The Pain of Upgrades: Migrating from a Lenovo to a MacBook Pro

by on January 1, 2013 at 5:33 pm

My laptop is dying a slow horrible death. The fan
is howling and all sorts of unknown noises are coming from in its hardware
It’s a Lenovo, my second over an eight year period. We all knew the
day was coming.
“We” is anyone and everyone who has stopped by my
office or seen me using it at an event. They’d hover over me and remark: I can’t believe how slow your machine is, yowsa – how do you get anything
The thing is…I’ve only had it for four years and it’s been on its way out
for half of those four.
It seems as if I grew up in a world with
different standards. The thought of a piece of machinery you paid $2,500 for with
all the bells and whistles dying within a few years wouldn’t be acceptable…it’s absurd and yet we’ve all been brainwashed into thinking it’s not.

Manufacturers and reviewers alike are both to blame for creating such a consumable world where
we’re constantly shelling out more money for more reliable hardware, which it should have been reliable in the first place.

My refrigerator didn’t cost that much nor did the stove in my kitchen
and yet both have been purring along for more than a decade. I paid $300 for a
car once that lasted longer than my laptops do today and it’s likely that some
old guy somewhere in Maine probably is still using it for trips to the grocery
When someone sees my two year old iPhone, they look at me as if
I’m as outdated as the guy who’s driving that old Oldsmobile. A few friends
are trying to get me to upgrade my four year old 24 inch Samsung flat
screen monitor when it works perfectly fine.
Call it old fashioned wisdom of sorts, or just common sense, but
who said, “if it works, don’t mess with it?” Oh yeah, that was my
grandfather, not Winston Churchill or Steve Jobs.
When I ask “why upgrade?” I’m told there’s better
pixels, faster speeds or I’m bound to have compatibility issues.
While Windows 8 is now available, consumers are forced to pay an
extra $100 for Windows 7, now outdated. It’s the exponential growth thing
haunting my every day, the pressure of keeping up with the speed at which
technology is accelerating not to mention the pressure we all have financially
of trying to keep up with it all too.
Silicon Valley tells me to ‘get over it,’ and just upgrade, but
Silicon Valley doesn’t live in the real world where salaries are one fifth of
what they are elsewhere in the country and that’s if you aren’t one of the 20 something
year olds who made an exit from a not so innovative of an app that got
sold to someone with more money than brains.
eMarketer made a 2012 tablet sales prediction of 81.3 million
tablets, up from 15.7 million in 2011, and Gartner estimates that sales will
multiply to 54.8 million in 2011 and more than 208 million by 2014.
Forrester numbers have laptop sales continuing to grow from 26.4
million in 2010 to 38.9 million in 2015, however, while desktop PC sales will
decline from 20.5 million in 2010 to 18.2 million in 2015. Mobile is hot and we’re
all moving to smaller form factors – the trends make sense.
Take a look at research firm Canalys figures: they have
vendor shipments of smartphones close to 489 million smartphones in 2011,
compared to 415 million PCs. Smartphone shipments increased by 63% over the
previous year, compared to 15% growth in PC shipments.
While mobile will win at the end of the day, the need for laptops
and in some cases desktops isn’t going away tomorrow, although some will argue
they can do nearly everything they need to on their iPad. While I use one,
particularly when I travel, my efficiency on the thing is less than half what
it is on a power laptop, even my poor dying Lenovo.
While many of my laptops over a decade have died a slow horrible
death, some of them still turn on…..they’re just not usable. As I took a
hardware account, I was shocked by the list, although I suppose I shouldn’t have been! Two
HPs, a mini HP, a baby MSI wind notebook I bought for a trip to Africa, a
Toshiba, an Acer, two IBM/Lenovos and a partridge in a pear tree. 

The power chords are out of control because none of them are
compatible with each other, even the ones made by the same manufacturer. The
result? A digital me and a digital life that doesn’t make things more efficient and yet productivity is the #1 thing I need these devices to deliver me and my
The advancements in the last decade are remarkable. For those who
argue that the Singularity isn’t on its way, they might want to pause and
reflect on just how fast things are moving and that it’s more difficult than
ever to keep up with the advancements being thrown our way.
Clearly I’m not a luddite and I love shiny new cool gadgets and
toys as much as much as my fellow geeks; remember that next week I’m off
to CES for the umpteenth year in a row.
Yet, we need to remind ourselves that technology is an enabler; it needs to enhance our lives not be a hindrance to a more fulfilling
life. Dealing with technology glitches, whether that be hardware or software,
is something I deal with daily and these issues increase in less than a year
after purchasing a brand new laptop. Shouldn’t we demand more from the hardware
I’m about to switch to Mac and while the artist in me is thrilled,
I worry about compatibility issues and the learning curve to get me to
what people say, will be a ‘simpler life.’
That said, the decision is final. I finally made the plunge and as I write, there’s a Mac
Book Pro on its way to me directly from Apple.
While there’s no question, I’m a power user, I decided not to
order the ‘very top of the line’ since it offers more than I’ll need. Did I mention that the price is nearly double what I’d pay to get the ‘same specs’ in a
Lenovo or an equivalent? Additionally, these beautifully designed machines are heavy,
roughly 30% heavier than had I gone for the latest Lenovo or
While I’m eager to start my ‘simpler technology life,’ I have my
doubts. For the Apple fan boys who claim Macs are perfect and problem-free, I’d
love to know why I own five iPods and only two of them actually work. My iPhone
hasn’t given me any issues so far nor has my iPad, but I haven’t put it through
the ringer by loading hundreds of apps like I need to do on my laptop.
While many of you may be okay with upgrading every piece of hardware
we own every two years, should you be? How thin do we need our phones to be? How
many apps do we really need? How many pixels do we need? How much memory do we really
need? If I hear one more person insisting that I spend an additional $500 for a
solid state drive, I’m going to scream. These are the same people who will
insist I upgrade to an even faster solid state drive in a year and spend $500
It’s no wonder we keep spending to keep this senseless pattern
alive. We get dished language that goes something like this: 
For the
new MacBook Pro with Retina Display, it’s the screen — all 2880 x 1800 pixels
of it — that will leave others scrambling to play catch-up. Of course, to push
that many pixels you need serious horsepower. And the next-gen MacBook Pro
(starting at $2,199) delivers just that with a quad-core Core i7 processor,
Nvidia Kepler graphics and super-fast flash memory. Did we mention the MacBook
Pro is only 4.5 pounds and is nearly as thin as the Air? 
Manufacturers stick together, use glossy language to woo us in and build in the same obsolescence. When the industry and consumers comply, no one can complain since they all seem to die a slow horrible death much
faster than they should given how much we spend. (see blog post entitled the iPad Mini: Why Apple Thinks You’re an Idiot).
But alas, a dozen blog posts from now, I’ll be on a new machine, a
Mac Book Pro, and hopefully in some magical way, my technology life will be
transformed for the additional $800 I’m spending.
While I’m looking forward to what the Mac Book Pro will deliver,
sometimes I want to just toss all of it into the ocean, or give a little pain
back to the hardware that has cost me so much value time over the years, not
that I’ll ever have the courage of course. That said, it appears not everyone
shares my constraint.

Also refer to two posts I wrote a year or so ago on digital personas and digital ‘silence.’ Here’s a blog post
on social media turning you into a low confidence anxiety-rich freak.
Photo credits in order of appearance: A mashup created with
Webdoc, Scott Kline, CoolGizmotoys.