Monday, April 1, 2019

Alternatives to Mac Laptops

Dieter Bohn (tweet):

Even though the XPS 13 has a strong pedigree, it’s worth talking about again. It was one of the first mainstream laptops with a nearly edge-to-edge screen. It doesn’t go in for 360-degree hinge tricks — there’s the XPS 13 2-in-1 for that — it was just always a good, well-built laptop. It has become something of a default alternative to the MacBook Air for Windows users — something thin, light, stylish, and also reliable.


The 2019 version of the XPS 13 starts at $899, but I think most people will want to step up to the $1,199 (as of this writing) version. That will get you a Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, 256GB of storage, and the 1080p screen.


The keyboard on this machine is excellent, with a very good balance of key travel, firmness, and thinness. I don’t love that the page up and page down buttons are crammed in next to the arrow keys […]

But at least it has those keys.

Dell quotes up to 21 hours of battery life with the 1080p screen and around 12 for the 4K. As usual, I think those estimates are super optimistic, but that doesn’t mean I think the battery life on this laptop is bad.


I am mostly pleased with the port choices: there are two Thunderbolt ports on the left, one USB-C port on the left, a headphone jack, and a microSD card slot. It would have been nicer if Dell had found a way to bring back a USB-A port, but it at least includes a dongle in the box.


And the USB-C power brick is just plain thoughtful in its design: it’s easy to wrap the cord around it cleanly and compactly.

Nolan O’Brien:

I find myself at a crisis somewhat. This 300 dollar chromebook is by all metrics a pos harware-wise, but the damn thing outperforms my $2000 MBP for normal non-dev use cases.

And it’s keyboard kills the butterfly keys of Apple. Plus it has really good drawing tablet mode

I would have expected needing to go to an equally expensive Windows machine to get out of the plodding degradation of macOS, but I can actually get away with a cheap chromebook.


I can’t even fathom why folks would do iPad leasing at schools given how much better using a chromebook is. This is after expecting it to not be any good, but being proven wrong.

Thomas Reed:

Since there is, definitively, already malware that can affect Chromebooks, it’s reasonable to install antivirus software on a Chromebook. And since Chromebooks are increasing in popularity, it’s also reasonable to assume cybercriminals will continue to develop more malware to get their piece of the pie. Once Pandora’s Box has been opened for a device, operating system, browser, or other platforms, we’ve never once seen the bad guys back away from it.

However, there is a catch to all of this. And to discover the catch, you must first answer this question: Does your Chromebook support Google Play?

Not all Chromebooks do. If yours does not, it cannot download malware through Google Play, much less third-party app stores, because it cannot download any apps at all.


Update (2019-04-02): scott:

My alternatives are:

Macbook - Dell XPS 13 ($899)
MacBook Air - Lenovo 14e ($279)
MacBook Pro - Lenovo X1 ($1,139) or Pixelbook ($799 on sale)
iMac Pro/Mac Pro (Xeon, ECC) - Lenovo P1 ($2,059)

7 Comments RSS · Twitter

These “POS” laptops, and my 2013 MBP (may it never die) have better quality components than anything Apple has made from 2015-on. If my 2012-13 iron dies…. I’m strongly considering going hackintosh.

I don’t need (another) “foldable iPad"

I'm typing this comment from a Dell Latitude laptop I bought from our local non-profit tech refurbisher. Quad-core Skylake i7, 1080p IPS screen, 512GB SSD, 16GB RAM, USB-A, Ethernet, HDMI, sim cardslot , SD card slot, two accessible internal drive bays, a keyboard that's nice to type on, and a premium plastic finish that doesn't feel cold/harsh on my hands like aluminum.

The price for all this? $480. It's not nearly as light/thin as a MacBook Pro, but I value the above things much more than extreme lightness or thinness. Plus I get to spend my money at a local non-profit doing good things for the community, instead of giving more money to one of the wealthiest corporations in the world.

In-home warranty service is nice too. One time I had a problem with my Dell monitor and they had a replacement on my doorstep <24 hours after hanging up the phone. Service used to be a strong Apple selling point, but sitting around for hours in a noisy Apple Store is not fun — if I can get an appointment at all.

Take a look at Lenovo Thinkpad P1
it's pretty close to having everything including an awesome keyboard

Such a sad state of affairs. Apple seems determined to lose pros and just sell consumer toys. ;(

I am down to one piece of Apple gear, a 2013 13" MBP. My future laptop will be a Hackingtosh I built using a Lenovo X1. I have two Hackingtosh desktops, including a NUC. Both are great machines. Only downside has been getting the display right because of Apple dropping sub-pixel aliasing. You need to find a monitor that is as close to Retina's PPI.

If Apple does switch to ARM for Macs, I figure I have ten years of MacOS use left. Five years before they obsolete the x86 hardware and another five years before developers stop making apps for the last MacOS to run on x86 machines. At that point, I will have to make a big decision. For a person that has been using the Macintosh since 1989, it will be a sad day.

I ordered a Lenovo Legion Y740 17-inch this Monday. It has a large screen. It has an RTX2080. It has 32GB of RAM, and it has both a large SSD for booting and apps, and a huge spinning disk for anything else I ever want to store. And I can upgrade most of these things in a few years.

It also costs exactly the same as the much less powerful 15-inch MacBook Pro I would have had to buy, had I stuck to buying a Mac.

I've been pretty happy with my off lease refurb Dells. I try to keep things under $300, but under $400 at the least. Things have gone well, all things considered.

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