Tuesday, 4 December 2018

A month with the 2017 MacBook Pro

I reviewed the new MacBooks awhile ago and I wasn't all that impressed by them, in particular I was critical of the keyboard and the trackpad. Over the last month, however, I've been using one full time and I've come to accept the keyboard and even enjoy using the big, super sensitive and useful trackpad. So here's what we're talking about:

Latest version of macOS, and a pretty solid machine spec to boot. I have to say the Retina display is really nice. I can happily look at it all day without any eye strain issues or headaches as a result. The machine itself is a silver 13" MacBook, no touch bar or any of that silliness and was around $2000, plus accessories. I managed to get a USB-C adaptor with HDMI, USB3 and USB-C charging and access ports for this laptop. It's pretty cool actually but I do have to plug it into the computer and then reboot it to get the HDMI to work. This gives me essentially a dock to use, with my Time Machine backup drive, USB to ethernet adaptor (our Wi-Fi can be sketchy) and a USB-3 hub to give me some extra ports. Having 2 USB-C and the headphone port only has been a challenge to work with. I have so many adaptors that aren't compatible anymore! AAARGH!

All the specs can be found here: https://www.apple.com/au/macbook-pro/specs/ as well as details of the machine itself.



Currently I'm using several laptops for various purposes - my beloved Lenovo T430, a Lenovo E560 (for development purposes) and a HP "Sleekbook". They are running Windows 7, Windows 10 and Linux Mint respectively and give me a pretty good comparison across all devices. The MacBook Pro is better than all of them.

Firstly, macOS is great. I love it - all the power of the *nix operating systems, with a polished desktop well supported by quality apps. Mint is great, and the polish gets better and better, but macOS still has a solid lead on it. Especially with Time Machine - I love this for backups. It's really tremendous in that respect. Windows 7 and 10 are just... well Windows operating systems. I've come to appreciate Windows 10 for some of its features, but it's still able to piss me off with it's restarts at inopportune times and various other behaviours that shits me. Additionally, I hate not having a native terminal to manage my Linux servers with. You may not experience this, but I surely do.

The keyboard, while not the best in class, does have backlit illumination that just works. Neither of the Lenovo's does this (the T430 has the top mounted light which has been handy) and the Sleekbook works most of the time... but the Mac works every time. As soon as I touch the keyboard, on come the lights. I love it. Just perfect. Not as good to type on as the Lenovo's though. When it comes time to write a million word thesis, I'll be reaching for those machines that's for sure, but for day to day work (including writing the occasional several thousand word report) the MacBook will do the job.

Monitor is clearly the best on the MacBook. Second is the Sleekbook, then the E560 and finally the T430. The Retina display is lovely to behold and has such rich colours... ah it's very nice indeed.

Specs are good, but really - an i7 or an i5 is going to give me the same results for the stuff I'm doing. No hardcore processing work, no games (I have an Xbox for that) and relatively few heavy work loads on any machine. 8GB of RAM is a minimum spec for me now - that's a requirement for operation I think. The E560 has 16GB and I managed to get an extra 500GB SSD into it too, but it's a much bigger beastie than these other little machines.

I've adapted to using Outlook 2019 for Mac and flit between that, Apple Mail and Calendar. I like having the separate app for Calendar open on another screen to keep abreast of what's coming up.

Overall it's been a positive experience - especially with the integration between my MacBook, iPad and iPhone. Everything ties together so neatly and I'm now trapped.... doomed to be stuck in the Apple ecosphere. I don't really hate it though - there is a lot to like and I can always use another laptop if I feel the need to bust out of my comfort zone. Traveling with the MacBook has been good to - it's light and easy to maneuver with tonnes of battery life and good sound (for movies in the hotel room). Well worth a purchase if you like Mac and can drive macOS with some degree of confidence. Make sure you buy the adaptor (I think mentioned in a previous post) to really get the most of this great little machine.

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