Thursday, November 10, 2016

So...what happened to my laptop buying plans?

I was hoping to upgrade my almost 5 years old laptop soon, but both Microsoft's and Apple's pricing screwed things up.

The Surface Book with Performance Base starts at a whopping A$3,599. The MacBook Pro 13" starts at A$2,199 (although it could be had for less than $2,000 for a limited time from The Good Guys, which is much lower compared to Microsoft's offering, but still that's too much money for the return. These are using dual core CPUs from last generation.

I want a laptop with a touch screen. I would love a detachable screen so that I can use it as a tablet to read stuff. There aren't many options in that category. Surface Pro 4 is a good option, but that's last year's tech and goes for almost $2,000 for a decent specced model. I could get the last year's Surface Book for much cheaper than the new one as well, but still it is over A$2,000.

I don't need a dedicated GPU. I am fine with the integrated GPU. I do not plan on gaming on it. I have a desktop for that, if I can find time.

If I want a pure laptop (not a convertible), the Dell XPS 13 was a great option (the Skylake model, not the KabyLake model as it is pretty expensive too) until I found out that it was plagued with a hissing noise (like a coil whine) which is noticeable. Otherwise, I was really impressed with it when I tried one out at the JB Hi-Fi. It is beautiful, fast and lightweight. Well, it is not cheap either.

There were and are a lot of deals on Lenovo laptops, some of which ask for about half the price of the laptops I mentioned above, but they don't have touch screens at those price points. And, despite people claiming the keyboards on the Thinkpads as the best keyboards available, I didn't find them to be better than the one on the Dell XPS 13. Probably I didn't test long enough.

To go back to why exactly I need a new laptop is because my laptop (the mid 2011 MacBook AIr) is too old. There aren't any major issues with it, but once you sum up all the small issues, it becomes a obvious why it needs to be upgraded. The issues I have with it are as follows.

  1. It has the Japanese keyboard layout. Using two layouts (3 if you consider the slightly different Mac keyboard layout) is daunting.
  2. 4GB RAM is so limiting. Chrome alone sucks up its memory dry.
  3. Battery is pretty weak now. I had been getting 'Service battery warning' for quite a while.
  4. 128GB storage is limiting, especially when you have Windows installed in there as well. And despite being an SSD, it only does 200MB/s sequential reads and writes.
  5. No touch screen (well, you don't get one even on the latest MacBook Pros but that's a different story)
  6. CPU is pretty weak at 1.6GHz Core i5 ULP dual core.
  7. Screen resolution is OK, but would prefer higher density like 3200x1800 on the Dell XPS 13
  8. Wi-Fi speeds are so slow. Only supports up to 802.11n but at least supports 5GHz band. Still, I'm limited to about 150Mbps. I cannot stream a HD video from the server.
  9. It runs pretty hot when running demanding tasks, although the fan doesn't run as badly as it did at the beginning. I'm sure Apple has tweaked the OS a bit since then.

Don't you think that list is long enough to justify upgrading?

But...

There are priorities. I think I can survive another year or two on this laptop, so I've regrettably decided not to buy a new laptop just yet. That's a sad ending to this blog post. I will come back to this again.

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