So I bought a Mac. I was the last person to think I would switch over, especially as I had been using PC laptops for so long. April 2012 marked ten years since I bought my first laptop, and in that decade I owned four laptops, averaging 2.5 years per laptop (which is roughly the depreciation span for laptops in Australian business).
I had resisted getting a Mac over the years for many reasons. The combination of being comfortable with the familiar and annoying Mac fanboys kept me in the PC camp for that long. However, at the start of 2012 I began to consider what to replace my old laptop with and I looked into getting a Mac for the first time. By June I was a freshly-minted Mac user.
It’s now been over half a year since I switched so here are my thoughts on the MacBook Air from the perspective of a long-time PC user.
[Shopping for Macbooks]
Why Did I Switch?
A confluence of factors tipped me over to the Mac camp:
Operating System. My last two laptops would often freeze up to the point that I wanted to throw my laptop out of the window. Slow start-up times was driving me crazy as well. Also, I was just feeling like an operating system holiday as I had been using Microsoft for so long and I was feeling stale.
Peer influence. I was spending increasingly more time with other travelling entrepreneurs who were using the Air. I would ask them questions about what they liked about it while they graciously spared me of fanboy hysteria.
The Steve Jobs Biography. Steve Jobs is one of the best biographies I have read. The combination of an epic life story written by great writer made this book hard to put down. Jobs asked the biographer, Walter Isaacson, to tell it like it is and the book doesn’t hold back. It often paints Jobs in a less-than-flattering light, yet by the end of it I came to respect what he had built.
So these factors got me into the Apple showroom to start kicking the proverbial tyres. Once I was there I was convinced.
Size and weight
The size and weight was the biggest selling point to switching to the Air, especially as a long term traveller conscious of reducing my gear weight. I would walk into a Mac store and pick one up and marvel at how much computing power could fit into something so light. At the time I was lugging around a brick of a laptop that was putting a strain on my dodgy back, and making my gear bag as light as possible was my new consideration.
I used to say that the look and design of a laptop wasn’t so important, but damn this machine is a beautiful thing to behold. It’s been over six months since I bought it and its beauty still surprises me. Every morning when I take it out of its bag I feel like I am unsheathing a samurai sword. Typing on the keyboard also feels better than any keyboard I have used.
I love how fast the Air takes to start up. My previous laptops would take so long to start that I would turn it on before having a shower so it would be ready when I start work for the day.
With my Air I open it up in the morning, type in my password, and I’m ready to go. I keep my laptop in sleep mode so it is always ready to go when where I left off. I have dozens of tabs open in Firefox and Chrome and numerous applications open at the same time and it barely misses a beat. Every few weeks I will log out of every application and shut it down to keep things running smoothly.
According to the specs there should be 5 hours battery time for the 11″ Air (and 7 hours for the 13″). Mine gets about 2.5 hours, which isn’t what I had hoped for. I have read that users are getting anywhere between 2 to 7 hours of battery time. I might be running too many apps which are eating up the battery life, which is something I haven’t experimented with. I bought an outdated model at a discounted rate, which is another consideration.
Getting used to the Mac environment
There are a number of differences between the PC and Mac which I had to retrain myself. While quickly got used to right tapping the touchpad in lieu of a right-click button, it took me longer to get used to the different filing systems and use of folders. Arranging folders to the look and feel I wanted to take some time.
Finding my way around this new filing system restrained me from loving my Mac at first, but I now find my way around effortlessly. It was not until I went to a net cafe to do some printing on a PC that I realised how much I now like the Mac environment.
11″ or 13″?
As the Macbook Air is so slender there is no place for a CD drive. I am ok with this as I can’t remember when I last used CD on my previous laptop. The 11″ doesn’t come with an SD card slot either. Not a big deal but I found having one to be more convenient than downloading photos from my camera with the USB cable.
The 11″ screen is smaller than my previous laptops, but I have become used to it by now. I don’t do graphic design so I get by on the 11″. Next time though I would get the 13″.
The Macbook Air as a travel laptop
So far the Air has been my favourite laptop to travel with for its combination of weight and processing power (I’ve technical specs out of this post as I would just be copying and pasting numbers that don’t mean much to me).
Will I go back?
I hate using cliches so I’m not going to say once you go Mac you never go back. So far though I’m happy my my selection to the point that my next upgrade will be a larger Macbook Air.