Monday, June 25, 2012

First impressions on my new Macbook air 11.6 inch 2012

As I have said in one of my previous posts I am in the process of migrating from a windows PC to a mac computer. Although the ride isn’t as smooth as I want in to be, the overall experience has been a good one. Here I am going to list some of the things that I like (and don’t like) from my macbook air experience. I’m no techie by any means, so I’m probably going to give somewhat naïve insights, which I still hope can be beneficial nonetheless.

the 11 inch macbook air

Quick delivery
I bought the 11 inch macbook air from the online apple store here in Japan. I customized it to the 2.0 GHz intel i7 processor and 8GB of RAM. While the base models are available immediately, the customized ones need 3 to 4 business days for delivery. It turns out that my customized macbook was shipped from China, and it took exactly 4 days for the macbook to reach me. So the delivery was on time. Although being on time is not extra ordinary here in Japan (because it is the norm of the society, and one thing that I love about Japanese), having to deliver it from China, and still got it on time was good work from apple.

Design and looks
After unboxing it, the first thing that pleased me with the mac was obviously the weight; build quality, and the design of the computer (even the package was good looking). I think nobody can deny that apple makes beautiful gadgets, and the macbook air is among the best that they have designed. Another thing that I immediately noticed after short use was how nice the screen was. I am coming from a 15.4-inch ASUS laptop (K53T). And frankly, the ASUS’ screen could not compete against the macbook air’s. The quality difference is that obvious, well for me anyway. The macbook air’s screen, even though smaller, is brighter, and has more contrast and clarity.

The iLife bundle
I had some videos that I have wanted to edit for a long time. But the only software I had was windows moviemaker, which I didn’t like that much. In addition of only having Japanese interface (because I have a Japanese OS), there weren’t that many options, and the menu was mediocre at best, and thus the procrastination. After spending some time with iMovie, I have to admit that the iLife bundle is one of the good selling points of mac computer. The software was pleasant to use, intuitive, and I got results in no time.

Mac OS and the track pad
Mac OS is a wonder to use. Of course I can get everything done even with my windows PC. But using the Mac OS is really refreshing. I have been using windows for over one decade, had a couple of stints with PClinuxOS and openSUSE in the past, and I have to say that the looks and feel of Lion betters them all. I especially like how it utilizes the track pad. Scrolling, moving between programs, moving between desktops, have never been as nice. On Lion, I surprisingly prefer the track pad to my USB mouse.

Another plus is the ease of changing the language interface. While on windows we need to get the most expensive version (ultimate) to get this feature, on the mac, it’s readily available. This is especially useful for people who are staying abroad. In Japan, all new computers are installed with the Japanese version of the OS, and to get a non Japanese OS usually comes with a premium. The universality of Mac OS solves this problem, as you can change the interface into many languages (of course this goes the same with Linux).

Built for speed
Well, maybe all reviewers say this, but I have just got to say it again. The macbook air is blazing fast. From powering it up to being able to use the OS takes below 15 seconds. It’s a nice change from having to wait 1 minute for my windows 7 to boot up on my ASUS laptop. Reviewers say that this is due to the flash storage. The i7 processor and 8 gigabytes of RAM probably also play a role. With this setup, even though I run windows 7 32 bits through parallels, I barely get any hiccups.

There are perhaps other things that I like about the macbook air, but the above are the only ones that I can think of for the time being. However, despite the positives, I also experienced some negatives, which I will share next.

Let’s face it, macs are expensive. This is one of the main reasons why I’ve been holding back in buying one up until now. And I’m sure that there are many people who have the same argument for not jumping on the apple bandwagon. I have to admit, it was a tough decision for me in the beginning. I first got my hands on a macbook air when I got to toy around with my dad’s. I liked it so much, but was turned off by the price.

Then came apple’s WWDC in the beginning of this month, which introduced a strong line up of new macbooks. When I saw that the 11 inch got an update with a stronger CPU and more memory, with narrow price margins with last years version, I began to think about buying it. But one thing that really helped me with my decision was apple’s commitment to the environment and social responsibility, as you can see here, which is contrary to their biggest rival, Microsoft. Well, it might as well be a marketing tactic, but at least they are doing something. That really gave me the courage to go the apple way.

Connectivity problems
There were some problems when I tried to use connectivity features of the macbook. The first problem I encountered was when I wanted to use my PC’s disc drive to install windows on my macbook via remote drive (through the network). I followed everything according to the instructions, but wasn’t able to get it to work. I finally found a way around the problem, which was to download an ISO image of my version of windows from the Internet, and use it for installation in parallels (a virtualization software to run other operating systems on a mac). So some things “just didn’t work” for me, contrary to the advertisements.

Another connectivity issue that I encountered was when I wanted to share files with my windows PC. Again, I followed all the instructions, but couldn’t get it to work at that time. I finally was able to get it working when I used another network that I set up. So perhaps, there was a problem with the network. And maybe if I had used the working network when I tried using remote drive, I would not have experienced any trouble. But nevertheless, for my case anyway, it didn’t just work, and I had to work it out to get things running.

Available freeware
I mentioned that I installed windows 7 in my Mac OS through virtualization. This is because I wasn’t able to find the equivalent freeware that I use on my PC. I often use programs called bioedit and, which are important for my work. There are other alternatives for, but there are no alternatives whatsoever for bioedit. I also need a program that can draw chemical structures, which are also not available as freeware on the Mac. I got iLife for free, but lost access to the many freeware that are available only on windows. Installing windows on the Mac partially solved the problem.

Not a lot in the box
Another thing that disappointed me was the lack of accessories that apple included in the box. For something this expensive, I was hoping that apple would put in more. The macbook air has only USB ports and a thunderbolt port. It would’ve been nice if apple provided HDMI and VGA adapters to connect to an external monitor. Or perhaps throw in a small protective bag (maybe this is asking too much). But anyway, the lack of accessories in the box is somewhat a disappointment when I got my macbook.

Ultra small texts for the toolbar menus
Another thing that I disliked but am beginning to get used to is the size of the fonts in the toolbar. Because of the high resolution and small screen, the texts are ultra small and difficult to read at first. Thank God, my eyes can still adjust, but it would have been nice if the OS had the option to change the size of the fonts in the interface (like the option available in windows). The only way to change the size of the fonts is to change the resolution, which I would prefer not to do.

Mediocre battery life
Battery life is mediocre at best. I probably could only get around 3 hours with maximum screen brightness, Bluetooth and wifi on, surfing the web reading articles and watching youtube videos. Perhaps if I turn off Bluetooth, tune down the screen brightness, I could get better battery life, but the battery is definitely left to be desired. My 15-inch ASUS laptop can go up to 4 hours without any fuss, which is a big thing for a 15-inch laptop. I hope that the battery life can be improved with the mountain lion update coming soon.

Keyboard not springy enough
One of the reasons that I bought the macbook air is because at first, I loved the feel I got when typing on my father’s macbook air. A friend told me that he didn’t like the keyboard on the macbook air, an opinion that I shrugged off. But now that I’m using it extensively, I’m beginning to feel the same. I really miss my ASUS’ springy large keyboards. With the macbook air, I get a feeling that if I strike the keys too hard; they might not go back up again. But this is a minor complaint, because despite it being not springy, I can type fairly quickly on the macbook air’s keyboard.

So I guess that wraps up my first impressions (which turned out to be quite long) on my new macbook air. I hope I didn’t bore you with my rants, and thanks for reading. Peace!

UPDATE 2012/06/24
The CPU seems to run a bit warmer than my liking. When running windows 7 in parallels, it reached 90 degrees C at one point. At first I was a bit worried, but it turns out that it is normal for the CPU to reach that temperature (macforum), as long as it doesn't go above 105 degrees. Even if it gets to critical heat, the CPU will automatically throttle down or shut itself down as a safety mechanism.


Zukhi said...

SubhanaAllah, thank you for the review akang...

Fendrri said...

Alhamdulillah, you're welcome feb. :)