New Mac

On average, computers last me for about 4 years. Last week, I was still using an 800MHz iMac.

Partly this is down to my being frugal. It’s like the TV situation, where I didn’t buy the HDTV until my family visited and laughed at the 20″ TV, and seemingly made it die of shame shortly afterwards.

Partly it’s because Macs remain usable longer than PCs. A PC Magazine survey found that Macs tend to last 3.9 years on average, compared to 2.4 years for Windows PCs. (Of course, with Linux you can keep an old machine usable for even longer.)

Partly, though, it was because I wasn’t wild about any of Apple’s offerings. The Mac Pro is too big and expensive. The current iMac is unergonomic and (in my view) ugly. The Mac Mini is too limited. The MacBook Pro series used ATI graphics. I was going to wait, and maybe get a plain MacBook as a kind of stopgap, more by a process of elimination than as a matter of choice.

Then Apple revved the MacBook Pro. They ditched the ATI graphics, and put in an LED backlit display in the 15″. I was sold. So, I have a shiny new Mac.

One advantage of making computers last 4 years is you really notice the upgrade when it comes. Going from a 16MHz B&W Mac to a 180MHz PowerPC color Mac was awesome. The switch to a wide screen and dual core CPU is almost as good. I can leave GraphicConverter optimizing PNG files, and the machine stays totally usable. Mail also flies with multiple threads able to run in parallel.

I use each upgrade as a cue to go through my files and clear up. I move old stuff to CDs, make my folder structure more consistent, get rid of cruft, and so on. This time there’s a lot to throw away, because any PowerPC Mac software I was keeping around is now obsolete. One problem area is PhotoShop Elements, because Adobe still haven’t got an Intel native version. The PowerPC one will run under emulation, but I’d rather wait for Adobe to get their act together.

On the plus side, now I can go try all the cool stuff that has appeared in the last year or so, that was too CPU-intensive for my old machine. And maybe do an official Red Pill Intel release.