Blog Archives

I like my Mac; there, I said it out loud

upgrading on a budget

I actually made the decision fairly quickly, but it’s taken me a while to say it out loud. It’s hard to admit. Granted, it’s not like I’m having to say that like cats. That would be too much. But, still.

A while back I confessed that I had purchased a Macbook Air 11 and that I had two weeks to decide if I was going to keep it. That was three weeks ago. I still have it. It wasn’t a hard decision.

Actually, the first several days were a bit rough. I haven’t used a Mac regularly since I was an undergrad. What is the stupid “option” key for again? Why are all the “close window” buttons on the left? And, I nearly screamed the fifteenth time I hit what I thought was the windows key to open my start menu, which, of course, doesn’t exist on a Mac.

About two days into my grand experiment I came to the following conclusion: anyone who thinks that Macs are more “intuitive” obviously grew up using Macs.

Nonetheless, I persevered. A few weeks later, I still can’t say I know where everything is. But, at least I’m not frustrating myself at every turn. The learning curve has started to flatten out.

But, why persevere? Why didn’t I just give up and slip back into the familiar PC world?

First, and most importantly, this is the first laptop I’ve found that does exactly what I want the way I want.

Keyboard. I’m very particularly about my keyboards. Earlier in my journey toward the perfect laptop, I returned at least three simply because I didn’t like the keyboard. I like my keyboards responsive, quiet, and solid, with very little travel. And, many smaller laptops fail on one or more of those. But, I could type on this keyboard all day long. Indeed, I’d intended to buy an external keyboard for home use, but I haven’t done it yet. It’s hard to pull the trigger on another purchase when I like this one so much.

Trackpad. The multitouch trackpad is fabulous. I’ve used a few PC laptops that have tried to implement their own version, but they don’t come close.

Size/weight. I knew going on that this laptop was the perfect size for me. But, having taken it on one plane trip confirmed it. The best thing about that trip was watching the guy in the seat next to me trying to use his full-sized laptop. In coach. He had it propped halfway up his chest and was typing with his hands at an angle that would make a physical therapist cringe. Meanwhile, I’m working happily on my little MBA with room to spare on my tray for my coffee and pretzels. It was perfect. And, it’s light enough that I’m thinking about getting a new briefcase. It seems silly to carry such a light laptop in such a heavy bag.

Speed. This is a fast, little laptop. Granted, I don’t do video-editing or other CPU-intensive tasks. So, as long as a laptop can handle having 7 or more applications open at the same time, most of which will have multiple tabs/windows open, without slowing down, I’m happy. And, this laptop handles that setup better than any of the others I’ve tried. And, although waiting a little while for your laptop to start up isn’t that big of a deal, having it start almost instantly is fantastic. Solid state drives rock.

Integration. Since I’ve also decided to keep my iPad (another post on that sometime), having a Mac is perfect. The two play so nicely together. Now I just need to get an iPhone to make my conversion complete. Sadly, that won’t happen for a little while yet.

So, the machine by itself would have been enough to keep me in the Mac world. I know there are some nice PC laptops out there. But, I honestly couldn’t find one in the same price range that I liked anywhere near as much.

On top of that, though, I’m beginning to like the Mac environment itself. (Granted, maybe it’s just my subconscious at work trying to justify keeping the laptop.) I don’t see myself becoming a Mac fanatic, arguing that the Mac environment is inherently better, and wearing Apple gear all the time. I’ve used PCs long enough to know that there are some great programs out there that I’ll probably miss. But, the Mac programs I’ve used so far are pretty sweet. So, it doesn’t feel like I’m missing out on all that much.

Again, I’m only a few weeks into this transition, so this may change. But, here’s what I’m using at the moment:

Microsoft Office: I know, it’s probably some kind of sacrilege to use Microsoft products on a Mac. But, I work in a Microsoft world. And, although I used some great non-MS products, it just didn’t make sense to switch back and forth constantly. So, I’ll stick with Word and Excel as primary tools.

Scrivener: When I want to switch into pure writing mode, though, I think I’ll stick with Scrivener. I’m still in the trail period, so I don’t have to decide yet, but so far it’s a keeper.

Accordance: The nice people at Accordance sent me a review copy, so I’ll be posting a thorough review a bit later (along with a review of Bible Works 9). But my initial response is very positive. It’s a great tool that has been very easy to adjust to.

Evernote: I love Evernote. And, the fact that it’s a cross platform product makes it a no-brainer.

Dropbox: Another cross-platform tool that is very helpful. And, since I’m using MS products as my primary software tools, it’s easy to move in and out of my most common files on both my Mac and PC machines. (By the way, if you want to sign up for Dropbox, let me know. I get extra storage space if I refer people, and I’m always in the market for more space!)

Cloud Apps: And, of course, I use a number of cloud-based programs that don’t care what kind of laptop I have (gmail, Google calendar, WordPress, etc.).

So, the software switch hasn’t been anywhere near as difficult as I thought it would be.

All that to say, I’ve been thoroughly corrupted. I still don’t mind working on a PC in a Windows environment, but I’ll definitely be keeping my Mac. If nothing else, I like finally being able to join those Mac users at the coffee shop who get to give each other knowing glances as we look down our noses at everyone else.

Now if only I dressed more hip and drank anything but black coffee.