I started doing our taxes yesterday, and initial estimates (I’m still waiting on one W2) look like I’ll end up owing the government over $1500! Ouch! It’s one thing to have those taxes taken out of your check as you get paid, but quite another thing to have to write a check that big for things like…
Oh yeah, don’t forget my (least) favorite one:
The Defense Department has uncovered its own credit card scandal. Over one recent 18-month period, Air Force and Navy personnel used governÂment-funded credit cards to charge at least $102,400 for admission to entertainment events, $48,250 for gambling, $69,300 for cruises, and $73,950 for exotic dance clubs and prostitutes. (heritage.org)
Makes me sick.
The question of the day, then, is if I should succumb to the dark side.
Heading into seminary, I’m contemplating a laptop computer purchase. The goal would be portability, flexibility, durability, and longevity. In other words, I want something that will run decently for 3-4 years (or more), that will be portable enough that I’ll actually take it with me, and that won’t crap out on me in 2 years.
I can hear all the fanboys chanting now “apple, apple, apple…”
Honestly, though, it’s a tough choice. If I had lots of money to spend, or wasn’t headed towards that lucrative period in life called “poor college student”, or had to be cool, I might just grab myself a MacBook. (If the lots of money part was true, that would be a Pro) But I don’t have tons of cash, I am headed towards the poor college student part of life, and I gave up trying to be cool a long time ago.
Now we come to the showdown: it’s MacBook (Vanilla) vs. Averatec 2300 vs Gateway CX210S. Each has it’s benefits: MacBooks are pretty slick–secure, fast, with good battery life (5 hours!?!). The 2300 is compact and lightweight, loaded with options, and cheap. The Gateway is a tablet PC, meaning that using it for taking notes, etc, could be slightly more convenient. All have decent reviews, except the MacBook, but I’m deducting the fanboy effect and I’m going to consider that they’re pretty equally matched in customer satisfaction. I’ll try to keep them all pretty similarly customized to keep the comparison as equal as possible.
The first thing to look at is the processor. You can upgrade RAM, hard drives, wireless cards, etc, but you’re gonna be stuck with your processor forever in a laptop. I’ll configure the Gateway to match the MacBook, but the Averatec is going to have to stand alone as the loser in this department. It’s Turion X2 processor will be sufficient for all I need this laptop for, (I have a desktop for anything requiring real power) but it’s simply not as fast as the Core 2 Duo. (Well, probably not even close)
The second thing I’ll glance at is RAM. The Averatec comes with 1GB standard, but I’ll have to upgrade the MacBook and the Gateway to match. (1GB will keep everything stable, even if I run Vista on the PC machines) Everything is equal here now, with DDR2 in all the machines.
Probably of next importance is the video card. Suffice it to say that they all stink, with integrated graphics solutions. Never fear though, I won’t be gaming on this sucker, so it won’t matter so much. The nVidia solution that the Averatec is holding was ranked slightly higher in the last review I read, but it was so close that I’ll call this one a wash.
Next, Hard drive space. I could really care less, but I’ll mention it for comparison’s sake. Nothing here needs to be upgraded to match, since I wouldn’t spend the money on it. This is a very low priority thing–again, I have a desktop for loading up with big files, and SATA drives are getting ridiculously cheap. The MacBook loses here with 60GB, vs 80 on the Gateway and 100 (holy crap, that’s standard base config) on the Averatec. They’re all 5400RPM SATA drives, which is nice.
Moving along, we find optical drives. The MacBook is stuck with a DVD/CD-RW, which is sufficient. I can’t upgrade this model to a DVD burner, but the hard drive space and video card mean that I probably won’t have much reason to be burning DVDs from this thing anyways. The only possible advantage would be backups, but I can probably find an online solution. To keep things even, I won’t upgrade the Gateway, even though $75 would get me a nice 8xDL burner. The Averatec wins this one with the included Dual-Layer burner.
Continuing on, we’ll have to take a look at screen size. They’re all pretty close, with the MacBook at 13.3″, 1280×800, the Averatec at 12.1″, 180×800, and the Gateway at 14″, 1280×768. The Averatec is small, but that might be good for portability. If I want size, might as well grab the Gateway at 14″.
Next, we hit weight. This is a big one, as it will affect portability a LOT. The MacBook weighs in at 5.2lbs, which is OK, but a LOT more than the Averatec’s dainty 4. Nevertheless, both are vastly preferable to the Gateway’s 6.84lbs.
To satisfy the fanboys, we’ll talk OS. While the Mac has the advantage here, I think Vista will do quite a bit for PCs, evening the score a bit. As for security on a Mac, it’s all a scam. If these things ever become mainstream, they’ll collect just as many viruses as PCs. Since I’ll probably run Open Office rather than pay dues to MS for Office, the OS is largely irrelevant, since OO will run on either platform.
I almost forgot battery life, though this one is a biggie. While I may not need long hours away from an outlet, battery life is going to be crap after a year+, so if it starts out higher, I’ve got a longer useful battery life period. The MacBook claims 5 hours, which is HUGE, the Averatec a crappy 2:45, and the Gateway: N/A.
Finally, other factors. MacBook has a few positives, including the MagSafe power adapter (I’ve been burned before by crappy connectors), the iSight camera (which I’d probably never use), and Camino/Safari support, which is helpful if I continue doing any future web development work. Unfortunately, no VGA-out means I’ll have to spend an extra $19 to hook this thing up to my 19″ monitor while at home. The Averatec doesn’t feature anything too special, but does have a card reader, so I could more conveniently transfer digital photos. The Gateway has the Tablet input system going, which is huge. It also has a card reader.
So here’s how they compare:
|MacBook||Averatec 2300||Gateway CX210S|
|Processor||1.83ghz Core 2 Duo||1.6ghz AMD Turion X2 (Dual Core)||1.83ghz Core 2 Duo|
|RAM||1GB DDR@ (+$75)||1GB DDR2||1GB DDR2 (+$100)|
|Video Card||Intel GMA 950||nVidia 6100go||Intel GMA 950|
|Hard Drive||60GB 5400rpm Sata||100GB 5400rpm Sata||80GB 5400rpm Sata|
|Optical Drive||DVD/CR-RW||Dual Layer DVD/CD Burner||DVD/CD-RW|
|Screen||13.3″ 1280×800||12.1″ 1280×800||14″ 1280×768|
|OS||OSX 10.4||XP Media Center||XP Tablet Edition|
|Other Factors||MagSafe, iSight, Quality brand, Mac Browsers||Card Reader, crappy support||Card reader, Tablet PC, crappy brand|
(with student discount:
The bottom line is that I could save nearly $300 and get more options with the Averatec, in a more portable model, but would be screwed in the battery life department. Plus, if anything went wrong, I’d be in trouble. The MacBook is a solid computer, with great specs at a decent price (if you consider in the student discount). The Gateway is an incredible price for a tablet PC, especially with those kind of specs. You could get it for $170 cheaper with a Core Duo 2050 (1.6Ghz) processor, but the weight is just too much. I would have a hard time lugging around nearly 7lbs, and portability is the whole point with a laptop.
I’ll probably go with the Averatec or the MacBook. $300 buys a lot of gas, or only 1 credit hour, depending on how you look at it. If only the Averatec had better battery life, I’d buy it in a heartbeat. Or if it somehow went on sale and came down another $100, it’d be a much easier decision. ($400 will buy a 32″ HDTV by next Christmas!).
Whatever happens though, if I buy a MacBook, you’ll be hearing about it. Even if I have to admit that the fanboys won this round.
OK, so the first attempt at learning greek ended rather abruptly. It seems that trying to self-motivate myself with something like that while on a computer is a more difficult task than I’d ever imagined. There’s just so many distractions just a click away.
But I always tell people “nothing ventured, nothing gained”, and it seems that may apply to learning Greek as well. If I haven’t put something on the line, it’s not going to happen. So I plunked down my $44 at Amazon for a textbook/grammar (Mounce’s “Basics of Biblical Greek”, which comes very highly recommended) and began anew two days ago.
So far, so good. The text seems to be excellently written, and I’m optimistic about how I will fare. Now if I can just keep it up, I should know enough Greek in 2-3 months to pass my proficiency exam. I hope.
The reason for all this, of course, is impending enrollment at Trinity, a seminary in Deerfield, IL. Provided that they accept me, I’ll be headed off there next fall. Needless to say, there’s something exciting about going to school just to learn more about the Bible, history, Christianity, and all that comes with being a pastor. If it’s even half of what I expect it to be, it will be time and money very well spent.