I'm thinking about going back to a single computer in the near future

For those of you that have been following my computing adventures for a while, you know that I’ve gone from Mac Zealot to someone who has her feet firmly planted in two gardens. That isn’t going to change. I happen to like some things about Windows just as much as I like some things about OS X. I happen to dislike some things about Windows just as much as I dislike some things about OS X. I’m about as proficient and comfortable on both platforms as I can be. I see absolutely no reason to go back to being completely one side or the other if I don’t have to.

I have my PowerMac G5, dual 2ghz circa September 2003 (isn’t it great when you can chart your life by searching your own blog?). My Mac, running OS X 10.4.8, is primarily used for Adobe Creative Suite applications and iTunes/iPod syncing. I have a few thousand fonts and all my Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator and Acrobat work comes out of that box (about 20% of my job). I have it hooked up to a 23″ Apple Cinema display.

It’s serving me well, but I have no idea how much horse power the next version of Creative Suite will require. AppleCare is out of the picture (expired last month). If anything dies on this computer, it likely won’t be worth fixing/replacing.

On another leg of my “U” shaped desk I have my Dell Inspiron 9300, circa April 2005. It’s barely 18 months old, but the non Core Duo processor is starting to show its age. It’s now my workhorse, and I’m on it 3x as much these days as I’m on the Mac. I prefer Outlook over Mail/iCal and I need to sync with things like my Cingular 8125 where the options on the Mac side are more limited. I prefer FeedDemon to NetNewsWire. Quicken and QuickBooks for the Mac are barely usable. A lot of other things I do on the PC are for convenience, because this is where I happen to be since this is where Outlook is. The Mac equivalent is probably fine. It’s simply easier to communicate and exchange information with the world (outside of graphic designers) when you’re using the same tool that 90-95% of them are using.

As much as I like the Inspiron, it’s too big and heavy. When I bought it, I had no idea I’d be traveling as much as I am now, and shlepping this thing (I think it’s around 10-12 lbs.) is no easy feat. I’m limited in the cases that will fit its 17″ widescreen monitor, and forget using it on a plane or train in coach class.

So here’s what I’m thinking about… rumor has it that Apple is going to be refreshing its MacBook Pro line to Core 2 Duo processors. When that happens, I can replace both the Inspiron and the PowerMac with a 15″ MacBook Pro, and when I’m home dock it up to the 23″ Cinema Display. It’s not an ultra-portable, but it will feel like a feather compared to the Dell.

If I sell off both the Inspiron and the PowerMac, I should be able to pay for at least half of the MacBook Pro. Not to mention the money I’ll save with one backup strategy, one mouse, one external keyboard, etc.

I need 100% compatibility when running Windows apps on the MacBook Pro (through Parallels, of course). I won’t have a “real” PC to fall back on, so everything has to work. And I’d like to be able to run Vista. I don’t want the Virtual PC “almost-as-good-as”… Anyone know if the Apple Store machines are running Parallels? It would be nice to be able to play with it, try and run some of the sites I need that require IE 6+ and see if it’s a workable option, even with the more outdated Core Duo that’s currently in the MacBook Pro.



3 responses to “I'm thinking about going back to a single computer in the near future”

  1. Judi,

    I’ve been using a 20″ Intel-based iMac and running Parallels since July, and have been extremely pleased with Parallels’ performance.

    I’m not aware of any *software* incompatibilities that you could run into; the software is identical, running on the same basic processors as a “real” PC would. The only issue you may encounter is hardware-based, and those are getting fewer and further between (the developers are smart and responsive, it seems!).

    That said, if you can’t find a Parallels-running Mac nearby, email me and I’m happy to test some sites for you.

  2. I’m a Mac and PC user too–my own machine is a macbook pro and I also use a Dell Latitude for one of my clients. I agree with you that they both have advantages and disadvantages, though the mac has turned out to be really good for podcasting because of garage band, iTunes, and audio hijack pro.

    The big problem with the macbook is the lack of docking station. It’s just not that smooth to hook it up to an external monitor. My external keyboard failed and I haven’t replaced it, so my arrangement is to type on my macbook pro and use its screen for my main monitor area and then my big screen is off to the side. It’s not ideal. I could probably work it out better if I invested some time and thought in it though.

    Hmm, I realized there’s probably a docking station for the macbook pro now. I just checked and bookendz has one. So never mind. Looks like you can now get a docking station for the 15″ macbook pro.