Five years ago, towards the end of my first year of grad school, I felt like I needed to buy my own laptop. Then, there were no second thoughts: A G4 Mac Powerbook (15") it was going to be, and I paid for it through my newly acquired Amex Blue card. Hobbes was a faithful companion through grad school, until he began dying slowly towards the end of year 6. I was in a "Mac-only" lab in a predominantly mac department. They all looked down upon Windoze, and over the six years I had been similarly conditioned.
Besides being a faithful, intelligent companion and a great looker, Hobbes also served as a great dude-magnet. At airports, coffee-shops, he always invited admiring glances and the occasional chat with other Mac geeks. We indulged in more windoze-dissing and jokes and exchanged tricks and such.
Hobbes now serves as a desktop at home since he has to be hooked up to an external monitor in order to function. He has also gone through one heart transplant and I don't think I can stretch him out any longer.
Now I am beginning to feel the need for a new laptop again. At work we have common work-stations, and it becomes inconvenient. Most of the post-docs have their own personal laptops hooked up at their desks and I guess I need to have mine too. I'd also like to be able to take my work or pretenses thereof to coffee shops and such.
However, this time, it's not all that obvious that I'm going to pick a new Mac. Unlike six years ago, the cost of a Mac versus a PC is actually a deterrent. It is very tempting, and very realistic, to try and save that ~$500 and settle for a PC. I guess the six years is enough time to teach one the value of $$ and also put one in debt from careless management of finances. A 15" Mac Book Pro is definitely out of question, at most I can afford the 13" Mac Book. Then, my current lab is largely windows friendly (i know) and so the thought that a PC will not only be cheaper, but also fit in easily dominates my thought process.
I have almost clicked "buy" after configuring a PC a few times now, only to be stopped by a heavy heart. Given my overall computing needs, either PC or Mac should work fine, but will I be happy with a PC? Will I ever get used to the shitty interface and not being able to seamlessly open up terminal and command-line my way when I want to? Will I ever convince myself to like the way a Dell inspiron looks? And really, what face will I have to show that cute mac user I run into next and what chance of even striking up a conversation with him?
Sigh. Life is such a bitch sometimes.
P.S: How many post docs reading this blog have laptops provided by their P.I as against having to buy their own?