The big news in the tech press this week is Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is reorganizing his company to try to make it good again (or at least boost the stock price). Big deal. I may still buy a MacBook Pro.
You see, I am retrofitting my company, Rayno Media Inc., for world dominance. This requires serious purchasing decisions, including what kind of mechanical pencils to buy. But more seriously, I am allocating my tiny technology budget to buy a laptop and possibly a tablet, with some odds and ends.
The biggest decision? Laptop. I may end up buying a Mac for the first time in nearly 20 years, but I haven’t yet pulled the trigger.
The first issue is price, of course. Windows products abound and they are cheaper. So, for example, if I bought a cheaper Windows laptop I’d have money left over to buy an iPad. Hmm. But what about all this other stuff? There’s actually a product called a Yoga, which appears to be half laptop/half tablet and has the flexibility of an NFL cheerleader.
Buying any electronics product these days has become more of a hassle. With myriad manufacturers, operating systems, form factors, ecosystems, and tradeoffs, a smart decision requires hours of analysis.
On a gut-level instinct, Apple feels right. My first computers were Macs. In high school, I played Castle Wolfenstein on my friend’s Apple II. Later, in college, I had the first Macintosh. After college I toted a Mac Classic to Europe where I tried to launch a journalism career (I’m still trying). My first job in tech journalism required formatting magazing pages on an Apple computer, using the old publishing program Quark. I have great memories of the Apple days.
For some reason, I was then diverted into a 20-year Microsoft detour. This was purely work related. I worked for companies that had standardized on Windoze laptop technologies, so they gave you whatever they used. Most of them were startups, where support for Apple products was always more challenging. This wasn’t a big deal, because as a writer or an editor I was mostly on the keyboard, pounding out stories and putting them on the Web. Windows laptops worked fine.
But now what? Recently cut lose from the chains of corporate computing, I can pick whatever I want. The elegance and simplicity of the iPhone interface has reminded me what I miss about Apple’s products. Windows is a Volkswagen, and Apple is a Porsche. Wouldn’t everybody rather have a Porsche ?
Let’s break down the pros and cons of wide array of new electronic platforms and what I might need for my business, which mostly involves content creation using the traditional tool including Word, Adobe, and possibly some video-editing software:
Tablets are fun, but as my wife says, there isn’t much work you can do on an iPad. It’s mostly a leisure device. My first instinct on an iPad would be to procrastinate: Read the media or fire up a financial app and track stocks. But work? I’m less inclined to do it on an iPad, especially if it involves a keyboard.
A former work colleague has pointed out that the iPad is a great device for video interviews or producing video blogs, so I will have to check this out. Unbelievably, our family still does not own an iPad, though my wife has a Surface Tablet.
Windows 8 Tablets
As I mentioned, my wife has a Surface Tablet. She likes it, because of nice access to specialized physical therapy software applications she needs to access at work, while she roams around (have you figured out she’s a physical therapist?). It’s got a decent camera and is fun with video, like the iPad. The kids like it.
I’ve used the Surface table and I’ve found it intriguing, though at times the interface with it’s various modes and secret OS tricks can be maddening and counter-intuitive. In the end, it’s a Microsoft product, not an Apple product: They’ve gotten 80% of the copying right but 20% of the interface still sucks.
Frankly, I haven’t gone there. But my perception of an Android tablet is that it’s really just a gigantic Samsung phone.
The great thing about Windows laptops is that you know there will be a gazillion possible selections with all sorts of configurations and price points. I looked these over and decided that if I do go Windows, I can get a serviceable laptop for $600 or a really good one for $1,000. But it will bore me.
These are sleek, beautiful devices — but expensive. As a friend in the technology biz put it, “They still make the best product by far.” When I look at a fully loaded MacBook Pro with a Retina display I get excited about an electronics product in a way that would never happen with a Windows laptop. I also get excited about the fact that when I plug my iPhone in, the syncing functions may actually work better (maybe).
Hmm. Desktops? What’s that? Can’t really see the need for a new one. We are still running two Windows desktops in our home. Both are about 4 years old. But they still work fine, network the home, and store loads of stuff. They appear to have become large storage devices for all of our mobile devices.
I thought it would be fun to take inventory of my family’s devices.
1 Motorola Droid phone (old model, no longer connected, now a kids gaming device)
3 iPhones. (1 iPhone 4s, 1 iPhone 4, 1 older iPhone which is not used anymore except by kids for gaming)
1 Samsung Galaxy 4s
2 Windows Desktops (1 HP, 1 Dell)
1 Microsoft Surface Tablet
1 Windows laptop (an ancient IBM T42 ThinkPad — but incredibly this is still occasionally used!)
When I look at this inventory, I think of a few things: 1) No iPad. WTF? Not keeping up with the Jones’s 2) This is a weird mish-mash of stuff. 3)Maybe we should consider standardizing?
In the end, after writing this, I think I’ve processed the decision. I’m going to go Apple MacBook. Why? It will bring me back to the roots of my career. It’s beautiful. And it gets me excited about work in a way that no other electronics product does.