Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Mac update

It's been a while since I've posted anything about my Macbook Pro experiences, so I thought I'd let you know how things are going.

Generally I'm pretty positive about having got a 13" Macbook Pro rather than a Windows based netbook or laptop. The Mac is undoubtedly a glorious bit of engineering, and is a delight to use most of the time. It's certainly powerful for the use I put it to - any powerhouse stuff tends to get done on my desktop PC, and the rather stingy by today's standards hard disk (160GB) is offset by the fact that most of my stuff is stored on a networked external drive or for in the cloud - mostly on Dropbox.

Talking of the cloud, one of the things I wanted to do when I got a laptop (whether it had been a Windows or Mac OS) was to move more to cloud computing. For the main part, I've succeeded. Nearly all my email is now handled by Gmail (isn't it great that for us UK users it can be "gmail" now rather than "googlemail"? that negates the use of the Apple Mail app as for email I'm now nearly always in the Firefox web browser. I haven't yet got contacts over there as the Apple address book and Google Contacts don't quite talk as nicely to each other as I'd like, but I will get there - and when iPhone OS4 comes out and enables more than 1 exchange account to be used, this could be simplified even further. Dropbox, previously mentioned is a boon -all my PC's, the Macbook and my iPhone can hook up to a cloud based sync service.

Back specifically to the Macbook, the other pluses for me are:
  • Looks -it always turns heads when I'm out and about with it
  • Build quality- simply superb
  • Battery life. Not as great as today's latest netbooks, but better than most Windows laptops especially when not on a wifi connection.
  • The large multi-touch trackpad. Once used, always missed on a device that doesn't have it. I had a small laptop mouse that I'd intended to use with the Macbook but I've never once connected it, and never once missed it. Scrolling , pinching ans zooming, and clicking is just so easy.
  • Noise - or rather lack thereof. The beastie can get a little toasty when used for long periods, but even when the fans on you have to strain to hear it.
  • Magsafe power adapter. How ingenious, and how sensible. I have tripped over the cable, and all that happens is the power adapter just pops out without pulling on the machine at all.
  • Apps - in the main they are simple to use, and I've found (almost) the identical Mac version or something very similar to my Windows programs I use on the PC
  • Screen - absolutely gorgeous
So what's not to like?
  • I haven't settled on an "office" program/suite. I haven't bought Microsoft Office for Mac because generally the reviews I've read have said it's rubbish compared to the Windows variant, and it's also very flakey on the Mac. I have installed the open source Neo-Office and Apple's iWork 09 suite. Neo-Office is OK, but it's got that open-source look and feel about it something that tells you it's just not quite as polished as it could be. But I do prefer that to iWork. I've almost never used Numbers, the spreadsheet app because it just seems so alien. Pages, the word-processing app is more like a desk top publisher, and can't be set to save by default to .doc format something that really irritates me. You can save to .doc on a file by file basis but that's just tedious. And I rarely use Keynote, but rarely use Powerpoint either. I might yet bite the bullet and get MS Office for Mac.
  • My printer is a Canon MP560 multi-function device. Setting it up on my PC to connect wirelessly was a breeze, setting it up wirelessly on my Mac took about a day and a half. It works now, but I think the driver is still a bit iffy - I don't get all the options I do on my PC.
  • The USB ports are a bit close together. Picky I know. I rarely use two at the same time - just as well because it would be hard.
  • Breakdown. Hasn't happened yet (thank God), but I didn't shell out several hundred quid on Applecare, so I hope nothing does go wrong, because it would be expensive to fix.
  • As a long time PC user, I've never quite got used to the way that closing an app's window doesn't close the app. It keeps running in the background. To me, clicking that "x" means close. Finished, finito....not I'll just hide away but keep on chugging.
  • The fact that there's no export to csv option from the Mac address book. What? Who dreamt that up? You can export to vCard though. Great, everyone used vCards - don't they? Then you have to find a converter program to convert to csv. Why not do what almost every other OS on the planet does and allow csv export? But we're talking about Apple here.
  • And that other Apple sticking point. the ability to mark an appointment as private is missing. When I'm syncing to other calendars I really want to be able to do that.
But ultimately do I regret getting the Mac? Not one bit.

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