So I Bought A MacBook Air
I bought a Macbook Air. It was a pretty big deal for me. It was expensive, took a long time to get, and also marked me moving from Windows to Mac OS X.
I decided all this warranted a review of the new laptop, but I ended up writing a lot more than I expected.
This article is over 5000 words and contains an essay on switching from Windows to Mac OS X, a short review of Apple’s customer service, a review of the MacBook Air itself, and a bit about my current setup.
I would love for you to read it all and hopefully enjoy every minute of it, but I know it is very long.
Here’s a table of contents in case you need to skip around:
Thanks for reading!
On Switching From Windows to Mac
I’m only 25, but I’ve been a Windows user for more than ten years. The first computer my parents bought in 1997 ran Windows 95. It was a big clunky white box and I fell in love with it. Over the next few years I learned the ins and outs of the hardware and the operating system. I would go on to build three or four more computers in high school, all desktops running Windows XP.
Of all the computers I’ve purchased out of desire, not need or circumstance, the MacBook Air is the first laptop, most expensive, and only one not running Windows.
Why didn’t I ever consider Mac before? Well, I was one of those Windows users. The kind that didn’t particularly like Apple, for multiple reasons, and despite being a “power user” (read: nerd), I was perfectly content with Windows and all its shortcomings.
This section is dedicated to all my Windows brothers and sisters out there. I hope you don’t feel betrayed that I’ve left your ranks. I hope you give me the chance to explain my motivations.
There are some practical reasons I never used Mac, some financial ones, some mildly philosophical ones, and some plain-old personal bias ones.
Let’s start with the practical. I was building desktops. It was really fun and exciting to buy a bunch of parts online and assemble a machine with your bare hands. I loved it. I loved being able to upgrade it. And I loved having an extensive knowledge of every component in my computer. I had used System 7 and some old Macintosh machines at school, but besides that Apple wasn’t even on my radar. I never considered it. After a couple years, with Jobs back at the helm, Apple released the iMac G3. Those big blue monstrosities that were completely built into a monitor. That wasn’t the type of computer I ever considered assembling on my own. I don’t even know if it was possible. Could you order PowerPC processors on Tiger Direct?
Besides, I was building Windows machines as part of my new PC gaming hobby. I was playing Half-Life and Counterstrike and Diablo and Unreal Tournament. They were Windows applications. It was never really a conscious choice to use Windows, it was just the only practical option.
Pretty Text On Windows
Anybody using Windows is used to jagged edges when fonts reach a certain size. Since Vista a new text rendering engine has been included called DirectWrite. Unfortunately, it can’t be enabled system wide (as far as I know) and it’s up to individual apps to include DirectWrite support.
If you’re a Firefox user, you can download the Firefox 4 beta and enable DirectWrite.
To turn it on, type ‘about:config’ in the address bar. Then, find the key named ‘gfx.font_rendering.directwrite.enabled’ and double click it to set it to ‘true.’
Finally, you’ll be able to browse a version of the web free of ugly fonts and Apple envy.
(Chrome and Safari don’t support DirectWrite, but Safari still has the option to use Mac OSX rendering. DirectWrite is prettier than OSX rendering, in my opinion, but it’s more video card intensive and results in some sluggishness on certain pages. Internet Explorer 9 will utilize DirectWrite by default. For more on type rendering read this.)