MacBook: More hands-on from Austin White and a roundup of must-have applications for the little beast
While twiddling my thumbs waiting to find out what David Sparks makes of the new MacBook, I discovered that my friend Austin White of Austinwhite.org in the USA has beaten us all to it. He ordered the Lilliputan laptop on April 10 and it arrived on the 14th. This is surprising, particularly since no Apple Store in the UK has been able to display a MacBook, never mind sell one from stock. Austin, manufacturer of the successful Bloc stand for Apple TV and a long-standing blogger, has the same idea as David Sparks: Try it and see.
Austin is liking the MacBook more than he expected. Here are his first thoughts:
The size is small and so light - very reminiscent of the 11in MacBook Air but it feels nicer and more sturdy somehow
The screen is everything I want it to be. So hard to look at the MacBook Air now: All the pixels on this great screen just jump out at me.
I don’t care about the one port. I mostly just charge and on occasion a jump drive or something for 10 minutes.
I got the low end model: 1.1 GHz and 256GB SSD in space grey
The keyboard is different, but I am really really liking it so far with one full day in. I can type fast and I am also noticing that my finger joints hurt less. I can type but not a true touch typer but have the keys in a pattern that I use.
As Austin says, much depends on the usage of the MacBook, bearing in mind the limited on-paper performance. His primary requirements are portability, reading RSS feels, emailing, testing web code in a browser, writing and Slack. Secondary requirements are editing photos and handling music.
In addition to Apple’s stock applications he is running Ulysses, Reeder, Fantastical 2, Slack, Tweetbot, OmniFocus, Desk and Clean My Mac 3. Austin has also added to the standard utilities in OS X with Flux, Dropbox, Bartender, Memory Free, Alfred, Text Expander and 1Password.
It’s strange to see this list of add-ons because it coincides almost exactly, save a couple of apps, with my own usage. Some, such as 1Password, OmniFocus, Ulysses, Dropbox, Bartender, Alfred and Text Expander I couldn’t do without. I would add Hazel, Monosnap, Carbon Copy Cloner and, of course, Adobe Creative Cloud, BusyCal and Busy Contacts. I could go into detail about all these excellent apps and utilities but I suggest you follow the links to find out more. But back to the MacBook: Austin sums up his experiences so far:
I do like it and it is growing on me more and more. The way I think about it is a device specific machine. No longer is it an everything machine as the MacBook Pro Retina.
What with Austin’s opinions and David Sparks’s insight to come, we are getting nearer to a decision on choosing the best portable computer for our particular needs. Meanwhile, I remain sitting firmly on the fence.