Paul McAleer

The iPad obviates my desire for a new laptop.

Paul McAleer

There. I said it.

I bought my first Mac back in 2001. My phonezilla page on the switch somehow got picked up by a number of Mac news sites. But my first Mac was a G4 Cube and oh, did I like that machine. When I upgraded I naturally choose an iMac G5 - and liked that machine a lot too.

But in 2007 I took a job as a consultant and the iMac wasn’t practical for my weekly commute to and from San Francisco. I quickly switched to a MacBook Intel Core Duo which has been my machine ever since. It still runs fine, for the most part. The battery on it is crap and I’m feeling the pinch of 160GB of space now that I have an HD-capable video camera… but that’s manageable.

I’ve been considering upgrading This Old MacBook to a newer model at the end of 2010 or early 2011 figuring, by that time, I’ll be able to get a nice slightly-out-of-date refurbished model at a nice price. And I figured it’d be a MacBook Pro; I have one at work and think it’s quite swell (although I still prefer the 13” form factor.)

Then Apple went ahead and introduced the iPad, as everyone knows. This has caused me to take a look at how and where I use my computer and really assess what’s best from a technology and fiscal standpoint.

I often take my MacBook on the commuter train and during that hour commute each way I’ll usually read a bunch of things I queued up at home on Instapaper or what have you. I don’t have a 3G modem, so I’m at the mercy of offline everything. Lately I’ve been working on the Ping redesign, which has been nice. I’ll listen to music and podcasts, and watch a video podcast or two. Back when we had Netflix, I was watching DVDs on it. And truth be told, for most of this stuff I don’t need to carry a 5.5 pound computer on my back. It’s just overkill.

The iPad, thus, takes care of most of those things - enough to make it compelling.

When I’m at home I use my MacBook for the above noted stuff plus more research, etc. - but also do photo editing and, now, light video editing. But since I have a pretty sweet Dell IPS monitor I don’t trust my MacBook’s built-in monitor with color fidelity… so I end up using it as if it were a desktop computer. (The old battery which gets about an hour’s worth of juice also factors into this.) I don’t anticipate this’ll change.

That brings me back to my next upgrade decision. In short, because of the iPad’s decent price and capabilities I would like one and will very likely soldier on with my MacBook and my old 30GB iPod with video. An iPad also makes me desire an iPod touch far less, and an iPhone even less than that (particularly due to the iPad’s no-contract 3G option.)

Due to the iPad, too, I’m thinking that my next machine might be a desktop: a Mac mini, of all things, would be a nice and relatively inexpensive step up from what I’m using now.

While I don’t feel an overwhelming pressure to upgrade my computer (despite Lightroom’s slightly sluggish performance) it’s kind of nice to know that should I want to upgrade, that path just became a bit different.