You know me, Mr. Mobile Guy, always using small and svelte devices to maximize my productivity.  While I am mobile a lot of the time I do work a lot at my desk in my home office, particularly editing and producing audio podcasts and video product […]

MBP 17You know me, Mr. Mobile Guy, always using small and svelte devices to maximize my productivity.  While I am mobile a lot of the time I do work a lot at my desk in my home office, particularly editing and producing audio podcasts and video product reviews.  I have been using high-end laptops as desktop replacements for many years, in fact it’s probably been 7 or 8 years since I’ve owned a desktop system.  I like having the system as an all-in-one unit, my only real requirement is that it have the horsepower needed to do the audio/ video stuff.  I’ve been doing my online due diligence to determine what the best solution is for me at this point in time, and what I’ve decided may surprise you.

While I’m not in the market for a desktop system I still researched them, partly to determine what a decent system costs these days, and partly to see what kind of hardware these system are stuffed with.  It didn’t take me long to determine that the systems with decent components are pretty costly, and I really didn’t want to dedicate enough of my scarce office real estate to set one up properly.  I did check the major vendors like MicroCenter, CompUSA (in case they had some good online close-out specials), Best Buy, and even some local PC builders.  After a lot of research I decided maintaining my philosophy of using a killer laptop would work best for my current needs.

I checked out some killer Vista-laden notebooks.  Since I’m going to do a lot of video editing I decided to limit my search to those notebooks with a 17” screen.  What I found was for the most part this put me in the media center category of notebook.  Now I don’t intend to use my system as a media center, at least I don’t feel a TV tuner is necessary, but these notebooks for the most part were the only ones with decent hardware components like I need.

I researched all the major players, HP, Toshiba, Dell, Gateway and Sony in particular, but I surprisingly came up short.  Much to my surprise most of these big honking notebooks come with integrated Intel graphics.  One thing for certain I know I want a notebook with dedicated graphics so I ruled most of these out.  The ones I found that did have dedicated graphics and all the other components I wanted, like a boatload of system memory, were in the very pricey category.  I even configured an Alienware notebook, undoubtably some of the highest performance notebooks around, and almost choked when I found that one configured like I want would cost almost $6,000!  That’s more than I paid for my first car.

I had a lot of conversations with Kevin Tofel and Matt Miller about my needs and it seemed one theme kept coming up.  For audio and video production you can’t beat a Mac.  Throw in the ability to run Vista in Parallels and you have all software bases covered.  So I hesitatingly began researching the MacBook Pro and found the heavyweight system I need in the 17” notebook from Apple.  The processor is a 2.33 GHz Core 2 Duo, it’s available with up to 3 GB of RAM for running heavy video apps and Vista at the same time, the 160 GB hard drive will store a ton of audio and video projects, and the 17” widescreen running at 1680 x 1050 is more than enough to do video stuff.  I really liked the fact that Apple puts the ATI Mobility Radeon X1600 with 256 MB of video RAM in the MacBook Pro, too.

Looking at the total hardware package the 17” MacBook Pro is the system that will do all that I want and let me run Vista too, so my existing software library will still be applicable on the Mac.  When I compare the MBP with similarly equipped Vista notebooks the price is not that high.  The MBP is a very high-end notebook and is price competitive with other notebooks with similar hardware components.  So I did it, I pulled the trigger on the 17” MacBook Pro which should be here in a few days.  I’ll share my experiences of my journey into the orchard which should be fun.  Don’t worry though, my Tablet PC will still be my main daily field system.  I’d get a hernia carrying the 7 pound Mac around. 

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  1. Congrats JK,

    You will not regret your decision, I use a MAC for home and an R2H for my mobile needs.
    Looking forward to your reading your thoughts.

  2. Did you look at the Toshiba P100? They now have a model with an nVidia 7900GTX/512 video option and it is way below $6,000, in fact mine was about the AU$4,000 mark I believe which is less in US currency. Probably about $3,000. I say I believe because it was an insurance job.

    This range is specifically aimed at gamers and is newly released and from the sounds of your requirements probably would have fitted the bill.

  3. Warner Crocker Tuesday, March 20, 2007


    I’m going the same way when I pick up a desktop replacement. With Parallels, why not get two for the price of one.

  4. I would have approached the analysis a little differently. I would have compared the price of the finally configured laptop to a desktop and evaluated the price delta. I woul then compared the $ differential to evaluate whether to invest in greater desk top performance vs the cost in $/performance for the laptop given the rare occasions when its pirtability would matter.

  5. Welcome to the cross-platform club James! I know you will have a blast working with the MacBook Pro. It’s a sweet machine and very well-suited for the tasks you discussed.

  6. JK,

    Cool…I’ve been thinking of doing the same. Where did you order yours from?

    - KT

  7. >>>With Parallels, why not get two for the price of one.

    That’s my thinking too. But for portability, right now only a Win-based UMPC will do for me.

    BTW, I submitted this to MacSurfer. Ha!

  8. Wow! A 7 lb. bundle of joy to be delivered this week? I didn’t even know we were expecting! Now get my tablet ready!

  9. Don’t forget to stock up on some external hard drives. You will quickly fill your disk with video (and audio) information. Everyone thinks that the 160 GB (or fill in the blank size) will be enough until they start working with video. My favorite drive right now is the WD 160 GB 2.5″ passport, can’t go wrong for ~$120 at my local costco.

    Good luck with your MBP. Some of us are stuck with our old PowerBooks with no Parallels :(
    However I am using a new X60 Tablet courtesy of work (wow).

  10. Thanks for your encouragement, everyone. I’m looking forward to getting my hands on the MBP. I ordered mine from Apple to answer the question.

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