My old MacBook Pro (late 2009 model) has been failing for the past few months (the SD card reader no longer works, the battery only lasts about 2–3 hours, the case is now failing in a way that exposes the electronics, …), and so I was planning to get a new MacBook Pro when the 2016 models came out.
But having seen the descriptions of them online and the prices, I’m not very enthusiastic about the new laptops. One problem is the USB-C-only approach. This video sums up my attitude:
(My wife says that the real story of the video is a restaurant worker who lost all the paella pans to the tide after leaving them on the beach.)
Other problems for the new MacBook Pro include the small sizes for the RAM and SSD drives (my current laptop has 735GB of files on it and 8GB of RAM, so a new one would not be more capacity). Maybe I’ll wait a year to see if they can get a decent price/performance ratio on them.I’m also not excited about the low-travel keyboard, and the large trackpad might make it difficult for me to type, as I often rest the heels of my hands on the case, just a little outside the old, smaller track pad. So the machine description did not make me want to rush out and spend a couple of grand on a machine that I may be unhappy with.
But my laptop is unlikely to survive another quarter, much less another year, so I’m faced with a bit of a dilemma, as I need a functioning laptop for giving lectures—particularly for demoing PteroDAQ and gnuplot.
I had recently bought the household a refurbished MacBook Air for travel (11″ early 2014), as my laptop is a bit too heavy for convenient travel, and my wife prefers a small laptop to an iPad (which we don’t have). Today, my wife suggested that I use the tiny MacBook Air for lecturing, and get another iMac as a desktop machine (we already have a mid-2011 iMac). The MacBook Air is sufficient for lecturing and travel—it has a couple of USB-A ports, so I can use flash drives or run PteroDAQ or the BitScope USB oscilloscope for lectures, and it has a mini-display port, so I can use my existing VGA dongle to connect to the classroom projector (which is VGA, not HDMI, according to the website of classroom media capabilities—I’d better double-check IRL).
If I decide to use the MacBook Air for lecturing, I can set it up over Winter break with all the software I’ll need and not worry about replacing my MacBook Pro for a few more months.
And then I probably will get an iMac. I can get much more machine for the money buying an iMac rather than a MacBook Pro, but I’ll have to think about exactly which iMac to get. Currently I’m leaning towards a 27″ retina display model with an i7 processor, but I’ll have to look at prices and specs a bit more. I’ll want a machine that will not cost more than about $500/year, amortized over its usable life, and preferably a little less. There is a tradeoff between getting a high-performance machine that will be usable for a year or two longer, or a refurbished machine that has somewhat lower performance but can reasonably be replaced sooner.