This is a tale of two laptops, the two that often accompany me — individually or occasionally together — when I leave the house.
I like them both. But now I sit on the horns of a dilemma because I don’t know which should be my Number One.
One is a behemoth: The Toshiba Satellite L455 is nearly big enough for me to live in, should I become homeless. It’s got a nice screen, 4GB of RAM, and a lot of other things going for it. Despite its anchor-heavy weight, it is a spotless machine, and over the past several weeks it has served as my daily road warrior.
The other has been at my side for as long as I’ve ever owned hardware: An IBM ThinkPad T60. This laptop has only 2GB of RAM — only, he says — in the standard-issue workhorse in years past of the Linux set. The years and conferences have left its mark on this one, with stickers on the cover that would put any NASCAR racer to shame. The wireless card in this machine deserves special remark — I can pick up wifi from rural Canada with this ThinkPad (OK, a slight exaggeration), and the square screen allows a larger workspace than the Satellite.
The Satellite weighs about a ton and a half and I schlep it around with a Targus backpack. The ThinkPad is a lot lighter and goes in a Dell laptop bag ($2.50 at the Abbot’s Thrift Store on half-price day).
The Satellite has a slightly larger hard drive — not the original equipment, since I saved this laptop from recycling doom when my former employer was about to throw it out, sans hard drive and memory (“Hey, do you have any use for this laptop?” “Um, yeah.”). The ThinkPad, though with a smaller drive and less memory, never fails to get the work done that I expect from it.
Therein lies probably the tipping point: I can depend on the ThinkPad to handle everything, where the Toshiba, with its bigger drive and more memory sometimes falls short of expectations. Not wanting to get into the “inside baseball” of distro nuances on particular hardware, generally speaking the Toshiba has sometimes found ways to be — how can I put this tactfully? — uncooperative with some distros.
So I’m thinking about going back to the ThinkPad as the primary outside-the-home hardware, and I wanted to see what others thought either way, pro or con, left or right, good or bad.
My good friend and former newspaper colleague Tom Dunlap wrote in a PC World blog yesterday about how many have fallen under the spell of the tablet and are drifting away from laptops and other “real” computers.
Quoting Tom: “Everywhere I go these days, my friends slam laptops. They tell me my PC of choice is a dying breed and sing the praises of their new, ‘post-PC’ Apple iPad.
“They carefully pull out their Apple device. I admire it, then ask: ‘So where do you insert the DVD, how do you bang out a long e-mail on a touch keyboard, and do you know what I paid for my little (Lenovo ThinkPad X30) laptop compared to what you paid for this iPad?’
Good one, Tom. The fact of the matter is — and Tom eloquently outlines it in his blog, so I won’t be echoing it here (except to say, “I agree!”) — there’s a big difference between the tablet which, for all its conveniences, isn’t really a computer, and the desktop or laptop you use for getting things done.
Same goes for my “smart” phone — the only thing I want it to be smart enough to do is take calls and make calls. If I need to check e-mail or text someone, I can do that from my laptop.
Thanks, Tom, for bringing that topic up.
(Fedora ambassador Larry Cafiero runs Redwood Digital Research in Felton, California, and is an associate member of the Free Software Foundation. He is also one of the founders of the Lindependence Project.)