Friday, 11 April 2014

Wondering how much longer it will last?

The Macbook that is.

My normal mode is to use the laptop closed, plugging in an external monitor, keyboard & mouse. A couple of days ago when I first plugged in I had a blank screen, even though the built-in screen worked when the lid was opened. Closing the lid and a re-start seemed to fix things.

Today I had the monitor flicker several times, showing lines and corruption before it went and stayed dark. Now it could be a faulty monitor cable, possibly the mini-display port is failing - if it's anything like the USB ports then it's of poor quality and temperamental - and possibly it's the graphics chip again, like it was when I first bought the machine. I unplugged everything, then plugged it all back in, and it came back to life without further ado, but I have this nagging doubt now.

The question then becomes what to replace it with?

I've been researching for some time on what's available. Another Mac is the course of least resistance, maybe, but a Windows laptop would provide more power for the same money and get me out of the Apple world. It's a tougher choice than it was a couple of years back, but I have no Apple-specific software that cannot be replaced (breaths sigh of relief that I didn't buy that software from Macphun I saw at the photography show last month). I'm still using Office:Mac 2008 that I bought back in the beginning, and that definitely has compatibility issues with Mavericks, so I need a new office suite whatever. Lightroom would transfer over OK, ditto Perfect Effects, GIMP, Audacity, Skype & VLC. Fotor wouldn't run in Windows (plan to use it sometime to create collages/triptychs) but that's not really a big deal since I could do the same thing with more effort in GIMP.

Currently I'm quite tempted by a Dell from their outlet store for the sheer processing power and decent screen: full HD, 8Gb RAM and an i7 processor in a 14" lappy for about £700 when I looked a week or so back, but I'm not really in love with Dell's case & build quality. Apple's refurb store also sometimes has interesting options, but to make any useful savings I'd be looking at a 2YO design if I want any kind of upgradability, with a corresponding penalty in performance, or a more expensive, non-upgradable machine if I took a recent design (8Gb RAM, 240Gb SSD as minimum spec. but that's going to be really weak in 3-4 years time, just like 2Gb and a 160Gb HDD would be today).

Actually, just writing that makes me want to not go for a Mac. If I'd have been stuck with the original spec of this machine then it would have been gone >18 months ago, or I'd have continued to use it, increasingly frustrated and fed up with it. No means of upgrade may be good for Apple short term, but it would make Toni an angry user longer term, and much more vehemently anti-Apple than I am now (just mild dislike).

Now, what to do..... ?

I've also been really impressed with Windows 8.1 on the machine I upgraded for Chris a few weeks back. Admittedly it's running an SSHD hybrid drive, but performance is enormously faster than it was with XP, despite that older OS being relatively tiny and the hardware comparatively modern. And maybe that's the answer.

But change is never easy, even when it's good for you.

I just re-read about the Google Chromebook Pixel. Spec looked somewhat interesting (if you could run something useful on it - Chrome is NOT useful to me) and then saw the low spec & Macbook-level price. Uh-huh.

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