Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Obsolete before it ships?

Not really, but...

It's a running joke (or sometimes a genuine complaint) in the PC business that PCs become obsolete too fast, almost as quickly as you buy them.

I ordered a MacBook Pro a few weeks ago, and have been waiting for to ship "by February 15th", according to the estimate on the Apple Store.

Today, Apple announced that the new MacBook Pros are shipping, and a higher speed processor is available as a build-to-order option. If I had wanted the fastest possible processor, the machine that hasn't shipped yet would be less than I wanted.

On the other hand, I had opted for the slower (1.67 GHz) processor vs. the faster 1.83 GHz, and Apple's announcement includes the news that I'll be getting a 1.83 GHz model instead.

The glass is definitely half full.

Why did I opt for the slower processor? A few reasons:

  • My current laptop is a 400 MHz G3 (Pismo). Relatively speaking, the 1.67 GHz Core Duo would have seemed blindingly fast. (My other regularly used machine is a dual 2 GHz G5, so I think I can handle it.)

  • I deliberately ordered the G3 just a few weeks before it was end-of-lifed by what turned out to be the G4 Titanium PowerBook, and caught the price drop as Apple cleared the inventory. The G3 suited me perfectly, and cost me nearly $1,000 less than a new TiBook would have. Not that I didn't drool over the TiBook, but I was on a budget. I'm just not convinced you get the best bang for the buck at the very top end. (Don't ask about the G5...)

  • Similarly, I had economized on the Pismo and bought the 400 GHz model instead of the available 500 MHz; again, I never regretted it.

  • One of the best performance improvements I applied to the G3 was to replace the hard drive with a faster (and quieter) 5400 RPM drive. On the basis of that lesson, I paid for a 7200 RPM drive (vs. the now-standard 5400) for the MacBook.

  • I also decided that money was better spent on more RAM than GHz, so I upgraded to 1 GB on a single DIMM (to leave room for expansion). (The G3 was eventually upgraded to 640MB, a little beyond the Apple-specified "maximum" of 512MB.)

  • We'll see how it turns out. Soon, I hope.

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