Pseudo Review: MacBook vs Macbook Air

three dollar bill apple logo (low res)

Gallantly playing the role of the über mindless consumer, spending the morning lazying around while on a short vacation, there’s always time to 1) practice typing and 2) blog something before we head out on our last full day around Flensburg’s Fjord. With that in mind, here’s my pseudo review of two Apple MacBooks I’ve had the pleasure of using lately.

MacBook.

First there’s the early 2016 Macbook (1,1 GHz Intel Core M3, 8/256GB). This is actually my better-half’s machine. Since she’s been using iOS more and more, and since we’re on the verge of getting her the new iPad Pro 10″, she’s letting me use it for the week. In fact, I left my MacBook Air at home for this trip and simply set up my own user account on her machine via iCloud and boom–I’m up running in my Apple universe. The thing that’s had me curious about this device since we purchased it last fall has been the M3 CPU performance and that darn skinny keyboard. Seriously. Skinny–and maybe even boney–is the only way I can describe it. But does it work?

The comparison.

My main work device is an early 2015 13″ MacBook Air (Core i7, 2,2 GHz, 8/256GB). I bought it through the Apple refurbish program almost two years ago. It was my second Macbook–the previous one being a mid-2010 13″ MacBook Pro. The Air is simply the best portable computer I’ve ever used. The keyboard is smooth. The screen, even though it’s not a new fangled retina display–is excellent. The Processing power of the i7 is enough to do minor video processing–which is why I opted for the i7. Of course, the Air, compared to the new MacBook, does have all those ports. Needless to say, two USB 3 and one thunderbolt port make a difference in everyday use. In fact, hooking up a second monitor via the thunderbolt port turns the Air into a real desktop machine. Very impressive indeed.

Love?

Get this, dear worst-reader. After a week of use I’ve fallen in love with my wife’s 12″ MacBook. The retina display is nothing less than fabulous. I have it set to the highest display settings, which I always thought would make everything too small for my ageing eyes. Instead, it’s fantastic. Getting 2304 x 1440 pixels on a screen of this physical size–especially in such clarity–is amazing. I actually find myself squinting less with the MacBook display than on my Air. And then there’s that keyboard. Holly smokes! Ever sense I fiddled with this keyboard on the first edition of the MacBook, usually while visiting an Apple Store, I thought I would never be able to type on it. Prove me wrong, Mr. Jonny Ive! The skinny, no travel keys work great. It just takes a bit of getting used to. And before I forget. The newly developed trackpad is cool, too. It’s definitely more precise and sensitive than the trackpad on my Air.

Love can be short lived.

The only negatives I can find with  the MacBook is the M3 processor and the single USB-C port. Although it handles my tasks pretty well, it demands more of the user than my Air does. There’s lag when loading web pages, when moving between virtual desktops, even when activating the dock, which I usually keep hidden. Considering the physical size of the motherboard (pic below), it does make me wonder how long it’ll take for Apple to get this thing up to real world capability. Kinda reminds me of the first MacBook Air that Steve Jobs pulled out of a manilla envelope. What a slow pooper that thing was. But perhaps Apple isn’t even interested in that sort of thing. And I’m sure there are many users like me who don’t need the highest spec machines to get lots of work done. If Apple can make the smallest useable machine they can make–and it turns out like this? I’m good with it.

macbook motherboard
The rest of the space is for batteries. Whaaaa?

Would I trade up?

As mentioned, my wife is in the process of going full iOS. She’s got her iPhone, her Apple Watch, her iPad–which she’ll be upgrading to the new iPad Pro w/ keyboard and pen when iOS 11 is released. Does that mean it was a waste to buy the MacBook? I’ve never seen her as a Mac user anyway–so I guess this was her trial machine. The real question is, would I trade my Air for her MacBook when the times comes? We certainly don’t need both machines. On the other hand, I’ve lost count of how many Macs I have at home right now. (At least four.) My off-the-cuff answer, if I’d take the Macbook after only a week of using it: hell yea! I would give up the power and speed of my Air for this little, skinny, boney MacBook. The screen is that good. And although my Air gets better battery life, the MacBook is not far behind. There’s just something about the whole package, this thing, like so many other Apple products, just fits. The screen, the keyboard, the trackpad, the weight, the screen! Did I mention that the audio it produces is phenomenal, too? Considering what Apple has done with its new MacBook Pros and that stupid touch pad, the MacBook seems like a fine alternative.

Cost?

In case you didn’t know: Macs are stupid expensive. The MacBook is waaaaay stupid (expensive). But allow me to say this as a long-time Mac user. Even though Apple is going to weird places right now, i.e. with pricing, touch bar on MacBook Pros, the Apple Watch, the newly announced iMac Pro (starting at $5k??????), etc., I’ve always found that if you know your needs and spec the machine accordingly, there’s no need to compete with specs and you don’t have to pay out the yin-yang for a more than decent work machine. The only problem is, you have to want to be in the Apple universe to really get the full benefit of these machines. Since I’m already deep in that universe, there’s no turning back now. Thumbs up for the 12″ Macbook.

Rant on.

-T

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