I’m asking myself that question again: “What is new that I can do with it?”. That’s the question I always ask myself before buying an expensive piece of new equipment. That is the question I’m asking myself right now about a new laptop.

I’m on my third desktop computer. I’ve replaced them every six years. So that’s 1996, 2002, and 2008. I can hardly believe that my desktop is two and a half years old already (I bought it in September 2008). I do most of my artwork and paying work on the desktop. It’s a workhorse. They all have been. It’s a Mac and a good machine. I’ve never had any real problems with any of my desktop computers. A solid record.

I bought the laptop back in February 2005 so it hit its sixth birthday a few weeks ago. I originally bought the laptop, once again a Mac, because I wanted to use it for writing. At that time I had written on and off over my lifetime but never with the consistency that I wanted. I believed that a laptop would make it easier for me to write. And it did.

Y’see my desktop is at standing height. I work standing almost all of the time except when I write I prefer to sit. The laptop sure has done it’s job because I have been writing consistently since I bought it. I sure wouldn’t want to be without one but besides a little web surfing writing it’s primary use.

It has had a secondary use over the years. The laptop has been to be an occasional backup to my desktop in case I can’t be near my desktop yet need to get some graphics work done. This has only happened a handful of times but it sure came in handy. As a freelancer I need to get things done or I don’t get paid and it’s my responsibility to get things done. It’s a bit slow for graphics work these days. It was a bit slow six years ago.

My laptop even broke last year. The VRAM on the logic board went bad. I didn’t have the money to buy a new one, nor did I want to, so I got a replacement logic board off of Ebay and fixed it myself. It cost me about $250. That beat the $1500 it would have cost to buy a new one and it gave me the thrill of fixing something myself. Always fun. But it was money spent just to keep going. It could do nothing new.

Being that it’s year six of my laptop I began saving some money for a new one. The problem is I’m not even sure if I want a new one. I should say I’m not sure if I want to drop the $1500 on a new one. That’s because when I ask myself, “What is new that I can do with it?” the answer is really, “Nothing”. The only reason I would want one is that it would make a much more capable emergency backup machine in case I can’t use my desktop. But like I said that has been a rare occasion when that happens so I’m not overly worried about it.

All that has lead me to think about pushing off my purchase of a new laptop and instead get an iPad 2. I think that is a more intriguing machine right now. I like the idea that a person can shot and edit video on the same machine and with your fingers. I don’t know why this interests me but it does. Plus I think it could be a very nice device for displaying my artwork. A digital portfolio. I’m not sure what use I have for a digital portfolio but it sounds like a good idea. I want to explore what level of interaction there could be with artwork. I think I can do things with it. I don’t know exactly what but I want to find out.

The iPad 2 is an expensive piece of equipment but it’s half the price of a new laptop. I’m the type of person who saves his money before buying something rather that paying it off little by little so it will take some time to save for a new laptop if I don’t buy it first and that thought gives me pause. But I will be no more productive with a new laptop than I am with the old one.

The iPad 2 would also take over the function of my iPod touch as a photo album. I bought a first generation iPod touch as soon as it came out because for years I had been wanting a portable digital photo album and it was just the thing. It served that function well for years but it really is a little small for viewing photos. I have no complaints about it but bigger would be better. I find it served the function I wanted it to in that I could pull it out during parties or gatherings and show an old photo but only one person at a time could really see it. That and I never really found myself looking through my photos on it.

I want to see how good it would be for looking at my “Fine Art” photo stuff. Not the finished product but the many raw photos that I take and turn a mere fraction of into finished photos. When my photos weren’t all digital I always enjoyed flipping through them physically and looking at them for the bits and pieces that I would use. I’ve found that my mind has never really worked the same way looking at photos on my desktop or laptop. I don’t know why but I have never liked any programs for browsing photos. There is nothing intuitive about them and I’m always thinking more about navigating the program than the photos. It’s distracting. I think that flipping through photos with my hands on an iPad 2 screen will be a better experience. How can it not be?

One more consideration is that my drafting chair just bit the dust this week. That is also influencing my decision. As I said, I usually work standing but sometimes I need a little rest as I work so I have a tall drafting chair that I sit in. The first one I had lasted me over fifteen years and this second one has bit the dust in about two years. It was made by the same company, Martin Universal Design, but the new one has been pretty crappy since day one. It’ll cost about $250-$300 to get a new one so maybe an iPad 2 and a new chair is a better buy than a new laptop. At least that’s been my thinking so far. We’ll see what happens when it comes to actually spending money.