MacBook Air

I purchased a 13″ MacBook Air a couple of weeks ago: I have officially joined the dark side now. I did use a friend’s Mac for a month or so, so it didn’t take me much time to get used to it.

TL;DR version of the post: I love the hardware, have mixed feelings about OS X, am mostly happy with the Mac ecosystem of apps.

Likes

  • The hardware is just lovely. The screen (1440×900!) is the best I’ve ever used. The weight is barely noticeable. The keyboard is nice and responsive, the trackpad’s awesome: as responsive as the screen of an iPad. I even like the reversed scrolling!

    Everything has a great finish. It’s silent and doesn’t heat up. This is one solid piece of engineering, worthy of respect.

  • The SSD makes computing a joy: booting the machine takes 10 seconds, while a resume just takes around 2 seconds, barely noticeable. Applications are much snappier than on Srivatsan’s MacBook Pro, and compilation speed is awesome.

    I don’t think I can use a machine without an SSD now. Case in point: the oh-my-zsh config I use used to take two seconds to load on my Dell machine with a 7200 RPM disk, it loads in less than half a second here.

  • Quick Preview of things is excellent, Finder is also quite decent.

  • Battery life: I can use it for nearly 8 hours if careful. What else can one ask for, especially in a machine this light?

  • The apps! Oh the number of (high-quality) apps out there for a Mac is truly outstanding.

  • Full-screen applications: I’m in love. If you had read my earlier post about my Mac workflow, you have an idea about how much I rely on them.

  • Homebrew: as good as apt-get on Ubuntu. Doesn’t do binary packages, so installation is slow at times, but I especially like the simplicity and elegance of brew’s formulas.

  • OS X’s rock-solid stability: I’ve only had to reboot the machine twice so far; once when upgrading it to Mountain Lion and once when installing an upgrade to Mountain Lion :)

  • The unixy-ness of the underlying OS. I am looking forward to learning about the internals, and learning about cool toys like DTrace which aren’t available on Linux!

  • I like having the Command key (which is used by most keyboard shortcuts on a Mac) placed beside the spacebar, it’s much more ergonomic than the placement of Control on most keyboards (used as the modifier key for most shortcuts on other platforms).

    Since I was learning new keyboard shortcuts, it’s an excellent time for me to re-train myself and do things ergonomically: with two hands, typically with the right hand only used for modifier keys.

Annoyances

  • MagSafe 2 is worse than MagSafe 1. Easily falls-off if you look at it the wrong way, and makes cable-management worse. Don’t get me wrong, this is still much, much better than the connectors for other laptops; but I can’t help but compare it with the original.

  • Only 128GB of space. An annoying trade-off.

  • Inability to configure it just so, without resorting to weird tweaks. Making it difficult to turn off or increase the speed of animations.

  • OS X’s Alt-Tab/Alt-Grave combination: I find it jarring. Will take some getting used to.

  • Needing to quit applications after I close the last window.

  • Since I plan on making native Mac and iOS apps, XCode will take some getting used to. I actually like Objective-C so far, but XCode seems pretty complicated and heavy.

  • The planned obsolescence and lack of hardware maintainability: I plan on getting AppleCare, so I know this machine will be useful for me for three years. After that, it’s probably gonna be worthless if broken: will cost more to fix it than what it’ll be worth.

  • Mission Control’s method way of organizing desktops and full-screen apps: launching a new window of a full-screen app will always lead it to appear at the end, not next to the app in question. Is pretty annoying, since Alt-Grave doesn’t work with full-screen apps too.

  • Launchpad is useless. The dock is rarely useful, I have it on auto-hide. The Dashboard seems pointless. I haven’t seen a use for the Notification Center yet (I refuse to install Growl, too: notifications are evil).

    I don’t use most of Apple’s built-in apps (though I do want to try GarageBand, it seems awesome) — I’m not the target user for whom they've designed the desktop. This is fine by me, though: most of these can be safely ignored.

  • iTunes.

Well, these are the thoughts of an OS X newbie. There are still lots of things I need to explore…

Comments (2)

  1. Ankur wrote::

    "TL;DR " … bug fix needed … congrats on the new machine …

    Saturday, September 1, 2012 at 21:59 #
  2. congratulations!

    Saturday, September 1, 2012 at 22:29 #