[at-l] backpacklaptopoptartyvek Re: New laptop (for reading AT-L, of course...)

Ken Bennett bennett.ken at gmail.com
Wed Nov 24 21:06:44 CST 2010

On Wed, Nov 24, 2010 at 9:30 PM, Art Cloutman <Art at crystalacresnh.com>wrote:

>  My wife and I love our Mac's.

I'm with Art, I've been using Macs since 1989 or so. I can use a PC, but
just prefer the Mac platform.

As for what you should get, 'Shoe, if I could only have one computer, it
would be a laptop. Portability is more important *to me* than raw power --
if necessary, I would just buy the most powerful laptop I could get. (At
work I have a new-ish 17 inch Macbook Pro, all tricked out. Expensive, but
it means I can process photos anywhere -- at the assignment, at home, at
Starbux, even at my office :-) Since I am lucky enough to be able to have
more than one, I have a large iMac at home for personal use, picture
editing, etc.

For general web/email/writing, I like a small or medium laptop for a couple
of reasons. 1) it's portable. I can sit in front of the TV and check email
or surf the web. I can take it with me on the road, and get access to the
internet at hotels, coffee shops, etc. 2) it's plenty powerful enough. Even
a low to mid priced machine will do all these things well. Did I mention
that it's portable and I really like that?

Some downsides to a laptop are the size of the screen and the ease of
loss/breakage/theft. I solve the screen problem with an external monitor,
just hook it up at my desk when I want a "real" screen and a larger keyboard
and mouse. Large screens are pretty cheap these days. The loss/breakage
thing comes down to being careful, like anything else.

If I had to buy a new laptop right now, for email/web/writing, I'd get a 13
inch Macbook Pro. The base model is fine, 4GB of RAM is fine, and the
standard 250GB hard drive is okay, though a 320GB would be better. I'd most
likely buy a refurbished model from the Apple Store
as they come with the same warranty as new, but are generally a couple of
hundred dollars cheaper. (I got my iMac for a great price as a refurb.)

The Mac will come with fair amount of really good built in software,
including a decent photo program, a great email program, and a great web
browser. Most people buy Microsoft Office to get Word, Excel, and
Powerpoint, though Apple sells a similar suite of applications called iWork.
And there are plenty of free applications that work well (try Picasa as a
photo organizer, free from Google, and "Bean" as a good word processor.)

All that said, Macs are expensive. They are comparable in price to high-end
PCs, they are well built, well designed, and the operating system is
excellent. But you can get a PC Laptop for less than $500 these, days, which
is less than half what you'll pay for that 13-inch Macbook Pro. Heck, you
can get a "netbook" -- a really small PC laptop with a 9 or 10-inch screen
-- for $250 or $300. Very portable, but kind of a small display and keyboard
for extended use. If you are used to using the PC operating system
(<shudder>), and you want to keep the cost down, this is probably the way to

Good luck.

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