It’s time for a new computer.

My current personal laptop, a C640, is on something of its last legs. It has been for several months, but I kept convincing myself to hold out for the Core 2 MacBook Pros. Those launched today and I find myself being strangely indecisive.

I’m currently deciding between a 15.4″ MacBook Pro and the Dell D820. For the purpose of this discussion, we’ll consider them equal-enough in price. Relative advantages of each, to me, are as follows.

Dell D820: 4-year warranty, includes accidental damage (compare to the Apple’s 3 yr warranty, no accidental damage); 1920×1200 resolution; faster hard drive (7200 rpm vs 5400 rpm); two mouse buttons; two batteries that give six to nine hours of battery life total (compare to ~5 hrs).

MacBook Pro: Runs OS X; 20% bigger drive (120 GB vs 100 GB); iSight; lighter and 33% thinner; better video card (Radeon x1600 vs Quadro NVS 120).

I was pretty much set on buying a Mac this time around, but the biggest thing holding me back is the lack of accidental damage protection- if Apple offered this at a reasonable proce, I’d probably have ordered a Mac this morning. A few years ago, my backback’s zipper broke and sent my C640 crashing to onto a tiled floor. (Incidentally, it still ran, but I can’t say the screen looked that good.) One day later, Dell had sent me a refurbished laptop to replace it, no questions asked, that happened to have a higher resolution screen and faster processor. They won some serious loyalty that day.

I realize that I can get accidental damage protection from a third party, but that adds to the cost (on a yearly basis) in a way that I can’t say I like. I aso realize that both of these computers are built considerably tougher than the all-plastic C640. But I do like the peace of mind that comes with a warranty that protects my computer from me.