best option. I've always used PCs and would've bought a similar spec'ed one if I could. It just doesn't exist yet. Netbooks really aren't comparable if you want a full sized keyboard and decent screen resolution. The closest thing might be the Lenovo u260 or Samsung Series 9, but both have lower resolution screens and other differences. (not to mention the Samsung is more expensive!) So in July the Air became my first Mac, and I'm sure I'm not the only one.

PC makers really need to get their acts together on this one. My experience with the Air says it's what most laptops should look like in a few years.
posted by Wemmick at 11:00 PM on September 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


A workplace anecdote:

My workplace has a mix of Macs and (Lenovo) PCs. All laptops are purchased at roughly the same price point. After 3 years, every machine is EOLed and rotated out, at which point the employee can buy them for a fixed price.*

I haven't heard of anyone buying back a Lenovo.

The IT guys laughed when I said I'd buy back my Mac and asked if they had any others to buy at that price, because apparently they get that response from everybody.

AFAIC, buying a PC is like buying no-name tools. It may be cheaper and faster but it's basically disposable. If you put heavy use into the machine, and want to keep it as long as possible**, there are few options better than a Mac.

* Exact figures omitted as a fig leaf obscuring the details of my employment, although I'm sure it's obvious to anyone who knows the place.

** So if you want a gaming rig, don't get a Mac -- you'll want to replace the hardware soon anyway, so it's a waste of money. For me, the amount I saved buying back my work computer paid for my XBox 3 times over.
posted by bjrubble at 11:01 PM on September 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


Look at the experience the author had with the configurators of the big three manufacturers: the same on all three. A baffling array of incomprehensible choices obfuscated by marketing lingo that even he, a tech writer and windows-preferer, couldn't decipher. Apple may not overwhelm you with choices but at least you can figure out what those choices are and find a best fit. And they don't dick around with the segmentation very quickly over time, so your reasoning is probably going to hold ever years of subsequent purchases unless your needs change dramatically.

Having to fight over the Windows market deprives any given manufacturer of that degree of control, so they have to struggle continually to differentiate on price and product position. It's not a great position to be in and the mortality rate on individual models and even segments is high and the margins terribly low. It's hard to invest in developing a really solid individual offering when the odds are so against any given one succeeding in a big way. So all they can do is throw a lot of random stuff out there an see what people buy.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:01 PM on September 5, 2011 [6 favorites]


When I read articles about this sort of thing (given how dependent the topic is on Apple's supply chain and management thereof), all I can think is, "Tim Cook, ladies and gentlemen. Tim motherfucking Cook."

Correct. The article mentions Cook but doesn't understand his impact. The author blames OEMs for not being competitive, and Intel for not dropping CPU prices. But that's looking too far up the supply chain.

Apple bet the company on new technologies and made huge investments in component manufacturers to support production and reduce their costs at the most fundamental level. They dominate the supply market, e.g. other OEMs complain they can't get SSDs and flash memory because Apple's hogging it all, and Apple gets better prices than they do. Well that's what happens when you lock in long term supply contracts before the other OEMs even realize those components are useful. Notice that nobody but Apple makes a unibody aluminum case for their MacBook Pros. Basically the entire world production of CNC milling of computer cases is all going to Apple, and they are ramping up production to meet demand and all that is going to Apple. So if you want to compete, think cheap plastic.

A good example: Apple made huge investments in Samsung for LCDs and other components, a billion dollar investment schedule. Samsung decides to make their own competing iPads and Ultrabooks, piggybacking on their lowered component cost due to Apple. Oh no, Samsung can't sell their products due to infringing on Apple's patented technologies. They fight over that in court, meanwhile Apple pulls its money out and invests in Sharp LCD production instead. Suddenly the Samsung ultrabook costs $1750 instead of $1250.

Management is creating a vision and using your corporate leadership and financial influence to line up everyone behind it. It shapes the whole industry around your plan. Apple spent many years trying to neutralize the "first mover advantage" and they figured out how to do it. If you can't compete with Apple, that's because they beat you.
posted by charlie don't surf at 11:02 PM on September 5, 2011 [50 favorites]


I never used Apple before OSX, but I fell in love with it when I first saw it. I'd been using Linux on my desktop for a while, and the prospect of having a decent CLI with a good gui and hardware configuration that just works was pretty compelling.

I keep expecting that at some point, Apple is going to piss me off enough that I'll go back to Linux. I thought the app store and the iOS convergence stuff would do it, but apparently not. I just bought a new laptop. I spent a while searching for a PC laptop, but when I looked at thinkpads configured similarly to a macbook pro, they were only about 300 cheaper or so.

In the end, I went with the macbook for the better screen, I like the touchpad better, and I like the build quality better.
posted by heathkit at 11:15 PM on September 5, 2011


AFAIC, buying a PC is like buying no-name tools. It may be cheaper and faster but it's basically disposable. If you put heavy use into the machine, and want to keep it as long as possible**, there are few options better than a Mac.

I never thought I would come down on the side of cloud computing but ever since I started using a vmware image on an ESX host I can't help but think I will never buy anything but the cheapest machine possible ever again. My desktop image is hosted and maintained seamlessly, I never worry about hardware or backups, I'm pretty sure I get restore points. this might not be an option for home users yet, and certain things like playing games is a non-option right now, but it is only a matter of time.

At work we pretty much treat all hardware as disposable. Laptops get "lost" or broken all the time. You just RDP into your image and keep going. I can't help but think in the near future people will buy a $100 computer, connect to their desktop hosted by google, apple, Microsoft or whoever and log on to Facebook, or work on their family tree or whatever normal people use computers for.
posted by Ad hominem at 11:18 PM on September 5, 2011 [9 favorites]


I purchased a PC for work a few months back, and after the more-or-less relative ease of purchasing 3 Macs in the last decade, found it more than a bit frustrating. I don't know much about computers, and don't totally care to learn. The simplicity of Mac choices was what I was looking for, and I found myself having to read about video cards, sound cards, different brands of manufacturers and reasonable amounts of RAM, and stuff that I figure most people here might already know about. On the Apple site there's 5 types of computers, and each type has 3-5 models, and I never had to sweat it.

What I've figured out is that when people say Macs cost too much, they don't see the added value that someone like me (at best a novice) sees. If all hardware specs are the same, then yeah, Macs look like a ripoff, and the computer is simply a commodity. If you think I'm being silly, look at building or modding your own car versus buying one off the lot. I know I can buy a camshaft, but I'm not about to study valve lash and effects or roller bearings or install it myself.
posted by l2p at 11:20 PM on September 5, 2011 [4 favorites]


Do you realize that not equals is represented by != in C while |= represents bitwise or with assignment, charlie? Ain't never seen |= used for not equal. And who's keyboard are you using again. ;)

As an aside, I've always felt that CD/DVD drives were pointless, stupid, and concumerist in laptops.. just download your movies and mp3s from TPB for gods sakes.. or buy yourself an usb CD/DVD drive if you're among those few soles who'll actually use it more than once during the machine's lifetime.   I therefore always liked the MacBook Air's design but never trusted their repairability.. until I found the Air's repair guides run like half the lengths of a MacBook Pro's.
posted by jeffburdges at 11:22 PM on September 5, 2011


Apple bet the company on new technologies and made huge investments in component manufacturers to support production and reduce their costs at the most fundamental level. They dominate the supply market, e.g. other OEMs complain they can't get SSDs and flash memory because Apple's hogging it all, and Apple gets better prices than they do. Well that's what happens when you lock in long term supply contracts before the other OEMs even realize those components are useful. Notice that nobody but Apple makes a unibody aluminum case for their MacBook Pros. Basically the entire world production of CNC milling of computer cases is all going to Apple, and they are ramping up production to meet demand and all that is going to Apple. So if you want to compete, think cheap plastic.

That might be true about the flash memory, though I doubt it. Cornering the market on milled aluminum though? Seriously? And, do they even make them that way?!?! Surely it is some kind of stamping process with a little machining thrown in at the end, otherwise the cost would be super ridiculous...
posted by Chuckles at 11:26 PM on September 5, 2011


Oops, that was supposed to say "neutralize the First Mover DISadvantage."
posted by charlie don't surf at 11:26 PM on September 5, 2011


AFAIC, buying a PC is like buying no-name tools. It may be cheaper and faster but it's basically disposable. If you put heavy use into the machine, and want to keep it as long as possible**, there are few options better than a Mac.

But all computers are basically disposable. These are not durable goods we're talking about. Buying high-end hardware is like buying a new instead of used car: the price/peformance/longevity difference just doesn't add up.

When I bought my disposable Dell Inspiron 1501 in March of 2007, the current MacBook was this. My 1501 sold for $550 whilst the Macbook sold for $1100. What was important to me at the time was screen size (figuring I could upgrade components later) and I wanted something at least fifteen inches. The MacbBook was only 13 inches. To get a 15 inch screen meant going for the MacBook Pro at $2000.

A couple years in, I moved to 2GB of RAM ($40) and a dual-core AMD Turion processor (used, off ebay for $20). A couple months ago I replaced the battery with a non-Dell unit. ($30 at Amazon.) I'm at five and a half years now (just bought a replacement hard drive for $20 to retire the original) and expect to make it to seven without much difficulty.

As for use... well, I'm a webserver cowboy and spend most of my free time on the internet. I guarantee I spend way more time using my computer than you or most people. So I must vehemently disagree with your statement that there are "few options better than a Mac" for serious computer users interested in the getting the maximum longevity out of their machines.
posted by ferdinand.bardamu at 11:34 PM on September 5, 2011 [5 favorites]


And, do they even make them that way?!?! Surely it is some kind of stamping process with a little machining thrown in at the end, otherwise the cost would be super ridiculous...

Brace yourself.
posted by Ryvar at 11:34 PM on September 5, 2011 [11 favorites]


Chuckles, they show how they're made on the "Unibody Enclosure" video on this page.
posted by floam at 11:35 PM on September 5, 2011


Well, I hope the pc manufacturers can wait a few months more before trying to emulate Apple, because I want to buy a cheap laptop soon, and I don't want to spend over $500.00 for it.

I see Apple as the computer for people who insist on driving a Mercedes Benz. Sure it's got the quality, but some of us just need a cheap commute vehicle.
posted by happyroach at 11:36 PM on September 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


What I've figured out is that when people say Macs cost too much, they don't see the added value that someone like me (at best a novice) sees.

The price of a Mac these days doesn't really faze me. What does is the price of upgrades on their equipment. Example: To upgrade a MacBook Air 11" (the $999 model) from 2GB RAM to 4GB RAM is a $100 upgrade. This is an insulting price when you can buy the same memory on your own for as little as $29 on Newegg. SSDs are similarly overpriced for the upgrade: $300 for a 256GB SSD (MacBook 11" $1199 version). The price difference between a 256GB and 128GB on Newegg is around $200. Mind you, these are retail prices I am talking. Apple doesn't pay $29 for 4GB RAM or $390 for a 256GB SSD.

And don't get me started on Apple accessories. $35 for a MiniDisplayPort to HDMI connector? $50 for the Airplane Power Adapter? Working for a company that specializes in manufacturing parts cheaply in China, I can attest that the entire cost (marginalized out) for design, testing, raw materials, production, packaging and shipping equals around $0.10 apiece for these.

Maybe I shouldn't be surprised anymore.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 11:38 PM on September 5, 2011 [15 favorites]


I haven't seen anyone mentioned another benefit of buying a Mac: resale value. I bought a MacBook in 2008 that for around $1000 (refurbished), and was able to sell it earlier this year for $700. How many three-year-old Dell laptops can be sold for 70% for their purchase price? Sure, I paid more for the MacBook that whatever the equivalent PC laptop was at the time, but I would bet that in the end, the Mac ended up costing less once resale value is factored in.
posted by good in a vacuum at 11:39 PM on September 5, 2011 [8 favorites]


I haven't seen anyone mentioned another benefit of buying a Mac: resale value.

Honestly, I think this is because that, well... Resale value doesn't matter. Like, Apple doesn't see any profit from resales, so why do they care. Their suppliers don't, so they don't care either. It's nice, and I've taken advantage of it too, but I think it's tangential to the considerations that lead to the situation described in the article linked in the op.
posted by sparkletone at 11:42 PM on September 5, 2011


Cornering the market on milled aluminum though? Seriously? And, do they even make them that way?!?!

Ryvar got the first link:

Macbook Pro milled from a solid block of aluminum.

I found this video of Jonny Ive sitting in a CNC lab.

Johnathan Ive shows MacBook Air CNC milled components.
posted by charlie don't surf at 11:43 PM on September 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't need top-end performance in a laptop. If I was a traveling salesman or went to a lot of LAN parties I might feel differently, but in this day and age there's no excuse for even low-end hardware to run Windows 7 and productivity applications sluggishly.

Here's what I do expect from a laptop:
  • Comfortable layout. No deviating from local keyboard standards except where strictly necessary. I had a work laptop at one point with a vast wasteland of blank plastic on either side of the trackpad, and a row of convenient buttons to access the OEM's crappy spyware (see below), but they apparently felt it necessary to save 4mm of space with half-height number keys. I guess they wanted to overthrow the elitist tyranny of the parenthesis. Also, "resting" positions should be safe. I shouldn't have to worry about the heel of my hand brushing the trackpad and clicking somewhere random on the screen just so I can hit the spacebar. Finally, the edges should be rounded so that I don't come away from every computing experience checking for scars. I'm looking at you, Lenovo.
  • Good heat dissipation. Basically that means I shouldn't have to think about how hot my laptop gets unless I'm wrapping it in a heavy quilt and setting it to batch-render WALL·E. Again, I don't need top-end performance so feel free to throttle that Flash animation a bit if the processor starts to throw sparks.
  • Reasonable connector and peripheral layout. Apple's little sticky charging nubbin is brilliant, particularly compared to that of my Dell: a thick round cable with about two inches of rigid plastic around the end. It's like my laptop has a little side-boner, and when the electrical outlet happens to be on my left I get a horrible bendy effect and the fear that I'm going to snap the thing. Also, headphone jacks and the CD tray should not open out into my crotch when I have my laptop on top of my lap. That space is ocupado.
  • The following hardware requirements: a screen with solid contrast and resolution. Speakers that I can make loud enough for a small conference room to hear, even if the result is extremely tinny. That's pretty much it, everything else is either obvious (USB) or pretty negotiable as long as reasonable level of future-proofing is either built-in or available (HDMI output, 802.11n).
  • Competent design. I'm not looking for a Ferrari here. But I don't want to carry around an anonymous black or dull grey plastic brick either, and offering a variety of cornea-searing neon colors is not much better. Seriously, if Lenovo went to a luxury car dealership and plagiarized the color schemes (with legally defensible variation of course) it would be like a 90% improvement in their brand aesthetics. It also helps to have a useful naming convention so I don't have to relearn a new meaningless brand your marketing department came up with during a drunken game of Boggle. Macbook Pro and Macbook Air are evocative names that tell me it's a Mac, a notebook, and either for professional use or "lightweight". Contrast the "IdeaPad" or the "XPS", which tell me that a bunch of MBAs found a new way to spread their bland to the rest of the world.
  • Stop installing your shitty, shitty utilities that superimpose a toolbar with "Wacky funhouse mirror effect" when I'm using the camera to Skype, or offer me 10Mb of free online backup space with an extra gig available for only $50/month, or which pop up critical system notifications like "A new version of this shitty, shitty utility is available." For the purposes of this discussion, any Norton or McAfee product is just a shitty, shitty utility that's just extra hard to uninstall.
None of the above are going to make PC laptop manufacturers hemorrhage money, but they would go a long, long way towards competing with how effortless and painless it is to own a Mac. I honestly don't think manufacturing price or cutthroat competition is the differentiating factor here.

Instead, my view is that these companies have a corporate culture that wants to make laptops they think will sell, rather than laptops they would personally want to use... and as a result they end up with laptops that do neither.
posted by Riki tiki at 11:47 PM on September 5, 2011 [31 favorites]


the Mac ended up costing less once resale value is factored in.

What a pointless comment. If I'm buying a computer to use until it is has maxed out its upgrade options and is an unusable wreck, what do I care what it resells for at some point between now and then? If I buy a "disposable" computer and get to use it for seven years, I'm not going to give two shits what its carcass sells for.
posted by ferdinand.bardamu at 11:51 PM on September 5, 2011


The Macbook Air is a beautiful piece of hardware, very well designed and obviously well-crafted not just for aesthetics but also for price-points; indeed, it's truly remarkable how Apple has been able to slice the price for a Macbook Air in three versions.

Only problem from my vantage point, is as follows:

To be _any_ decent, and by which I mean at least 13" of screen and > 100 gb HDD (and I came up with this figure because I have an iPhone and an iPad that have 32 gigs each. Assuming I'd have to make a backup for each and have some space left for software, that'll add up to 100 gigs), you have to pay USD 1299 in the US store, but a whopping SGD 2088 in the Singapore store. USD 1299 == SGD 1569 by current rates. I don't know where that SGD 500 came from.

Even assuming I ship from the US store, we're talking about SGD 100 for shipping. So that gives me SGD 1669 at the very least for a Macbook Air.

SGD 1600 is about _twice_ of what you'd expect to pay for a Wintel laptop with the same generic specs (4 gigs RAM, 13", 100+ gigs HDD) in the local market. The only drawback is battery life (I'll ignore the ability to turn on immediately; many new Wintel laptops do indeed resume from sleep quite fast); I understand a Macbook Air goes for about seven hours between charges. That's a nice to have feature, but from my perspective, definitely not worth doubling your budget.
posted by the cydonian at 11:59 PM on September 5, 2011


I understand a Macbook Air goes for about seven hours between charges.

That's actually kinda standard, for smaller screens. My Acer Aspire isn't Air thin, but it lasts eight hours on a charge, and has for the three or so years I've owned it.
posted by kafziel at 12:03 AM on September 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


None of the above are going to make PC laptop manufacturers hemorrhage money, but they would go a long, long way towards competing with how effortless and painless it is to own a Mac.

Painless like when your two year-old iMac starts getting vertical lines all over the screen, Apple won't do shit about it (lolwarrantyisexpiredlol), and the screen can't be (economically) replaced -- meaning you have to either buy a new computer or just live with the lines, singing Alleluia to Steve Jobs as each new line appears at boot?
posted by ferdinand.bardamu at 12:05 AM on September 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Man, I just had to use my friend's Macbook for like five minutes, and I couldn't wait to finish what I was doing and throw it back at her. What a horrible computer! Why is its screen so shiny and stupid? Why the fuck doesn't it have any fucking mouse buttons?

I've never loved any object as much as my Thinkpad. It's so black, so ugly, so beautiful, so strong. And the keyboard! God! I grew up using Macs, and had a Gateway followed by a Dell followed by two HPs followed by this thing somebody built for me from scratch, and after all of that garbage, my Thinkpad felt just like coming home at last. It just feels so right.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 12:10 AM on September 6, 2011 [11 favorites]


sparkletone: I think it's tangential to the considerations that lead to the situation described in the article linked in the op.

Fair enough; I meant this as a chime-in to the side discussion in this thread about cost vs. value in laptops.

ferdinand.bardamu: If I buy a "disposable" computer and get to use it for seven years, I'm not going to give two shits what its carcass sells for.

Great! But I wasn't writing my comment from your perspective, I was writing it from mine. Confusing, I know.
posted by good in a vacuum at 12:13 AM on September 6, 2011 [5 favorites]


Samsung's high end range definitely comes close. In my almost-entirely unhappy sojourn at Samsung, the only thing that was cool was my Seoul colleagues' notebooks.
posted by scruss at 12:15 AM on September 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


the MacBook Air costs $999. A basic PC laptop is $399. That's a pretty big difference right there. I'd be surprised if they couldn't make something comparable for thrice the price. But but there aren't really any "Luxury" PC brands the same way Apple has, maybe Alienware.
posted by delmoi at 12:23 AM on September 6, 2011


the MacBook Air costs $999. A basic PC laptop is $399.

This ignores any possible price differentiator beyond raw cost. I'm not saying that any Apple anything is the optimal price/cost ratio for anyone, but seriously. Just because someone CAN charge $399 for god knows what, and a vaguely equivalent $999 apple whatever is equivalent... Like, come on. we can't pretend the two are equivalent. I'd rather pay 2-3x $399 to get a laptop that I won't hate using and (likely) won't break and if it does will probably be dealth with reasonably maybe... than have to deal with whatever $399 for the bare minimal price gets me.

I don't think I'm alone there. Pure price is not a thing being competed on. That's kind of part of the point of the op.
posted by sparkletone at 12:27 AM on September 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


I love the variety in pcs.

also, I have an 15-inch Asus which is plenty portable (sure it's 6lb - but my books weigh more) and which has more processing power than I need, even doing editting and GIS on 150mb images. And it's got a sweet chocolate brown case that's seriously strong - the strong cases are the first things I noticed about Asus. All for less than $1000 CND. (Like Singapore, we have inexplicable markups, though our dollar is now at par).

But a backlit keyboard would be nice. The author clearly has never been typing in the evening as the light gets lower and lower, or in bed after the SO has turned the light out. Or they perfectly touch-type.
posted by jb at 12:27 AM on September 6, 2011


Samsung notebooks are brilliant.
posted by seanyboy at 12:28 AM on September 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've found in my recent years of using both Macbooks and PCs, the following generally apply:

1. Macs are for developers or computer noobs. If you're developing for the web and it's not ASP/.net/other windows, get a Mac. If your grandmother wants a computer, get her a Mac.

2. If you want a lot of customizability of the UI, or simply more options for tweaking your system and you *aren't* writing code, get a windows machine.

The second is true especially if you're doing any creative work that doesn't rely critically on the OSX ecosystem and have to do so on a budget. For example, I record music. For the same dollar investment, I could get a fully loaded Macbook Pro. With just Garageband. Or I could get a PC with the identical high specs with good Digital Audio Workstation software (Cubase or Ableton or Sonar or Protools), Reason or a bunch of synth and drum plugins, a hardware interface, a decent pair of monitors, a good MIDI keyboard, a good microphone, and cables to hook it all up. Unless you're deep in the OSX ecosystem (i.e. a heavy Logic user or have to use Final Cut Pro), you can choose a Mac and nothing to show for it (but it sure is pretty), or a relatively uglier PC with the gear and software to record an entire album. Kind of a no-brainer, to me.
posted by chimaera at 12:40 AM on September 6, 2011 [4 favorites]


seanyboy: "Samsung notebooks are brilliant."

Definitely. I thought it was kind of weird the article author was all, "I went to Dell, HP and Lenovo: I'VE RUN THE GAMUT PEOPLE." After all the issues my dad has had with the series of Dells he keeps buying for some reason I wouldn't consider them even if they were half the price of their competitors.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 12:48 AM on September 6, 2011


So, uh, any ideas?

Wait for the Series 7 I linked above (the 14-inch version comes in a 13-inch chassis due to the small bezel size, although it only seems to have a 6490M, which isn't a very impressive card). Acer also makes a few cheap, thin, and long-running TimelineX models with pretty great dedicated graphics, but I had a number of hardware problems with the original Timeline, so I'm a little wary. (The 3830tg is probably the one you want.)
posted by derrinyet at 10:29 PM on September 5 [+] [!]


I actually have an Acer Timeline X (a 5820tg), and haven't had any real issues in the six months or so since I purchased it. The keyboard to me seems to be a bit different than the standard style of PC notebook keyboard, and took a few days to get use to, but I've not regretted my decision so far.
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan at 12:48 AM on September 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


The second is true especially if you're doing any creative work that doesn't rely critically on the OSX ecosystem and have to do so on a budget. For example, I record music. For the same dollar investment, I could get a fully loaded Macbook Pro. With just Garageband. Or I could get a PC with the identical high specs with good Digital Audio Workstation software (Cubase or Ableton or Sonar or Protools), Reason or a bunch of synth and drum plugins, a hardware interface, a decent pair of monitors, a good MIDI keyboard, a good microphone, and cables to hook it all up.

Oh horseshit. Cubase by itself costs $500. A decent audio interface is $200 or $300. And believe it or not, because of Core Audio, you don't need the same specs on a macbook that you do on a windows box for producing audio. I've compared VSTs with my friend running them in cubase, and my 3 year old macbook (not even a macbook pro) was running the same number of softsynths that they were running on their brand new top of the line windows desktop.

I'm running Ableton Live on my new macbook air right now, and it doesn't even run the fans with several instances each of Massive and Absynth and lots of effects plugins going in ableton.
posted by empath at 12:49 AM on September 6, 2011 [5 favorites]


Hell yes pointer nipples. You shall pry mine out of my cold, dead hands.
posted by BungaDunga at 12:56 AM on September 6, 2011


I program almost every day of the week. My time and my money are valuable to me. I need a well-made computer that works without compromises, which will last me a long time.

My MacBook Air is fast, quiet and lightweight.

It is also beautiful, which is nice. But I didn't get my MacBook Air because of marketing. I have never seen an Apple advert for a MacBook Air on the web, on television or anywhere else.

I do not drive a Mercedes Benz, nor do I drive a BMW, nor do I drive any other luxury vehicle. My car is eleven years old, and I continue to maintain it. I work in a non-profit research institution. I am not wealthy, by any stretch of anyone's imagination.

I bought my MacBook Air, because it is a better long-term value. I won't have to replace this laptop for another 5-6 years. Like a well-made Toyota or Honda, people respect the value that Apple brings to their products. When it comes time to replace it, I can actually sell it to help buy a newer one.

My meagre income is valuable to me. Apple respects that by making better technology.

If I had bought a cheap Windows laptop for $399, I would have a laptop that weighs two-to-three times that of a MacBook Air. My back is too valuable to me to waste on carrying around a cheap brick.

Because of the line of work I am in, I would likely have to replace a cheap Windows laptop every couple years, assuming I am lucky and its plasticky shell doesn't crack or pieces don't otherwise fall off. I do not have the time and money to replace a computer on that schedule.

Further, the open-source-based development work that I do is simply not compatible with the ecosystem that Microsoft has created. I would have to waste time jumping through Microsoft's hoops to create a workable environment — on a heavy PC clone, no less; one which is not constructed anywhere nearly as well as an Apple computer.

At the very least, because of registry and endless malware problems, I would have to wipe a Windows laptop's hard drive and reinstall the operating system on a frequent basis, in order to get it back to a usable state. I have outgrown my technical support role; I do not enjoy this kind of work any longer.

I bought my MacBook Air, because my time and my money are valuable to me.

I know all too well that being a cheapskate can make a "cheap" PC actually cost more than a Mac, over its lifespan.

I bought my MacBook Air, because it runs OS X, which is currently the best client platform for my line of work.

I bought my MacBook Air, because it is a better computer than just about all competing products in the same niche, most of which actually costing more than a MacBook Air.

Clone makers cannot compete in this niche, because they do not understand how Apple works as a computer maker, nor do clone makers understand the needs of users like myself.

Most likely never will, but that's okay. I am happy that Apple has a business model so successful that it can keep pushing personal computing forward. The clone makers will take a couple years to catch up to where Apple is now, which will benefit consumers who do not like users of Apple products, but that's okay.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:57 AM on September 6, 2011 [13 favorites]


Or they perfectly touch-type.

Plenty of people do. Or close enough. Honestly, keyboarding should probably become a basic school requirement like multiplication tables or cursive writing. (Do they still teach cursive?)
posted by kmz at 12:58 AM on September 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


We're probably just over the peak of the market maturity curve for laptops and PCs as we thought of them. I'd look around for a device to invest in that offered me service without any major upgrades in terms of RAM, HDD and graphics cards etc for the next 5 to 7 years. Imho, time and effort will start going into tablets and 'smart phones' (which I don't expect to be called that going forward).

Also interesting is this Deloitte Tech prediction report for 2011
posted by infini at 12:59 AM on September 6, 2011


Apple markets very well to people who think of a computer as a lifestyle accoutrement
posted by bardic


I was going to respond to this, but honestly, it's late and it's all been written before, so what's the point. If you're still using this argument, that people are only buying macs because they worship Steve Jobs or want to give off some image, then you are simply clueless. (and someone's already brought out the 'fanboy' dig, this thread is complete.)

I would venture that the Air was Apple's _response_ to the netbook. Which is to say that the pc version of the air predated it by about a year by the first eee pc, which weighed 2.5lbs and ran an SSD. I'm actually typing this on a 9" eee pc that I've been using pretty much constantly for the last couple-few years. In essence, Apple put in some slightly nicer components and tripled the price

No, you're wrong. Netbooks are crap. There's no way to compete on price and deliver anything but crap. The iPad was the response to Netbooks. I don't own one, but I hear they're doing pretty well.

If I buy a "disposable" computer and get to use it for seven years, I'm not going to give two shits what its carcass sells for.
posted by ferdinand.bardamu


If you're using the same computer for seven years your needs are so limited that might I suggest an abacus for your next computer. Very durable, cheap, and completely open.

Samsung notebooks are brilliant.
posted by seanyboy


Looks familiar, can’t quite put my finger on what these remind me of.
posted by justgary at 1:05 AM on September 6, 2011 [4 favorites]


At the very least, because of registry and endless malware problems, I would have to wipe a Windows laptop's hard drive and reinstall the operating system on a frequent basis,

I might be the only one, but I have never had to wipe and reinstall windows due to malware or registry issues.
posted by Ad hominem at 1:10 AM on September 6, 2011 [22 favorites]


empath: "And believe it or not, because of Core Audio, you don't need the same specs on a macbook that you do on a windows box for producing audio."

What does CoreAudio have to do with it?

(I have a generic windows 7 box and a MBP in front of me right now - the Mac starts stuttering a lot quicker with the same REAPER projects and the same focusrite interface. The windows 7 box is a bit newer, granted.)
posted by vanar sena at 1:10 AM on September 6, 2011


I run off of 250 dollar notebooks because I do word processing, web, and the occasional powerpoint presentation. When I really want to get shit done I plug in a real keyboard and a real mouse, and I still have a third USB port left for a printer and a video port for a projector! All for peanuts. All of this runs easily off of the cheapest notebook money can buy, and if I get robbed or lose it or break it, I don't really care.

99.9% of laptop users have no need of an ultrabook. They want the cheapest, lightest thing that gets the job done. A four-digit price tag is just extra stress.
posted by mek at 1:12 AM on September 6, 2011 [5 favorites]


Oh horseshit. Cubase by itself costs $500. A decent audio interface is $200 or $300.

Not so. Let's lay it out.

17-inch Quad Core Macbook Pro with 8gb RAM and no other upgrades will run you $2699.

A quick configured system at dell.com with the same HD, screen size, and same RAM will run you $1424.

The difference between the macbook pro and the dell with the same specs is $1275.

Cubase Artist (their Mid-Level DAW) is $249
M-Audio Mobile Pre $100
Reason 5: $349
M-Audio KeyRig 49: $99 at sweetwater
Samson Resolv A6 monitors: $300/pair
Audio Technica AT2020: $69

All of this is just about $1170. So you have $100 remaining to get cables.

If you want the full Cubase version you get enough VSTs that Reason is probably unnecessary, so if you want to hitch the 249 to 500 and knock the $349 from reason, you come out $100 further ahead.

I'm not saying you'll get an awesome studio with this, but I am definitely saying you can get enough gear to record an album.

You can get a PC laptop with this gear above, or a Mac and... nothing else.
posted by chimaera at 1:14 AM on September 6, 2011 [6 favorites]


I'm always somewhat puzzled by people spending so much time and effort debating laptops and raving about how great theirs is, or how much it sucked.

Looking at it from a practical point of view: I can build a PC myself from parts, at a fraction of a cost of a laptop, with far more usability (ergonomic keyboard, mouse, chair and posture, great 24" screen). And this is the most crucial part - If anything goes wrong, I just swap out the broken part, as opposed to being without a computer for 2 weeks while the laptop goes into warranty.

What part of the much vaunted "portability" of a laptop can compare to that? Is anything that important that it can't wait until you get home to do it, or can't wait until you get to work to do it? Smartphones have encroached deeply into what laptops are supposed to allow you to do on the go (surf, check and reply emails, social networking) to the point where I seriously question the wisdom of anyone wanting a laptop other than for the "cool" factor and the "look at me I'm chic and can write poetry while sitting under a tree and at the coffeshop while drinking a chai latte"

Work laptops are an entirely different class of product, of course, but we're not debating that here.

TLDR summary: PC culture started with the DIY modular approach to building hardware which worked, this philosophy carried along to the construction of notebooks, and this sucked.
posted by xdvesper at 1:15 AM on September 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


What part of the much vaunted "portability" of a laptop can compare to that?

The portability part. My computer weighs 4 pounds and fits in my backpack.
posted by mr_roboto at 1:21 AM on September 6, 2011


I owned a 3G iMac (one of the old, old ones) that lasted me years, despite the fact that it was ridiculously outdated even when I bought it. I replaced it with a Dell desktop that was...okay, I guess, if you ignore the broken DVD drive after a few years and the non-functional USB ports a year after that.

But then I got a Dell laptop, and boy was THAT a mistake. A year after purchase, and I swear the thing was barely usable - the battery held a quarter of its original charge, the power adapter came loose so often that getting it to stay in required sticky tape, the (crappy) trackpad would get uncomfortably hot during any sort of processor-intensive task, the screen's backlighting was uneven....and on and on and on. Since then I've been looking for a 'Windows' laptop that I'd like, and I haven't found anything.

A week ago I bought a MacBook Pro, and it's pretty much perfect apart from a bug in the latest version of OS X that makes Windows filesharing difficult. By far the biggest advantage is the trackpad - it's huge, incredibly responsive, and just so comfortable overall that I don't bother using a mouse. That, to me, is the reason why Apple laptops are so much better than any of the alternatives - because Apple looked at the tiny, cramped trackpads and/or keyboards you find on a lot of other laptops and thought 'Hey, maybe we should make this suck less'. Everything I like about it is on the outside, not the inside. For a laptop, I think that makes perfect sense. (Less so for a desktop, but this post is going long already so I'll shut up now.)
posted by anaximander at 1:23 AM on September 6, 2011


Who actually needs top-of-the-line workstation functionality in their backpack, though? That's what we're talking about here, since any laptop over 100 bucks can surf the web and perform better in general than your average desktop circa 2001. I understand when I see a DJ rocking a MacBook, sure. For professional music or graphic production, it's worth the expense, but beyond that... even I write for a living ("living") and I can do that from anything with a USB port to plug a keyboard into.
posted by mek at 1:26 AM on September 6, 2011


And I should add that I was doing my best to compare apples to apples (pun intended) in the spec/price setup (same CPU, etc). If you were to choose a desktop PC rather than a laptop, you can arguably get the computer for a few hundred dollars cheaper (with a monitor).
posted by chimaera at 1:30 AM on September 6, 2011


mek: "Who actually needs top-of-the-line workstation functionality in their backpack, though?"

Minecraft!

(My biggest complaint about OSX is that it's a second-rate gaming platform - Apple just doesn't seem to care)
posted by vanar sena at 1:35 AM on September 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


People go on and on about Apple's Aesthetics. All of those things are subjective. Anyone who thinks Apple's products are objectively better looking then anyone else's are probably being blinded by brand loyalty.
This ignores any possible price differentiator beyond raw cost. I'm not saying that any Apple anything is the optimal price/cost ratio for anyone, but seriously. Just because someone CAN charge $399 for god knows what, and a vaguely equivalent $999 apple whatever is equivalent... Like, come on.
Yeah, like, come on. Obviously that apple logo is totally worth $700!

I don't remember how much I paid for the laptop I got in 2008. It might have been $450 or $499 or something, but it was definitely less then $500. It's not my main computer, so it doesn't get a lot of wear and tear. It does everything I need, and I can't imagine spending another $700 for better case aesthetics or whatever the hell it is you think you're getting with Apple hardware. It's an HP. I actually think it looks pretty nice.

---
But many who buy Apple want a Unix-like OS humming along gracefully under a gorgeous GUI and not have to worry about tracking down obscure drivers all the time
I don't think I've had to haven't had to "track down an obscure driver" since the 1990s. It's not something you have to do if you're not using obscure hardware (And you'd still have to do it if you used those parts with a mac, if there even were drivers)
None of the above are going to make PC laptop manufacturers hemorrhage money, but they would go a long, long way towards competing with how effortless and painless it is to own a Mac. I honestly don't think manufacturing price or cutthroat competition is the differentiating factor here.
Again with this idea that it's somehow "painful" to use a PC. It doesn't really require a lot of effort. The thing is, the "least painful" way to use a computer is actually "the most familiar." If you're familiar with apple, it might be frustrating to use a PC. But what apple zealots don't seem to understand is that it works the other way too. If you're "good with computers" or willing to learn it probably wouldn't take much time to adapt.
At the very least, because of registry and endless malware problems, I would have to wipe a Windows laptop's hard drive and reinstall the operating system on a frequent basis, in order to get it back to a usable state. I have outgrown my technical support role; I do not enjoy this kind of work any longer. -- Blazecock Pileon
Yeah, as we all know Blazecock Pileon is super reliable when it comes to the differences between macs and PCs.

I've been a PC user since the 1990s and I've never once had my machine hit with malware. I know that was a bigger problem for a while in the early 2000's but it's much less of a problem now.

Finally, I write software on windows. It's not that hard. I write for the JVM so my stuff will run on anything, and for server stuff I'll usually deploy on a Linux machine. I did recently setup a Ubuntu virtual machine so I could try out some software on the local machine (CouchDB, which doesn't seem to have good windows support at the moment). It's true that a lot of OSS stuff expects you to be running Unix (in most cases Linux, actually). You can run Cygwin on windows, but it doesn't work all that well. I would probably be pulling out my hair trying to get new stuff running that way.

But, Linux is free and you can run as many VM instances as you want. I find the model of deploying to a VM (either mine or hosted somewhere) easier then installing server software on my "main" machine.

You just hook up your source control so you can push and pull your code on any system.

I really don't like writing software on a laptop at all. I like having a huge monitor or three (I recently got my third monitor running. I was able to get some used 18" monitors pretty cheaply -- to go along with the 23 inch, 1920x1200 monitor in the middle. I can drag a window over four feet of physical space. It's AMAZING). Being able to have a ton of code on one screen, and have a browser window open in another is pretty awesome.
posted by delmoi at 1:53 AM on September 6, 2011 [5 favorites]


What a pointless comment.

I like how you summarise your posts up front. Saves me having to read to the end.

posted by obiwanwasabi at 1:55 AM on September 6, 2011


(On my Mac.)
posted by obiwanwasabi at 1:55 AM on September 6, 2011


What part of the much vaunted "portability" of a laptop can compare to that? Is anything that important that it can't wait until you get home to do it, or can't wait until you get to work to do it?

Have you ever tried to carry your desktop into a library or archive to take notes from sources which you are not allowed to move? Or have you flown overseas for work where you need a computer and taken a desktop with you?

Lots of people seriously need portability. Even just to get out of the house and work at a local coffee shop if you - like many writers, editors and academics - have to work at home. I haven't had an office to work in for the whole of my graduate degree -- I have had to work at home, in libraries, in archives and in cafes (when sick of all the rest). So a laptop was really the only option.

That said, my husband has a portable Windows machine because he likes to game at other people's houses. So there are fun reasons to have a laptop. We watch tv on our laptops in the living room, then I move it to the dining room or basement or library to work.
posted by jb at 2:25 AM on September 6, 2011


I do not drive a Mercedes Benz, nor do I drive a BMW, nor do I drive any other luxury vehicle.

I have to pipe in here, because I did drive a BMW for many years -- more years than I've driven any other car -- after spending a number of weeks trying out various cars and concluding that a used BMW was a hell of a lot nicer than anything else I could afford. And I drove the hell out of that car and it was totally awesome. I finally sold it at 15 years old; my current car (a completely respectable brand) is 6 years old and I think it's already going downhill.

Again, the cheap tools analogy. If you really don't care about what you're working on -- if you're remote terming into another system (which is a terrible use case, because what are you using? PuTTY? Holy hell, what a pile of crap!) -- then maybe it doesn't matter. But I'm perfectly happy with the Mac-BMW analogy, because it's one thing to get from point A to point B, and it's another if you're traveling between point A and point B all day, every day. Are you really happy driving that in a shitty econobox?
posted by bjrubble at 2:31 AM on September 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


But then I got a Dell laptop, and boy was THAT a mistake. A year after purchase, and I swear the thing was barely usable

Did you have an Inspiron 5000-series? Because some of those were serious lemons. But I got an Inspiron 630m and it lasted 5 years through some very serious bashing, and for basic stuff is still going strong (low on ram for other stuff). But I did have the complete care/accidental guarentee and made full use of it - over those five years, the monitor was replaced (shattered), the lower part of the case was replaced, and I believe the motherboard was replaced too. Oh, and the keyboard, which made me lose my lovely UK key setup.

With the accidental coverage, Dells are no longer cheap, but they are very robust -- you don't really care how well they are made when any fault/broken bit is simply replaced. Since getting my Asus, I had to make the trade off of better-hardware with only 1 year accidental coverage, but I'm also no longer cycling with my computer.
posted by jb at 2:31 AM on September 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Have you ever tried to carry your desktop into a library or archive to take notes from sources which you are not allowed to move? Or have you flown overseas for work where you need a computer and taken a desktop with you?

Taking desktop to an archive to take notes from sources which you are not allowed to move = yes I have = and it sounds like work related to me. Was paid for it, at any rate.

Flown overseas for work = yes I have several times = and it sounds like work related to me. Definitely paid for it.

As I said earlier, work laptops are a different beast entirely. It's not something that employees can control for the most part, and I don't think the IT Procurement office is going to get MBA's for their employees anytime soon for work. I'm just talking about people buying laptops for personal use.
posted by xdvesper at 2:46 AM on September 6, 2011


Have you ever tried to carry your desktop into a library or archive to take notes from sources which you are not allowed to move? Or have you flown overseas for work where you need a computer and taken a desktop with you?
So get a netbook or cheapo laptop. I don't really see the need to have a powerful laptop, I see it as a suplement to a desktop. For the price of a Mac, you can buy both.
With the accidental coverage, Dells are no longer cheap, but they are very robust -- you don't really care how well they are made when any fault/broken bit is simply replaced
I don't know about that. Before I got my HP laptop. I had a sony that I had to send in twice during the warrenty period. Then the battery died on me making it pretty useless.
It's not something that employees can control for the most part, and I don't think the IT Procurement office is going to get MBA's for their employees anytime soon for work. I'm just talking about people buying laptops for personal use.
I might be nice to work for a company that can afford to buy expensive stuff for you, but that's not everyone. There are, I imagine, lots of people who have to work freelance and buy their own stuff.
posted by delmoi at 3:07 AM on September 6, 2011


Ghostride The Whip wrote: I have an iBook G3 that still chugs right along and works fine despite being something like 10 years old. The biggest problem it has is it's too damn old to run much that's new, but what's on there still works great. My Macbook Pro is running just as fast as it was the day I got it and it's been 3 years now.

Welcome to my world. A friend of mine still uses the 560X I gave to him 5 years ago that I bought used on eBay in ~2000, when it was already just shy of 3 years old. I have a T30 that still works great. It did have a hard drive failure about a year in. IBM overnighted me a hard drive and the restore CDs because I was too lazy to drive across town to the repair shop. They even sent DHL to retrieve the dead drive. I recently put an SSD in it and reloaded XP. It's pretty darn fast for the mundane web browsing, although I could stand to put some more memory in it.

My T60p (on which I'm typing this) turns five in a month or so. If the GPU were upgradeable, I'd have no reason to even consider buying a new one.

ambient2 wrote: Toshiba checks in

Wow, I completely forgot about that 1" thick Toshiba Portégé one of my clients had in the late 90s.

I think a lot of people get hung up on the budget priced PC laptops. They're all somewhere between shitty and mediocre precisely because they're budget laptops. Spend more, and you can buy a nice laptop that you'll find quite reliable from any of the "business-class" brands. Usually for less than an equivalent Apple.

If I were in the market for an ultralight laptop, I'd be hard pressed to see the value proposition in the MBA, when for less than a third of an extra inch of thickness and an extra half a pound of weight I could get an X220 for almost half a grand less money, and with more memory and a much faster CPU. Conversely, if I absolutely had to have something as thin and light as an MBA, I see no PC laptops of better value.
posted by wierdo at 3:08 AM on September 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


I should note that it's pretty hard to pay list price for most Thinkpads. If you did actually have to pay list, the X220 would be nearly as expensive as a high-end MBA. The article author's contemplated X220 was actually going for less than $1100 last night.

I'm right with him on Lenovo's website, though. They've taken that thing and turned it into one of the most blindingly awful configurators I've ever seen.
posted by wierdo at 3:11 AM on September 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


From Bright's perspective, the tight supply chain of the Macbook Air is a bad thing - it lowers the price, but it also means that there is only one English keyboard layout. From his point of view, the product that comes out is competitively priced, but also unsuitable - so, it's cheap for an ultraportable laptop, but expensive for an unsuitable ultraportable laptop.

At present, he'll have to pay a premium to get a UK keyboard layout (and guaranteed Windows 8 Beta compatibility) on an up-to-date laptop (assuming he doesn't just buy a used Adamo, which is also an option, depending on what he wants to use it for). It's a pretty big premium for something like a Vaio Z, but as they bubble through the design, manufacturing and supply chain there will be more slim laptops built around the reduced heat profile of Sandy Bridge mobile processors.

Intel can cut the price of those processors to stimulate production if it wants to, but ultimately this is the invisible hand of the market, right? If enough people want a slim laptop with a UK keyboard layout, a full-sized return key and guaranteed compatibility with the Windows 8 beta, one will come into being.
posted by running order squabble fest at 3:24 AM on September 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


wierdo: "My T60p (on which I'm typing this) turns five in a month or so. If the GPU were upgradeable, I'd have no reason to even consider buying a new one."

And five years later, you still can't buy a mac laptop for any amount of money with an LCD like the T60p. It was the crappiest thinkpad I owned in terms of build quality, but that SCREEN...
posted by vanar sena at 3:26 AM on September 6, 2011


It must be nice to work in a job which will buy you a computer. But for lots of the rest of us, we have to pay for it ourselves.

I've done the desktop-netbook combo, and it was very frustrating. I was overseas for 3 months, and I didn't have access to all my work files and programs - I was very limited in what I could do. So the very next time I had the opportunity, I switched to a laptop as my only machine. I need to do relatively ram/processor intensive stuff - GIS, working with relational databases, running 5 spreadsheets at a time - on the go, and I also need a lot of screen space for reading photographs of 3 foot documents. For web surfing, email I have a PDA.

You may not need a full laptop - but many of us do. We need a full computer that is nonetheless portable. Even if I didn't use it for work, I would need a laptop because I don't have a desk where I live now - I have to share my living space and I don't have anyplace to leave a desktop set up. Instead I have to work at the dining room or kitchen table. This works fine - we only use the dining room for dinner occasionally, but the rest of my family would certainly not allow me to set up a desktop there. My mother has a laptop for a similar reason - she can use it at the kitchen table while someone else is using the only desk in the house.

Anyways - my point is that many people have either work requirements or living restrictions that mean they need a fully- functional and fully portable computer.

and the ideal computer world has the variety to supply different needs - lightweight machines for some, powerful but still portable machines for others, and desktops for yet others.
posted by jb at 3:40 AM on September 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


One thing that's a little misleading about cost comparisons with Apple is that their prices don't usually move, even while the market is moving around them. When they first introduce a given piece of hardware, it's usually at least a reasonable value; occasionally it's a screaming deal. The 2006-era Mac Pro was one example; one of the best computers ever done, and MUCH cheaper than equivalents from Dell and HP at the time. But with the advent of the i7s, the new Mac Pros suddenly became rather uninteresting, rather crippled, and VERY overpriced compared to their predecessors (and their competitors.)

You saw the same thing when the Mini first shipped, although to a lesser degree. When it first hit the street, it was a good value. But then the price didn't move at all, while all the computers around it got far more powerful. By the time they updated it, it was a pretty terrible buy, at least if you needed something more powerful than a weak Core 2. The new version is pretty good again, but it's already aging, because the price and hardware won't change for at least another year yet, while everything else gets cheaper and/or better.

If you price-compare right when a new model comes out, Apple usually looks pretty good, and Apple-lovers use this as evidence that they're not overpriced. If you price-compare after a model's been out a long while, Apple usually looks pretty terrible, and Apple-haters use this as evidence that they're dreadfully overpriced.

Both these things are true, it's just a matter of when you look. You can get very good deals on hardware from Apple. You can also get really awful ones.

And, as someone mentions upthread, you can get really soaked on a lot of their accessories.
posted by Malor at 3:43 AM on September 6, 2011 [12 favorites]


I don't know about that. Before I got my HP laptop. I had a sony that I had to send in twice during the warrenty period. Then the battery died on me making it pretty useless.

That's the magic of the best Dell warranty - they came to my house. Shattered monitor? Guy was at my house on the next business day, installing a new one. Same goes for my faulty motherboard.

It made my Dell a medium-priced rather than cheap computer ($1200 USD). But I also got 5 years out of it, and have been able to pass it on after I upgraded.
posted by jb at 3:44 AM on September 6, 2011


All this talk of MacBook Airs makes me want a Lenovo X1. Those things are sexy.
posted by public at 3:46 AM on September 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


No, you're wrong. Netbooks are crap. There's no way to compete on price and deliver anything but crap. The iPad was the response to Netbooks. I don't own one, but I hear they're doing pretty well.

I love my eee901. I love its smallness and total portability: 9" makes a huge difference. One of the best things I've ever bought. But I also like Macs and I own an iPad which I enjoy too. Maybe it's just the case that most computers are pretty good these days.
posted by rhymer at 3:58 AM on September 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


There are reasons why Mac hardware seems so cheap. Apple have managed to tie up huge swathes of global hardware production, and not only do they get benefits from this, they also make it harder for PC manufacturers to compete. Don't know who said it, but the money quote for me was "Who controls the spice controls the market.".

The "Mac is a better machine for development" meme makes some sort of sense, but it doesn't apply to everyone. I'm back on the PC for development, and I'm a lot happier. I needed to install me some cygwin, but it works for me.

This is one of the things that infuriates me about mac developers. They are *certain* that Mac is better for development. It's not. It's sometimes better for development.

Example. Back when I was on the Mac, a customer sent a huge (100,000+ lines) file for import. The file had some errors, and I needed to open it in an editor to look see what was going on. I couldn't get a single Mac Editor (including your beloved TextMate) to open it. My beloved TextPad opened it up easily, burped and asked for more.

Another thing we're missing in this conversation is a discussion about the Linuxes. Good luck getting those running on your macbook air. The non-mac market (for all its flaws) is more open than the mac market will ever be. If you care about an open ecosystem for computers, then you're doing yourself a disservice when you buy a mac.

BTW - At home, I'm running Windows on my old Mac using bootcamp, and that Apple Hardware is sweet.


*posted from my generic super speedy PC Box*
posted by seanyboy at 4:02 AM on September 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


I might be the only one, but I have never had to wipe and reinstall windows due to malware or registry issues.

Let me introduce you to my father...
posted by Sourisnoire at 4:14 AM on September 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Apple hardware would be a lot more interesting to run Windows with, if Apple provided drivers that were more than lip service. The touchpad drivers are particularly terrible.

Whether or not Apple intends it this way, I believe the promise of Bootcamp amounts to a bait and switch... "It's safe to buy a Mac because you can still run Windows with it!" -- neglecting to tell you that you can't run Windows well.
posted by Malor at 4:15 AM on September 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Out of curiosity, how do the nearest PC equivalents to a Macbook Air compare when it comes to watching online video? The Macbook Air will heat up like a mother after a few minutes of viewing Youtube or Vimeo, which triggers the second processor core to shut down (to avoid overheating) and results in what can only be called a "slideshow." I've taken to carrying one of those flat "Blue Ice" freezer packs around with me if I know I'm going to be watching a lot of (flash-based) video. (normal video played through Quicktime or VLC causes no overheating or increased battery drain)

That being said, the thing is so lightweight and ultra portable that I really get WAY more use out of it than I would with a more powerful, heavier machine. Storage space is pretty limited when I'm away from my local hard drives, but a couple of 32GB thumb drives solve that problem easily.
posted by ShutterBun at 4:18 AM on September 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, just for the record, Macs are not better for development. It's too expensive to load them with RAM, upgrading the OS is too necessary, and crucial software (hi, Java) lags behind because of corporate politics.

Honestly, any laptop is not great: the more screen I have, the better, and nothing delivers bang for the buck screen like a PC desktop with a few inexpensive monitors. Thinkpads are nice, though, for Linux notebooks.
posted by sonic meat machine at 4:22 AM on September 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Backup article about Apple controlling the spice: Apple's secret iPad advantage.
posted by seanyboy at 4:24 AM on September 6, 2011


Example. Back when I was on the Mac, a customer sent a huge (100,000+ lines) file for import. The file had some errors, and I needed to open it in an editor to look see what was going on. I couldn't get a single Mac Editor (including your beloved TextMate) to open it.

Including vi in Terminal?
posted by acb at 4:24 AM on September 6, 2011 [6 favorites]


The PC industry is captured by the legacy environment from which it sprung...That of the hobbyist rolling his own box at home. The corporations and support industries were created and molded to feed that market because those hobbyists were the bread-and-butter of the nascent personal computer industry. The problem today is, of course, that the industry is still trying to supply a, now, relatively non-existent market. The three-of-four geeks still building their own boxen can't keep the parts industry afloat.

Apple, meanwhile, never had that sort of legacy.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:28 AM on September 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Holy war.
posted by crunchland at 4:28 AM on September 6, 2011


Out of curiosity, how do the nearest PC equivalents to a Macbook Air compare when it comes to watching online video?

My work laptop, a Toshiba 12 inch Core 2 Duo jobbie, will happily show me 720p youtube stuff for my whole lunch break. The fans spin up and it gets warm to touch, but playback stays smooth the whole time. I've never known it to have a problem. Not sure how price compares with the Macbook Air, though.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 4:29 AM on September 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


I do wish that someone in the PC world would make laptops with decent build quality. I bought an HP envy this spring because I wanted to use it mostly for gaming and I'm not interested in trying to use Bootcamp and pray that the video drivers work well enough. But after a few months the touchpad is lifting up and I'm going to have to send it back on warranty and of course HP is getting out of the business all together.
posted by octothorpe at 4:34 AM on September 6, 2011


Out of curiosity, how do the nearest PC equivalents to a Macbook Air compare when it comes to watching online video?

My Vaio SB (dual core i5) barely gets warm. So far I've not really found anything to stress the fan and playback is smooth at high res.
posted by hardcode at 4:35 AM on September 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


I do wish that someone in the PC world would make laptops with decent build quality.

We're very happy with our tough little Samsung netbook, and from reviews and impressions online the general solidity appears to extend to most of their laptop lines.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 4:38 AM on September 6, 2011


>Including vi in Terminal?

Never could get the hang of vi. I'm just not that smart.
posted by seanyboy at 4:39 AM on September 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


delmoi: "I did recently setup a Ubuntu virtual machine so I could try out some software on the local machine (CouchDB, which doesn't seem to have good windows support at the moment)."

In fact I do the same on a mac, because as much as it's "like freebsd", it's different enough that you are never quite certain that the environment is the same as production (which is never on a mac).
posted by vanar sena at 4:45 AM on September 6, 2011


JB: Fair enough. Your personal laptop is also your work laptop. It's not so much that the company is buying employees computers, it's that the company is buying themselves computers to ensure data security and integrity. Our corporate data security protocols are such that they forbid transferring files off the cloud network onto the full disk encrypted / PIN dongle locked down work laptops... never mind actually transferring it off onto a personal computer. I think using personal computers for work would give IT fits. I had thought this to be the case with any decently large company which is interested in protecting its intellectual property / personal information of its customers / financial records...
posted by xdvesper at 4:48 AM on September 6, 2011


I thought the original article (remember that?) was interesting in general though the whiny introduction was off-key.

The topic under discussion really comes down to a difference of vision.

Apple decides what they're going to do years before they do it, then they get all their ducks in a row and train them and make them line dance. Result: vast resources dedicated to production of a solid, thoughtful design. Sometimes this doesn't work so good (first gen Air was kind of a turd). But once those ducks are on stage if one of them is kicking out of time they can nudge that one bird and suddenly it clicks, you have the new Airs and suddenly HOLY MOLY those ducks are DANCING. And now they just bring on more ducks and there are millions and millions and millions of them. But it only works like that if you start out at the beginning saying, "man, line dancing ducks, that will kill."

Everyone else doesn't decide what they'll do until they look at market research for what "current segment of the marketplace is underserved/underwhelmed by our offering" and then they design something to fit that slot. Over, and over, and over again, for every segment, for every manufacturer, with a million option combinations just to try and hollow out the crevices of that market segment. So not only do you not get line-dancing ducks, you don't get any ducks at all, or eagles or sparrows -- you get Frankenstein creations with duck legs, albatross wings, puffin beaks, peacock feathers that lay scrambled eggs.

It takes a vision for the future as well as being arrogant enough to say "my customers don't know what they want until they see it" and then being right, time and again, about what the customers wanted.

And the funny thing is, Apple, unlike all the other guys, recognizes that they don't have to build stuff to suit everyone. They just have to build stuff to suit a few segments of the market. And when they build that stuff it feels just so right those segments go FUCK YES and buy it by the shipload.

(Another advantage is that everyone else is competing with Windows. People compare Apple to Ford with that "any colour as long as it is black" noise. If computers were cars, then you'd have all this infinite variation in body styles, colours, engines etc, but the interior of every car except Apple's would be leopard-spotted pink velour with pink leather accents and pink fuzzy dice. You don't get a choice of interior with your Maserati/Hyundai/Dell/HP/Lenovo -- it's all the same where you touch it.)

Apple didn't get where it is by lining up manufacturing; sure that's critical, but it is the "cart". The "horse" is vision.
posted by seanmpuckett at 4:49 AM on September 6, 2011 [11 favorites]


You don't get a choice of interior with your Maserati/Hyundai/Dell/HP/Lenovo -- it's all the same where you touch it.)

My Alienware M11x uses Stardock MyColors to reskin the entire UI, but a) it isn't a perfect reskin and b) it seems to increase the frequency of crashed (quite possibly from shame), so I don't use it. Windows 7 is fine, though, and it's pretty customisable. Whereas I used to be actively surprised when people expressed a preference for Windows XP over Tiger, Windows 7 over Leopard/Lion (on decently specced equipment) feels more like a taste thing for the common user.

(This is why I'd like to see a decent operating system for lower-spec machines, though - a Bada, effectively - and why it feels like a shame that loading non-optimal Linuces onto early netbooks did so much damage to the desire for Linux on netbooks.)
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:07 AM on September 6, 2011


I travel 100k+ miles a year for work around the world with a giant, 10 pound, 17" "mobile workstation". I also carry a personal laptop, and since the office one is such a monster, I require mine to be the most powerful machine I can get around 3 pounds.

For 3 years that's been a Sony Vaio Z (555). It started off a rocky relationship, requiring 4 hours to get rid of all the crapware, then recover some of it that apparently was instrumental to running Windows. When Windows 7 was released, it took a full 6 months for Sony to release official drivers for things like the hybrid graphics card. However the screen was beautiful, the keyboard passable (though some keys have 5 potential characters?), and it was very, very portable.
Rather disappointingly my Vaio Z never felt very powerful. It chugged along playing even simple games, and the internal fan would scream with embarrassing abandon. When someone tripped over the power cord and it ripped the plastic hinge clean off the bottom case ($500 if I wanted to repair it, even with the extended warranty), I was brought to the brink. When it started screaming its fan and straining with Bit.Trip.Beat, I bought a Macbook Air.

It's a decision Apple has yet to make me regret, and no other manufacturer has been able to compete with.
(Aside from the fact that there's no OSX version of the Zune software...which I'm sure was designed to make iTunes look like the miserable bloated old cow that it is.)
posted by t_dubs at 5:08 AM on September 6, 2011


Out of curiosity, how do the nearest PC equivalents to a Macbook Air compare when it comes to watching online video? The Macbook Air will heat up like a mother after a few minutes of viewing Youtube or Vimeo, which triggers the second processor core to shut down (to avoid overheating) and results in what can only be called a "slideshow."

That's more to do with the horrible Mac version of flash than your hardware.
posted by MrCynical at 5:11 AM on September 6, 2011 [5 favorites]


I've done the desktop-netbook combo, and it was very frustrating. I was overseas for 3 months, and I didn't have access to all my work files and programs - I was very limited in what I could do. So the very next time I had the opportunity, I switched to a laptop as my only machine.
I'd be worried about losing it. My cheapo 2008 laptop works fine as a 'real' computer if you're not gaming. The only thing it has trouble with is 1080p video. But it does feel kind of 'cheap'. If I was packing and unpacking it every day, typing all day long there might be some wear and tear.

(It will sometimes throttle the CPU if you're in a hot room playing 720p video for a LONG time, like hours. In a cool room it's not a problem)
This is one of the things that infuriates me about mac developers. They are *certain* that Mac is better for development. It's not. It's sometimes better for development.
Just tell them you run Linux :)
The PC industry is captured by the legacy environment from which it sprung...That of the hobbyist rolling his own box at home. The corporations and support industries were created and molded to feed that market because those hobbyists were the bread-and-butter of the nascent personal computer industry. The problem today is, of course, that the industry is still trying to supply a, now, relatively non-existent market. The three-of-four geeks still building their own boxen can't keep the parts industry afloat.

Apple, meanwhile, never had that sort of legacy.
Hahah, are you serious? Apple had to completely abandon PowerPC and switch over to the same generic components that PCs had been made out of. The only difference between a generic PC and an Mac is the BIOS. Other then that, they are generic PCs, period.

The rest of your argument doesn't really make much sense. We're mostly talking about laptops here, no one buys Apple desktops -- they haven't even changed the case since they were shipping G5s. No one ever built their own laptops. So your argument wouldn't apply to laptops at all.

Anyway, anyway the rest of your argument is hard to respond too since it's so vacuous. You're just making a bunch of subjective judgment and then drawing conclusions from them. I mean what the hell is the difference between a "hobbyist" and "non-hobbyist" computer? The fact they have expansion slots?

And as I said, from a hardware component perspective Macintoshes and PCs are identical
posted by delmoi at 5:14 AM on September 6, 2011 [5 favorites]


That's more to do with the horrible Mac version of flash than your hardware.

I suspected as much. It's really a shame, because the Air does everything else (I need it to do) very nicely.
posted by ShutterBun at 5:21 AM on September 6, 2011




Out of curiosity, how do the nearest PC equivalents to a Macbook Air compare when it comes to watching online video?

Running this video at 720p only pushes my Envy's CPU to 15%.
posted by octothorpe at 5:30 AM on September 6, 2011


I spent the last couple of months sort of lusting after an Air. I wanted a smallish, lightish laptop, because I know from experience that I'm just not going to carry around anything that requires a dedicated bag or weighs more than 5 pounds -- but I've had a netbook, and it wasn't working out for me anymore.

But, having spent $350 on my netbook, it was really hard to justify spending three times that much getting an Air. I'd have felt like I'd just spent $300 paying the It's Pretty Tax.

So, I've been waiting on news of ultrabooks -- but then I broke down and got a Samsung Series 3 that hit my own personal sweet spot for size and power, for $700. It's just my own experience, but I think it's going to be really hard for PC makers to establish ultrabooks as a category unless they can bring them right around that price. Because the people who really put a premium on thin and light computer already have either a netbook, or a MacBook Air, or one of the expensive PC ultraportables.
posted by Jeanne at 5:32 AM on September 6, 2011


I had (my dad now has) a Thinkpad X220, which I think the best thing a laptop has ever been and may have possibly been the inspiration for the MacBook Air. I got mine used for $200!
posted by parmanparman at 5:36 AM on September 6, 2011


I do design work these days, and am totally a Windows guy. Apple can't touch Windows when it comes to tweaking and modding and getting under the hood. There was a time when Apple was the sensible choice for designers because they took things like color management very seriously, but those differences are long gone.

Also, I know it's heresy, but the first word that runs through my head when I sit in front of a Mac is "Playskool". YMMV, of course.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 5:45 AM on September 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Every Vaio I've ever used or managed has been a piece of crap.

And all the Apple bashing here -- it's just cachet, cultural marketing, whatever is crap too. Anyone who has managed computing resources for an institution knows that in total cost of ownership Apples are and have long been either equivalent to or cheaper than PCs for any number of reasons.

The point of this article is that other companies cannot compete on margin to make an ultrabook cheaper than Apple's. How's that for a turnaround. It's also true in the tablet market. You can pay less, but you get less.

But keep singing the old song, Apple bashers. It's getting almost nostalgic.
posted by spitbull at 5:49 AM on September 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


I had a Vaio a decade back that was fantastic hardware wise, but it was full of so much bloatware sony software that only sort of worked...had it worked and been reasonably integrated it would have been the best thing ever, visual flow, this cool advanced scroll wing thing, etc. It did not all hang together.

Since then I keep stupidly buying tablet PCs thinking that "this one will be the one that will get me inking constantly". Then I never use the ink capability. I've done more Ink with my iPad than with 3 Tablets, and the iPad isn't particularly good at Ink, though the right program eases some of the pain.
posted by Chekhovian at 6:00 AM on September 6, 2011


No, you're wrong. Netbooks are crap. There's no way to compete on price and deliver anything but crap.

Don't act like a jackass. I love my netbook for the only thing I use it for these days: playing old games from gog.com. Phone has taken over all other portable functions. I just wish someone made a netbook in 1024x768.
posted by adamdschneider at 6:31 AM on September 6, 2011


Original Deus Ex on a netbook! <3
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 6:39 AM on September 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm torn behind how right his conclusions are and why he had to spend the entire page showing us why the Mac sucks when the whole point is that Apple is doing so much better than anyone else because they flat out refuse to deal with either edge cases or price points.

The point of the Mac -- and why I buy them. "We have built this very good X. You can get it with the following things. That's it. If you don't want that, then, well, sorry."

And that lets them make X very good. They are most certainly not going to fuck over their entire product line to make this guy happy for a different UK keyboard, a track point, and a wider return key.

Besides, he's *wrong* -- the double height return is an abomination-unto-Nuggan, that spot up top is where the backslash goes. The real bitch of the Apple keyboard is the tiny ESC key, but you know what, I can't *get* a perfect notebook, so I'll just buy the very, very good one. don't even get me started on the control key off my lawn MATLOCK!!!!

The other reason I buy Apple notebooks: My first was the TiBook, bought in early 2000. Used that through early 2004. It still runs, but it's not useful. I beat the hell out of that thing, to the point where if you twisted the case, the battery fell out. It ran just fine otherwise, and in 2000, that thing was a revelation. 1" thick. Amazing screen.

My second was the 12" Aluminum PowerBook, used that until summer 2008. It still runs, and you can still do useful work on it. Two pounds lighter, smaller, nicer (but smaller screen) My third was a 2008 MacBook Air. It still runs, and runs the current OS. It's lighter again by two pounds, has an even nicer screen -- and one with a higher resolution than the TiBook! As close to full sized keyboard as can fit, and they did it by keeping the main keys full size.

My desktop was an IBM Intellistation Z Pro. I won't mention the cost. It was hooked to a 21" SGI Monitor. I ran those for years, and the machine itself is still going -- indeed, it's my mail server. I replaced that with the 24" iMac in 2009, I think, and I still can't sense this machine getting slow. The *only* reason I'd consider buying another one (replace this one? It still works!!!) is that I'd love to have the 27" screen.

So, yes, there's a premium to be paid for Apple (or IBM pro gear.) This premium pays off over time. I'm not dealing with slow gear, but I'm not replacing these things every year. The $2000 laptop is cheaper than the $1000 laptop when you replace the $1000 laptop two to three times more often.

This is something I've learned a long time ago. The cheapest option is almost always amongst the worse. See the Captain Samuel Vimes "Boots" theory of socioeconomic unfairness. Indeed, I almost always reject the low bid out of hand. Better quality products almost always cost significantly more in the initial buy, and significantly less over time.

The exception is when you go surplus -- where you know you're nowhere near the leading edge, and everyone else is throwing them out. Then, the price can be so low that the compromises are still cheaper. Yeah, that $200 surplus notebook may need to be replaced in a year, but $200 a year is $800 over four years, and if you can accept the performance compromises that a 3-4 year old generic model has, you can save money over buying the premium product and using it over the same term.

There are legions of reasons *not* to buy surplus. Young surplus is almost always bad -- it didn't even last a year on the market, so it failed not because of age, but because of crap. If you *need* support, you need either new or to buy the support contracts. Your time is worth money, and surplus gear will need more time to deal with, so if you're constantly fighting with it, you're losing time, and thus, money.
posted by eriko at 6:45 AM on September 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


What part of the much vaunted "portability" of a laptop can compare to that? Is anything that important that it can't wait until you get home to do it, or can't wait until you get to work to do it?

I would look pretty silly dragging my whole desktop setup out onto my porch to watch baseball, write, and drink on a nice day. I imagine it's doable but it wouldn't be very fun.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 6:47 AM on September 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


I replaced that with the 24" iMac in 2009, I think, and I still can't sense this machine getting slow. The *only* reason I'd consider buying another one (replace this one? It still works!!!) is that I'd love to have the 27" screen.
Yeah, buying a whole new computer to get a larger screen is totally reasonable.
posted by delmoi at 6:50 AM on September 6, 2011 [4 favorites]


East is east, and west is west, and never the twain shall meet.
posted by crunchland at 6:52 AM on September 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's funny—I keep lustfully handling the 11" Air whenever I'm in proximity to one, and it is truly a lovely, amazing object that I might buy if I were in the market. It looks great, feels great, and, judging from my experience to this point with OS X on my Mac Mini and previous machines, is likely to work great, too. I'm a longtime Mac person, and guess I'm supposed to be in that coolly hip, cachet-chasing herd, except that I've got a lumpy little netbook that I adore almost as much as my Macs—a bottom of the line ASUS Eee PC 1005HAB netbook which was a special cheapified edition made for Best Buy, from what I've read online.

It's not particularly attractive, especially after I replaced the original cheapified battery with a nine-cell monstrosity that bulges out of the thing with all the gentle grace of a goiter. It's also got some strange thing that keeps warning me that certain websites may be dangerous, and little cartoon bubbles that tell me things I don't especially need to know, and doing anything inventive or complicated requires fussy little adjustments that are alien to my Appleacious self.

That said, it's a fancy typewriter, with which I'm gradually editing two book manuscripts and writing endless replies to online topics, and it runs the Chrome browser, Skype, the presumably obsolete editor software to my effectively obsolete, but insanely powerful, virtual modular synthesizers, my latest brain-melter, Pd, and VLC, so I can watch Firefly in my cabin in the woods. It's limited, presumably slow, and inelegant, but it does what I need it to do. When Apple opted to make the iPad their only offering in this market slot, I went elsewhere. At home, I've got my Mini for doing the big stuff, and on the train, in the woods, or sitting at a picnic table on a country by-way next to my bike, I'm on my ASUS.

I hear the netbook segment is dying, and that makes me sad, because typing on a picture of a keyboard on a screen is about as satisfying a substitute as fucking a fleshlight. It's also sad in the sense that I carry my netbook everywhere, like a computer version of the battle-hardened Mrs. Beasley doll I dragged around until her blue polka-dotted body turned an even shade of filthy grey that matched the floor of a 1975 New York Subway public restroom floor and her little voice box stopped telling me awkward things and started going "ththbblpthtlppt!" If I sat on my netbook, or left it on a train, or had it fly out of my improperly zipped knapsack while I was on a motorcycle on the NYT, I'd be pissed, but nearly as pissed as I'd be if it cost three to four times as much. It backs up to the net and to a flash drive, so I'd only lose the balance between backups, but it's less of a precious magical thing and more of a tool.

I sort of wish Apple would recognize my segment, too, and they do when it comes to my studio work, but for typing, I don't need precision-milled aluminum. My practical lump with a goiter's just fine (I'm getting 11.5 hours on a charge, for Pete's sake), so I'm glad there's room in the market for something other than the top of the line.

That said, there's no readily apparent way to type an em dash without a numeric keypad on a PC, which is murder for a guy like me.
posted by sonascope at 6:52 AM on September 6, 2011 [8 favorites]


hesitant to go near HP because of possible Compaq taint

Not a technical guy, so I can't say if it's a result of Compaq taint or identify the technical reasons, but once my 2 year old HP laptop's dead, the only product of theirs I'll ever touch again is my 1020 printer. What a miserable, over-heats if you look at it sideways I think it cooked and killed the battery but it didn't really matter because the fucker couldn't hold a charge worth a damn bag of shit. Playing Minecraft is what started the decline.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 6:56 AM on September 6, 2011


there's no readily apparent way to type an em dash without a numeric keypad on a PC, which is murder for a guy like me.

Have you tried autohotkey? (info in second comment)
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 7:01 AM on September 6, 2011


Metafilter: Playing Minecraft is what started the decline.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 7:02 AM on September 6, 2011 [2 favorites]



And as I said, from a hardware component perspective Macintoshes and PCs are identical.


Right, so why get so worked up about the whole thing? Get back to work, people. We have an economy to restore.
posted by jeremias at 7:08 AM on September 6, 2011


I've noticed the Air is a status symbol in the emerging markets I've wandered around in. There'll always be that guy who'll nonchalantly pull his Air out when everyone else has a cheapie netbook opened on the lap during a conference.
posted by infini at 7:13 AM on September 6, 2011


I hear the netbook segment is dying, and that makes me sad, because typing on a picture of a keyboard on a screen is about as satisfying a substitute as fucking a fleshlight. It's also sad in the sense that I carry my netbook everywhere,
Well, if you like ASUS and you like physical keyboards there's the Asus Eee Pad Transformer, It's an android tablet that you can attach a keyboard too.

The netbook may go out of fashion, but I doubt it will go away. I'm sure you'll always be able to buy a cheap, small PC.
posted by delmoi at 7:14 AM on September 6, 2011


Example. Back when I was on the Mac, a customer sent a huge (100,000+ lines) file for import. The file had some errors, and I needed to open it in an editor to look see what was going on. I couldn't get a single Mac Editor (including your beloved TextMate) to open it.

Yes, and of course this is a valid comparison between platforms because due to hardware and OS limitations it is impossible to find a cross platform Mac compatible editor like UltraEdit for Mac that can handle unlimited size text files.
posted by charlie don't surf at 7:28 AM on September 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


I do wish that someone in the PC world would make laptops with decent build quality. I bought an HP envy this spring because I wanted to use it mostly for gaming and I'm not interested in trying to use Bootcamp and pray that the video drivers work well enough. But after a few months the touchpad is lifting up and I'm going to have to send it back on warranty and of course HP is getting out of the business all together.

Asus, Asus, Asus.

We got their first netbook - and it was a little plastic tank. Huge hinges (hinge wobbling has always been my problem). I now have the 15" - I carry it and use it everywhere. It's not metal, but it's a kind of plastic case that is very robust (no bending in when you press on the top) and still has the big solid hinges. The trackpad is one piece with the case around the keyboard; the keyboard itself is that design with a back that makes it very hard for crumbs and dust to fall in.

But the best testimony I can give is that it is surviving ME. When my first laptop died after only about 2 years - it was SMOKING. With my second laptop - the Dell with the accidental coverage - I shattered the monitor in the first week. Now, I've tried to be a bit more careful, but I seriously sling this this around, and it looks and feels great. It's like a laptop made by FisherPrice, only in adult colours.
posted by jb at 7:29 AM on September 6, 2011


As mentioned previously, Apple does rip you off on RAM, but it's fairly easy to replace the memory and hard drive in a macbook. Just put the stuff that comes with it in a drawer in case you need to take it in for repair.
posted by Tashtego at 7:37 AM on September 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's not so much that the company is buying employees computers, it's that the company is buying themselves computers to ensure data security and integrity..

It may also be about employee expectations. Professors at universities almost never have their computers bought for them, though they may have grant money. But if the grants don't allow it, they (and all of their graduate students) have to supply their own machines - even when working with very sensitive data, such as in healthcare. I know people who do research in a hospital - they have to supply their own laptops and then pay the hospital IT people to have access to the network, and they have similar levels of security for their private laptops.

But yes, outside of that security is a lot more relaxed. I'm a grad student in the humanities, so I'm basically self-employed. My mother is a bookkeeper for a museum-consulting firm, and they don't fuss about her downloading work at home or bringing in her private laptop. It's just not that secret - she has to be discreet about clients, etc, but not much industrial espionage in the art history business.
posted by jb at 7:38 AM on September 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


From a single linked post about Ultrabook I was expecting lots of comments about Ultrabook. My mistake. *moves on*.
posted by Summer at 7:54 AM on September 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


Yes, and of course this is a valid comparison between platforms because due to hardware and OS limitations it is impossible to find a cross platform Mac compatible editor like UltraEdit for Mac that can handle unlimited size text files.
posted by charlie don't surf


I think the issue is more to do with how the respective operating systems handle virtual memory. So UltraEdit probably would be rubbish on Mac too.

Is it a valid comparison? No, but as this wasn't what I was saying I hardly think that matters. For me, in my personal situation at that time, editing large files on a mac was difficult but editing large files on my PC was easy. Development was easier on a PC *FOR ME*.

I'm not going to get into the grar here as you're probably a mac user and (like all mac users) you'll have been personally fitted by Steve Jobs with an iGrar.

PC is better for me. I've tried OSX, I liked it, but I like Windows 7 better.
posted by seanyboy at 7:55 AM on September 6, 2011


After years of trolling my smug Mac friends I finally bought an Apple computer. And instantly got why everyone loves them. Beautiful hardware quality, humane software, and a level of integration that actually works. Did you know when you close the lid of your laptop it goes to sleep? And when you open it, it wakes up again? I'd heard rumours that Windows laptops could do that since, oh, 1998. But it never seemed to actually work. With an Apple computer, that kind of thing just works right.

Apple's doing something really impressive, both in hardware and in software. PC manufacturers can't compete because, frankly, they're not as innovative. I sure hope the Ultrabook initiative works because I'd hate for Apple to be the only option.
posted by Nelson at 7:55 AM on September 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


sonoscope - ASUS netbooks (and laptops) for the win. We have had the 700 series and since upgraded to 1000 - my husband was a early adopter due to his disability and an IPad doesn't cut it: he wants the feedback of a physical keyboard for touch-typing. Also, though I thumb-type a lot (I am right now) and I'm relatively fast, I wouldn't do serious writing without a physical keyboard.

That said, there's no readily apparent way to type an em dash without a numeric keypad on a PC, which is murder for a guy like me.

You have to go old-school and do what typists did: type the double-dash (--) and a good word processor will convert it to the em-dash.

Also, if you ever really need a number pad (doing massive amounts of numerical data entry, etc), you can get cheap, lightweight USB number pads.
posted by jb at 7:57 AM on September 6, 2011


it's fairly easy to replace the memory and hard drive in a macbook.

Is it really easy to replace the HD? Then you've got to put the OS on it; how do you do that with the Air?

Did you know when you close the lid of your laptop it goes to sleep? And when you open it, it wakes up again? I'd heard rumours that Windows laptops could do that since, oh, 1998.

Of course PC laptops do this. It's also one of the first things I have always disabled. When I close the lid I want the screen to go off, but I want the machine to keep doing what I told it to do (typically downloading something).
posted by adamdschneider at 7:58 AM on September 6, 2011


seanyboy: I'm not going to get into the grar here...

Too late.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 8:01 AM on September 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


From a single linked post about Ultrabook I was expecting lots of comments about Ultrabook. My mistake. *moves on*.
posted by Summer at 10:54 AM on 9/6


Re-rail the thread by commenting on the Ultrabook.

Me, I'll get serious about an ultrabook when Asus makes one.
/Asus fangrrl
posted by jb at 8:01 AM on September 6, 2011


Once you attach a keyboard to a tablet, you're beginning to be back to having a netbook, laptop, etc. I really agree that the marketplace for pc vendors slavishly follows itself like a dog chasing its tail. I'm in the market for a new home laptop, and Lenovo is looking pretty good. Slim is cool, but my priorities are weight and function. Ultrabook sounds like a smart initiative.

Some of my coworkers use an iPad for note-taking successfully, but my fingers haven't adapted. I have keyboard issues with iProducts, not because of the Return key, but because I far prefer to navigate with the keyboard. Macs are mouse-driven; you can find a keyboard solution for tasks, but it's not always intuitive, at least to someone used to a PC (who has used a MacBook as a primary computer). The utility panel on a Mac is really well-organized. Macs do a vastly better job at bootup times and battery life. They aren't so terrific in a network environment, because they aren't dominant in the corporate world, which may be changing. And, while there's a ton of great Mac software, a lot of important vendors don't produce Mac versions. (I actively look for Mac alternatives for staff who need them, and look for ways to support Macs fully.) So, for work, a Mac isn't my 1st choice. For home, I'm still not willing to pay for the pretty packaging.

Apple is brilliant at marketing. The iPad is a device designed to make you spend money at iTunes, in small increments, but you're tied to their store. Genius, indeed.
posted by theora55 at 8:03 AM on September 6, 2011


After years of trolling my smug Mac friends I finally bought an Apple computer. --- So now you can be smug, too?
posted by crunchland at 8:04 AM on September 6, 2011


Running this video at 720p only pushes my Envy's CPU to 15%.

Some points of comparison:

On my obsolete Mac Pro Quad G5 with a high end Quadro Fucking FX 4500 video card, driving a 30" Cinema Display, that video drives all 4 of my CPUs to about 25%. My Quad G5 occasionally stutters when playing YouTube videos, but no software driver improvements are expected for this obsolete platform. A friend of mine has a Windows 98 machine that runs YouTube videos better than my Quad G5.

And this is the best argument FOR Apple and their influence. Adobe inherited Macromedia's deliberate neglect of Apple and their delivery of underperforming Mac drivers for Flash. MM was a Mac-only company but Marc Canter got pissed at Apple so he wanted to drive their customer base to PCs. So they deliberately wrote inefficient Mac drivers and got Intel to fund optimization for PC hardware. The Windows Flash drivers supported direct access to video hardware long before it supported any similar features on Macs, despite Apple's continual requests for similar optimization.

This is why Apple is so important. Apple has been criticized for its deprecation of Flash. But Apple made an important decision, that no 3rd party company would ever be able to exert control of the direction of their platform. So now Flash video is being replaced by more efficient open standards. Even YouTube switched to supporting non-Flash video. The entire computer world benefits when users are no longer dependent on a single company for proprietary video drivers.

Disclaimer: Macromedia founder Marc Canter still owes me $500 for destroying the motherboard in my Mac IIfx at CyberArts II.

I did note with some amusement that a Mac laptop appears in that Wilco video. The music was produced on a Mac. But the most important comparison of all: the original Nick Lowe version is way better than Wilco's.

On preview, a late comment from seanyboy: I think the issue is more to do with how the respective operating systems handle virtual memory. So UltraEdit probably would be rubbish on Mac too.

Uh, no. It's strictly a programming issue. Mac programs like Hex Fiend are extremely fast working on huge files (the author says it was tested up to 118Gb). Hex Fiend is considered an exemplar of how to work with unlimited size files. It's free and open source. If your editor is slow on large files, it's because the programmer didn't consider that feature worth optimizing.
posted by charlie don't surf at 8:04 AM on September 6, 2011 [4 favorites]


I think the issue is more to do with how the respective operating systems handle virtual memory. So UltraEdit probably would be rubbish on Mac too.

What exactly is the deficiency with OSX's virtual memory handling that would make editing large text files impossible? OSX has POSIX-style memory-mapped I/O, and other applications that handle large amounts of data (from software instruments with multi-gigabyte sample libraries to video editors) have no problems with it.
posted by acb at 8:05 AM on September 6, 2011


I finally bought an Apple computer. --- So now you can be smug, too?

Pretty much. Did you know most websites look better on the Mac? Because a lot of web designers use Macs, and use fonts that look beautiful on Macs and, well, they're readable on Windows. Also the built-in monitor in the iMac that never made sense to me makes more sense now: it's high quality, and the lower contrast palettes trendy sites use actually look pretty damn great on it. I used to think this Mac-centrism was bad design: 90% of the world uses Windows, afterall. But now that I own a Mac it's like being part of a secret society, a society of good typography. Join us!
posted by Nelson at 8:11 AM on September 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Is it really easy to replace the HD? Then you've got to put the OS on it; how do you do that with the Air?

The USB Software Reinstall Drive appears to be the easiest solution. Don't have an Air, just used a quick google search.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 8:12 AM on September 6, 2011


Is it really easy to replace the HD? Then you've got to put the OS on it; how do you do that with the Air?

It is as easy as any other laptop to replace the HD, save for maybe the old Dells where the HD was in a tray and would easily fall out of the side.

To reinstall the OS, you put in the USB drive with the OS on it. It takes about five minutes.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 8:16 AM on September 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


People go on and on about Apple's Aesthetics. All of those things are subjective. Anyone who thinks Apple's products are objectively better looking then anyone else's are probably being blinded by brand loyalty.

This is a tired and insulting cliché. It's just as tired and insulting as some no-nothing wagging their finger at a Windows devotee for all their nonexistent malware problems.

There was a period in Apple's history when their products were truly poor and were seriously over priced. When Jobs returned to Apple they changed their ways, releasing the first iMac shortly thereafter, releasing OS X, delivering the first iPod, and so on.

But those things took time to develop and ship. So in the interim you had the "Think Different" campaign. It *was* all marketing for a time.

But.

It was also sort of a promise. "Stick with us and we'll deliver". And they did. Today Apple has supply chain management and production second to none. Apple makes really good and profitable products now. Times have changed.

Likewise, there was a time that plugging a Windows machine into the internets was an invitation to disaster. But then XP came out. And then XP service pack 4. And then IE7. And then Vista. And then IE8. Then Windows 7. Then IE9. And so on.

Those malware problems have largely disappeared for most up-to-date Windows user. Times have changed.

If Apple's aesthetics and perceived quality today were simply marketing alone, they wouldn't be having continued success. People just aren't that dumb. Word would get out.

If Windows continued having the malware problems that it did, they would have suffered in the marketplace (probably not with consumers, but maybe at the enterprise).

Beauty may be indiscernible to you. Maybe practicality or price is your top priority. These are totally legitimate yet equally arbitrary preferences..
posted by device55 at 8:17 AM on September 6, 2011 [4 favorites]


It seems like a lot of people are missing the point of the article. Whether you like PC or Mac, there has been a significant change for Apple lately. For probably the first time, they are putting out some products that other manufacturers cannot beat on price. Right now, this is limited to consumer products designed for mobility (iPad, Air) and doesn't apply to the rest of the product line.

Sure, in the past Mac fans have argued that Macs are not overpriced, either because: if you really spec them out they are about the same (not true), the build is better (probably sometimes, but not always) or total cost of ownership is lower (probably in some situations). What's different now is that other manufacturers can't build something like an iPad or Air for cheaper right now. This is not the fantasy of the Apple crowd, it's the manufacturers themselves complaining they can't do it.

The areas where other manufacturers are having trouble competing on price are certainly limited, but they're also turning out to be some pretty big niches. Apple did really well with iPods and iPhones even without having the best price. As they continue to leverage their manufacturing partnerships to bring other products to at least more competitive pricing, I wouldn't be surprised to see them doing very well in at least the consumer laptop market. Plus there are millions more people becoming familiar with iOS, etc.

Anyhow, my point is that people who said Apple products are not more expensive are actually finally right now, for a couple products.
posted by snofoam at 8:17 AM on September 6, 2011 [7 favorites]


Is it really easy to replace the HD? Then you've got to put the OS on it; how do you do that with the Air?

The USB Software Reinstall Drive appears to be the easiest solution. Don't have an Air, just used a quick google search.

Or use SuperDuper to make a bootable clone of your system drive.
posted by acb at 8:18 AM on September 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Oh grow up. The article whines that the PC industry can't compete with Apple because it gives customers too many options, and then he whines that he can't get the exact options he wants. You can't have it both ways."

I thought the point was that because there are more PC makers, that is where the competition and product options come into play, such as some makers favoring nipples pointers or certain keyboard layouts etc. Which is a different point to PC makers having too many models within their own product ranges.

Made plain sense to me.
posted by Soupisgoodfood at 8:20 AM on September 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


The whole point of buying an Apple is you don't have to replace the HD. You don't want to. They sell you the right HD and you're happy and you don't have to fuck with it. It's not some Windows hardware monstrosity with crap you need to replace, it's got a beautiful SSD hardwired right in the motherboard and you don't need to mess with it. The fact it's hardwired means it's impossible to replace, actually. But they're charging a fair price for it. Built in to the $999 laptop, and you pay a $300 premium for double the storage, which is about $100 more than the price you'd pay if you bought an equivalent on Newegg. I'll gladly give Apple $100 for an integrated, complete system that works right.
posted by Nelson at 8:20 AM on September 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Or use SuperDuper to make a bootable clone of your system drive.

Meh, that would all take much longer than just reinstalling and then taking what you need off of the Time Machine backup.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 8:20 AM on September 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Missing from all this stuff about the ultrabooks is that Sony and other Japanese manufacturers were focusing on no-compromise thin-and-light 10 years ago with the SZ series. I would drool over the models available from importer www.dynamism.com but the thing is that their price point was often $3000.
posted by reiichiroh at 8:24 AM on September 6, 2011


And a quick google search on the big file problem also suggests that it's an editor problem rather than an OS one. vim works, and even has a plug-in to disable features that are sluggish for big files. emacs doesn't.

snofoam: Sure, in the past Mac fans have argued that Macs are not overpriced, either because: if you really spec them out they are about the same (not true), the build is better (probably sometimes, but not always) or total cost of ownership is lower (probably in some situations).

Actually, when you do spec them out component for component, the "Apple Tax" in most cases is consistent with the difference in markup reported by Ars Technica: 20% more or less. In fact, for a while Mac Pros were selling cheaper than the equivalent HP and Dell Workstations.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 8:25 AM on September 6, 2011


Interesting. Guess I should have carried on configuring and googling and downloading and trying random editors until I found one that worked for me.

Thing is - With Windows software. It just works.
</obvious troll>
posted by seanyboy at 8:28 AM on September 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


You should go on about one button mice next.
posted by Talez at 8:29 AM on September 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


Pretty much. Did you know most websites look better on the Mac? Because a lot of web designers use Macs, and use fonts that look beautiful on Macs and, well, they're readable on Windows.

Or, get gdipp and a proper (IPS or PVA) monitor and enjoy superior Mac OSX-style font rendering on a nice screen! If you only buy TN panels that's not Microsoft's fault.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 8:30 AM on September 6, 2011


Although the ghastliness of Cleartype very much is Microsoft's fault. Ugh.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 8:30 AM on September 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


KirkJobSluder, I would agree that often the price difference between Macs and PCs has often been exaggerated by comparing things with different specs. I was just saying that in the past Apple for the most part was charging a premium, even if it wasn't huge in some cases.
posted by snofoam at 8:31 AM on September 6, 2011


But see, when I buy an iMac the font rendering already works. I don't need to install some third party graphics hack and find some obscure monitor. Apple sold me the right thing already.
posted by Nelson at 8:32 AM on September 6, 2011 [2 favorites]




snofoam: Does Apple have a higher markup on their products? Yes.

Is it the mythical 2X or 3X claimed? Very rarely.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 8:39 AM on September 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


People go on and on about Apple's Aesthetics. All of those things are subjective. Anyone who thinks Apple's products are objectively better looking then anyone else's are probably being blinded by brand loyalty.

Science would tend to disagree with you there. Just look at how maths is applied to geometry and design throughout history. And in nature.
posted by Soupisgoodfood at 8:40 AM on September 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also, the main thing I learned from this article is that advice from someone who chooses computers based on the shape of the return key is not very useful to me.
posted by snofoam at 8:43 AM on September 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


I mean? Configuring Wireless internet on your Apple Mac.

Trolling.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 8:44 AM on September 6, 2011


> I mean? Configuring Wireless internet on your Apple Mac.

That's gotta be a joke, there. I have both Mac and Windows (and Windows within Mac on VM, right next to the VMDK files for a few Linux boxes because I'm awesome!), and they are each about identically as easy to connect to WAPs in most cases.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 8:44 AM on September 6, 2011


The way I see it, the people who buy Apple products are fools and the people who don't are unenlightened.

My core belief is that people are stupid.
posted by mazola at 8:45 AM on September 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


That's why I steal.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 8:46 AM on September 6, 2011


That's gotta be a joke, there

It's a weird, poorly made, unfunny parody (?) of this pamphlet, which really was produced by McDonald's to help their customers get online.
posted by Ian A.T. at 8:51 AM on September 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


That's why I steal.

But do you steal Macs or PCs?
posted by running order squabble fest at 8:53 AM on September 6, 2011


"I replaced that with the 24" iMac in 2009, I think, and I still can't sense this machine getting slow. The *only* reason I'd consider buying another one (replace this one? It still works!!!) is that I'd love to have the 27" screen."

Yeah, buying a whole new computer to get a larger screen is totally reasonable.


It sure is if you plan on selling the old one and don't mind the performance boost as a bonus (and since it's an iMac, you're going to get a decent resell price for it). It's not like migrating to a new iMac is a hassle.

In the PC world, yeah, that would be a PITA.
posted by Soupisgoodfood at 8:57 AM on September 6, 2011


On the other hand, I have been furious to discover that a network adapter labeled "Windows 7 ready" was only supported for 32-bit versions and the chipset was no longer supported by the manufacturer on any version of Windows. This, I suppose the the downside of cheap commodity hardware. Then there was the rather interesting bug in a recent version of World of Warcraft that detected AMD CPU-throttling as a form of cheating.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:02 AM on September 6, 2011


> The PC industry is captured by the legacy environment from which it sprung...That of the hobbyist
> rolling his own box at home. The corporations and support industries were created and molded to
> feed that market because those hobbyists were the bread-and-butter of the nascent personal computer
> industry. The problem today is, of course, that the industry is still trying to supply a, now,
> relatively non-existent market. The three-of-four geeks still building their own boxen can't keep
> the parts industry afloat.

There really isn't any legacy practice of building laptops at home, though. I build my own desktops, have done since forever (well, since the 486.) I'm entirely happy with that and I'd be just as happy building my own laptops if I could figure out how. I can't. The problem of buying parts that will all fit into the case (without portions of two or more of them occupying the same space at the same time, converting to energy, and destroying the Earth) beats me.

It's starting to be possible to buy U-build-it kits containing all the major parts plus case from one source but that's hardly different from buying a bare-bones model that's already assembled.
posted by jfuller at 9:05 AM on September 6, 2011


There’s an awful lot of "you think you’re better than me?" going on.
posted by bongo_x at 9:06 AM on September 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


In fact, for a while Mac Pros were selling cheaper than the equivalent HP and Dell Workstations.

I thought about adding this when I mentioned the 2006 Mac Pros upthread, but ended up removing it because it wasn't relevant. But now I have to bite.

The 2006 Mac Pros were much cheaper and much better than anything else you could buy with Xeons. Their $2500 model was equivalent to $4,000 models from HP and Dell. Extremely expandable (16 gigs officially supported, and it would actually take 32, which was just extraordinary five years ago), nicely fast, dead silent at idle. The video card was noisy under load, but the rest of the machine was just awesome.

I attribute that to the fact that Intel was giving Apple super-bargain pricing on the Core 2 line as a condition of switching. I believe that contract must have expired with the advent of i7, and as soon as Apple had to pay the same as everyone else for their CPUs, the cost advantage for Mac Pros completely disappeared. Further, the i-models were crippled for memory expansion. So you very abruptly went from an EXTREMELY superior machine to a noticeably INFERIOR machine.

And I think they could fixed the memory problem, but they didn't appear to want to put the money into properly redoing the case. The Xeon Mac Pros were a marvel. The i7 Mac Pros had a ton of wasted space; the memory had to be closer to the CPU, so instead of designing something new for expansion, they jammed all the CPUs AND the memory into the area that used to be just the memory. It's a messed-up and stupid design.

I suspect that Apple may be trying to kill off their Pro line by inches -- by making it unappealing, it won't sell as well, and if it's not selling well, they can kill it and focus on iPads. Technical decisions that poor are almost always politics-driven.
posted by Malor at 9:15 AM on September 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Windows Flash drivers supported direct access to video hardware long before it supported any similar features on Macs, despite Apple's continual requests for similar optimization.


If it makes you feel better, I just tried the same video on my work PC which is running Ubuntu and it pushes the CPU to 75% running Flash and skips so it's not just Mac that Adobe is screwing with their drivers.
posted by octothorpe at 9:20 AM on September 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Nelson: The whole point of buying an Apple is you don't have to replace the HD. You don't want to. They sell you the right HD and you're happy and you don't have to fuck with it. It's not some Windows hardware monstrosity with crap you need to replace, it's got a beautiful SSD hardwired right in the motherboard and you don't need to mess with it. The fact it's hardwired means it's impossible to replace, actually. But they're charging a fair price for it. Built in to the $999 laptop, and you pay a $300 premium for double the storage, which is about $100 more than the price you'd pay if you bought an equivalent on Newegg. I'll gladly give Apple $100 for an integrated, complete system that works right.

I put the post above on how the upgrades are ridiculously overpriced. I'm going to remain in that stance because I know the component cost. An extra 128GB in flash memory does not cost $300. It doesn't cost anywhere near that. The cost for upgrades on Macs of all flavors are ridiculous. While you can try to cherry-pick a SSD because it is integrated*, you can't pick off the RAM upgrade. All Macbooks have RAM that can be upgraded, but should I pay four times the price of a commodity for Apple to do the upgrade in factory?

Better than the MacBooks, look at the iMac. For the example purposes, let's go with the $1499 21.5" iMac. $200 to go from 4GB RAM to 8GB RAM. Two freakin' hundred for 4GB of RAM. 8GB RAM, even for the special "Mac" version, is a commodity item that costs $50 retail. Going from a 1TB Hard Drive to a 2TB Hard Drive is $150 through Apple. You can buy a 2TB Hard Drive for as little as $70. Going to a 256GB SSD is a $500 increase. Even the add-on printers are vastly overpriced: HP directly sells the ENVY 100 printer for $80 cheaper than Apple will sell it to you as an accessory. Having yanked apart a few iMacs myself I happen to know that none of these upgrades involve any special components; they are all typical PC parts.

I can't even comprehend how shelling out several hundred extra for commodity components can be considered a "premium." What makes any of these upgrades premium? These are run-of-the-mill basic components. Paying $200 for $50 worth of RAM is a scam on the level of Monster HDMI cables. Most of the upgrades can be done by anyone with a torx screwdriver and 20 minutes. You can pay professionals to do these basic upgrades and still come out way ahead.

Again, I understand that you are paying a price premium for a Mac in the first place, and I understand that. You can only get Mac OS with a Mac, you can only get the specific models by buying a Mac, etc. That is where the price premium applies. But commodities are commodities, and the upgrade prices are a pure, unadulterated ripoff.

* - The SSDs in MacBooks are not hardwired. They do use a rather uncommon connector and form factor but they can be replaced.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 9:21 AM on September 6, 2011 [8 favorites]


Well. I'm a fairly new Mac user, and longtime Windows user. So much of this thread is the generic Mac vs PC stuff which is just dumb and boring - there's an actual interesting topic in here, which is the specific niche that the Air fills.

For many years, I've used ultraportable PCs - not quite netbooks, as they're typically much smaller and have less conventional designs, and cost more rather than less compared to other laptops - because I've wanted something I can take anywhere. When the first-generation Air came along, it was still too big for me, so I wasn't interested - plus I was never a big Mac fan in the first place.

When the second-generation Air came along - specifically the 11" model - that got me interested. The day it came out, I was actually shopping for a new ultraportable for an upcoming trip (yet another Sony Vaio). But the 11" Air really fit exactly what I was looking for other than the fact it ran OS X instead of Windows. I got it, and it's been the best computer purchase I've ever made. Not because of OS X, which I can take or leave at this point, but because the hardware just works. I installed Windows 7 on it via Bootcamp, and it was the easiest Windows install I've ever done. And it's the best Windows 7 machine I've had. I didn't have to look for drivers, everything just worked. The hardware is just fantastic. I would have no compunction about buying one for someone and replacing OS X with Windows. I've generally been satisfied with the build quality of the high-end Sony and Dell laptops - I'm still running several of those Sony UMPCs today, and I'm typing this on my Dell Studio XPS 13 - but they simply don't compare with the build quality of the 11" Air. I'd think mine was a fluke, but I bought one for my partner and it's of equally high build quality.

I think that PC vendors will have a hard time matching that build quality, although the Ultrabook standard might help a lot.

Things I'm not happy with: a fairly short list. I'd like to have more RAM (I'm a developer) and larger HDD storage. I'd like to have USB 3 rather than Thunderbolt if I were buying today - Thunderbolt seems one step away from useless right now.

I have both Mac and Windows (and Windows within Mac on VM, right next to the VMDK files for a few Linux boxes because I'm awesome!), and they are each about identically as easy to connect to WAPs in most cases.

This has, sadly, not been my experience. OS X is in my experience a lot more finicky about connectivity. And in my experience this is an OS problem rather than a software problem, as I can boot into Windows 7 on the same hardware and then connect to the problematic WAP in almost all cases. But overall, that's a minor problem and wouldn't stop me from using OS X generally.

The whole point of buying an Apple is you don't have to replace the HD. You don't want to. They sell you the right HD and you're happy and you don't have to fuck with it. It's not some Windows hardware monstrosity with crap you need to replace, it's got a beautiful SSD hardwired right in the motherboard and you don't need to mess with it. The fact it's hardwired means it's impossible to replace, actually.

I've been using SSDs for a long time, as they've typically been used first in ultraportable designs. I have four computers using SSDs in the room I'm in, and that doesn't include the Air. And ... SSDs die. So, it would be nice if I could replace the SSD myself when that happens. But I can live without this, and everything else about the Air is so nice.
posted by me & my monkey at 9:24 AM on September 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Macs are functionally equivalent to PCs, but that's like saying the hammer in your Ikea tool kit is equivalent to an Estwing claw hammer made from a single piece forging and wrapped in a lacquered leather handle. You've almost got to say that industrial design and manufacturing prowess is worthless to argue that Apple's products aren't worth a premium.

I'm a former manufacturing engineer and when I opened the case of my unibody macbook pro to do a RAM upgrade, I started babbling incoherently to my wife who was standing nearby. I've never seen a consumer item with machine work like that, and half the detail is hidden away inside. It's the type of machining normally reserved for incredibly expensive equipment and that Apple has brought it into cheap consumer products is amazing.

Look at the laser drilled holes they hide LEDs behind. I dunno what it cost to set up that process, but it's amazing to see it on a $1500 laptop, let alone a $65 keyboard. The same keyboard has a little screw-in plug on the battery compartment, and if you take it out you'll notice it's got square threads on it. Square threads are not cheap. Apple uses them because they make it just a tiny bit easier to screw in that plug. Again, on a keyboard I got for $65.

Detail like that is everywhere on their products and has been for the last 10-15 years. Look at multi-colored housing on the original iBook, or the beautiful double shot clear-over-white housing on the first iPod, or the glass fronts they've used on their laptop LCDs, or the nice supple rubber on their power/headphone cords, or the minimal AC adapters they design, or the magsafe power adapter, or the fact that they use IPS displays in everything.

All those things add up. When you compare an Apple gadget back to back with a competitors product, the competitor's product almost always feels chintzy. There are lots of things to criticize about Apple as a company, but the physical superiority of their products is pretty clear. The fact that Apple can sell things as cheaply as they do is amazing and I really don't see how any other company can match them on price *and* quality without incredibly massive investment in manufacturing knowhow.
posted by pjaust at 9:27 AM on September 6, 2011 [20 favorites]


Did you know when you close the lid of your laptop it goes to sleep? And when you open it, it wakes up again?
You mean just like my cheapo HP laptop?
I'd heard rumours that Windows laptops could do that since, oh, 1998. But it never seemed to actually work ... With an Apple computer, that kind of thing just works right.
Yeah, this is the annoying thing about Mac boosters. The claim their system "Just works" as if PCs didn't. Most of the time PCs "Just work", and sometimes Macs don't. On top of that Mac users seem to have really weird ideas about what actually happens when you use a PC.

I also have the go to sleep on lid close thing disabled.
Once you attach a keyboard to a tablet, you're beginning to be back to having a netbook, laptop, etc.
Well, some people like those things. You can type a lot faster on a real keyboard then an on screen one.
But now that I own a Mac it's like being part of a secret society, a society of good typography. Join us!
Not everyone likes excessive font smoothing, at certain sizes pixel-sharp letters look better. I find it kind of annoying. Windows will do font smoothing on fonts that don't have the hinting to look good without it. Apparently OS-X used to give you the option to disable it, but they took it away.
People go on and on about Apple's Aesthetics. All of those things are subjective. Anyone who thinks Apple's products are objectively better looking then anyone else's are probably being blinded by brand loyalty.
This is a tired and insulting cliché. It's just as tired and insulting as some no-nothing wagging their finger at a Windows devotee for all their nonexistent malware problems ... Beauty may be indiscernible to you. Maybe practicality or price is your top priority. These are totally legitimate yet equally arbitrary preferences..
I'm sure Apple laptops are, in terms of the case and hardware design, nice. But the argument is that apple's products are somehow nicer looking and better made then all PCs. That's where things get a little ridiculous. I said that people who thought that Apple's products were objectively better then all PCs, as opposed to subjectively better were the ones who were confused.
Science would tend to disagree with you there. Just look at how maths is applied to geometry and design throughout history. And in nature.
Whaaaa?
Yeah, buying a whole new computer to get a larger screen is totally reasonable.
It sure is if you plan on selling the old one and don't mind the performance boost as a bonus
That seems like a huge hassle. Much more work then simply unplugging the old monitor and plugging in a new one.
posted by delmoi at 9:35 AM on September 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


With a windows machine you get an uncertain but definitely marginal experience, from vendors that load crapware onto the machine, to physical design where it's surprising when everything's been thought through from the user's perspective.

Apple specializes in making laptops that are desirable. They're not perfect, they may even be annoying (you need a dongle to connect an Air to a projector), but they have properties that no (or very few) other laptops have, either singly or in sum.

The Macbook Pro 15" can be ordered with a 1680-by-1050 display.

The Mac Air can be had with a 256GB SSD.

And both are gorgeous, clean laptops.

The same offering from Lenovo, if there's a comparable machine, will be black and red and white, with cheap stickers and physical elements that are designed for cost and durability, but not comfort and appeal. NTTAWWT - I respect ThinkPads, but I'm never going to feel affection for one.

Then there's the virus thing (less likely on Macs), the stability thing (Windows will forever have a blue screen rep, from years of this being the truth, even if it's solid now), and that Apple can turn out multiple major OS revs while Microsoft's divisions spend the same time fighting with each other for power and funding.

That's why I have a Mac. It works well enough, it looks and feels good, and Apple treats me pretty well.

I'm mostly OS agnostic. Most of my time is in the browser. I do occasional development, but find that between downloading XCode (Mac) or Cygwin (Windows), it's an equal amount of effort to make either platform a decent development environment. Used to work for IBM back when they made Thinkpads, been using Macs since the 128k model in 1984 or 1985.
posted by zippy at 9:44 AM on September 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


That's just unbelievable to me, considering Apple's pricing in the past.

I actually don't think this has ever been an issue. Bear with me on this.

Apple's products have always been expensive. However, they've always been expensive, because Apple's products are very often extreme overkill. The Mac Pro is by far the most egregious offender of this -- if I want an expandable desktop, but don't want to pay the insane premium for a Xeon processor, Apple offers me no options. However, my G4 tower from 1999 (!) is still chugging along as an occasional-use machine and backup server in my parents' house, and capably runs a fairly recent release of OS X. This machine's longevity can easily be attributed to Apple's adoption of "before-their-time" standards, and the fact that they ridiculously overengineered the machine (which had enough slots to support 2GB of RAM in 1999, which many of Apple's consumer-grade machines couldn't even match until 2006-7). Sure, it was expensive, but there is absolutely zero doubt that I've gotten my money out of this machine.

Incidentally, the oft-derided Thunderbolt spec may finally fix this. Even with the maligned $50 cables, Thunderbolt lets users connect high-bandwidth hardware to an iMac or MacBook that would have otherwise only been possible as an internal PCIe device. Sure, $50 for a cable is a lot, but consider that Thunderbolt peripherals theoretically have more bandwidth available to them than many previous products that utilized fragile/expensive fiber optics, or bulky/even-more-expensive mSAS cables. Thunderbolt's current incarnation offers more bandwidth than many Infiniband topologies. In a laptop. (Infiniband is a popular supercomputer networking interface)

Similarly, nobody can touch Apple's macbook pro in terms of hardware specs, build quality, and battery life, without vastly exceeding the price.

Personally, I think that Apple's been slacking for the past year or two, and refuse to buy an iPhone, but they're still unrivaled in terms of price/value.
posted by schmod at 9:50 AM on September 6, 2011


The Dutch have a saying about this sort of thing: Goedkoop is duurkoop.
posted by digitalprimate at 10:10 AM on September 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


You mean just like my cheapo HP laptop?

I'm no Apple fanboy, but I do have a Macbook Pro, and it is SO much better at sleep/wake than any Windows machine I've used. You can close the lid, leave it sitting for hours or even days, open the lid, and be working by the time your fingers are positioned over the keyboard.

All the Windows machines I've used have either gone into a semi-sleep that drains the battery fairly quickly, or else into a full hibernate cycle. It takes a long time to hibernate, and a long time to wake back up, very nearly as long as rebooting the whole box. Without hibernating, just sleeping, my Mac seems to lose about 10% charge per day. It's ready to go instantly when I open it, and I can leave it that way for several days and still have a useful charge remaining.

I've never seen a Windows laptop that worked that well. They may exist, but I haven't run into any.
posted by Malor at 10:12 AM on September 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


You know, the crapware is really the issue with me. I'm sheepish to admit it, but there it is. If I'm buying the machine, it should be mine, they shouldn't go out of their way to make it impossible for me to chuck the stuff i don't want. It's a tiny little thing, but over time and several windows machines, it's really come to infuriate me. Maybe because it's an indisputable sign that the manufacturer ultimately doesn't give a shit about their customers from the exact instant that the purchase clears.
posted by newdaddy at 10:14 AM on September 6, 2011 [5 favorites]


I think it's possible that the cost of customizing a mac with additional RAM or a different HDD may have more to do with the cost imposed upon Apple than on the cost of the parts themselves. Apple sells 2-3 flavors of each product, which greatly simplifies their logistics. If everyone started ordering custom machines, all of a sudden their operations get significantly more complicated. It may be less about price gouging than it is about discouraging custom machines.
posted by pjaust at 10:15 AM on September 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


You would think that reasonable adults could agree to disagree on this. It really must be an caused by the type of "I'm a Mac, I'm a pc" marketing done. You don't just own a Dell, you are a Dell person.

It is the same thing as if you saw your neighbor pulling up in his jag while you are out washing your Hyundai.

"Hows the Hyundai treating you, I hear there are lots of problems with those"
"never had any problems, gets me where I need to go"
"you have a walnut and leather interior? I do"
"but you paid 50k more"
"totally worth it, my car is objectively beautiful, never breaks, and when it does they ship it back to the UK to be fixed free"

You walk away thinking, what a jerk that guy is with his fancy car. Your neighbor thinks you are a dumb slob for driving a Hyundai.

Fucking marketing.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:17 AM on September 6, 2011 [6 favorites]


I'm overall pretty happy with my HP desktop that I bought, but that was only because I got it dirt cheap and refurbished. I haven't had any problems with it, but it's still got all the HP bloatware on it that annoys the piss out of me that I can't be arsed to spend 2 hours uninstalling.

I don't know why there isn't a single PC manufacturer that is willing to sell a premium windows box with a focus on design and simplicity.
posted by empath at 10:18 AM on September 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's not some Windows hardware monstrosity with crap you need to replace, it's got a beautiful SSD hardwired right in the motherboard and you don't need to mess with it.

Oh, come on. Windows hardware monstrosity? Windows hardware? "Beautiful" SSD? Did Steve Jobs build it in his tool shed just for you? This is a joke post, right?
posted by adamdschneider at 10:18 AM on September 6, 2011 [6 favorites]


But, having spent $350 on my netbook, it was really hard to justify spending three times that much getting an Air. I'd have felt like I'd just spent $300 paying the It's Pretty Tax.

Does your $350 netbook have an SSD hard drive?
posted by litnerd at 10:21 AM on September 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Infiniband is already the name of my band.

*ducks under all the genitalia waving in the air*
posted by infini at 10:23 AM on September 6, 2011


Mister Fabulous: An extra 128GB in flash memory does not cost $300. It doesn't cost anywhere near that.

Yes, as you yourself say, it costs an extra $200. Apple is charging a $100 premium for them to install the extra 128GB of SSD in the Air. I'll gladly pay Apple that because when it arrives, the system already works, and I don't have to mess with it. That's doubly important with SSDs where component quality varies widely. I have no idea what SSD is in my Air and don't need to know, because I trust Apple picked a good one. (I was wrong, btw, the SSD is not soldered on the motherboard).

I 100% agree with you on RAM, though, Apple's pricing for RAM is offensive. They're charging $400 for the iMac upgrade from 8GB to 16GB, the same memory from Crucial is $54. And it's an easy install! It seems particularly dumb for Apple to make RAM expensive since Lion is such a memory hog. I feel bad for people who only choose 2GB because that's all they can afford.
posted by Nelson at 10:24 AM on September 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


"Your favorite computing paradigm sucks" sums up about 93.7% of this thread so far.
posted by Fezboy! at 10:24 AM on September 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


I don't understand why the Airs don't have a cellular radio option. I'd much rather have an Air than an iPad; it's scarcely any bulkier and has ten times the utility. I guess AT&T probably had conniptions at the idea when they still had an all-you-can-eat data plan, and now that they don't, a full-fledged PC would make it too easy to run the bill up.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:26 AM on September 6, 2011


I dunno, my Thinkpad x61s sleeps on close, wakes on open and gives me a login screen before my fingers are poised over the keyboard to log in. So did all of my previous Thinkpads. Maybe it's different for different laptop makers.

I like the Mac OS quite a lot, and have gotten partway to a hackintosh on a couple of occasions, but there were always driver issues that kept me from getting it fully up and running without more work than I was willing to put in.

I've only ever owned Thinkpads and probably only ever will, as no other hardware maker besides Dell offers the trackpoint. Fortunately, I really like the black slab design with clean edges and sharp corners. Macs are really attractive (especially the Air) but as much as I love multi-touch on my iPhone, I really don't like it on trackpads (and in fact don't like trackpads of any type at all).

Obviously Apple is never going to cater to those of us who don't like the multi-touch touchpads, but it does mean that I only really ever look at Mac desktops (I really love their mouses, oddly enough). Right now I don't have one, but I'm mulling a Mini.

Thinkpads really don't save you much money over Mac laptops - I think when I got my current machine I paid $1250 and would have had to pay $1500 for the equivalent in size/specs from Apple. $250 over the lifetime of the machine really isn't that much.
posted by clerestory at 10:28 AM on September 6, 2011


> I don't understand why the Airs don't have a cellular radio option.

I'd prefer to be able choose providers, so just getting a USB modem with my favorite (as much as one can have a favorite) carrier and plugging that in is much more viable, I think. Not to mention Apple would probably be stuck on 3G antennae for the foreseeable future. With USB modems it's no sweat to upgrade to 4G/LTE.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 10:29 AM on September 6, 2011


It is the same thing as if you saw your neighbor pulling up in his jag while you are out washing your Hyundai.

The problem I've seen in the PC market isn't that it's been Hyundai vs. Jag. It's been Ford Pinto vs. Jag. Some of the models barfed out of the big PC manufacturers have done the equivalent of putting the gas tank right next to the bumper. Some have added small explosives to ensure the gas tank catches fire (I'm looking at you nVidia chipset, or Optiplex capacitors)
posted by Mister Fabulous at 10:33 AM on September 6, 2011


I have no idea what SSD is in my Air and don't need to know, because I trust Apple picked a good one.

Apple Still Using SSDs With Varying Speeds on New MacBook Air
posted by the_artificer at 10:33 AM on September 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'd prefer to be able choose providers, so just getting a USB modem with my favorite (as much as one can have a favorite) carrier and plugging that in is much more viable, I think.

Or it could have a SIM card slot and an unlocked 3G modem.
posted by acb at 10:34 AM on September 6, 2011


Infiniband is already the name of my band.

*ducks under all the genitalia waving in the air*


When my band plays, the audience tend to wave lighters and mobile phones. But perhaps your sound is more visceral.
posted by running order squabble fest at 10:35 AM on September 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


> Or it could have a SIM card slot and an unlocked 3G modem.

Then it would need to support GSM and CDMA all in one device. I don't think that's Apple's game just yet, unfortunately. Also, having been spoiled by 4G, 3G is kind of terrible to use for computint.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 10:38 AM on September 6, 2011


Putting aside everything else, the apple UK keyboard is just goddamn annoying that you just don't encounter with a US keyboard.

There is an ISO standard for UK keyboard layouts, that EVERYONE uses, except apple. OK, on ultra-mini netbooks they sometimes half-height the number row, and the arrow keys tend be wedged wherever they fit on a laptop; but when you touch type everything is in the right place, including the enter key.

The apple UK keyboard is different enough to be very frustrating, especially if you switch between the two on a regular basis - I sometimes help out helpdesk with student laptops, and we do encounter enough macbooks to be frustrating.

The cmd/win key are the wrong way round, and function is where control normally is - the amonut of times i mishit the equivalent of ctrl-c.... The enter key is half width. Backslash moves from bottom left to far right - in fact, in the space the enter key usually occupies, so you mishit it all the damn time. @ and " are switched which is a BUNDLE of fun when you're doing email or domain logins. backtick is in the place backslash normally is. The hash/tilde key is gone, and tilde is somewhere else entirely. Ok, you have a £ symbol in the right place, but to do a hash - which usually has its own damn key - is not even ON the apple keyboard; you have to KNOW it's an option-3 to get it. It's even better under bootcamp with the official apple driver/layout, I think it's ctrl-alt-3 to get a #. Freaking marvellous if you use # in passwords, as a lot of people do.

On an imac or mac mini it isn't a huge disaster, as you can use a normal UK keyboard (I'm a fan of filco cherry brown's myself), though getting a keyboard layout that works is always a laugh in OSX, as it doesn't have one for non-apple UK keyboards. But on a laptop? Sorry, but if you are not an apple-only user in the UK, i.e. if you EVER have to use another computer at work, or home or whatever, it's just an endless frustration of mishit keys when you're touchtyping. And I can switch from UK to US to colemak and back again, so it's not like I'm not used to different layouts.

I have no idea why they do it. Frankly, I'd rather they just did the standard US layout rather than the fucking frankenstein of a design they picked for UK keyboards that's neither fish nor fowl. I can certainly understand why someone would not buy an otherwise nice netbook design purely down to that - I wouldn't.
posted by ArkhanJG at 11:16 AM on September 6, 2011 [4 favorites]


I just wish someone made a netbook in 1024x768.

The smallest, cheapest 11" MacBook Air does 1366x768.

This is why the comparisons are all crappy - the Dell vs. MacBook above neglected to mention that the "comparable" Dell had 2/3s the pixel count, a slower processor, and weighed a full pound more. That's before you get into all the really nice touches like mag-safe and backlit keyboards.
posted by bashos_frog at 11:36 AM on September 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


That's before you get into all the really nice touches like mag-safe and backlit keyboards.

Backlit keyboards were just added to the most recent version of the Air.
posted by me & my monkey at 11:41 AM on September 6, 2011


I bought a monstrously expensive Vaio Z last August and it's already in the process of imploding: the fan performance has degraded so noticeably that any CPU-intensive task will cause it to do a thermal shutdown (and it no longer plays games it did fine with six months ago). Just today, I noticed that the down and right arrow keys (which are also page down and end, most horribly) have mysteriously stopped functioning and don't respond even to direct pressure. The fingerprint reader winks in and out of consciousness at random. The hinges and the side of the screen cracked months ago, which is apparently an endemic problem in these models, and the battery life is like 4 hours even with very spartan display settings.

I'll chime in as another outlier who happily has a Z currently and has been happy with Vaios in the past. It's my main computer and I have experienced none of these issues (aside from the battery life which I didn't really expect much more than 4 hours to begin with) after owning it for the exact same amount of time (August '10 to present). It did have an issue with wireless cutting out randomly out of the box, but a driver update fixed that.
posted by juv3nal at 11:46 AM on September 6, 2011


public wrote: [Lenovo X1s] are sexy.

But waaayyy too expensive. Even an EPP discount doesn't net much of a discount on those.

eriko wrote: in 2000, [the TiBook] was a revelation.

In 2000, it was 2-3 years late to the party with that form factor, but that was late-90s/early-2000s Apple.

zippy wrote: The same offering from Lenovo, if there's a comparable machine, will be black and red and white, with cheap stickers and physical elements that are designed for cost and durability, but not comfort and appeal. NTTAWWT - I respect ThinkPads, but I'm never going to feel affection for one.

It will be black, yes. A pox on you for dismissing what may be the best keyboards ever put in a laptop, however. I guess if you have one of those bastard SLs, it will have a gawdy red LED and piano black finish, but that's what you get for going with the aspirational model rather than the one made for people who are willing to spend some money on quality.

(my T60p actually has red, blue, and green on it, since it's old enough to have both IBM and lenovo branding, it also has some silvery magnesium hinges)

clerestory wrote: I've only ever owned Thinkpads and probably only ever will, as no other hardware maker besides Dell offers the trackpoint.

My SO's (work issued) HP also has a Trackpoint nubbin.
posted by wierdo at 11:46 AM on September 6, 2011


But, having spent $350 on my netbook, it was really hard to justify spending three times that much getting an Air. I'd have felt like I'd just spent $300 paying the It's Pretty Tax.

Does your $350 netbook have an SSD hard drive?


Yes, actually. A tiny, tiny SSD that didn't seem to come with any particular performance gains, considering I had only 1 GB of RAM. (My new computer, with a regular hard drive and 4 GB of RAM, is much faster.)

But note, I didn't say the It's Pretty Tax was $650, the actual difference between a $350 netbook and the cheapest Air. Of course the Air is better than a cheapass netbook. The question isn't, is it better, but, is it $650 worth of better? Is it three times worth of better? For some people, I'm sure it's worth it, but I was only looking for a small step up from my cheap netbook.
posted by Jeanne at 12:07 PM on September 6, 2011


My netbook also has an SSD. It was probably $350 all told, for a 9" eee pc with 2gb ram and a 32gb ssd. I got it for $200 off craigslist, though, from a guy with fat fingers.
posted by kaibutsu at 12:13 PM on September 6, 2011


Only on the second page of this article. This guy is an idiot. Who uses track nipples?
posted by CrazyJoel at 12:19 PM on September 6, 2011


When my band plays, the audience tend to wave lighters and mobile phones. But perhaps your sound is more visceral.

reference
posted by infini at 12:31 PM on September 6, 2011


Beyond all the other discussions about how to build a Windows laptop that competes with various Apple products, I remain thoroughly convinced that if you could game on an MBP, you'd see the "incredible battery life, cool running, quad cores never going above 25%" claims vanish like dew in the morning sun.

But there's not a lot of laptop gamers out there, so that metric might be meaningless. The only gaming laptop I have has a Core i7 proc, 128gb SSD boot drive/game drive, a 1tb HDD, and a 1gb GPU and it gets plenty worked up when you play that benchmark that thinks it's a game, Crysis.

And when I have someone tell me something regarding the PC version of a game and all I see around their house is their I Robot white hardware, I know that they're shamefully hiding a Windows boxen somewhere, like a Shabbos TV tucked into a closet.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 12:42 PM on September 6, 2011


Woo, some of you really can't seem to understand that different choices are right for different people. My needs are not yours, your needs are not the universal desires of everyone who wants a computer and neither are mine.

I've been using Macs since 2000 when my old Amiga got too long in the tooth. I've never found Windows to be an inviting OS so I've stayed off of it. I've been using laptops as my only machine ever since losing my tower in Katrina (luckily I hadn't trusted my hard drive to shipping so I retained my data), portability is important to me.

If you can get a $300 machine that runs Windows, fulfills all your computing needs, does not offend your sense of aesthetics, and are fine with the way Windows behaves, then I envy you. Make your choice and use the fuck out of it, and don't try to run me down for having a different set of requirements that mean my tool costs more.

* * * *

Oh yeah, and it is common knowledge in the Mac world that you don't buy RAM upgrades from Apple. My 2010 Air is the first time I've ever done that, due to the memory being soldered onto the board in the name of tininess.

(also sleep may work on windows for some of you, but both of my ex-boyfriends have never had it work, I had to train one of them out of constantly powering his machine on and off when I gave him my old Pro as a handmedown.)

* * * *

I feel like a large part of what the article at hand highlights is how many minor, inessential choices are presented to a potential Windows box purchaser, with a dearth of real choices.
posted by egypturnash at 12:44 PM on September 6, 2011 [4 favorites]


You wouldn't download a MacBook Air over 3G, would you?
posted by blue_beetle at 12:48 PM on September 6, 2011


I loved that laptop so much that I married it.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 12:59 PM on September 6, 2011


While my aging iMac isn't an ideal gaming rig, about the only game I've not been able to get working on a reasonable level, either in OS X or Windows 7, has been Beyond Good and Evil, but that port is notoriously buggy under any multicore system.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 1:03 PM on September 6, 2011


I don't know why there isn't a single PC manufacturer that is willing to sell a premium windows box with a focus on design and simplicity.

Because if you're willing to spend more for those features, you know there's no reason not to look into an Apple. And PC manufacturers know this.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:28 PM on September 6, 2011


I'd prefer to be able choose providers, so just getting a USB modem with my favorite (as much as one can have a favorite) carrier and plugging that in is much more viable, I think. Not to mention Apple would probably be stuck on 3G antennae for the foreseeable future. With USB modems it's no sweat to upgrade to 4G/LTE.
This is really a problem with the way cellular works in this country. It's not just a utility that you can buy. Cellphone companies want to lock you in, and they control who has access to their network. Imagine if household internet worked that way in the '90s: You got your internet from dell and could only use dell PCs with it and access dell websites. It would have sucked.

If Wireless service were just a utility, you could run any device on any network. Just plug in the SIM card. There's no reason for it not to work that way.

I do think all the crapwear that PCs come with is annoying. So do track nipples for that matter. They are really slow.
posted by delmoi at 2:28 PM on September 6, 2011


Because if you're willing to spend more for those features, you know there's no reason not to look into an Apple. And PC manufacturers know this.

I know you may not believe this, but there are people who love apple hardware but loathe OSX. I actually know someone who bought a macbook and just deleted OSX and put Windows 7 on it. I think it's crazy, but it does happen.
posted by empath at 2:43 PM on September 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


I know you may not believe this, but there are people who love apple hardware but loathe OSX. I actually know someone who bought a macbook and just deleted OSX and put Windows 7 on it. I think it's crazy, but it does happen.

I was almost that guy. Instead, I decided to give OS X a chance and only split the drive with Windows instead of nuking OS X. And I've got to say, I'd have been still very happy with the Air in that case. Windows really runs like a dream on it. People upthread have complained about crapware, problems with hibernation etc - I haven't had any of those problems on the Air with Windows 7.

That said, I'm getting used to OS X, and the two really seem to be six of one, half-dozen of the other.
posted by me & my monkey at 3:30 PM on September 6, 2011


I am still not sure after reading all of this which laptop I should buy. But it will be a cold day in hell before I buy an Apple simply because as an audiophile, I view iTunes is an instrument of Satan.
posted by Ber at 3:32 PM on September 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


Ber, I don't know what your problem is, but Apple has had a Lossless Codec since 2004. If you're one of those audiophiles that buys homeopathically treated wood panels to dampen sound and "deoxygenated copper" Monster Cables, there's an iPod mod for about $1500 that uses high end DAC circuits that are considered audiophile grade.
posted by charlie don't surf at 4:20 PM on September 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Does it use tubes? Like real Macintoshes do?
posted by jfuller at 4:56 PM on September 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


So do track nipples for that matter.

I heard if you put band-aids on them before your start running, that helps.
posted by dirigibleman at 6:05 PM on September 6, 2011



>I just wish someone made a netbook in 1024x768.
The smallest, cheapest 11" MacBook Air does 1366x768.


Which is exactly what he doesn't want. He wants a proper 4:3 display on a netbook for doing his retrogaming. I'd like to see a 4:3 netbook as well, or even better, a nice light machine with a 12" 5:4 1280x1024 display, because I like vertical space on my screen. A 12" 5:4 gives the same vertical space that takes a 15.3" 16:9.

Of course, I know I'm a limited market, and unlikely to get a machine like that, but I am annoyed that no one is selling a 4:3 1024x768 netbook.
posted by fings at 6:22 PM on September 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


I like Mac lappys because they're well built and they can be convinced into running OSX/Windows/Linux either through a triple boot or through virtualization. Virtualizing OSX on anything else is a royal pain and rarely works right.

I keep expecting that at some point, Apple is going to piss me off enough that I'll go back to Linux.
...
Another thing we're missing in this conversation is a discussion about the Linuxes. Good luck getting those running on your macbook air.

It's not easy, but it's fun and possible.
posted by pashdown at 6:22 PM on September 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


> People upthread have complained about crapware, problems with hibernation etc - I haven't had any of those problems on the Air with Windows 7.

Well, naturally you're not going to have crapware issues with a Windows installation you put on yourself. That stuff is supplied by PC vendors who did the integration, either in a usually-misguided effort to customize the experience or because they've made upsell deals with the software publisher.
posted by George_Spiggott at 8:06 PM on September 6, 2011


(It's funny: I once heard the track nipple called 'the clit' and this has been my internal name for it ever since, which I strive not to utter whenever I see one.)
posted by kaibutsu at 8:23 PM on September 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


I know you may not believe this, but there are people who love apple hardware but loathe OSX. I actually know someone who bought a macbook and just deleted OSX and put Windows 7 on it. I think it's crazy, but it does happen.

What I meant was that hardware manufacturers have little incentive to make Windows a luxury experience. It's very risky, because a customer who wants luxury will probably already have Apple on his or her list. And the whole point of the article is that PC makers can barely compete with Apple on profit margin as it is.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:10 PM on September 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Kaibutsu, I once horribly offended someone by describing the roller ball selector on my old blackberry pearl that way. Now talk about an engineering masterpiece. It worked more or less just the same way as an old roller ball mouse and accumulated filth the same way. Except the only way to really clean it (it could not be easily disassembled) was to get a new phone. Apparently none of the engineers that designed it had had computers in the 80's or 90's.

That being said, I guess I shouldn't be shocked that most of the outrage on this tread is over the presence or absence of the track point. I think the automotive analogy would be complaining that there's no steam engine on your new car. I mean how else are you going to burn wood to travel around?
posted by Chekhovian at 9:37 PM on September 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Owning Apple products is expensive!

Seriously! Why do people fight about this? I have three pcs - a netbook (for classroom note-taking), a desktop (second-hand Dell) and a Dell laptop that I got discount at Best Buy. Total cost for all three of these computers? $800. Two run Windows XP and one runs 7.

I don't have enough house to mortgage to buy three apple computers. They are beautiful, smart and cool. Like a BMW. I will never own a BMW but my Subaru does just fine.
posted by Tennyson D'San at 10:32 PM on September 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Many people can't afford that shiny new MBA or MBP, but they don't care and charge it. Same goes for spiffy Alienware gaming laptops and the like. What lists for $1800 ends up costing much more after accrued interest.

> I think the automotive analogy would be complaining that there's no steam engine on your new car. I mean how else are you going to burn wood to travel around?

I don't see how having an additional option to manipulate the cursor remotely translates as an antiquated engine, but nice try.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 10:48 PM on September 6, 2011


So strike 1. Here's my next swing:
I think the fashion analogy would be complaining that there are no bell bottomed and nerhu jackets for sale at the local clothing store.
posted by Chekhovian at 10:54 PM on September 6, 2011


oops *bell bottomed pants
posted by Chekhovian at 10:55 PM on September 6, 2011


Well, have fun with analogies that don't have anything to do with the eraserhead thingy on a keyboard.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 11:03 PM on September 6, 2011


I bet you can buy bell bottoms and nerhu jackets somewhere
posted by delmoi at 11:14 PM on September 6, 2011


Bollywood wardrobe suppliers
posted by infini at 11:17 PM on September 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Besides, why mock people who like the nipple mouse on the keyboard? It's not a bad way to control the cursor. It's kind of like saying that your favorite company knows your personal ergonomics better than you do, so just accept their design and be happy they blessed you with it. Bollocks. Let people have options.

I want a chainsaw hand to control the cursor.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 11:19 PM on September 6, 2011


The irony is that I just bought an ultra cheap lenovo tablet pc (will I ever learn?) and its only built in control option (aside from the tablet pc part) is a trackpoint...oh the agony!

Clearly the best form of laptop mouse control is the built in track ball, then you can play missile command and bowling/golf simulators in the way they were meant to be played with no plug in peripherals...the glory of it!

Okay, cruel kidding aside. Multitouch track pads on any OS are best thing ever:
(1) It takes no effort to move the cursor. Track points always seem to require a fair bit of pushing in ways the human finger really isn't meant to move.
(2) Gestures, OMG gestures. Easily swipe back and forth between tabs in firefox? Check. Easily bring up Expose with a swipe? Check. Zoom in and out in pdfs? Check.
posted by Chekhovian at 11:30 PM on September 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


That's nice. I have a laptop that has both a trackpoint and a multitouch trackpad. I win forever and my teeth are whiter.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 11:35 PM on September 6, 2011


Chekhovian wrote: (1) It takes no effort to move the cursor. Track points always seem to require a fair bit of pushing in ways the human finger really isn't meant to move.

The sensitivity can be adjusted to suit your taste, although I would argue that if you actually have to push, either it's broken or you're doing it wrong. That's not to say pad gestures aren't nice, but for me, trying to use a trackpad exclusively is excruciating. Why is my hand all the way over there when I'm trying to click the preview button?

Keep in mind, though, that I also like vim so maybe it's just that I have something against removing my hand from the keyboard.
posted by wierdo at 1:53 AM on September 7, 2011


I don't really care whether a laptop has a TrackPoint or a touchpad since 90% of the time I just use an external BlueTooth mouse.
posted by octothorpe at 6:42 AM on September 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, buying a whole new computer to get a larger screen is totally reasonable.

Delmoi for the win. In this case, the iMac is fitting into a small space that keeps me from using the other answer, which is dual monitors. The office space I have is fairly small, the all in one setup is a huge help in handling that.

And the iMac screen is a *very* good screen.

My main "gripe" about the 27" iMac is that it came out two months after I bought this one (24" 2.93GHz Core Duo 2)...but then again, I've always said that if you wait for the better computer, you will never buy one. So, I'm coming onto year three with this machine, and it is working very well, even if I'm tempted to give it to my sister and get the bigger screen and faster CPU.

But it just doesn't seem right -- it's so young!

The first notebook that might not make it to 4 years for me may be the 2008 MB Air. It was a wonder when it came out, but there were some compromises, and while I can live with them, the current 13" MB Air fixes most of them and has a higher resolution screen (1440x900 rather than 1280x800.) And, as a bonus, it's the same size, but not as thick. (Technically, it also weighs less -- by 20 grams. Whee!)

The 11" isn't as interesting to me. I know lots of guys who carry it and love it, but to me, the real issue with a road book isn't size, it is weight. Once you're fitting into a bag that can hold file folders, getting smaller isn't automatically useful. Getting lighter *always* is, and while the 11" is lighter, I'm not willing to sacrifice the screen resolution, CPU or RAM to save about half a pound of

The real win, for me, would be the Core i7 CPU, which is really good at virtualization, and would let me spin up VMs for the odd cases where the Mac OS isn't the right answer.
posted by eriko at 7:19 AM on September 7, 2011


I bet you can buy...nerhu jackets somewhere

Whoa, I hope so.
posted by adamdschneider at 7:26 AM on September 7, 2011


Well, naturally you're not going to have crapware issues with a Windows installation you put on yourself. That stuff is supplied by PC vendors who did the integration, either in a usually-misguided effort to customize the experience or because they've made upsell deals with the software publisher.

When installing via BootCamp, Apple automatically provides all of the drivers needed that aren't already bundled into Windows. There's absolutely no reason why they couldn't provide crapware at the same time.
posted by me & my monkey at 7:48 AM on September 7, 2011


When installing via BootCamp, Apple automatically provides all of the drivers needed that aren't already bundled into Windows. There's absolutely no reason why they couldn't provide crapware at the same time.

If they had the same attitude to customer satisfaction as the other computer companies, they could. But they don't.

Somewhere along the line, Dell, HP and such decided that their users could live with a few search toolbars and demo versions of utilities if the kickbacks they got would allow them to cut prices a bit further. Then, gradually (like the proverbial boiling frog), the amount of crapware expanded until it started weighing the brand-new machine it shipped on down, and with a few exceptions, nobody complained. Some people paid a premium for crapware-free machines (I think Dell had that as an option for an extra $50). Others paid the premium for Apple machines.

And then Apple cornered the component market and started making their crapware-free machines cheaper. Checkmate.
posted by acb at 8:46 AM on September 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


> Some people paid a premium for crapware-free machines (I think Dell had that as an option for an extra $50).

Dell's ordering site, at least for corporate users, has pretty clear and unambiguous options for not having trialware/crapware on the machines that you buy. There's no charge.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 8:49 AM on September 7, 2011


And then Apple cornered the component market and started making their crapware-free machines cheaper. Checkmate.

Yep. :)
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:26 AM on September 7, 2011


Yes, let's cheer on corporate monopolies.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 9:27 AM on September 7, 2011


You may be a winner with white teeth, but you don't seem to understand what "monopoly" means.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:31 AM on September 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


(the word for that is "monopsony.")
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:37 AM on September 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yes, yes, Monopsony. Strident adherents don't care and would rather fit a company's dominance into their own personal narrative of struggle.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 9:49 AM on September 7, 2011


Wait, did you post that with the wrong account?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:53 AM on September 7, 2011


Yes, I am entropicamericana.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 9:55 AM on September 7, 2011


:D
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:58 AM on September 7, 2011


So long as you're not PlannedChaos.
posted by Chekhovian at 9:58 AM on September 7, 2011


Wait, who's supposed to represent a monopsony here? Is Apple the only entity that buys SSDs?
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:10 AM on September 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Apple would be a monopsony if they not only bought all the SSDs, but they dictated price to vendors, as well. They might have the market share to do that one day. But not at today's 6-10%.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:18 AM on September 7, 2011


You guys ran out of grar so now you're just shooting the breeze around the fire, with your PC and your Apple on your laps aren't you?
posted by infini at 10:38 AM on September 7, 2011


MetaFilter: ran out of grar.
posted by charlie don't surf at 11:27 AM on September 7, 2011


I suppose my designs to build a grar-powered computer are going to have to take their fuel from slashdot henceforth.
posted by kaibutsu at 7:33 PM on September 7, 2011


Okay, cruel kidding aside. Multitouch track pads on any OS are best thing ever:
(1) It takes no effort to move the cursor. Track points always seem to require a fair bit of pushing in ways the human finger really isn't meant to move.
(2) Gestures, OMG gestures. Easily swipe back and forth between tabs in firefox? Check. Easily bring up Expose with a swipe? Check. Zoom in and out in pdfs? Check.
1) It requires moving more than my right pointer and thumb off of the home keys. That's a lot of movement - I can always tell who's using a trackpad because they have this little in-out-in-out-in-out movement going on with their right hand as they go back and forth between the home row and the trackpad.

2) Uh, you can use gestures with a trackpoint, too. Different gestures, of course, between a multi-touch and a trackpoint.

Anyway, I like multi-touch where I'm actually touching the screen image (phones, tablets, etc), so I'm not going to slag you off and insult you for having different preferences, the way you did all of us.
posted by clerestory at 9:26 PM on September 7, 2011


The only thing i don't like about the macbook air trackpad is that drag and drop sucks. You have to hold the mouse pad down while dragging your finger, and if you don't reach your destination by the time you get to the end the trackpad? you're basically fucked.
posted by empath at 9:54 PM on September 7, 2011


Go to System Preferences and turn on the double-tap feature. It's worth trying out, anyway.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:10 PM on September 7, 2011


I turned on the "Three finger drag" option after using another person's laptop with that enabled, and completely love it. Never have to physically click anymore, it's all swipes, brushes, and gentle taps.

That sounds more sensual than I want it to sound.
posted by Llama-Lime at 10:59 PM on September 7, 2011


I'm not going to slag you off and insult you for having different preferences, the way you did all of us....but I didn't even mention neck-beards or suspenders! I could have done so much better. There goes the conclusion full of peace, love, and understanding.

It would be interesting to see some typical computer use vs mouse control method data. The serious trackpoint afficinados here seem to need to have all their fingers on the home row any any given moment, as if some sudden phrase might need to be entered at a moment's notice, with not a moment to spare. If what you do is 90% text commands and shortcuts and key combos with minimal mousing needs then a trackpoint makes great sense. That would jive the frequency VIM and EMACs shoutouts.

Most people out in the greater world are not geared to heavy keyboard based navigation. Most daily computer experience for most people is moving and clicking, or moving and clicking with key commands. Then a trackpad makes perfect sense. (I just had this image of someone driving a cursor around on a 24" monitor with a trackpoint...ludicrous)

This is truth that the market seems to have found, given the paucity of trackpoint systems available.
posted by Chekhovian at 3:14 AM on September 8, 2011


If your trackpoint settings are adjusted correctly, it takes no more time to move the cursor with a trackpoint than it does a mouse, and when you inevitably come to a point where you need to provide textual input, your hands are already in position. If you have to swipe across the trackpad three times to get the cursor all the way across the screen, it's going to be slower than using the nubbin.

No, the real downside to the little red (or blue if you're not Lenovo) protrusion is that the rubber eventually wears out, making it less comfortable to use, so you have to take the time to order another and spend a couple of dollars. That does not happen with trackpads.

Oh, and at least with Lenovos, middle click. It's nice having three mouse buttons. Does anyone else bother with a third button on a laptop anymore?
posted by wierdo at 5:05 AM on September 8, 2011


The serious trackpoint afficinados here seem to need to have all their fingers on the home row any any given moment, as if some sudden phrase might need to be entered at a moment's notice,

It's how we were taught to touch-type. They call it the 'home row' for a reason.
posted by mikelieman at 5:15 AM on September 8, 2011


I've never had any problems with trackpads being slow, although obviously Apple's two finger scrolling consumes real two typing fingers instead of your thumb.

Anyone ever simply embedded capitative sensors into the keys themselves turning the whole keyboard into a trackpad? You could probably distinguish between mouse movements and key presses.
posted by jeffburdges at 5:21 AM on September 8, 2011


I know this is off topic, but come on...

-A researcher showed an exploit against Apple's new smart batteries used in it MacBook Pro line. The researcher showed how you could hack the battery so it would stop accepting a charge or better yet overheats and catches fire or explodes.

LOL.
posted by seanyboy at 7:08 AM on September 8, 2011


but I didn't even mention neck-beards or suspenders! I could have done so much better.

Definitely no neckbeard and suspenders only for stockings but fair enough on the text-primacy of my work. I don't spend 8 hours a day straight typing, but it is really the only type of input I do - nothing with images or video, no games. Just reading and typing, really. I'm a fast touch-typist and I know all of my shortcut keys, so I'm really optimized for as little movement away from the keyboard as possible.

Thing is, I know a lot of people who do majority-text input, but I guess maybe they're in offices at desktops. I am enough of a trackpoint fangirl that I am actually considering getting one of those keyboards from Lenovo for your desktop that has the trackpoint built in. I'm incorrigible, I guess.

It seems like laptops used to have more diverse inputs - my dad used to have one with a little trackball built in that was pretty nifty, though crud-accumulating. But the market's definitely moved to trackpads, although that isn't always a perfect predictor of taste. Heck, Jobs is the one always saying that consumers don't know what they want, right? Anyway, I'll have to check out the HP laptop weirdo mentioned. Clearly this is a ploy to get me to buy more computers to keep it alive as an option in the market. :)
posted by clerestory at 7:54 AM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


The serious trackpoint afficinados here seem to need to have all their fingers on the home row any any given moment, as if some sudden phrase might need to be entered at a moment's notice,

It's a hand movement thing. Many of my colleagues who prefer trackpoints disable the touchpad on their laptops. The X61 Thinkpads we're currently using were a popular choice with the field staff because they don't have trackpads.

Me, I'm agnostic. Both work well enough when you are used to them. I'll use either, but prefer an actual mouse when possible.
posted by bonehead at 8:50 AM on September 8, 2011


In case it's not obvious: the touchpad is a disadvantage when using the trackpoint because the heel of the palm can select at random or move the screen focus if you rest your hands when typing. A lot of the older staff, in particular, prefer the trackpoint because the cursor only moves when they want it to, not "by accident". Newer staff, who have always had computers with trackpads, don't seem to be as adverse.
posted by bonehead at 8:56 AM on September 8, 2011


Anyone ever simply embedded capitative sensors into the keys themselves turning the whole keyboard into a trackpad? You could probably distinguish between mouse movements and key presses.

Its been done. Apple bought out their company to fold the technology over into an the iPad. A friend of mine that was a CS guy bought one after he got terrible carpal tunnel. I would ooh and ahh over his incredibly integrated workflow stream with low impact typing and cool custom gestures.

Good for him too, cause carpal tunnel must be the kiss of death for most of you heavy typers out there. I could never justify the $300 cost for myself.
posted by Chekhovian at 4:05 PM on September 8, 2011


If you have $555 you can still buy one.

Or you could buy an iPad and run a program that does the same thing.
posted by Chekhovian at 4:07 PM on September 8, 2011




About Security Update 2011-005
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:37 PM on September 9, 2011


If you have a PPC Mac (like the one I'm writing on, as well as 90% of the Macs at my firm) you're SOL.
posted by infinitewindow at 3:01 PM on September 9, 2011


The update is for Mac OS X 10.6, which runs on both PPC and Intel Macs. You should also be able to open Keychain Access to manually delete the bad certificate.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:51 PM on September 9, 2011


Err...Snow Leopard does NOT (officially) run on PPC-based Macs. (yes, there are some workarounds that allow it to run, but if you try to install it directly to a PPC Mac, you'll get a "sorry" message right away)
posted by ShutterBun at 8:56 PM on September 9, 2011


Chekhovian: Or you could buy an iPad and run a program that does the same thing.

Probably too much to hope for, but is there an app that lets you replicate that keyboard setup using two iPads? Maybe even an iPad 1 and an iPad 2?

(Incidentally, I read infinitewindow's post and thought "wow, are people still using PPC macs?" Then I realized that I'd still be using my 12" G4 PowerBook if I hadn't broken the screen. Not as my main device, but it was the best bookbaggable I've ever had.)
posted by running order squabble fest at 7:59 AM on September 12, 2011


running order squabble fest, my sister is still using her 12" G4 Powerbook. Its power supply is f'd up, and it's not even a portable any longer; she still loves it and refuses to trade up.
posted by infinitewindow at 8:30 AM on September 12, 2011


Probably too much to hope for, but is there an app that lets you replicate that keyboard setup using two iPads? Maybe even an iPad 1 and an iPad 2?

That's one of my fantasies too. I haven't really looked into it. I would doubt that there are any applications that smoothly integrate the typing and sweet multitouch gestures in the same way that the fingerworks thing did, especially since the main thing so many people seem to want with their iPads is a real keyboard anyway (which I don't understand at all).

If someone can suggest an app out there that has any of the cool fingerworks functions, that would be most appreciated.
posted by Chekhovian at 11:03 AM on September 12, 2011


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