It has come to my attention recently that I am an advanced computer user. I think it was when I had Parallels, Quicktime, Mail, Safari, Adium, Transmission, iSquint and Keynote all open and working and my MacBook had slowed to a crawl. Maybe it was when I realized I didn’t have enough storage space in my house and to buy a new hard drive.
In any case, I’ve become more aware of ways in which my MacBook can’t keep up with the increased demands I’ve put on it.
I want a new MacBook
Ever since YouTube went widescreen, I’ve noticed how every website with even a small amount of Flash content causes the fans to ramp up to 6200 RPM. I can’t be certain, but I think I saw the computer rise just a little under the thrust produced. The reason for the increased air flow is because my current Core 2 Duo MacBook uses the integrated Intel GMA950 graphics chip. For casual work and operating system usage you’ll rarely notice it, but as soon as you get into anything slightly sophisticated, the graphics system steals resources and the rest of your computer experience slows down noticeably. In the new MacBooks, however, nVIDIA came through with an integrated chip that provides 5 – 6 times more graphics power than the old Intel unit.
The new machines look pretty sweet, too. I’ve always hoped that a MacBook would come in an aluminum enclosure, and now it is. Carrying my computer every day to school, it is also handy that the new laptop comes in half a pound lighter. There has been quite an uproar over the glossy screens available on the new MacBook, mostly because they almost turn into mirrors under less than ideal lighting conditions. While I have yet to try one of these things at an Apple store, the screen on my current MacBook doesn’t bother me in the least, leading me to believe the new one won’t either, assuming it’s similar to the new iMacs that I have seen.
Along with new graphics, most of the other components of the system got a serious upgrade, as well. A faster system bus, memory system, and even easier hard drive upgrades ensure that a computer like this will work properly with much of the latest technology that will inevitably come out in the next few years.
Finally, the top-of-the-line MacBook has a feature that I’ve always wanted: a backlit keyboard. I don’t really use my computer in pitch-black conditions often, but something like this really separates high quality machines from others. Of course, since it is only available on the high-end configuration, it means I’ll have to save just a little more.
…I think I’ll wait a little longer
As a semi-regular video enthusiast, I was a little disappointed when I heard there was no FireWire 400 port. The MiniDV camcorder I use has this port, and it works great. It has been pointed out on various websites that many of the latest cameras now use internal hard drives, which is likely the way of the future. I find that tapes offer an easier way to store footage, and don’t take up excessive disk space. It is also much easier to slip in a new tape when the old one is full than it is to run to a computer and transfer the footage.
In addition to the connection with video cameras, FireWire offered a time-tested method of transferring data between two computers. Target Disk Mode enables a computer to turn into a large external hard drive when connected to another system. Not only does it help when you want to set up a new computer from an old one, it can often save you when one computer goes kaput and you need your data. It was a troubleshooter’s best friend.
What does all this mean? It likely means that by the time I can afford a new computer, Apple will have come out with something lighter, faster and cooler. So until then, I’ll be sticking with my trusty MacBook, and hopefully the fans don’t break down by then.
[tags]computer, laptop, MacBook, upgrade[/tags]