Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Laptops aplenty

I have, at last count, five laptops. A Commodore 286 that got me through my first years of teaching (came with the computer lab), Another Commodore 386 I bought for $50 from a friend ( VGA, 256 colours running Windows 3.1 ), a Pentium 90 MHz machine from a company that was clearing out their old machines, a Pentium II I got from another teacher ( needed some RAM and a new 4 GB hard disk - cranky but works fine ) and now a Dell Inspiron with CD burner and DVD. It came to me without a power supply and a burnt out inverter, which I got through ebay.
Having all of these machines makes one thing very clear to me: I am not a big laptop fan.
Batteries - all laptops outlast their batteries. Unless you drop them from a building or something. Sure new battery technology lets you run it for more time, but the batteries will crap out eventually by holding a charge for less and less time, until you might get five minutes. Replacement batteries are, if they are available, stupid expensive.
Repairs - Two examples: a laptop at work with a broken LCD panel cost us $700 to fix. The Dell I just fixed myself cost me $25 in parts, the new part was easy to install and it would have cost $500 ( of course I did have the whole thing in pieces all labelled "fragile", "do not touch" and "are you insane, man?", and then discovered it was just a single part with two connectors and two screws ).

I don't find them particularily portable, the keyboards are awful and the touchscreen mouse tend to be very difficult to use. And I can't see myself sitting in Starbucks drinking $5 coffee and... doing whatever it is people with laptops in Starbucks do ( no, really, tell me....). Of course, you can add a mouse, external keyboard and monitor... but then you've got a desktop.

I've been at a lot of baseball games, martial arts lessons, swim lessons and birthday parties where I've thought it would be nice to have something to use to finish my play or movie script ( more later ), but then again, I can always bring paper and pencil.

Maybe I can trade it in for a steam engine. Now I need one of those....

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