I want a 12-inch PowerBook…

Saturday, May 29th, 2004 at 8:01 pm

Today I made my way over to the Malvern Computers Now store to, for the first time, see a 12-inch PowerBook in the flesh, well, in it’s brushed aluminium alloy.

Two people at work have a 15-inch and until recently there was another who had a 17-inch. However I never saw them together and I was struck today with the realisation that the 15-inch and 17-inch aren’t really that differenct size wise. It’s just that the 17-inch in isolation looks ungainly. What struck me even more was how much smaller the 12-inch appeared compared to the 15-inch.

While I was there I asked about education prices and they confirmed that even though I am just a general staff member (versus an academic) at Monash Uni I was still eligible for education prices. Very good.

Since I recently got a DVD burner for my home box I’m not even considering a SuperDrive version. So what differs between the base 15-inch ($2902 EDU) and the base 12-inch ($2286 EDU)?

  • The 15-inch has a better video chipset, not really much of an issue as the most intensive thing I can envisage I’ll use it for is watching via the TV out.
  • The 15-inch has gigabit ethernet while the 12-inch only has 10/100 ethernet. Another non-issue as I don’t have any gigabit gear and on the rare occasion that I’ll transfer large amounts of data time is not an issue. There is also firewire target disk mode at 400mbit/sec.
  • The 15-inch has Firewire 800 as well as Firewire 400. Since I don’t forsee any usage of the Firewire 400…
  • The 12-inch has a Mini-DVI output which means that an adapter will always be needed for VGA, DVI, S-Video, Composite, etc. But the 15-inch needs an adapter for anything other than DVI or S-Video…
  • The 15-inch obviously has a larger screen. However I understand that they have the same pixel density…
  • Physical size differs.

For each of the differences I have a reason why the difference isn’t a factor.

The most critical issue for me is portability. I need a laptop that is small enough to fit in a backpack for my ride too and from work. The 12-inch and an STM Glove fits the bill.

Some of the people I have spoken with about this over the past weeks have commented that the 12-inch is too small for prolonged use. I totally agree with that. There are two places that I will use it most; at my desk at home running through my 19″ CRT, or at my desk at work either with another 17″ LCD or VNC to my current dual 17″ LCD setup. And then when I want to use it in other places (while watching tv at home, in meetings, on the train, outside on the grass) it is small enough to just pickup and go…

$2422 (education price for base 12-inch PowerBook with additional 256MB RAM) is not really that much money. If the amount of tax I’d save by salary packaging it is taken into account it ends up being around $1700…

This whole post has been justifying to myself why I should get a 12-inch PowerBook. Maybe in a week or so when I’m in my next credit card billing cycle (so I have the full 55 days to pay it off) and the sting of paying nineteen grand to the tax office (HECS debt voluntary repayment) wears off a bit…

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