Laptop Sufficiency

In “A final laptop”, Matt Gemmell writes about the (rumored) upcoming Macbook Air, and how he’s reaching a level of technological satiety:

It’s tough to see what the next step will be, though. My wish list has been exhausted. Every checkbox is checked.

A lot of his points mirror my family’s experience. A little over a year ago my toddler dumped the contents of her sippy cup onto my wife’s Macbook Air. We tossed it into a bin filled with rice to dry it out, but it was dead. We didn’t have the funds to buy a replacement, so I gave her my iPad 2 to use while we looked for a used Air on eBay.

Well, we never did end up getting a replacement Air. My wife ended up adapting to the iPad as her primary computer, with the one frustration being that it was pretty hard for her to upload and tag large numbers of photos to Facebook. A month ago we got a Dell Chromebook and she’s been quite happy with that. The hardware isn’t anywhere close to Apple’s level—the fans are loud and kick on quite frequently, the screen isn’t anything special—but for her it’s a perfectly fine machine. She can write email, check Facebook, and access all her Google documents and spreadsheets. About the only change she had to make to her workflow was to store her photos on Google Drive instead of Dropbox. That was it.

My home machine is a vintage black Macbook 13″ that I purchased on January 9, 2007. I’ve upgraded the RAM and swapped the hard drive a number of times—most recently for a SSD that was like a massive shot of caffeine. But it’s finally reached the point where it simply can’t run software that I need for work, because the last version of OS X it’ll run is Lion. So when the new Macbook Air (or whatever they end up calling it) appears, I’ll probably get one. But I know the experience is going to be much different from when I bought that black Macbook, where I agonized over every configuration option. This time I’ll just pick the configuration that’s in my budget, knowing that it’ll have more than enough power and capacity for my needs.