I bought my current laptop fourteen months ago. At the time I wrote “I sure hope it holds up better,” and indeed it’s doing better than the flimsy, fragile, TiBook did, but it’s not that great. Herewith some suggestions for how Macintosh laptops could be made better.
The current model is a 15" 1.25GHz AlBook.
The Case · This whole notion of making laptops glamorous and silver was cool, but it’s had a good run for a few years now, and it’s over. In the fourteen months I’ve dropped it only once, about a foot, onto a carpeted floor, while it was turned off, and the corner where the power plugs in is twisted out of shape and the power plug slips out sometimes, and if I don’t notice the computer runs out of power and suddenly turns itself off, very disconcerting.
Also, check out these pictures of the top surface where my hands rest.
This corrosion is apparently due to whatever my hands secrete while I work. (No, I have nothing against Sigourney Weaver, why do you ask?)
I think that we now understand, as IBM has understood for years, that the correct material for fabricating laptop bodies is nice tough unglamorous plastic. And you know what, these days I think that iBooks look better than PowerBooks. We are at the end of the Aluminum Age.
The Screen · I now have a persistent bright spot in the screen (no, not the ones that shipped with the latest-gen PowerBooks, a new one); irritating but not quite enough to make me replace the screen.
More seriously, it used to be that Macintoshes had bigger, brighter, better screens than the competition. No longer; my friends with Thinkpads have more pixels and brighter colours. Apple needs to take the money they save by going from aluminium to plastic and invest it in equipping the next-gen laptop with absolutely the best screen on any laptop anywhere.
Pseudomouse · I’ve said this before but it’s worth repeating: a certain proportion of the population finds touch-pads unusable. If Apple shipped a laptop with one of those little index-finger “trackpoint” things I bet I could drive Windows out of my house and go all Linux-Mac. Other computer makers can do this, why not Apple?
Power · Sometime next year, I’m going to want to replace this puppy. But I hate changing computers unless I’m getting a solid factor-of-two performance increase. Sun would like me to start carrying a JDS laptop around instead of this OS X thing, and if someone comes out with a red-hot JDS-friendly laptop, say with some blazin’ AMD power under the hood, I could certainly be tempted.