When someone retires, it's customary to give a glowing speech that praises their long service and contributions. Well, I've just retired my 2008 MacBook Pro, and I'd like to do the same.
This machine was--and is--a rock, completely solid and completely reliable. (It also feels like you're carrying a rock, by modern standards.) It has lasted me for seven years, and frankly, it's still going strong. "Apple Tax," schmapple tax. The decision to retire it wasn't made because of one big reason--it hasn't stopped working (though it's beginning to fray at the edges a little) and it hasn't become too slow (though I was occasionally becoming frustrated with export times as I do more work in Final Cut Pro). It's just time to treat myself to something that will make my working life just a little more pleasant.
There are three reasons it's survived and thrived through seven unremitting years of hard work. The first is how it's built and the materials it's built from. Take the trackpad, for example. On laptops I'd had before, after a few months of heavy use you'd start to wear a bald spot in the trackpad, which would gradually become inconsistently responsive. This one, though, was glass, and it looks and feels as perfect under my fingertips as it did on the day I excitedly lifted it from its box in 2008.
I will allow, though, that the trackpad no longer always registers clicks--yay, tap to click--and that the black plastic material on the hinge is starting to crackle and flake. (Note that both problems are in the two areas that physically move.)
These slight evidences of the hard life it's lead aside, however, at a glance you wouldn't think this machine is old, though by technology standards--especially the standards of someone who writes about and makes his living from the field--it most decidedly is. It doesn't look dated to any but the most attentive eye; a charitable interpretation is that Apple nailed the simple, distilled-down design language a long time ago, though alternatively you could argue it also suggests its design language has stagnated. The screen is still bright and the sturdy aluminum chassis doesn't show physical signs of aging. The only really obvious sign it's been a writer's main Mac for seven years is how shiny some of the key caps have become.
But while outwardly little has changed since it was new, the same isn't true inside, which is the second reason it was so long pressed into service. First the hard disk was swapped for a 256GB SSD from Crucial (transformative, as you'll know if you've done similar), then the optical drive swapped for a second internal drive using a kit from OWC and a 500GB hard disk donated by a friend of mine. Then, as the battery wore out, it too got replaced. And finally, once SSD prices dropped significantly, the main SSD got switched again, this time for a 500GB MX100 from Crucial.
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