I Switched

I switched to a iBook a few months ago. This is my second tryst with a Steve Jobs computer.

The first time was a NeXT turbo slab. I had unix on the brain at the time, and the NeXT offered the best blend of consumer software and unix development around. I eventually left to play games on Windows 95.

Now it’s a 700MHz iBook with Mac OS X. I guess I’ve still got unix on the brain. I was looking for a new laptop and the usual suspects didn’t pass muster – they were either too expensive, too heavy or both. The iBook fit the bill at $1499, 4.9 pounds and just enough horsepower.

The Verdict – after 4 months with the iBook, I’d do it again. There is something special about picking up a machine built with panache. The iBook feels like an elegant tool where most windows boxes feel like blunt, heavy instruments. My only regret is the standard electronics buyer’s remorse: the 800MHz iBook and the new 12” powerbook look very nice.

I just can’t figure out why the desktop replacement Windows laptop is so popular. I used to carry around a Thinkpad 770Z for work. It was your basic 8 lb., 12” x 10” x 2.2” brick. My iBook feels like a feather compared to it.

With the addition of the new 12” and 17” Powerbooks, Apple has a nice progression of laptops from the 700 MHz G3 iBook to the 1 GHz G4 PowerBook. Each one truly portable. Each one truly self contained. Ok, maybe the 17” PowerBook isn’t that portable, but it does have a reasonable weight.

Most of the Wintel world seems to have forgotten that laptops were meant to be portable. Toshiba seems to understand this with their Protege line, but their prices start at around $1900 with a built-in optical drive (I reinstalled the OS on a colleague’s laptop without a built-in CD and I’m not doing that again).

Not that I blame the manufacturers, I’m sure that they’d make more if people would buy more. My guess is that the Intel MegaHertz marketing campaign has been too successful. A 867 MHz P-III has ample oomph for most users, but they’ve been brainwashed into thinking they need a 2 GHz P4.