My Move to Mac

May 14, 2012

As I've tweeted recently, I sold out earlier this month and bought a Mac. A Macbook Air to be specific.

So why abandon all my years and years of Linux use? Because Apple seems to be the only company making laptops worth buying. I think this is evidenced by the second-hand Macbook market, which is doing quite well. It's not uncommon to see 2009 model Macbooks being sold with relative ease. The same can't be said about hardware from other manufacturers; most will leave their users in the dust as soon as they release the next model.

People have this idea that Apple hardware is overpriced, but that's not true. Yes, it's expensive compared to the throwaway $500 laptops that line the shelves of all the electronic stores, but Apple's hardware is on another level. What's more, it holds its value, so 2-3 years down the road when you're ready to upgrade, that hardware is still worth something. I've got a few old laptops kicking around here that'll tell you that's not true of other companies' hardware.

It wasn't always this way, mind you, but it definitely is today. Even spending the same, or more, on a laptop from another company doesn't give you the same level of quality.

Take, for example, my Samsung X360, a really nice laptop when it was released in 2008, but it's almost always had problems. I had to send it in within 6 months of getting it to have the fan replaced. Of course, the part they replaced it with was the same defective one it shipped with, so it's always been something of a lingering issue, and nobody sells a replacement. In the last year, it started locking up on me when it was running on battery, not because the battery was low, but because of some other hardware issue. This basically means I have to plug it in all the time, which isn't exactly convenient when working at coffee shops and the like. This is a laptop that sold for a staggering $1,800 at launch, and I bought mine when it hit $750 with rebate a year later. It's a nice machine, but it's not sexy, it's always felt like a toy, and as I said, it's always had problems.

More recently, a friend of mine bought a brand new Ultrabook from Asus. If memory serves, it ran him about $1,200 roughly a year ago. When it was released, the touchpad didn't work reliably. Think about that, a high end laptop with a malfunctioning touchpad! They updated the drivers a couple weeks after launch, but he still has a lot of issues with the thing picking up his hand while he types and usually travels with a wireless mouse so he doesn't have to deal with it. For that kind of money, that's just unacceptable!

On the flip side, a brand new 13" Macbook Air will set you back $1,300, and what you get is a machine that works the way you'd expect from day one. Close the lid and it goes in to standby (where it'll stay for up to 30 days). Open the lid and it pops right back to life and you're ready to go again.

And the battery life! I never even take the charger with me when I leave the house now. In fact, I've used my laptop for 2 days without charging it. Every time my brain says "uh oh, better check that battery level," I always have at least 3 hours of battery left. It's unreal!

And that's saying nothing about how awesome the touchpad on this thing is and how fluid all the multi-touch gestures work in OSX. I've always expected that I'd buy a Mac some day, wipe it, and load Linux on it. But then I got introduced to the gestures and I just can't give them up. It's really, really amazing. So amazing, in fact, that I've "hackintoshed" my Desktop too and bought a Magic Trackpad for it.

The one thing that irks me a bit is the keyboard and the way OSX handles page up/down and home/end without those buttons, and the hotkeys are a little inconsistent throughout applications. I find vim to be near unusable personally, but I've fully committed to Sublime Text now (totally worth the $59) an I'm good to go.

So am I done with Linux, forever destined to live in my proprietary Unixy world of OSX? Hardly! But for day to day computing use, OSX is a brilliant OS. And Apple's laptops are truly top of the line. I really disliked using Windows before when I was entrenched in the world of Linux, but now, it's painful to even look at, let alone try to get anything done with it.

UPDATE: Over a year later and this machine is my primary. I hardly ever touch my Desktop anymore, it usually just sits in Standby. And unlike laptops in my past, I continue to have no problems with this one after near daily use.

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