How sweet is that picture? The new aluminum MacBook and its companion 24″ LED Cinema Display—isn’t that a dream-like combination for a translator’s home office? With this setup, you can follow your Apple Mail Inbox on the laptop’s screen and work with all your translation tools’ windows on the splashy display. And when you’re away from home, you get the lightest, most powerful, full-featured consumer laptop ever made by Apple! Not so fast. There are still a few caveats to take into consideration: 1) if you depend on FireWire connectors for external hard drives or previous generation camcorders, you will find no port for them on this MacBook; 2) display quality, though greatly improved thanks to LED technology, is still not up to par with that of the MacBook Pro, or even the MacBook Air; 3) finally, if you want to get the benefit of your Mac as a media center for your home, you will quickly feel constrained by the 320GB-maximum hard disk.

If none of this concerns you, then why not? But that 24″ display is not cheap. Still, don’t be fooled by all those very affordable 22″ monitors on the market. They only have the resolution of 20″ displays, but with bigger pixels. A good 24″ Dell or Samsung can be an alternative although you may miss the integrated speakers and iSight webcam.

Personally, I stand by my choice of a 2-computer office, and will buy another iMac when my current one reaches the end of its 3-year AppleCare plan. I sync my laptop, an 8-month old MacBook Air, iMac, and iPhone through MobileMe and enjoy that setup very much. The ultra mobility of the MacBook Air is fantastic. Without an integrated disk drive—it has a $99 optional drive—it may not be a convenient first machine, but it is an excellent second one.

Even with the slowest processor of the Mac family, thanks to its 2GB of RAM, it still makes multitasking a breeze, even with a virtual machine running Trados. For more info on the latest Apple products, solutions for translators, and more, confirm your attendance at the next TransMUG meeting, Saturday, December 6, at 11:30 a.m. at the 3 Dollar Bill Café via the members list or website. YA