Two months with the MacBook Air 2013

Apple had my money at thin, light, beautifully designed and with batteries that run all day. After two months I’m still happy with the 2013 13-inch MacBook Air. That buyer’s remorse moment never happened, here’s why:

  • Thin and light really are essential for my work. I’m a journalist so I often have to run around town finding somewhere, usually in a café, to quickly write stories between appointments.The MacBook Air is no more trouble to carry than a tablet, but the built-in keyboard and extra computing grunt make filing news items and working the WordPress back-end much easier.
  • All day battery means I never have to hunt for a power socket while on the move. It sips electricity and that instant on and off thing helps far stretch things further. Apple says the batteries last for 12 hours. I find I get around 10.5 hours, but then I do have Wi-Fi permanently on which might take the edge off things a little.
  • Great keyboard and trackpad when I first wrote about the MacBook Air I worried there might be a difficult transition to its keyboard and trackpad. A few days after I wrote those comments I was fully on top of the user interface. My only concern is that my touch typing misses occasionally and I hit either Caps Lock or the Off button. Both happen less now.
  • OS X switching back to an Apple operating system after more than a decade of using Windows was less difficult than I expected. There are odd quirks which catch me out and one or two minor annoyances – especially when moving files between folders – but it has worked well.
  • Software The 2011 Mac version of Microsoft Office is a disappointment after the 2013 Windows version. I find myself using it less and less preferring other tools. Unless Microsoft fixes this, I won’t renew my Office 365 subscription when it lapses early next year.
  • OS X standard apps like Mail, Calendar and Contacts work more smoothly and feel better integrated than Windows software. I particularly like being able to click on times in an email and automatically saving them to the Calendar. And Facetime is as brilliant on OS X as it is on my iPad.
  • Great alternative apps I’ve found some great alternative apps through the Mac app store. One difference with OS X is that you often pay for small utility programs that would often be freeware in the Windows world. I’m OK with that, generally paid-for software has been through quality control or testing.
  • Safari is a perfectly fine browser, it’s now my standard. It’s weakness – not being able to run Flash – is also a strength. I find I’m increasingly irritated by sites that insist on using Flash. Having to move back to Chrome when avoiding Flash isn’t an option is tiresome.
  • Goodbye Windows 8. One of the first things I did after opening the MacBook Air box was set it to dual-boot into Windows 8. The next thing I did was check that was working. I haven’t switched back to Windows once since then, despite having some great Windows-only apps that I thought I couldn’t live without. Apart from my Scrooge-like angst over the money spent on unused apps, I have no regrets. None whatsoever.
  • Minor gripes: It sometimes takes a moment or two for the MacBook to recover fully from sleep, which means my first attempt at entering the password usually fails. A small thing, but annoying. I’ve had real trouble connecting to a Seagate NAS unit, which could be an Apple thing or could be a Seagate thing. That’s all the bad stuff.
  • Price. It’s not cheap at the thick end of $2000 for the unit with 256GB of storage. Mind you I got 10 percent off at the now closed Britomart YooBee store. At a shade over $1700 I’d say it’s worth the money.

My goal was to get a portable computer with enough power for my work, lots of battery life and the minimum of trouble. As you can see, overall I’m happy with the MacBook Air. I can definitely recommend it. Sure there are nice Ultrabooks out there, but this suits me fine.

5 thoughts on “Two months with the MacBook Air 2013

  1. If I was doing what you do, I’d make sure I could find the money to buy one of those little beauties. I’m envious. Unfortunately much of my work demands a bigger screen and a lot of grunt, and suitable Mac laptops are not cost-effective.

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    • That’s probably the greatest thing about today’s tech compared with even a few years ago, it’s now much easier to tailor your tools to specific needs.

      I was using a larger screen on a desktop until recently, it’s way better for layout and for side-by side documents. If I need side by side when I’m at hime, I fire up the iPad.

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  2. The fact that you’re a tech writer and you don’t know that safari on Mac DOES run flash is INSANE. (Only iOS devices don’t run flash)

    Do you actually use your computer?

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    • OK, I was trying to spare non-geek readers from the distraction of deeper technical stuff. Let’s qualify my statement. Safari doesn’t run Flash out of the box. You have to install an extension. Flash can be risky, there are lots of exploits, so I choose not to run it.

      On the other hand Chrome comes with a robust sandboxed version of Flash which is much less likely to cause problems.

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