Friday, February 18, 2005

New Apple Notebook and SL

Haven't updated this for a while, but I answered an inquiry in the forums recently about laptop recommendations. Since I recently got a new Apple Powerbook it seemed like a good opportunity to brag...

The 12-inch model I got probably isn't optimum for running SL, but it does rather nicely. I wanted something small, no noise, no heat. I almost just got one of the new Mini's, but they only have 32M video ram, and my old Compaq could go at any minute so I thought another laptop/desktop-replacement-style might be better. The 12-inch model (well the new ones anyway) will run an arbitrarily large external monitor AND the built-in monitor at the same time in dual-head mode so I no longer need a 2-PC switch to run SL in full screen mode and still do web browsing etc. My external monitor (a Compaq as a matter of fact) has both analog and digital inputs and the Powerbook supports both.

The Apple OS is also quite compatible with Linux systems, so I can open up an X-window and run Linux applications remotely too, so, after I get used to this, I think I can give away my KVM switches... the never-ending transition from PS/2 to USB to wireless I/O devices making them rather hard to deal with anyway.

For LESS money I could have gotten one of those desktop-sized G5 systems which I'm sure do a better job of SL...but then I think the days of those big space-heater systems are numbered.

My only concern was if SL would cause the tiny fan in the Powerbook to run continually and eventually (fan bearings being the weakest link in most computers) overheat. But I found that if I use the option in the OS to throttle back the CPU (mostly in there to save battery power) SL is still useable but the fan doesn't run (at least not fast enough that I can hear it). Hint: This would be a good option to build into SL I think for those of us who don't really need 30 FPS when we are standing around chatting, but I couldn't figure a way to achieve the same results with the existing SL display options without cutting my visibility range down to almost nothing.

I'd be curious to know if others have run their laptops (of any kind) on SL for a long time (several hours a day for a few months for example) with no ill effects. Maybe I'm just over-cautious.

By the way, my model has an nVidia graphics card, I think the higher-end Powerbooks use ATI. I know the ATIs are supposed to be better but for my needs nVidia is fine, and ATI drivers are notoriously flakey. Having once had ATI drivers corrupt my hard drive (YES!) I swore never again. YMMV.

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