Wednesday, 22 April 2015

I Love It, I Love It Not....The New MacBook

I really can't make up my mind about the new MacBook. As I watched the keynote when Apple first introduced it I was amazed, dazzled, and I decided I really, really wanted one. And then I went off the idea as I thought about the implications for a road warrior user like me of only having a single port. And now I'm back in love with it, even though I don't think it's the right machine for me.

I get the MacBook - I understand what the design team was trying to do here. I've read lots of reviews and comments, and I don't think many people do get it. This is the immediate future of mobile computing - the power of a laptop wrapped up as a slightly oversized iPad. Dare I say, this is a Chromebook for the real world - where the majority of people don't have wireless access on a 24/7 basis and as such must have some local storage mechanisms for both their apps and their data. This is the iPad for proper content creation as well as consumption. This is the laptop for a normal person, who doesn't really need much in the way of processor power (regardless of what they think or are led to believe), who isn't going to be wired up to a surfeit of accessories, who wants a beautiful retina display, and who isn't going to have easy access to the electricity grid during the course of the day.

Even in my world, where I class myself as a power user, I spend most of my time doing the things that a normal person does. I read and write emails, I surf the web, I listen to music and watch film and TV, play a few games, edit my photos, and do office type work including writing and balancing the books. I do these things for most of the day. I rarely need to do more than two of these things simultaneously. I'm virtually incapable of even attempting to do three or more of these things simultaneously without passing out.

But there are lots of people out there trying to tell me that the new MacBook is woefully underpowered, that not having at least two ports (in addition to a power socket) make it useless, and basically that no-one should buy it because it can't do any of the things I never actually do anyway like editing video. These people are little more than computer snobs - self proclaimed technical 'experts' who quote specifications without understanding them, who have never used a computer to do anything beyond the list of activities that everyone else does, and who have never worked in anything remotely resembling the real IT world.

So, if I think this is such a wonderful machine, why isn't it for me? Simply because I do need something more. As regular readers will know, I spend much of my time on the road, but once I get to my destination I'm usually there for some time. I need a laptop that is light, extensible, with a reasonable amount of screen real estate. The 13" MacBook Air fits this requirement perfectly. When I'm at my base I use the Kanex Thunderbolt adapter which provides USB 3.0 and Ethenet ports along with a powered 10 way USB hub. I also use the Logitech 780 solar powered keyboard. If I'm out and about, I simply unplug the adapter and power and I'm good to go. I have a 4Tb disk that is connected to the USB port on the Kanex (this is partitioned as an iTunes disk, a Time Machine disk and a clone of the MBA drive). The USB hub connects a Mobee charger for my mouse, the keyboard dongle, my fitbit sync dongle and my Griffin PowerMate, and a spare slot takes a card reader when necessary - and leaves me 3 ports for charging my iDevices. It's basically a desktop system for when I'm home from home. And it works. But I do think that asking the new MacBook to cope with all that load maybe a step to far!

So for now, I'll lust over the 12" Retina MacBook from a safe distance and just wait for the day when the MBA gets a retina update and goes fanless!