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Macbook - Connect to everything, mini-review

intel core duo macbook

It is amazing to me how much the purpose of a laptop has changed over the past few years. These changes shaped my choice of a new laptop and I ended up with a bottom-of-the-line Macbook. When I first started using a laptop they were pretty much stand-alone devices. Sure, you could get a modem and a network adapter, but the floppy drive got a lot more use. Today, almost all data comes in over a wireless connection and rather than being a "word processor" or something like that, I primarily use it as a communication device. It is a device for reading, viewing, listening and writing/publishing.

With that as a sole purpose, the Apple Macbook seemed as capable (or more) than any other alternative. Wireless access is quick and easy compared to other windows-based laptops I have used. Many of the intricacies have been smoothed over - for example instead of asking for a WEP key to access my wireless network, it asks for a password - and while this initially made me nervous not to see the bloody details, it turns out that "just working" is a pleasant thing.

The form factor is also fairly pleasant. No wierd designs and shapes like dell always seems to inflict upon its users, and the smooth and rounded case slips more easily into a bag than the black IBM/Lenovo bricks. Connector are placed along the side where they belong, and the magnetic powercord attachment (cousin to a similar attachment found on my zojirushi hot water pot) is both a strain relief and a more positive way to start working than the typical power adaptor cord.

On top of this, or I should say underneath this slick package and the brightly colored software which runs on it, is the ability to open a terminal window and use the machine just like any other Unix box. Thoughtfully they included SSH so I can log in here and back-up the site or whatever. If you are feeling nostalgic you can even fire up VI like nothing has changed since you graduated from punchcards.

But there are some rough spots. Learning the keyboard shortcuts takes a while. Some of my favorite software is just not available and there is the occasional website which just won't work with any browser byt Internet Explorer. I also was totally perplexed about how software is installed and am wondering what I'm going to do when it is time to de-install it. Navigating though the different windows is taking a bit of time to become proficient at, but I think over time I'll figure it all out.

Just a few words on why I bought the bottom of the line machine. For me laptops are about portability and connectivity. For image editting or other heavy computational or visual tasks I use my desktop machine. So there is no need to write DVD's from a laptop or have a large and bulky screen or losts of storage. In addition, it appears that the processor wars have become re-ignited after the death of megahertz and lower power is becoming the order of the day. This means that change in the laptop space will be more rapid than it has been in the recent past and with rapid obsolescence it makes sense to buy the cheapest one today, and another cheap one in 2 years, rather than spending for the top model today. The Intel Core Duo chip is more than capable for what I am throwing at it. It is simply the best chip on the market at the time this is being written.

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    This is a single article from STUFF dated September 20, 2006.

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