Showdown at the Laptop Corral
OK, time for an Audience Participation feature here at Just Well Mixed.
A number of factors — the most critical of which is that it looks like I am going to be doing a lot of traveling this fall — have me thinking that it might be time to break down and buy a laptop. I’ve been skeptical of the value one of these things could add to my life for quite some time, mostly because I have perfectly good PCs at work and at home and don’t really want to be bothered with computers anywhere else; but if I’m going to be spending lots of time on the road, having a decent system handy will become more of a priority. I could just let our IT department issue me a laptop before each trip, but the standard laptops they keep around for such requests are hulking Dell monstrosities with flaky batteries and no wireless support (!!!), which makes toting them around almost more trouble than they’re worth.
So — if I was going to buy a laptop today — here are the two I’d be looking most closely at:
1) Apple Powerbook G4 12″. Do I have to explain this one? Pluses: Apple’s nice industrial design, OS X, good display, lightweight, reasonably priced (under $1,900) if you opt for the CD/DVD-ROM instead of the DVD burner. Minuses: OS X means that I can’t bring over my substantial library of Windows software, 12″ Powerbook doesn’t have a wide-aspect display for optimal DVD playback (gotta go up to the 15″ for that), style points off because every geek has a goddamn Powerbook.
2) Sony VAIO TR3. The big draw here is portability — the TR3 weighs in at only 3.1 pounds, a full pound-and-a-half lighter than the already-svelte Powerbook. Packed in the tiny frame is a 1GHz processor and a nice 10.6″ XBRITE widescreen display. Pluses: light light light, widescreen display standard, runs Windows XP so I can keep my software, looks cool and isn’t in everybody’s bag (yet). Minuses: substantially pokier processor and video than the Powerbook, a little more expensive than the PB (nets out at about $2,100 most places), and it’s from Sony so you know it will come loaded with useless crap.
Executive summary: the Powerbook is a cheaper, more conservative choice (never thought I’d hear myself saying that); the TR3 is an uber-gadget that could either be insanely cool or completely impractical. Between them, it’s a tough call.
So, here’s where the audience participation comes in: what do you think of these two systems? Anyone out there using them with stories (good or bad) to share? Are there systems I should be looking at instead of these? The comment thread awaits your wisdom, people!