I don't often crowdsource recommendations for hardware but I figured this was a good candidate. Everyone who knows me, knows that I've been an Apple guy for a long, long time. I had a Performa 630 (68040-based), a Performa 6300 (PowerPC / RISC 6150 based), countless MacBooks and a handful of iMacs. I had a LaserWriter too - remember those? And a Newton (way ahead of its time), several iPods and a couple of iPhones.
I addition, I've used every version of Windows from 3.1 onward and I've run some sort of PC emulator or virtual machine on my Macs for a long time, always trying new versions of Windows as soon as they appear. And throughout all that time I've used various flavors of Unix and, more recently, Linux - either native or as a hosted (or parasitic) operating system alongside Apple System 6 thru OS X.
In 2007, when I left Adobe, I bought a 17" MacBook Pro as my main machine. In 2009, I started working for World Singles and bought a 27" quad core iMac as my main machine. I wasn't traveling much so I didn't need a workhorse for the road. After a while I bought a System76 Starling netbook for traveling. I wanted something very small and light. It was 2lb, had 2GB RAM and decent battery life (with the extended battery pack). It ran Ubuntu. It was quirky but relatively practical. Unfortunately, System76 discontinued the Starling line. Boo!
I've had the netbook two years and it's getting a bit long in the tooth (and the wifi has always been flaky which is a constant frustration). It's finally time to replace it. I want something more powerful and more flexible. Part of me would love a tablet, if I could use it for development as well. Part of me really wants a new generation iPad and... well... that's the problem. I really don't know.
The obvious choice for me would of course be a new iPad for reading books and casual 'net use (either the mini or the 4) and a netbook-sized more powerful machine... i.e., an 11" Air. I've lusted after the Air ever since it was released but could never justify it.
Now I have some budget for a new portable machine. My budget is $1,500 all-inclusive. I want a tablet, but I also want a useful laptop and that's more important. Apple don't quite make the machine I want but, to be honest, neither does anyone else so whatever I pick has to be a compromise.
So far, my two top choices are: MacBook Air 11" and Dell XPS 12 Ultrabook Convertible w/Windows 8. They're about the same price configured for an Intel i7, 8GB RAM and 128GB SSD. I'd like you all to help me with pros and cons so I can decide whether to buy one of these or something else.
MacBook Air 11"
- Full synchronization with all my existing Apple stack, iCloud, contacts, calendar, bookmarks etc
- Lightweight - less than 2.5lb
- Built-in *nix
- Small screen - 1366x768
- Not a tablet
Dell XPS 12 Ultrabook Convertible
- Bigger, better screen - 1920x1080
- It's a tablet and a laptop
- Windows 8 - sorry, but I don't relish living with Windows although it gets better with every release
- Heavier - 3.35lb
- Will require a VM to run *nix - but see below
Different reviews provide different battery life. Anything from 4 hours to 6 hours for both machines. If anyone has real life experience, I'd be interested!
I know I can run Emacs on Windows which gives me a consistent experience, even a *nix-like shell. I've run Emacs on OS X, Ubuntu and WinXP / Win8 and the experience is similar so I can do Clojure / CFML development much the same on both platforms and isolate myself from the operating system to some extent.
Help me add to the lists of pros and cons for each machine - or suggest other machines!