- a mobile computer so I can engage in the ritual of hackathons
- capable CPU
- enough memory: 4GBytes+ is sufficient for my needs
- TextMate, a nifty Mac OSX project editor that appears to nail every feature I want out of an IDE without any apparent bloat (backups of gedit, Netbeans, Aptana, visual studio express if needed)
- long battery life
- capable graphics processor, I'd like to be able to do wonderful things with 3D, animations/rendering, and games
- Crisp resolution display. Ideally a bunch of Retina displays glued together, hmmm.
- heavily supported package manager. homebrew works, apt-get isn't terrible, there are a number of solid ones available. I've compiled from source enough for several lifetimes ;)
I realize any capable system can give me most of what I want, but I'd like this mobile computer to last a few years. Given those requirements I opted for a MacBook Pro 13" last weekend, but returned it after hearing a new MacBook Air came out yesterday in order to narrow down the trade space. I saved myself the download time for XCode and WoW (what a data beast) by copying them to a 320 Gbyte passbook.
The 13" model comes standard with a respectable battery life of 7 hours wifi but skipped the optical drive. This size MacBook Air can be configured with 256 GByte drive, a core 2 duo 2.13Ghz, and 4 GByte ram for $1799. That's pretty steep for a light mobile system these days, and I've read some critical reviews of the product. Tech fans get bored so we're easily entertained by BigCo (Apple, Google, etc) drama.
One interesting option I entertained briefly is to go with an iMac and a carrying pack. I won't need the system on a plane or train so an iMac serves as a powerful semi-mobile option. The big deterrents are a total sacrifice of mobility (no battery) and the vulnerable glass display, aka *SHATTER* system. Nice screen real estate though - 21" or 27".
The alternative is to trick out a different laptop, install Ubuntu or another flavor of open base OS, and add VMWare or VirtualBox to run Mac OS or Windows applications. Selecting a brand is a matter of location for me. If something does go wrong I'd like to know I can drop off the system nearby for a speedy repair. That's one random variable that Apple takes off the table by providing outstanding customer service, and is key to their success.