For the last 4 years I’ve been using a HP Pavilion tx2130ea laptop as my primary home laptop, and now it’s time for an upgrade.
At the time I selected it the main features that interested me were it’s size and portability. Plus it had the novelty of being able to convert to a tablet, but to be honest it’s not something I’ve ever used it for. At the time it was a decent spec (upgraded to 4GB, got a 12 battery), but lately it’s just crashing more and more, due to overheating issues. 2 years ago I had to send it off for a replacement motherboard, which I believe was also caused by over-heating, and for the last month or so it’s shutting off on a regular basis due to overheating.
There is always good air flow and I’ve even throttled the CPU back to 75%. But it is now crashing even if it’s only running one site (admittedly Adobe Connect is heavy on usage, but CPU isn’t hitting 100%). So when I have a replacement in place I’ll retire this one to just a backup for web surfing. I’m worried I’ll lose some work at some stage, thankfully due to dropbox and github I haven’t lost much… yet!
What I’m looking at
Because I’m looking to do more development (java and front-end) I initially considered the MacBook Air 13″. It’s light, portable and seems to be powerful enough for 99% of what I want it to do. Plus it doesn’t seem to overheat! But there are 2 drawbacks. The main one is the cost, it’s coming in at over €1500. And the other is that it’s not Windows.
I’m actually very interested in getting a Mac, mainly to see what all the fuss is about. And I know everything I need to run on it is available (STS, Apstana, Football Manager ) but given that I’m going to be fairly busy working on projects and learning new skills as I go, a new OS is one variable I could do without.
So I looked at some Ultrabooks, and while some seem to be better than others, ultimately none of the first gen machines match the MacBook Air. So this got me thinking, do I need an Air/Ultrabook? 95% of the time the laptop is my house, either on the desk, kitchen table or I use it on the couch. And since I ordered an iPad (see below) portability becomes less of a factor. So why not bite the bullet and just get something with a bit more horsepower, for less money?
With that in mind I started doing some research, and the current front runner is the Samsung 7 series. It has an i7 processor (as opposed to i3 or more commonly i5), 8 GB of RAM and runs the same OS I’m already running, so compatibility shouldn’t be a problem. The big question mark at the minute is down to the touchpad/keyboard. So I’m going to do a bit more research, possibly look at an external keyboard and docking station. But given the price (currently less than €1100) it’s about €500 cheaper than the MBA I was looking at, I think it’s more than likely that I will order within the next week
I ordered an iPad 2 16Gb wifi today, the justification is that I hope to use it as part of my Masters project. But I also hope to use it a bit when travelling. I’ve used iPod touchs and a few iPhones, so I’m very familiar with iOS and have a stable of apps already built up, so it should be useful. Plus I found an interesting blog on a programmer who swapped his MacBook for iPad and the cloud. While his workload was very suited to this set-up it won’t work for everyone. But I’d be interested in seeing how much I can actually do using just an iPad. I was very tempted to start buying every accessory on the Apple Store, but given a tight budget the only thing I’ve bought is an Otterbox Reflex case (from Amazon), which can also be used as a stand. I’ve used Otterbox cases before on my iPhones, so this seems like a good choice. As time goes on I’ll decide if I actually do need anything else, but I’m not going to spend €70 on an Apple keyboard if I don’t actually need it!
I also have one of the original Samsung galaxy tabs which I bought last September (about €250 new on eBay), which I had originally intended to use more for the coursework (watching lectures with Adobe Connect, reading eBooks and papers etc), but haven’t used it as much as I thought. It’s much heavier than I expected, and I find Android disappointingly buggy. Apps crash frequently, and the wifi will often present as disconnected to apps trying to use it, even when on screen it shows as connected. In fairness it is the first gen, and I did get it cheap, but apart from checking email and some social network stuff I don’t use it as often as I thought I would. The same apps on my iPhone are much easier and slicker, so I can see the iPad being used a lot more.