Saturday, March 31, 2012

Raising the bar

A few days ago I arrived home a little late, missing supper. As I approached the door, I could hear Victor and Anna bouncing in the front hall, raising a call of "Daddy! Daddy! Daddy!": what a delightful welcome home. So I came in, dropped my laptop bag (containing laptop and power brick, keyboard, mouse, tablet), and gave first Victor (seniority has its privileges) and then Anna big hugs. Then I took off my boots and turned around to see Victor balancing on my laptop bag.

Needless to say in the actual event I didn't stop to take this photo but rather cried, “Victor, what are you doing!?”. I had Victor perform this reenactment (bag empty of course) earlier today, although I now realize that the positioning is correct but the orientation of the bag is wrong. The bag had fallen on its front, which means that the keyboard, mouse, and brick were on the bottom with tablet and then laptop above.

Once I established with Victor to never, ever stand on bags again, I brought the bag to my office to assess the damage.

There was none.

No damage to the MacBook Pro, not to the Apple Wireless Keyboard, not to the iPad, and not even to the Magic Mouse. Yes, it is actually a laptop bag, so it has some padding, but not a significant amount.

I knew the MacBook Pro was durable. A rather younger Victor had once crawled across it with no ill effects, and I'd taken advantage of that durability when doing things like wedging it into hotel room safes. I might ding the aluminum but I wasn't worried about that translating into any real damage. However, with the accessories potentially forming a fulcrum underneath them I'd worried that there might be enough flex to at least crack the screen. Apparently not, and apparently that applies to the iPad (first generation) as well.

I'm having a hard time imagining a laptop from any other company surviving that without damage. Certainly none of the non-Apple laptops I've owned in the past: Victor's weight would have cracked the screens or back even without a fulcrum effect.

I see other companies attempting to match the style, but not the substance. Clearly the Dell here is intended to match the MacBook Pro. But the case of the Dell uses sheet metal, to a completely different effect. They don't get it. It's actually worse than a plastic case, because the sheet metal flexes much more than plastic. The owner of the Dell informs me that you can reboot it by applying pressure to the sheet metal on the bottom in a particular place. I'm actually afraid to hold that Dell anywhere but the edges.

Prior to owning unibody MacBook Pros, I didn't see any issue with standard laptop construction. Laptops were of course delicate pieces of machinery, and if they broke after being subjected to such abuse, well, what did you expect?

Now I expect more. Apple has raised the bar.

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