Coming home

Posted on Thu 15 September 2016 in Articles • 3 min read

Two years ago I gave away my MacBook Air to my wife and bought an Acer C720 with the intention of switching away from OS X to Linux. I did so because of performance problems I was experiencing with OS X. I was using Linux for work (I still do) and, at least for my personal projects, I had the reassurance that Scrivener was on the platform (it's now EOL).

In the last two years, I've learnt a lot and I'm grateful for the experience, but for all of the great things about Linux, I just couldn't make it work for me as my desktop environment, something that became painfully obvious to me when I started doing more writing. With Nanowrimo looming, I was not looking forward to my only writing experience being either chained to my study desk or using an iPad mini.

So, this week, my wife bought my a MacBook Air for my birthday and it feels like I've come home.

The model is the 13 inch, 2016 refresh (the only change being 8GB of RAM is now standard). This is my first 13 inch laptop since the days when I used a 2007 black Macbook as my daily driver. I wanted the larger model for the increased screen real estate, 12 hour battery life, SD card reader, larger wrist rest and the much faster SSD.

The MacBook Air feel like coming home.

This is not a review of the machine. All I will say is it has thoroughly met my expectations in terms of its performance. The added perks of the 13 inch model certainly justify the larger size and weight over the smaller model.

The elephant in the room is the age of the internals and the prospect that Apple might update or discontinue the line in the near future. The nerd in me agonised about getting a MacBook Air right now. Broadwell on paper is old, Intel HD 6000 on paper is old, the TN LCD is the subject of nerd-fury all over the internet.

The writer in me, and even the web developer, by contrast doesn't care. The CPU is powerful, the graphics performance is silky smooth (the GPU is capable of pushing 4K), battery life is phenomenal and the SSD is astonishingly fast. It's the most responsive and fluid experience I've had to date in a computer, easily surpassing that of my work-issued laptop with Windows 7 and a Skylake i7 CPU.

I've reached a point in my life where I no longer care about specs and benchmarks.

As for the display...no it's not retina nor is it built with IPS technology. I have those things in my iPad, which I value because that iPad is device I use to read (and write on the go). The screen in the MacBook Air however gives me what I need to be productive.

In Scrivener, I can use my preferred four column layout without feeling cramped. In a text editor, I see more code - horizontally and vertically - when compared to the 16:9 aspect ratio of the 11 inch laptops I've been using for the last 5 years. In fact, it doesn't feel that different to me than the 1080p display I use on the desktop.

My use case for a new laptop is the ability to work in the living room or bedroom and the occasional excursion outside the house. Weight is of secondary importance in a home-based machine however the MacBook Air is incredibly light for it's size. The keyboard is a pleasure to use, much better than what Apple shipped in the one-port MacBook, of which I had a visceral dislike.

As soon as I opened the lid, I knew this was the laptop I'd been looking for. I've reached a point in my life where I no longer care about specs and benchmarks. I'm not interested in chasing perfection or the next best thing. I have other priorities in my life and I want a machine that meets my needs. The MacBook Air is not perfect by everyone's definition, but it's damned close to mine.

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