After Kim’s post about the insane software crap that comes with peripherals, it’s worth reminding ourself that computer makers are at least as stupid. Omar Shahine recounts his story in “my sony vaio”:
I LOVE this laptop for many reasons. It’s sexy, small (and I mean small), light, has the thinnest LCD I have ever seen. I HATE this laptop for the reasons I hate all Sony laptops. They took over 6 GB of my 60GB hard drive for the “recovery partition” I understand if this machine had no CD drive, but it has one, and the cost to burn a DVD with the OS and restore software can’t be more than a buck. The kind of company that skimps on a buck is questionable. And of course, the minute I booted the laptop I knew I had to flatten it cause it was rat infested with OEM crapware.
So, off to create restore disks I go. Sony included software to burn the recovery partition to 7 CDs. That took an hour. Then I installed Windows, and proceeded to install about 15 “utilities” and “drivers” to get the laptop to function. Some of the utilities didn’t install properly and I could not get the power management software to install. To give sony credit, they make the process of downloading the bits easy compared to other guys. But installing is a nightmare of orchestrated instructions that resulted in failure (and I’m not a dumb guy).
My own experience is similar. Despite costing as much as a new PowerBook, my Vaio didn’t come with install discs – you have to make your own (thankfully it has a DVD burner so at least it’s easier than Omar’s experience). There’s a huge slew of software on it that I don’t want, and that, in some cases – SonicStage, I’m looking at you – I can’t even work out how to uninstall.
In fact, I’m off now to have another go. Let’s see if we can get rid of this crippleware crap.
Lovely as the new Intel-based Macs are (and tempted as I am by the iMac), those performance figures – 2–5x the speed of current G5’s – always looked a little suspicious. In “The Mac performance shell game” Paul Thurrott links to the following from Infoworld:
Apple used multiprocessor benchmarks to skew the performance advantage that its Intel-based machines enjoy compared to single-core PowerPC G4 and G5. Apple used the industry-standard SPEC suite components SPECint2000 and SPECfp2000, but here’s the catch: Apple used SPECint_rate2000 and SPECfp_rate2000. Both tests spawn multiple parallel benchmark processes and are specifically intended for comparing multiprocessor systems. Single CPU, or single-core machines do positively lousy on SPEC*_rate2000 tests. That’s predictable and universally understood. Add a second CPU or a second core and, as you would expect, SPEC*_rate2000 performance on any multiprocessor-optimized test skyrockets compared to a single-processor box.
Apple uses SPEC*_rate2000 tests as a foundation for claims that Intel-based Macs outperform PowerPC G4 and G5 by a factor of 2 to 5. Well, yeah. A dual-core anything outperforms a single-core anything else by a factor of 2 to 5 in benchmark tests that make use of multiple threads or processes, tests crafted specifically for the purpose of stressing SMP-based systems. It’s murky marketing, and the sad part is that Apple didn’t have to resort to it to make Apple’s PowerPC-to-Intel switch look like a smart one. Mac users have no choice, and users also know more or less what to expect performance-wise.
As Paul goes on to point out:
What should have tipped everyone off is that the Core Duo chip is aimed at notebook computers, not desktops. In the case of the new iMac, especially, it’s hard to understand how a notebook chip could do so well against a relatively high-end desktop chip, dual core or no. I’d be happy if the new iMac was simply as good as the iMac G5, from a performance perspective.
And, of course, that’s running Intel-native code, not PowerPC emulation done in Rosetta. Personally, I suspect that we’ll find once the first real-world benchmarks come out that it’s actually slower when running current PowerPC applications, although not by much.