Is Apple the “light side” or the “dark side” these days? I’ve lost track, but either way, today was New Laptop Day at the office for me, and after six years of rocking a Mac laptop, I’ve switched back.
The machine I’ve switched back to is a Dell Latitude E6400, and it’s not entirely unlike the MacBook Pro it replaces — it’s quite small and light for its 14.1″ screen, has a great (matte!) screen, and a metal housing. The keyboard’s perhaps the best I’ve ever used on a laptop, and the whole thing feels very solid and looks surprisingly good in an understated, businessy way.
There are some nice little touches, too. It’s nice to have a tray-loading DVD drive again after years of clunky, noisy, unreliable slot-loaders, for instance. There’s a DisplayPort port, but there’s also plain old VGA, so I don’t have to fiddle with adapters to plug it in to current displays/projectors. There are four USB ports, one of which doubles as an eSATA port, and another of which can be configured to charge connected USB devices from the laptop’s battery, even when the laptop is off; the BIOS lets you set a threshold on how low this feature is allowed to run the battery down.
I’m of course running Ubuntu on it, and it’s significantly better as an Ubuntu machine than the MacBook Pro was, mainly due to the trackpad. It’s not as nice as the Mac’s, and it lacks that fancy two-finger scrolling, but it does have three physical mouse buttons, and it’s much less likely to be triggered by my palms while I’m typing. Every piece of hardware I’ve tested so far has worked out-of-the-box. The Intel video that I opted for isn’t super-fast, but it’s enough for World of Goo, and it does a great job of handling external displays on-the-fly, which NVIDIA still hasn’t implemented.
So far, then, I’m very happy with my switch back. Time will tell if I end up missing the shiny Mac hardware, or Mac OS X, but so far, it’s not looking likely.