Column (blog is so passé)
Laptop & NetBook Extinction
Here's what you really need to know about Laptops. For the most part, they're dead.
Netbooks? You know, those mini, under-powered, useless laptops? They're dead too.
Tablets? Well, because of Apple, most of what got launched at the 2011 CES will be dead by summer. And speaking of before summer, in the next 4-8 weeks, Apple will have released it's 2nd generation iPad, which, is designed to stomp all the coat-tail hangers with it's dual cameras and other industry making gizmos. (I didn't just say trend setting, I said industry making, as in, without apple, several industries would not exist.)
You see, the iPad can really serve as your core computer. You no longer need a computer to tether it to to get stuff done. You can print from it, you can connect your camera and upload pictures to it, you can email from it, cellular data services are a boon...
The battery life can't be matched by a laptop, it's more portable and more ready to run the moment you pull it out of your (now smaller) bag folio or folder.
Apps are cheaper and more efficient on a smarter, leaner version of OS X. There are far more uses for a tablet than for a laptop now. You can even have a real keyboard, wired or wireless. The touch screen is highly addictive...
So, wait till March and pick up a Gen 2 iPad.
Not convinced? In a hurry? Ok. Consider this, my Laptop was manufactured almost exactly 3 years ago. It boots faster than brand new MacBook Pros, it runs faster than brand new MacBook Pros - about the only area it can't compete in is battery life and that may not be a huge issue for you. (A new MBP will run 3x as long as mine and I have a new battery - but I can always find an outlet.)
How is it possible that mine's faster? Well consider than Moore's Law was broken over three years ago, around the time I bought my MBP. That's when they started using multiple cores. That's sort of a cheat and it sort of has some real benefits too. (shorter circuit paths means less heat and more speed) But my point is that we've hit a MHz ceiling. Have a look...
My 2008 MBP (it was top of the line so we'll compare top of the line)
1 - 2.5 GHz processor with 2 cores.
6MB L2 Cache
Max RAM 4GB (6 really)
Bus Speed 800MHz
64 Bit Architecture
The Current 2011 MBP
1 - 2.8 GHz Core i7 Processor (2 cores)
4MB L3 Cache (L3 is closer to the chip = faster. So in this case, about as fast as mine)
Max RAM 8GB
Buss Speed 1066Mhz
So, you see, not a lot has changes in 3 years. More RAM, minor processor speed boost (And remember, that's only if you buy the WAY OVERPRICED top end machine - back in '08, it was affordable to get to the top.) The average person today will have a processor clocked below or only equal to mine. There's only a small bus speed boost. Big deal. The real benefit over my machine is the battery life. That's the one thing you'll notice (and it may not really matter to you.)
So, what about my claim about my machine running faster than a new one?
Well, if you buy a used Mac (or a refurb, they're a good deal because they've really been tested well since being returned and they have new shells and keys so you won't be able to tell they're used) you can afford Hybrid hard Drives or SSD drives with the leftover cash. That's where the real promise lies. Get a SSD under the hood and watch your old Mac scream. People see me in coffee shops and libraries and they come up to me and they say; "Hey Mac, isn't it time for an upgrade?" I laugh and challenge them to a dual. We hit our restart buttons at the same time and my machine shuts down faster than theirs, the chime sings before theirs, I am at my login screen before they are and I am back to running photoshop and dreamweaver before they've opened their first app.
So, yeah, most people trying to hype you, hope you have your priorities wrong, they hope you are not aware that the last great frontier for computer speed is the storage. They don't want you to know that a Hybrid HD, the same size as the stock 5400 RPM turtle in new MBP will only cost $129.00 And that's all I have, BTW. I don't have a SSD. If I did, I wouldn't just be embarrassing those who ninnies who try to go up against my 3 year old codger, I would downright shame them. They would literally be saying to themselves; "Why did I buy this new Mac at all?" I mean, that's what I'm wondering about them.
The only place the chip makers have had any room for improvement is in the graphics. And that's not such a big deal. In fact, the upcoming Sandy Bridge equipped Macs will really only benefit from barely superior graphics over the current generation. (That's after considering power consumption and weighted overall average performance.)
Wait for Sandy Bridge? Not likely!
Buy an iPad? Yup, unless you need apps that are not yet available or a DVD burner - other than that, you're set.