Powerbooks and DRM | November 21, 2005
Currently I share an iBook with my girlfriend. The laptop is essentially hers, but I use it whenever I need to. The problem is, at the moment I’m using it a lot more than she is. I’m doing a lot of travelling right now, running CSS courses for in-house development teams or visiting clients in London.
I have wanted to get my own Powerbook for some time, however the current specs are less than impressive. Pound for pound, the iBooks are just much better value for money at the moment.
I had hoped that the last round of updates would have seen a slight speed bump, but all we got was higher resolutions screens and an extra couple of hours battery life. A real sign that the current crop is “end of life”.
And so the perennial questions raises its ugly head. Buy a mac now, or wait for the next revision? The rumour mills are spinning at full tilt, and the word on the street is we’ll be seeing a new crop of Powermacs as early as the first quarter of 2006.
These won’t be ordinary Macs however. A small sticker with those two little words, “Intel inside” will see to that. And this raises a couple of fairly big concerns.
Firstly it is always a good idea to wait for the second revision of any new Apple product. In this case even more so as the whole Intel thing is a bit of an unknown. Will I have to buy all new optimised software? Will there even be the software available when the new laptops debut.
However that’s not my main concern. My main concern is DRM. It looks like the new Apple Intel chips will contain something laughingly known as “Trusted Computing”, which roughly translates as “Untrustworthy Customers”.
Now despite being relatively uninformed about the whole DRM issue, as a customer this isn’t exactly a feature I’ve been pestering Apple to add to my computer. Tinfoil hat or no, I have to admit that Cory Doctrow’s recent d.Construct presentation got me thinking.
With DRM built into the chipset, who knows what can of worms we could be letting ourselves in for. That innocuous “security update” you agree to without reading the terms and conditions could suddenly tie all the media you’ve purchased online to one individual processor. Want to watch lost on your laptop as well, then you need to buy a second licence. Computer on the fritz and need a new one, time to re-purchase all your old music.
A little OTT maybe, but I don’t like the idea of something with the ability to limit what I do built right into the system.
So the question is, buy an underpowered but DRM free laptop now, or wait till the new Powerbooks come out and potentially risk signing up to a new world order.
Somehow in writing this post, I may have answered my own question.
Posted at November 21, 2005 11:28 PM