When it comes to "dead-finger tech" -- that is, technology that's so integral to your life that you'd have to pry it from your cold, dead fingers -- the choice for me is clear: the 13-inch Apple MacBook Pro.
All my computing life, I've switched between Macs and PCs, so I've never felt any particular allegiance to either system (my last laptop was a Dell Windows PC). But when it was time to search for a replacement for my main rig, Apple's latest MacBook Pro model revealed itself to be a cut above the rest.
This model is essential to me for several reasons:
Portability: 13 inches to me is the perfect portable laptop size. At less than an inch thick and 4.5 lbs., this model is reasonably proportioned, too.
Versatility: This system can dual-boot Windows and Mac OS X if necessary. Two USB 2.0 ports, 1 FireWire 800 port, an SD card slot and a DVD SuperDrive make me feel like I'm not hobbled by using a laptop as my primary system. (I could live without the SuperDrive, but I'm not complaining.) Finally, all software I use is available for both Windows and Mac, so switching OSes is a non-issue.
Refinement: I've looked at a lot of laptops in my day, but very few companies even approach the level of refinement brought to the hardware of the unibody aluminum MacBook. The hidden-button touchpad is appreciatively enormous, the chiclet-style keyboard has the right amount of travel, and overall, very little feels "unnecessary" on this system. The MagSafe power cable is the epitome of common sense. The magnets that help close the lid with a muffled "thud" are a nice touch. The aluminum is the sturdiest, lightest frame I've ever seen on a production notebook. And the edge-to-edge glass of the vibrant display (I don't mind a glossy display) looks great.
Value: I bought the $1,199 2.26GHz version with a 160GB HDD because I didn't feel a processor/storage upgrade was worth an extra $400 (my thinking: I'd rather put the $400 toward this system's replacement, sooner). I recognize that's a hefty price for a comparable PC, but I consider that difference as paying for the craftsmanship and innovation evident in the hardware.
So why is this my dead-finger tech? From this machine, I keep the gears turning on ZDNet.com, SmartPlanet.com and MoneyWatch.com; manage several e-mail accounts, a personal website, music, video and photos; connect via IM, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter; and (when necessary) slice and dice audio, photo, video, HTML, Flash, slideshow presentations, PDFs -- virtually everything I need at my disposal as the employee of an interactive media company.
Instead of getting in the way, the latest MacBook Pro actually promotes the tasks I need to do each day. For that reason, it's my dead-finger tech.
Related on ZDNet:
- ZDNet Review: Apple MacBook Pro Summer 2009 (Core 2 Duo 2.26GHz, 2GB RAM, 160GB HDD, Nvidia GeForce 9400M, 13-in.)
More from the Dead-Finger Tech series on ZDNet:
- Dead-Finger Tech: Canon Powershot SD550 (Rachel King)
- Dead-Finger Tech: IronKey; LabelWriter; PasswordSafe (Adrian Kingsley-Hughes)
- Dead-Finger Tech: MLB At Bat & iPhone App (Paul Greenberg)
- Dead-Finger Tech: Ducati Monster (Chris Jablonski)
- Dead-Finger Tech: Universal integration kit for iPod/iPhone (Dan Kusnetzky)
- Dead-Finger Tech: Amazon Kindle e-book reader (Matthew Miller)
- Dead-Finger Tech: Google Apps (Christopher Dawson)
- Dead-Finger Tech: Weber Smokey Mountain (Jason Perlow)