February 20, 2006

Not Moving to Mac Intel Right Away

I have a long, sometimes painful, history of being an early technology adopter. I was using the first VisorPhone adapters with Handspring years before they introduced the Treo line of hybrid smartphones, purchased an iPod less than 12 hours after Steve Jobs introduced them, upgraded to Mac OS X Public Beta before it was available to the mass market, and was using Netscape Navigator before it was a 1.0 release.

With all that said, people expect I'd be first in line to snap up an Intel-Powered iMac or MacBook Pro. After all, didn't Steve Jobs say the new laptops, powered by Intel were 3 to 4 times as fast as the old model? Doesn't that make my 1.25 GHz PowerPC G4 seem like a dinosaur in comparison? Surprisingly, no. I'm perfectly happy with my laptop, power adapter issues aside. The PowerBook has 1 GB of RAM, an 80 GB hard drive, and is plenty fast for whatever I need to do. Also, we understand the issues with benchmarks. Vendors can run a suite of tests and announce those where they play the best. Reviews have come out saying that the new MacBook Pro is not in fact 3 to 4 times faster, and may be slower in some cases for particular activity. Besides, how fast does it need to be to read e-mail, write in Microsoft Word and surf the Web? At that point, the limiting factor with speed is your broadband connection, not the CPU.

So - add it up. You have a lack of demand, and not enough compelling reasons to take a gamble on what so far is an unproven architecture. I expect that version 1.5 and version 2.0 of the MacBook Pro will add additional speed and functionality unavailable in this first version. In fact, Apple announced this week that the first round will be even faster than originally announced. I don't see that as an accident. And this doesn't even take into account the migration of applications by developers of PowerPC apps to a Universal binary that runs equally fast on PowerPC and Intel architectures. I think I can wait until Adobe, Microsoft, and all the smaller developers I depend on for the apps that I use are ready.

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