in the beginning, there was pc, and it was good…

The path to buying a mac went something like this:

I had decided that this year would be the year I would finally start making an effort to work on my writing skills. I decided that, as part of that task, I would set up a website and challenge myself to start posting blogs about various subjects for friends & family to read.

Since I was going to do some of the work on the web, I thought it might be useful to have something portable enough to write on whenever the mood strikes me. Plus, it gave me an excuse to buy a new toy. : )

I had recently helped my sister with buying a PDA for LVN school. We had started with a Zire 72, and then ended up with a Tungsten T 5. One of her friends from school got a T 5 for Christmas, and after seeing the larger screen, she decided she wanted the T 5. Truthfully, this was a good call, since the majority of the software we were getting for her were medical references. Having the 320×480 screen would allow her to view the virtual typewriter and easily see the search results as she’s typing. The Zire 72’s 320×320 screen wouldn’t allow that to happen. After playing with the larger screen, I think Palm just needs to go to a virtual silkscreen on all of their models.

Anyway, I had thought about using a Palm as my portable workstation. I could type blogs into it, then copy and paste them into the website. I did some testing with the Palm, and I found that I wasn’t all that happy with the Palm when it came to browsing websites. In order to access my wireless network and to do any serious writing, I would have to spend at least an additional $200 in hardware. I had tried the external keyboard for a palm before. I liked it, but it becomes a pain when you have to get it out, unfold it, make sure it’s on a flat surface, etc.

So, I thought I’d look into getting another laptop. I have a nice Toshiba one for home, but it’s a 9-10 lb. behemoth that is meant to be a desktop replacement. There are some very nice subnotebooks out there, but most of them run over $2k. I was trying to keep my laptop budget to about half that.

In that price range ( $1k ish ), I found three very good models: the Averatec 3200 series, the Dell Inspiron 700m series, and, surprisingly, the Apple iBook G4. Based on the reviews I found, the biggest problems with the pc-based notebooks were the shared video memory and the crappy battery life. Reviews of the iBook, however, noted that it had extremely good battery life, but usually everyone griped about it being a mac. Plus, of all of the low-cost laptops, it was the only one that had a dedicated video processor ( a radeon 9200 ). The Sony S-series was the only other laptop that had a radeon chip, but a decently configured one ran close to $2k.

Admittedly, I have been curious about OS X since it came out. I haven’t really used a mac for anything productive in over seven years. I dumped most of my mac hardware ages ago. However, I have a very good friend of mine who had made the transition recently, and he was happily writing java code on a powerbook. In his experience, he’s only found one tool that he cannot find an equivalent solution on the mac ( beyond compare ).

My other concern was software. How much was I going to be out when I go out and buy mac versions of software. Fortunately, I found a number of shareware products that I could use. The only things I thought I may have to spend money on are the major graphics apps and ms office. For now, though, I figured I could live without those products. Once the site was done, I wouldn’t need to redesign it, unless I wanted to, and I already have PC versions of those products.

So, after giving it a lot of thought, I bought a 12″ iBook G4 about a week ago. So far, I’ve been impressed. The battery life on it has been impressive, blowing away my Toshiba by a longshot. Apple spends a lot of time on the design of their hardware, and it shows. It’s why the ipod will remain the best hard-drive-based mp3 player out there. It just works. The ibook is the same way. For example, every PC laptop I have owned has a latch on the lid. Usually it’s a plastic slider, and the hook that locks the lid closed always sticks out from the screen. The iBook screen, however, is completely smooth. The hook is hinged to slide into the cover when open. When it closes, a magnet in the base pulls it down. Other little things are the apple on the lid that glows when the power is on and the pulsing light on the front when the laptop is in ‘sleep’ mode.

Right now, I am still in the process of evaluating various tools. The ones I like I will post in the Software section of the site. The other goal is to keep a running tally on how much I actually spend to ‘switch.’

So, for the basic iBook G4 with an extra 512 mb RAM ran $1199 plus tax.
I did go and buy a MacCase MacSleeveas well. I wasn’t sure at the time whether I would buy a notebook backpack for the ibook or just use my standard backpack.

The cost for switching so far? Apart from the laptop, $30 for the sleeve. Everything else at this point I have downloaded trial versions, so the cost for them right now is $0.

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