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.