In my previous job I had the company-assigned machine which was a brick type laptop with enough processing power and memory to get by – but to keep costs down in a 50,000 plus employee company the machine was not light. Needless to say I wasn’t sad about that when I had to give it back when I left. Here at ESG we have a BYOD and a cloud program (practice what we talk about). So I’d been wanting to make the cutover to Apple for a long time and the BYOD policy was my chance to do that. For better or worse as a family we have a lot of Apple stuff at home and I figured it would just help to simplify things for me a bit.
So I purchased a Macbook Pro 13 as my BYOD machine – which I figured would be a good sized machine to work and travel with. There were only 2 things wrong with this plan. The first one turned out to be fairly irritating to me. While the product and the brand is the same – MS Word does not behave the same on a Mac as it does on a Windows PC. This is especially problematic when you are always sending content to your production team and they have to constantly ‘reformat’ the docs. Extra work is extra work no matter how you spin it. The second problem was equally distressing. One of my colleagues and I were down in Austin visiting a few customers and the machine froze. Nothing could bring it back to life and I didn’t have a micro Philips on me to peel the battery out. So we hit an Apple store … 30 minute wait for a ‘genius’ then they take it out back for 30 more and come back to tell me it has to go to a repair depot. Crap. No machine for how long? To their credit it arrived at the house the day after I did but I was still machine-less for 3 days. A month later the same thing happens. I bring it into the local store and that costs me another hour to have them tell me they need to keep it at least overnight for observation. Huh? They needed to run a series of tests that would take 12 hours at least. Ok. Fine. I get the machine again the next day and it runs fine for a month. Yup, and it happens again. This time I call Apple directly and ask for a supervisor. They send out a box for me to send it to corporate to look at.
Meanwhile I’ve got to have something more reliable and I decided to give the Dell XPS 12 a try. I figure it will solve the MS Word issue, plus it's actually lighter and thinner and if I’m lucky it will sip power a little better too. Also it has the cool touch screen that flips and I can try an OS (Windows 8) that supports touch and keyboard at the same time. This all occurred 6 months ago and I haven’t looked back. The XPS 12 has worked flawlessly; it boots fast, and has never given me any significant problems. I’ve also had a little time to experiment with the touch screen. It works well with the standard book readers and movie watchers out there. I think if anything, the UI (not the machine) is limited by how far MS is with regards to integrating touch based gestures. Sometimes it is confusing how the UI can’t do things because the app vendor hasn’t made it equally touch and mouse capable. I’m sure these will go away over time as the OS and the app vendors continue to enhance their capabilities. The things I like the most are the size and weight for travel, and I'm also happy with the way it works with an external monitor and keyboard/mouse when at my desk, and the ability to use touch when needed. The XPS 12 does a pretty fair job with power as well as long as you keep track of what is running on it and when. I’ve gone to conferences and had it last a good 6-7 hours of fairly continuous usage which is not bad at all.
I’m glad I found a practical and reliable machine for my two major roles as a road warrior and content creator. I’m hoping to continue to explore the touch functionality more over the next 6 months. Apple makes great machines and I’m sure I just got one that doesn’t like road duty. Oh, and of course I’m a tech toy junkie so I’m not surprised the XPS 11 has already caught my eye ;)