Gimme 13 Inches

Size Comparison

Originally uploaded by MikeOliveri.

If nothing else, this MacBook experiment is making me fall in love with 13″ notebooks.

I’ve been lugging a 15″ Dell Inspiron 8000 around for six years now, and it’s somewhat of a beast. It’s unwieldy in the lap because most of its weight pitches toward the back and ends up right over my knees. It’s not a big deal on the sofa, but it can get tricky in the car. It’s also a hair too big for an airline tray, and if the person in front of me reclines more than an inch, I may as well just pack it up.

At work I inherited the Dell M60 in the picture above. It’s a 15″ widescreen and is about the same weight as my 8000. It’s even more awkward due to its wider profile. In fact, it barely fits in the side-loading compartment in my backpack.

My philosophy in the past has been better a big screen if it’s going to see a lot of use. I don’t know what the future will bring for a laptop, and in the unlikely event it becomes a desktop replacement the bigger screen will be handy for photo editing. Over time I started to wish my 15’s were a bit more portable. I dock at work, and at home the laptop spends 99% of the time doing email, web surfing, and writing. Even pumped up to a high rez, on-screen text is still perfectly readable because the screen is less than an arm’s length away.

Unfortunately I don’t have the luxury to buy a 13″ laptop just to see what I think of it. Tinkering at the store isn’t enough, and the stores don’t look kindly upon returns. If I buy a laptop, it’s going to see several years of use whether I like it or not.

Enter the MacBook. As you can see in the picture, the 13″ Mac is quite a bit smaller than the Dell it’s sitting on top of. It’s also thinner and significantly lighter; I can carry it around open and in one hand with little difficulty. It fits nicely in my lap, and I’m still having no trouble at all on the keyboard. The on-screen differences are negligible thanks to the high rez and the widescreen aspect ratio.

So what’s my point? I’m glad you asked. You can probably tell I’m making a personal evaluation out of this as well as a professional one. The Mac OS has me interested enough to at least consider it, and sometime next year I’ll be in the market for a new personal laptop. In the coming weeks, then, I’ll probably start looking at the hardware offerings from PC notebook manufacturers and weigh the pros and cons as best I can.

One thing’s for sure, though: it’s going to be painful going back to my Inspiron 8000, no matter what OS is loaded on it.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

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