In mid 2016 my daily driver, an aging 2008 Macbook Pro died without any prior warning… I think deep down in my heart I knew that day was coming, it wasn’t the usual Nvidia GeForce 8600 GT GPU issue everyone else experienced. My machine simply become kaputt, no powerup bong, no display, no keyboard backlight, simply no life!!
I basically returned from dinner and found the system asleep, or so I thought, turns out the troubled logic-board was to blame and being so old it wasn’t worthy of throwing more cash at it. It’s a very old machine but it was still useful for blogging and updating social media… So I ended up stripping the machine and selling off the parts as scrap via fleaBay, recovering a fraction of the investment.
Living without a Laptop
Since then, I have been without a mobile computer and resorted to drafting blogs with my mobile which was horrendously annoying. If it wasn’t the battery dying, it’s the inability to resize and format images the way I liked them. I resorted to saving them out as draft to be posted later, once I’ve added the edited images. No, it wasn’t the end of the world for me as I have several desktop computers which can easily take the place of a portable, it just less convenient. No more could I sit in the living room, passively watch TV and ramble about stuff online, interacting with strangers or even sit in Starbucks pretending to do work whilst sipping on so-called ‘coffee’… It meant that everything I needed to do, had to be done on a computer in my studio and not on the go. This when I realized a laptop was essential.
I, like many was excited when Apple released it’s newest MacBook Pro. All the visuals advertisements where perfect however I didn’t really knew it’s technical details or the actual specifications back then other than it’s features. Very impressive!
Things to consider
A few weeks ago all that changed. I decided to buy myself a new laptop. Being a fan of OS X, I initially planned on buying the newest and greatest MacBookPro 15″ with Touch-bar 2.7Ghz & 1TB storage in space-grey… Cash was at the ready!!
However, I quickly learnt the internal storage was integrated along with the system RAM and processor, every aspects of the hardware had to be decided at the time of purchase. The orange and red areas marked on the logic board below, marks the onboard solid state storage. Therefore non-upgrade-able and more importantly, non-removable!
Sorry but what a stupid move Apple!! I can understand why they have done this. It’s a design move to make the machine as compact as physically possible and Apple never wants users to tamper with their inner parts of the machine. This pretty much ensures that absolutely nobody would have any reason to open it. But the user takes a toll!! Compared to my original, this thing was a solid-state with no expand-ability what-so-ever!
For those of you who don’t understand why I object, let me explain
For sensitive users, an integrated SSD would simply be a no no, especially if you deal with secretive information. Imagine if you will.. Your precious MacBook Pro for some reason develops a physical fault (not one you can fix with software), the only solution is to return the machine to AppleStore for service (along with your precious and sensitive data) — If this drive were removable, you could secure your data before handing your system to an engineer. Apple will undoubtedly delete your work but there’s always the unsettling feeling that someone might want to read/copy and/or redistribute your files to third parties… I’m not saying Apple would but you just don’t know! There’s always going to be one disgruntled engineer who’d out to for revenge at some stage. And in this day and age, every company seems to be mining our data for profit. So due to this, no MacBook Pro. Not this time. Sorry Apple.
Choosing a Laptop
Choosing the perfect laptop can be a daunting task considering there’s thousands of models out there, each catering a different market, aimed at different users needs and budget. Personally, I wanted something super light, powerful with the option to expand or add more storage later.
In the past I have always admired the Sony VAIO Ultra-portables with it’s super hi-resolution’s displays for the form-factor, extra-ordinary battery life and very light weight but those machines always felt underpowered. Since their departure from the computing industry, the only other option would the MacBook Air, Chromebook or one of the other ‘ultra-portables’ from a slew of manufacturers all competing to make a half-decent notebook but few have managed it.
The Dell XPS 13 first caught my eye a few years back when it appeared on the market, though I decided not to buy one until I acquired some hands-on experience. Touch and feel of something is always important to me.. In other people’s videos they look and sounds acceptable, checks all the boxes as to why I needed something portable. The only thing that was slightly troubling was the QHD display’s scaling ability. Back then the display was new, drivers were a little sketchy and needed some refinement as some applications didn’t scale correctly causing some corruption to appear. However with each revision the XPS 13 become more and more perfect..
Now, being in Hong Kong for a week (December 2016) allowed gave me the perfect excuse to go window shopping and gain some hand-on experience with the various laptops on my checklist… During this time, opportunities to buy into the MacBook Pro 2015 was available, some stores had stock but not the 2.8Ghz model.
Now, I have always loved the Dell XPS 13… Mostly for it’s durability, specification, the super compact form-factor and low weight made it very appealing. Then there’s the fact that Dell can provide you whatever spare part you’d might require. I believe it’s mostly aimed towards business executives cause it’s definitely not a gaming laptop by many means.
When I learnt they upgraded their line incorporating the latest Intel processor, offering better power management with a minor performance boost, it become very favorable. Since I’m mostly using this machine for blogging and managing photos, I didn’t need 16Gb of ram or a discrete GPU or do I? Looking at the line-up I learnt the specs were pretty much the same as the previous year…. besides, I always wanted a ultra-high resolution clear display with the optional touchscreen!!
However wondering around Hong Kong searching for a laptop was the next issue, most re-sellers I visited only had the low-resolution version in-stock and the price varied a few dollars from one store to another. Finding stock of the exact machine proven to be rather difficult in Hong Kong as most re-sellers only stocked the non-touch version. Yea, I know.. Touch screens draw more power but I’m talking about having the newest energy efficient Intel Processor in my device, power won’t be an issue. Eventually I found one store with the newest Kaby Lake version in exactly the specification I wanted.
Currently, I haven’t yet upgraded the limited 256Gb SSD.. I’m making do for most tasks… I don’t have any huge complains. Though I wish I purchased the XPS 15 for the bigger battery mainly. Oh well next time.. lol