I Chose a New MacBook

Fellow TAB writer, Charles Moore, wrote a great article about why it’s a good idea to seriously consider the “mature technology” of a refurbished Mac as soon as a new generation is announced. I won’t recount the details in that article, but his reasoning is very sound, and it’s solid advice.

So solid, in fact, you might almost wonder why it makes sense not to take advantage of the especially good deals that can be had as soon as a new model comes out. Well, I thought I’d look at it from the other side — or, at least my side — and describe why I took a different path and ordered a brand new MacBook. 

Keep in mind that a lot of my reasoning stems from the improvement I believe the MacBook experienced with the new model. 

A key difference in logic between Charles’ article and mine is that his was limited mostly by price while mine is mostly by size (which, to some extent, also limits price). For me, a move up to the MBP wasn’t so easily done because I’ve had machines with that footprint (though heavier) and the fact is I just didn’t take them around much. It’s amazing how much quicker I’ll grab a MacBook-size machine and take it out than one the size of a MBP.

The problem with the plastic MacBook, however, is that as nice a machine as it is (I’m writing this on the family’s white 2.2GHz model), the integrated graphics are a hindrance when I try to use Aperture (my daughter uses iPhoto and it’s a bit less of an issue), and the screen, though quite nice, has a very limited viewing range. 

What I really wanted was a MBP in a MacBook size, and I think that’s just what Apple has provided. I’m not so sure that the LED screen and NVIDIA graphics alone wouldn’t have been enough to make me at least consider a MacBook. Those changes certainly make it a much better Aperture machine (no, I’m not a pro photographer).

All the other new MacBook features, the solid aluminum case, lighter weight, thinner, backlit keyboard, and extra battery life were delicious icing on the cake. The new MacBook even shares the same chipset, architecture, front-size bus speed, fast memory, etc. as the new MBP line. No FireWire? Yes, that’s one differentiator between them, but not an issue with me because I have an iMac for that, and my 2001 video camcorder is going to be replaced with an AVHCD model (with USB) when the time comes. My one external FW HDD also sports a USB interface. I won’t need FireWire at all within the next year or so anyway. 

Based on the above, it’s easy to see that even the excellent refurb deals on the older MacBook models simply don’t appeal to me. The machines are not quite adequate for my purposes. And, despite the great deals on the older MBP’s which make them a perfect deal for some, they bring little to the table over the new MacBook but a larger, heavier form factor. I’d have the larger screen, but otherwise nothing much to show for it. The larger screen is nice, but not enough. 

So I’m getting a loaded, high-end new MacBook. As configured it’s still $150 less than the new entry MBP, but has twice the memory and a bigger hard disk. Performance is identical unless I fire up the discrete graphics on the Pro, but then I lose battery life. And since the new MacBook graphics are already five times the speed of the older models, the extra boost of the MBP just isn’t worth the extra size I’d lug around. I’d rather have more memory and drive space with less weight, and save a few bucks in the process. 

Getting a refurb MBP would save some cash, but doesn’t address the size issue and brings no other appreciable benefits. If you must have FireWire, or don’t mind the larger machine, than a refurb MBP is a great value, as Charles described. But if you want a MBP “mini”, then you want a new MacBook model. The early positive reviews of the MacBook help to make the decision as well.  

I didn’t think I was in the market for a notebook. I have a 24” iMac and borrow/sync with my own account on the family’s MacBook on occasion. But I didn’t expect Apple to bring so much of what’s appealing in the pro line to the MacBook level. I’m sold. The machine was ordered, it’s scheduled to arrive later this week, and I’ll write about it when it gets here.

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