Sorry Not Sorry - Why I Want to Get Rid of My MacBook, but Can't
Earlier this year, I upgraded my 2015 MacBook (the bare-bones design model that returned the name to the current Apple lineup, sometimes referenced as the MacBook Zero). The MacBook was wonderful from a design aesthetic. But I often struggled with all of the dongle management required when I took it on a trip, and while I got used to iMovie, the number crunching of the MacBook in terms of encoding a video was abhorrently slow. I figured out the app well-enough that I did not feel like it was sluggish when dragging objects around to edit a video, but the encoding would tie the machine up for hours for small video segments. And while I have other machines here that I could shift to while the MacBook's compute cycles were tied up, that was not the case when I was on travel.
So I went with the new HP Envy 13 ( 2.5GHz Intel Core i5-7200U , 8GB LPDDR3 RAM, 256Gb SSD, Windows 10, 13.3" 1920 X 1080p IPS display, 2 X USB-A 3.0 Ports, 1 X USB-C 3.0 Port). I solved the problems of not having expansion ports as well as meeting the need for a high-performance machine capable of juggling video and audio editing on the go. I retired the MacBook Zero and put it in a corner. I had not gotten rid of it yet because I was trying to figure out how to DoD-level delete the hard drive. Three months later, my gaming laptop, a Lenovo IdeaPad Y700 died, and I forced the MacBook back into service. It's simply an extra workstation now, available for additional web-surfing, writing, audio and video editing, and podcasting. So here's my conundrum.
I will eventually replace the capabilities of the Y700. I'm targeting either a new gaming laptop, or I'll do a third custom-build oriented around a small-form factor, low power box built around a GeForce GTX 1050 Ti. But bringing the MacBook back to life has reminded me of a couple of things. One, I really like having at least one machine in the studio that runs an alternative OS to Windows. I like LINUX laptops, but I really like to buy them pre-configured, and the only company that does that is System76, and their price-to-capability position has gone all kinds of sideways since I bought one from them back in 2012.
I could configure my own, but then I am paying for a used laptop because I do not want to convert the HP Envy 13 to a dual-boot. It runs perfectly now and meets my needs, so I do not want to risk it getting out of sorts. I do not mind converting a laptop I have to a LINUX-box to get some extra years of use out of it, but that's after I have upgraded to something else and I am sending the incumbent to retirement.
When I can afford it, I do really like that alternative OS workstation to be an OS X machine. It provides a lot of capability out of the box, especially with the video editing and authoring applications it includes. It also keeps me up-to-date with what is going on in the Apple world as a credible source, rather than other bloggers and tech journalists who decry either Windows or OS X without actually being current users of both. Second: I find it really hard to give up the MacBook. While I was sometimes frustrated with its limited power, you just can't do better than this machine when it comes to lightweight portability and power. Yeah, I often need to be able to crunch video, audio, and images while on travel. But some trips I just need to do email and surf the web. I want to bring in either a portable or low-power gaming machine, but I cannot bring myself to truly contemplate kicking the MacBook out of the infrastructure. Despite what some readers and my friends think, I do have a maximum number of machines I am willing to run in the studio, because that drives how much time I spend on maintaining them. Right now, if I bring in another gaming machine, keeping the MacBook would be one machine too many. But I hate the thought of getting rid of it, losing its portability, and losing the one machine on a non-Windows OS that I am running. But I also do not like the thought of not having a portable or low-power PC gaming machine.
Usually these posts are centered around me discussing a lot of requirements, and trying to balance out the ones that conflict, determine which ones can be dispensed with, and arriving at a decision, or at least a reduced set of options for others who are at similar decision points to leverage. But this one is a stumper and I am still mulling it over. With the multiple failures of the Lenovo Ideapad Y700, and failures of two Asus RoG laptops before it (spread out over five years), I've really been given pause to consider the efficacy of gaming laptops at all.
I have a few low power platforms that are great gaming devices on travel, although none of them offer the capability of a PC, and I still have to lug a laptop with me on travel 90% of the time regardless. At the end of the day, this is not only processing the problem of whether to keep the MacBook and if that should mean that I cannot replace my tertiary gaming workstation right now, but it's also a question of whether or not this means that I always retain a Mac in the studio lineup, and drop the notion of a tertiary gaming machine for good. I kind of love the MacBook, but I tend to not like the price positioning of Apple's overall lineup. I like the low end machines that are at the $1,000 price point. But once they are up around $1300 or above, the price-to-power ratio gets unbalanced. So I do not know if I will ever bring myself to buy anything in Apple's lineup that costs more than $1,100.
I'm not sure that I am ready to make the shift in the overall workshop schema of dropping a tertiary gaming machine to make space for a secondary mobile studio workstation. It is both a testament to what Apple does that I cannot get rid of the MacBook, and a negative commentary to Apple that I'm not sure that I can see myself buying anything more than that MacBook from Apple due to their pricing scheme. First world problems to be sure. But if you were not interested in first world tech problems, then I guess you wouldn't have wound up at the 'Werkz!