Tuesday, June 12, 2012

To mac or not to mac

I’ve been a windows user for almost all of my life (well, maybe not all of it, as will be mentioned next). My dad had a commodore 64 back in the 80s, and then we had a 386, 486, up to the Pentiums that ran on a variety of Windows versions (ranging from 3.1, 95, 98, and XP). In the last 6 years I had a Dell XPS M1210 which ran on windows vista ultimate (which died after 5 years of hard work), and now I am typing on an ASUS K53T running on windows 7 home edition which I bought at the end of 2011.

So after extensive use of windows, obviously I am familiar with it, at least for the things I need it for. But to tell the truth, I have some gripes with my current windows machine, and would like to exchange it to something that suits me better. I have no problems with the operating system itself, as I previously said, I am familiar with windows and it does what I need it to do. But nevertheless, the little things that I dislike about my current machine makes me want to try and experience something completely different. Like getting a macbook perhaps?  

The first thing that I dislike most about my current machine is the size and spacing of the keys on the keyboard. I don’t know why, but they encourage mistypes more often than what I experienced with my Dell XPS, making the typing experience less enjoyable. The second problem is the location and the sensitivity of the track pad. The track pad is located at such a position that it is easy to accidentally tap it when typing. The extreme sensitivity makes the problem even worse. And typing is my number one activity on my laptops.
The third thing that I dislike about it is the quality of the monitor screen. The colors it produce are rather washed out and lacking contrast. Changing my sitting position often leads to the necessity of changing the screen position.
Other minuses include it being rather heavy and do not look as good as other computers aesthetically.

Thus, I am in the middle of contemplating to sell my machine and get another one instead, a machine that can address my problems and give even more. In come the macbooks. As many of you know, Apple has just released their new line of macbooks, including updates for the macbook air and the macbook pro lines. In addition, my father recently came for a visit and I got a chance to try out his 2011 11 inch macbook air. I have to say that it’s one beautiful piece of machinery. I also tried typing on it a bit, and I found the experience to be gratifying.

However, I needed to list factors to try to make up my mind. And so I have tried to list the pros and cons that I will face by making the change.
The pros are:
1.    The comfortable keyboard keys. As I have mentioned previously, one thing that made me really want the macbook air is the nice keyboard key feel and arrangement. It was so comfortable to write with, my PC doesn’t stand a chance.
2.    The machine looks gorgeous, especially the screen. I don’t know what they do to their screens, but in my opinion, the macbooks screens are among the best looking notebook screens around. As I spend long hours in front of the computer screen, it would definitely be a nice upgrade from my current notebook screen (albeit the macbook air is smaller, they both have the same resolution).
3.    Fast booting up. While I’d have to wait for several minutes to get my PC up and running, the macbook air turns on instantaneously, a real bonus to encourage myself to pick it up and write something.
4.    Lack of games. Well, I’m stating this as a pro because I like video games very much, and I know that they are a waste of time. It’s a sickness that I have had for quite some time. Thus, getting the macbook air would possibly prevent me from playing games and I can use my time for better things.
5.    I’m supporting a company that at least shows that it has commitment towards “green” economy. They try to use recyclable material, reduce the environmental damage that can be caused from production and use of their products, and be energy efficient among other things. In fact, according to a website called better world shopper, who have categorized companies based on their business practices, apple has a respectable rank compared to Microsoft.
6.    Mobility. Obviously it’s uncomfortable to log around a 15inch, 2.5kg laptop around (to tell the truth, back in my undergraduate days, I used to carry an even heavier laptop). The battery life is decent though. For normal use (no gaming and videos), the battery can last for around 3 to 4 hours, but the weight is definitely a downer. The macbook air 11 inch on the other hand is extremely light, weighing at around 1kg with a battery life of 5 hours.
7.    Better integration with my ipad and iphone. Although I have quite an old iphone (an old 3G), I am planning to upgrade it in the future. I also have a new ipad which runs on iOS 5.1 which supports icloud. Although icloud is also available for PCs, the integration with macs seems much more natural.

So those were the benefits that I could think of at the time being. But of course there are also some cons that I need to pay attention to.
1.    Expensive. Well this might be a subjective judgment, and may differ among others. But for me, the macbooks are expensive gadgets. So I need to contemplate about whether the premium is worth it for me or not. Of course some people might say that macs last longer, but computers will get obsolete after 4 or 5 years, and my dell lasted for that time span, so to me it’s not a valid argument.
2.    Need to start relearning the OS from the beginning. I have never owned a mac in my entire life, and being used to windows, this worries me a bit. I have used my laboratory’s mac mini for simple chores, but I have never used a mac for extensive usage. But even if OS X doesn’t suite me, I also have the option to install windows 7 on the machine (which thankfully I have).
3.    The 11 inch screen might be too small. Well, my previous dell was 12.1 inches, and I coped just fine. It worries me a bit about the macbook air being too small, but I guess that’s the trade off for being portable, and I’ll be willing to compromise for it.

I can’t think of other cons for the time being. But right now these are the things that I might need to think about before I make my decision. I like to write, even though I am not good in it by any means, a new gadget to encourage me to do more writing would be nice. Nevertheless, I hope I can decide well, not make this extravagance, and benefit from my decision. 

Thanks for reading!

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