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Should I get a MacBook Air?

Old 17th May 2020, 20:19
  #21 (permalink)  
 
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It's rumoured that Apple are going to abandon Intel, and switch to something else (quite likely their own CPU design, quite possibly heavily based on ARM). They done this before of course, 68000->PowerPC->Intel. I've no idea when this is going to happen. However, it's something to bear in mind; a Mac anything might be very much "old" in just a couple of year's time. Last time Apple did do a reasonably good job of supporting old PowerPC software on new Intel Macs, and to some extent vice versa. There's also a chance I suppose that the Mac family might be split across Intel and their own thing for a while, further blurring the cross-over line.

What does this mean for a prospective purchaser? It's hard to say. I've no idea when this will actually happen, if it happens at all. Arguably it's worth cracking on and getting a machine ASAP, so that when the big switch over happens and the support clock starts ticking down on your machine, you'll have had that little bit of earlier / extra use out of it. If I were in the market myself, I might perhaps not buy one of the very top end machines (unless I had a very good reason to), so that if the switch happens sooner rather than later I wouldn't feel like I'd blown quite so much cash on something that I'd then be stuck with.

I'd like to reinforce other's comments about keyboards. It's well worth avoiding anything with the butterfly keyboard. If you're buying brand new today, their entire current line-up has now reverted to the much more resilient previous design, much to everyone's relief. If you're buying second hand, you basically have to go back to 2015-ish to avoid the butterfly keyboard. That can be surprisingly successful - I bought a 2015 Macbook Pro 13" off ebay from an outfit that had a good rep in refurbed models, and it's been fantastic value for money. Ironically, they were willing to throw in a longer warranty that Apple give you from new...
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Old 17th May 2020, 21:18
  #22 (permalink)  
 
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Good news about the butterfly keyboard !
This is what I have on my MacBook Pro and it's nowhere near as good as the keyboard on my old Air.
For the rest, the Pro is a good computer except the USB C ports can be a pain as you need an adapter for everything, the Air was much better in this respect.
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Old 17th May 2020, 23:01
  #23 (permalink)  
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It's rumoured that Apple are going to abandon Intel, and switch to something else
I wonder if this is partly in response to the growing popularity of the Hackintosh movement.
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Old 18th May 2020, 16:10
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I don't think its a rumour - it was announced in the business press a week or so back I think
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Old 18th May 2020, 20:33
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I'd clearly go for the just updated Mac Book Pro 13 instead of the Air.
The overall hardware package is better and the two pricier MBP 13 versions even have Intel's gen 10 processors in case you want some more power. MBP is the better bang for the buck. Just look at the monitor quality and brightness. It's not so much heavier but might be a little less fancy to some.

Last edited by Less Hair; 19th May 2020 at 13:13.
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Old 19th May 2020, 09:26
  #26 (permalink)  
 
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For what you're expecting to do with it, I expect a MacBook Air to work very well. I use a 2012 MacBook Pro (yes, the old, heavy one) and the keyboard and handrest is quite similar. I have loads of colleagues with MacBook Airs as work laptops and they are all very happy with them. The Air is very light, quiet and just works. The handrest is large enough (based on the 13" model) and I would not expect any issues with it. My Pro has a more significant edge due to the thicker body, on the Air the keyboard sloping down to the thin edge will mean that this is hardly noticable when typing. My employer lets us switch to a newer laptop every four years, but I have seen loads of colleagues hang on to their Mac Airs as leaving a four year old Mac Air for a new one just seems superfluous. You'll get the same body, the same performance (the upgrade in specs is hardly noticable for regular office work) and the old one still runs like new. You can get a lot of mileage out of a Mac Air. I would recommend getting one.
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Old 21st May 2020, 16:49
  #27 (permalink)  
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Very many thanks, everyone, I really appreciate all the comments and observations. I've decided to get one, and the input from here has very definitely helped the decision making process. In case it's of any use to anyone else, I went about trying to decide what to buy as a replacement laptop having already thinned the options down to three, a Dell XPS13, that I'd have changed to running Linux (for a host of reasons, not least of which is that I'm just getting fed up with Microsoft), a Macbook Air, or a 12.9" iPad Pro plus a keyboard (probably the Logitech Folio).

The Dell/Linux option was already in third place, really, as, although I know the XPS13 is well supported by Linux, I've also experienced more than a few head scratching moments getting laptop hardware to work consistently and well with Linux over the years. Linux tends to fall over a little bit on some laptop specific stuff, like touchpad functionality and power management, in my experience.

The harder choice was between the iPad Pro and the Macbook Air. My wife's on her third iPad, and I've used hers from time to time over the years, so I'm reasonably familiar with what it is good at and what it's less good at. I've also had an Android tablet for a few years, although I don't use it much. What I have learned over the years is that I very much prefer a proper keyboard (I'm typing this on a big clicky Cherry one) and I find it much harder to type quickly on a touch screen. For this reason (and a few others) I don't much like using my iPhone for anything that needs typing. The biggest plus point for the iPad Pro was definitely the screen, probably the very best screen of this size I've seen. Clear, very bright, high contrast and fast. The sound quality is damned good, too. The biggest downside with the iPad Pro was that with any keyboard attached it doesn't really work well balanced on your knees at all. I spend a fair bit of time using my existing laptop like this. The other negative is that the iPad Pro wouldn't work with our network colour [email protected] printer, and iOS still has some file sharing issues that make is less than easy to work with a home file server.

The key reasons for opting for the Macbook Air were the ergonomics, the keyboard feels good, the hand rest area is nice and generous, the screen is very good (although not as good as the iPad) and the build quality feels very solid (something that seems to be borne out by the experiences above). There were also a few MacOS features that swung things a bit in its favour, like the ability to send texts with it linked to my iPhone (another keyboard typing plus for me) and the seamless way that Apple manage to make a bunch of different devices all seamlessly sync together. My wife loves this feature, and has her iPad, iPhone and iMac all seamlessly connected to each other.

I had wanted to switch everything to Linux, but having tried to get my wife to use Linux (I had a PC set up for her running Mint for about a year) she didn't really get on with it at all, and found the learning curve in getting things to work well with Linux too steep. Mint is very good, but there are still too many things that just aren't anywhere near as polished as even Windows, and these can cause a challenge for someone that doesn't want to delve into the nuts and bolts of the system from time to time. I'll still be running Linux on a few boxes around the house, like the file server, a Pi Hole ad blocker and TeslaMate for gathering data from the car API, but I think that we may end up with most of the day to day stuff being Apple in the end.

Yes, I know that I'm buying into a closed ecosystem, but then the same is pretty true for Microsoft and Google now, except for the hardware, and there don't seem to be many flaws with Apple hardware, barring the relatively high price. It's certainly very much a personal thing, but if I had to rank these three companies in terms of trustworthiness, bottom (by a long way) would be Google, Microsoft would be significantly more trustworthy, but for all their flaws Apple are probably the most trustworthy (which isn't to say they are always to be trusted, it's a relative thing, IMHO).

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Old 25th May 2020, 13:56
  #28 (permalink)  
 
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I ummed and urred for 2 years before buying my first Mac in mid 2014 and haven't regretted it. A couple of years ago, after backing it up I took it to the Apple store for a complete software refresh and battery recalibration - done by an expert and for free. Batteries are still OK for being a daily user. It's been a very good run.


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Old 25th May 2020, 14:12
  #29 (permalink)  
 
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May not be do suitable for an "Air" which may be near the end of its life but....................................with various boots you can make a Mac whatever you want it to be Mac, Windows, Linux.................

Pretty straightforward. These days a reboot to a different OS is pretty rapid and without the inconvenience and overhead of virtual.
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Old 25th May 2020, 16:33
  #30 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by Procrastinus View Post
Generally spaeking, Apple products are way too expensive and some say under engineered. You are buying into a brand.
IMHO avoid Apple ( Iwas going to say 'at all costs'!) and buy a better machine for less from another manufacturer!
In my experience Apple's hardware is far better engineered than any other manufacturer.

If you want raw horsepower then yes, you can get a PC which on paper (or screen) might run quicker.
What those numbers won't tell you is that the Mac just works, no crashes, no fiddling with anti-virus stuff or under the hood issues.
It's about productivity - raw speed isn't everything...

I run a year old iMac i9 day to day, with an HP W10 laptop for occasionally running some bespoke stuff for UAV control.
I dread having to get the laptop out, I just hate it...

Out of interest, I run Parallels on the iMac, I have to use WinXP for running a small (old) app for converting files to a [email protected] cutter format.
I also run Solidworks on a W10 virtual machine on top of Parallels.
It works fine, faster than some of my clients who run SW on worksatations - they are generally gobsmacked when they see it...

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