November 28, 2016

The Retina MacBook Experiment: Day 1

I poked the screen a lot

I love how easy it is to set up a new computer these days.

It took less than an hour to go from zero to ready (at least for everything non-musical) on this MacBook, but getting used to being back on a laptop is going to take a lot longer.

Back Up…Why Are You On a MacBook?

Remember how I was whining about how hard it is to upgrade computers these days? Well, I upgraded my computer shortly after writing that. I found a terrific deal on a second-hand cylinder Mac Pro and decided to grab it.

I know I said I wouldn’t, but my thinking was…

    1. I’m used to machines that are built to operate under heavy load for long periods of time, so it’ll bother me if my replacement does any kind of thermal throttling
    1. Even if a new Mac Pro or iMac comes out, I won’t be able to afford the configuration I’d want

The second realization was the tipping point because it became clear to me that there was no longer any reason for me to wait to upgrade. I would accomplish nothing and my poor old machine really needed to be retired.

My New Old Computer

My new Mac Pro is only” three year old hardware—still a major upgrade from its eight year old predecessor.

Unfortunately for me, it happens to be part of the batch that has issues with the custom graphics chips inside. On the bright side, it’s still got plenty of warranty coverage left on it, so I don’t have to worry about the $950 or so that it would have cost to replace its logic board and graphics.

In any event, the poor thing needs to spend about five days at the Apple Store for its brain transplant, during which time I’m stuck without a work machine.

My iPad Pro is my main mobile computer, but I’m in the middle of projects requiring access to the Adobe suite and other desktop-only apps. So here I am, typing this on the wafer-thin keyboard of an early 2015 Retina MacBook that I’m borrowing.

It’s nice. It’s tiny. It’s going to be a long five days.

The Experiment

What will a week of work be like on a MacBook? I haven’t owned a laptop in years, let alone used one as my main computer.

It already feels unfamiliar, somewhat alien. I inadvertently poked the screen a lot today, expecting it to do something. It didn’t.

The trackpad is great, as all MacBook trackpads are, and I love the Force Touch feedback. I’m a tap-to-click guy, not a barbarian, but I enjoy feeling the clicks when I’m invoking one of the Force Touch gestures like looking something up or peeking into links.

The screen is also a wonder to behold. Bright, sharp, and blessed with black bezels instead of the silver eyesores I coped with on my MacBook Air years ago. It is, however, extremely cramped. I feel claustrophobic operating this machine.

Maybe I can use one of its many dongles to hook it up to my monitors for some breathing room? Something to experiment with tomorrow, I guess.

For now, I’m set up. I’m eager. I’m curious.

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