Since leaving my full-time job to become a full-time independent consultant and author, my need to remain tethered to my lab resources while on the move has risen considerably. I tend to work on many different projects at once. Sometimes, I’m replicating a client issue in my lab and other times, I’m building out a lab environment for an article series I’m writing or for a TrainSignal training course I’m developing. With all of this, my lab environment becomes a critical resource.
Since last December, I’ve been using a MacBook Air 13.3” as my primary traveling machine and, for the most part, it’s been fantastic. But, it does have some shortcomings:
- Max of 4 GB of RAM. Apple just released new Airs that go up to 8 GB, but mine tops out at 4 GB.
- 1440 x 900 screen. This is generally ok, but for remote sessions, it a bit slim in the vertical resolution when you take into account menu bars and such.
- Dual core only. I tend to run both Windows 7 and Windows 8 in virtual machines on my Mac for other projects. Dual core and 4 GB of RAM doesn’t cut it at all.
I also have a lab at home that consists of three physical servers. I use LogMeIn Ignition on my Mac to connect to these systems remotely. In most places I go, I have an Internet connection that is more than sufficient, so this works extremely well.
But, my Air needs attention. I could have gone with a slightly larger Windows machine, but I will be honest: As hardcore a Windows guy as I’ve been in the past, I’ve become a Mac guy when it comes to my mobile computing device of choice. My desktop at home is a Windows machine; I don’t want or need a Mac Pro in my home office. To replace my Air, I ordered one of Apple’s new MacBook Pro Retina machines. With 15” of screen real estate, it will be perfectly sized to my needs and with a 2880 x 1800 resolution max, there will always be plenty of pixels. Further, with 16 GB of RAM and a quad core processor, I won’t have any trouble running the number of local virtual machines that I need.
Why Mac? Honestly, I love the hardware. It just… works. The huge touchpad was the first thing I fell in love with, but I also like the keyboard and the quality of the hardware in general. It’s not about Mac OS X, although I obviously use it quite a lot, but the thought that goes into building a machine that works for the user.