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Monday, April 13, 2015

Laptop shopping time

iKitteh by annaspies from flickr (CC-NC-ND)

It was time to get a new laptop, and I ended up getting myself a Macbook Pro, surprising nobody. It was somewhat closer than usual this time, so I thought I'd write about it.

Operating system

The choice was between OSX and Linux, the idea of using Windows or Chrome OS for primary machine being totally insane. I don't care all that much for Windows dual boot - it certainly wouldn't hurt to have such option for some gaming or cross-platform testing, but I have dedicated gaming machine, VMs are more convenient for testing anyway, and if I really needed some on the road gaming there's a bunch of decent cross platform games.

A few years ago I had very strong preference for OSX, mostly due to TextMate being the only text editor that didn't suck horribly, but a lot of editors incorporated TextMate's design lessons, and Sublime Text works pretty much the same on all operating system, disregarding a few annoying shortcut differences, so at least that's no longer a problem.

There's a few other programs that work better on one operating system or the other, but none of them are as important as text editor, and the advantage is not consistently same way.

All this makes Linux laptops viable, but all things being equal I'd still prefer Macbook Pro, as I can install Linux on MBP, but I can't install OSX on a Linux laptop, and for long term purchase like a laptop option to change my mind later is quite valuable.

Another thing is that most Linux laptops would really be Windows laptops I'd need to reformat and put Linux there myself. This runs into risk of hardware compatibility issues - probably nothing major these days, but minor things like power saving features, graphic card switching, or touchpad multitouch might not quite work on a different operating system.

On top of that all, while I have written guides for setting up OSX 10.10 and Windows 7 to my liking, getting stock Ubuntu to the point where everything works the way I'd like would probably take quite some time.


Even if I was getting Linux laptop, there was still the matter of hardware.

A couple years back, there was pretty much no alternative to Apple where it came to high end laptops. Most other companies' idea of high end somehow still included low resolution screens, mechanical disks, it was just a total embarrassment.

It got a bit better, but not by much. It's now possible to get a non-Apple laptop that has reasonable spec, even if I have no idea how good any of that is in practice. And of course any such laptop ends up costing about as much as Macbook Pro.

One thing where Apple really dropped the ball is insisting on integrated graphic cards even on its high end models, while pretty much every non-Apple high-end laptop gets a dedicated GPU. That's definitely a major downside. A smaller downside is that Apple hardware tends to have too few ports, and all the extra cabling to work around it is awkward.

And so I got myself a Macbook Pro again. For now it's running OSX. I'm not sure if I want to install any additional operating systems there - but given laptops' long lives that's fairly likely to happen at some point.

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