Apple's new titanium-clad PowerBook is undoubtedly the coolest thing to happen to portable computers in a while, if only because Windows-based laptops are in such rigid lockstep that it's sometimes hard to tell them apart.
From its high-tech skin and "megawide" 15.2-inch display to its 400 or 500MHz G4 processor and slot-load DVD, this machine is the best example of sex appeal in a computer that I've seen since, well, the original iMac.
And if you are willing to spend $2,600 to $3,600 on a notebook, shouldn't you get something snazzy for your money? If so, Apple certainly provides it in titanium clothes. For everyone else, other Apple notebooks are available at significantly lower prices. And the question each of them begs is simple: Are you for me?
Despite all the hate mail I get from Apple cult members whenever I write anything even vaguely critical about the machines, I do love Macs. But it's a bipolar relationship -- one day I'm positive and the next I'm down on Apple. As I write this, I'm having a good day.
I decided some time ago that a Mac couldn't be my only desktop machine because I'm too dependent on Windows apps and the platform itself.
But in a notebook computer, where all the apps I really care about have excellent Mac versions (Office, Outlook, Internet Explorer, et al), does my choice of OS really matter? After all, if I really need to run a Windows app the Windows emulators for Mac actually work pretty well.
I started thinking about this while sitting in our newsroom at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas last week. My prompt: As I watched my Windows Me laptop crash, a colleague's PowerBook kept perfect time. I've since converted my laptop to Windows 2000 -- so far, so good -- but the Mac question haunted me.
Then I read a story by Joe Wilcox that made me start to seriously think about using a Mac notebook instead. I do all my writing in Word, get my e-mail from Outlook and access our publishing system from Internet Explorer. Sometimes I listen to Internet radio stations, which a Mac does fine, and I chat with friends via Yahoo Messenger and Microsoft Messenger, both of which also come in Mac flavors.
Mac people will tell you the new release of Office for their platform is far superior to the Windows version, and I'd agree. And Microsoft seems to have solved the file format compatibility problems that made Mac-Windows data sharing a bit of a problem in the past.
After that, there's the issue of learning another operating system, but I already know the Mac OS and have always found it easier to use than Windows.
So I think I've talked myself into a Mac portable. I'll see if I can round up a review machine, carry it around for a while, and report back.
Meanwhile, what about you? Do you agree with me? All of us would be interested in hearing from you, especially if you're "bipolar" like me -- a Windows user at the office and a Mac-head at home or on the road. So TalkBack below.