Saturday, June 18, 2011


I'm in somewhat of a bind tech wise as my laptop is 3 years old and in need of replacing but I also have a need for something to use on the train each day like a tablet.

I've been super happy with my trusty XPS M1330. Its only had 2 issues & both were my fault. Once where I put it in my wardrobe and it fell off the top shelf (needed a new MB & chassis) and once where the video card died (a known issue which 4-6 hours of COD4 a day surely didn't help).

It was very comforting knowing I had complete coverage for hardware support including accidental damage. Normally I'd reload a PC every year however I only did this once in three years as its performed flawlessly. Recently the battery died which I put down to my using it predominantly on mains power rarely draining the battery, Luckily you can still get replacement batteries for $99. There are only two things that have irritated in years years of use. One is the lack of back-lit keyboard (I am envious of MB's dell for this feature) and the fact that despite being 13inch & having a WLED screen it is not the most "portable" or easily used on the couch.

I'd looked into getting a desktop to use as my primary workstation or a full house laptop (ie Alienware m17/18) and compliment either with a tablet however I'm starting to see that my storage needs are starting to take priority as well as the need for a functional portable may be the new flavor.

I currently have a 2TB drive that stores all my images and videos (75% capacity) While a data cull is needed (Maybe get it down to 1TB) I think the 2-3tb is certainly is my minimum requirement. I also currently download on a spare dell optiplex desktop so transferring data from that machine to the main drive or the DVD player means an abundance of USB keys.

What I am thinking is:
  • Make my current laptop the children's
  • Get another portable Laptop (Good specs, long battery life)
  • Build a server style desktop with plenty of storage (raid) so my 22inch screen and 5.1 speakers don't go to waste. This will also be used for downloads.
  • Use the current 2TB drive attached to the DVD player so the children can watch all the movies and TV shows I have saved on there easily

This means plenty of storage, no need for copying movies to USB keys to watch them & most importantly a more functional device for my internet usage. I currently use my PC predominantly in the study but i'd prefer to be in the lounge. Using an ultra portable as opposed to a tablet also makes more sense to me as I prefer the "proper keyboard" and ability to hook in peripherals.

The other issue I have is that I've well and truly outgrown Microsoft. There will always have to be a place for it in my work but for home use I've been happy with my current laptop running minimal MS software. I use Vista Pro but that is the only Microsoft product I have now. No MS office, no IE just Mozilla (Thunderbird & Firefox) and Open office. I'm over the windows experience & while I've used some of the other options out there like linux or the bsd derivatives I think I want to return to Mac for my primary.

My first mac was a Quadra 660AV circa 95 and I loved it. If it broke you could fix it. It handled all the families needs at the time & I never owned a windows PC until somewhere around 2000 as I was always happy with Mac. Then for some reason it made sense to use the same at work and home and i did, then Apple became poseur chic and I guess I never gave them another look.

Fast forward to 2011 and while I've been happily window shopping tablets for a few months and looking closer at the ipad the 13" MBA (Macbook Air) has also caught my eye. It sports similar specs to my XPS - 4gb ram, similar processor, faster hard drive (solid state) and the nicest ultra portable design I've seen. I've been to the city JB hifi and played extensively with all the apple and dell laptop offerings and just keep coming back to the 13" MBA. Good battery life, good ergos, big track pad for my gorilla hands & while there is a mix of reviews (like with any piece of tech gear) I'm feeling pretty sold.

Dollars wise its a more expensive option to the IPAD. I was looking at the top spec IPAD and with a decent amount of prepaid data, case, screen protector, warranty etc etc I wouldn't have seen much change from $1500 the MBA with the up'd specs and decent warranty I'd go for come in around $2700. I would also either need to up my data plan on my phone & use it as a wireless hotspot or look into some of the Telstra wireless broadband options.

A key draw card for me with an IPAD was putting in on a 12GB prepaid sim from Telstra giving me better coverage that my Optus mobile currently lacks. There is rumor of a new MBA model being released so either way I'll wait for that. It would be sweet to see a sim card slot for the new MBA but I don't think apple will go that route who knows. I also like that I have the option to run a windows emulator should I need to do something specific.

Along with switching to a mac for my portable I will still need to sort out a PC/Server & run a non windows OS. Something with ample storage that can take over downloading duties from my current optiplex. Its been a few years since I've built a desktop so I'm looking forward to this, nothing fancy just a decent video card and ample drive space (ie raid).

I'd love to pull the trigger before the end of the financial year but will more like wait and sus out what the new MBA and apple OS run like.

Stay Tuned.........

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