It’s been a couple of weeks since I last blogged, and in that time I have been using the iBook a lot. I have to say that I really like this little computer. While I am still more productive using Windows when my Windows box is actually working OK, the fact is that I have to spend a LOT of time keeping my Windows machine ticking over. I’m pretty careful, and I run anti-virus and anti-spyware all the time. But that only means that I go for many months before something slips through and I need to rebuild my machine yet again. The kids — well, I’m sure that they try, but I seem to be rebuilding their machines every few weeks.
Joanna is a case in point. I bought her a new Windows (Acer) laptop recently. Clean install of Windows XP Pro, latest service packs, all updates applied and auto updates enabled, anti-virus and 3 — yes, three! — anti spyware tools. Yesterday, she was having a problem saving a Powerpoint presentation and asked for help. There in her task bar was a little dog, saying she could get paid to surf the web. She has no idea where that came from.
And did I mention that Powerpoint couldn’t save? Anywhere? Not locally, not on the network, not on a flash drive — nowhere? So, I tried a voodoo cure and did a “Save as Powerpoint 95″. This worked after warning me that some features might be lost. A quick bounce of Powerpoint, re-load the file (which triggers a conversion that took forever) and all is well with the world again. Except there goes a good 20 minutes of my time, not counting the interruption overhead.
Compare that to the Apple. Now admittedly, I have only had it a few weeks, but I am using it as my main machine for everything I do except the actual coding at work (where we use the supplied Windows/Intel clones) and — yes, I know this phrase is becoming a cliche — it just works. This seems to be the comment I am hearing from everyone who is moving across to the Mac platform from Windows, and I am now joining the ranks.
Is it perfect? Of course not. I couldn’t connect to my networked printer (an Officejet G55 hanging off a Dell XP Pro workstation whose role in life is to be our server). Turns out that there is some bug or configuration error (is there a distinction there I am not aware of?) in Tiger that prevents the authentication from working right. Don’t get me wrong, it only took a few minutes on Google to find a workaround, but it shows that even Apples have issues sometimes.
But overall, well, I really like this computer. It really gets over 4 hours of use on a charge even with a WiFi link active, so I actually use it on the battery. I’ve never done that with a laptop before, because the Wintel laptops I have owned can’t reliably get more than about an hour and a half (although I believe that the Centrinos a pretty good).
My current thinking is that I will leave Joanna and Peter with the Windows laptops for the rest of the year, and give Costa this iBook. It is perfect for me except that it doesn’t have Bluetooth built in, and I really want that. I like the 12 inch form factor — after all, the whole point of a laptop is that it is portable. I would really like a PC Card slot, because that would give me the ability to run the iBurst card, but the smallest Apple that has one of those is the 15 inch Powerbook. And the price — well, more than I want to spend right at the moment. I will probably end up buying myself a new 12 inch iBook with minimum RAM (because 3rd party RAM is much cheaper and easy to install) but with the biggest hard drive I can get and with the built-in Bluetooth. That comes to under $1900 delivered, probably just over $2K by the time I add 1G of third-party RAM. I’ll check whether I can get a better price online. Then over the next year or so, I can cycle my new one down to the kids while I upgrade as funds allow.
Apples also seem to have a longer useful life, so I actually think that the cost of running Apples will be lower when taken over their effective life, even if they do cost more to start with. Time will tell.
That’s all for now. I really need to learn some lines for tomorrow night, and it is getting late.