Sidebar 1 · First off: Apple may well be right. Over the past couple of decades, the vast majority of their product launches have hit the sweet spot, turning out to be what people needed even if that’s what they didn’t think they wanted.
Sidebar 2 · At work, I use a Mac and it suits me just fine. I run IntelliJ and Emacs and lotsa shells and office-y stuff, and I use a meaty Linux box for building and testing embryonic AWS services.
As long as it’s got a built-in Retina screen and support for a big honking outboard monitor and keeps the IDE snappy, I’m good.
Also, I note that IBM is getting good mileage by dealing Macs out to employees, so I suspect that Apple laptops have a bright future as office computers.
But my concern right now is about my personal computer.
What I Want · In a personal computer, I mean.
MacOS · It’s a mature, smooth, slick, powerful GUI that I have entirely mastered and would hate to leave behind. Also, for a power user, the integration between GUI and command-line is wonderful; I positively glow when I blast a “find | xargs” shell incantation’s output into pbcopy.
Massive power · I want a meat-grinder CPU to make photo-editing, and my occasional forays into video, fast. I want a modern video card so game-playing is cool when I feel like it. I want ludicrously excessive amounts of memory. I want a keyboard with high-quality mechanical keys that don’t get in my way when I’m going 100WPM. I want lots of connectors so I can plug in my current USB drives and mouse and keyboard. I want a PS Card reader because I shoot RAW so my photo files are huge and they ingest faster from a card. And also because I’m disorganized and lose dongles.
Oh, and I want a big fantastically high-res beautifully color-managed screen. I mention this separately because it seems like the only area where I’m at one with Apple.
Unix · By which I mean Linux I guess. I need a real shell (liking zsh these days), and apt-get or brew or equivalent, and Emacs, and I need to run Apache httpd so I can stage the page you’re now reading on my lap.
Lightroom · A photog’s gotta choose his ecosystem, and for better or for worse I’m on Adobe’s. I still like Lightroom, and the integration between the Android and OS X versions through their cloud is just bewitching.
A pony · By which I mean a donkey. I’ve always had a soft spot for donkeys.
Um, I don’t seem to have mentioned “thin and light”. I guess I’d be happy with “not much heavier than the 2013 15" Retina MBP I’m typing this on”. Thin? Meh.
Infrastructure · My next computer needs on OS: MacOS, Windows, or Linux. Then I might need to run stuff that’s foreign to that operating system, and the options there are a VM (probably VirtualBox?) or a cloud-box. If I’m gonna do a cloud-box it probably makes sense to package it up on my personal computer with Docker or whatever.
Windows? · This would have been inconceivable at one time, but I observe that the screens of Windows boxes no longer hurt my eyes, and while I’m a direct Microsoft competitor at work, they no longer seem to have the stench of evil.
Massive power? No problemo, and for a lot less than the equivalent Mac. I look at some of the gaming laptops and drool.
Unix? Well, maybe, I hear good things about Win10’s Linux subsystem, and it deserves a try. Also, I could run Ubuntu in a virt or cloud-box. Could I really get httpd and MySQL going?
MacOS · Am I willing to overpay Apple for hardware if they sell hardware I want to buy? Sure thing.
Massive power? Not an Apple focus any more, it seems. Don’t see a workaround.
Unix? Close enough for me.
Lightroom? Hunky dory, but faster would be nice.
Linux · I do worry: Will I be able to plug in an outboard screen and have it Just Work? And will there will be modern eye-friendly fonts? TBD.
Massive power? In spades.
Lightroom? In a Windows virt, right? Which means I have to pay for Windows, too. And I’d need to be really sure I got acceptable performance.
Take-away · My best bet is to buy a future Mac that’s aimed at people like me. Which requires that Apple wants to build one; they don’t at the moment, but maybe they will again before this box I’m typing on runs out of gas.
But some of the combos above don’t sound terrible.