The long awaited Mac review

This is for the few friends whom I have bickered with for YEARS about the Mac. This is not a post for bashing Windows or Mac. I don’t think there is one technology or company that can be considered the best. Let me just say that neither fulfills the promise that each technology has so artfully crafted for years.

Why I switched – after about 4 years in college and 4 more years at work, I switched from from Windows to Mac. The reason is pretty straight forward. My first Windows machine lasted nearly 5 years (IBM ThinkPad R51), while the second lasted another 5 years (IBM ThinkPad T61). These were machines I had bought while still in college and I overlapped them. It was when I got to work when my Windows experience was completely destroyed. My first work laptop was a Dell (can’t even remember the model) and it was just awful hardware – lasted maybe a year. There was a period of respite with the second Dell machine which lasted 2 years and performed better but was still pretty bad when compared to the ThinkPads I had at home.

Then came the last 1.5 years. I managed to cycle through some 4 Dell machines in this period. Reasons – driver failures that IT admins didn’t know how to fix. Keyboard malfunctions that were too expensive to fix as compared to just giving me a new machine (ask the IT folks about that) and random mysterious slowing down of everything I needed to do. Enough.

That’s when I switched. I owned a 13″ Mac Pro for a few months from my previous employer. I liked it enough to purchase a 13″ Mac Air for myself (and for my wife!). Its been about 6 months since I started on my Mac journey and here are some initial thoughts.

  • My favorite stuff on the Mac:
    • Gestures – no one has figured this out on other machines. Best implementation yet and truly delightful to use.
    • AppsAlfred, Fantastical, Cobook, Sparrow. Together, these four provide me everything I need to be productive. The last three could be replaced by Outlook on a Windows machine, but I think they perform better by themselves and unfortunately don’t have windows versions. As for Alfred, there is no competition!
    • Pretty to look at. Yep, I’ll agree to that one. I haven’t been impressed with many other machines on this scale of measurement.
  • Stuff that still bothers me:
    • Copy/Cut Paste. Why not implement something so simple? Actually, I take that back. I don’t want to hear any reasons, because I know they will be simply too stupid. Apple, FIX IT.
    • Mac hardware specs are way better than the Dells I owned, but probably only equivalent to the ThinkPads. In fact, with the specs you get on ThinkPads these days, Macs seem like a joke. Tejas Viswanath fondly reminds me of this!
    • The design standards fail to impress. Case in point – I often find myself screaming because of the stupid magnetic power cable which snaps out of its socket at the slightest jerk! Oh, and what’s with the non responding keys once in a while?! Not cool…
    • Mac is as buggy as Windows had been. Many might disagree and everyone is entitled to their opinion. I have seen enough hung apps, unresponsive screens, video driver issues with external monitors… kinda reminds me of the Windows days.

So, what’s the verdict? I don’t think there is one. Here are the facts. I am not changing back to a Windows machine anytime soon. Would I in future? Absolutely! Just waiting for the right hardware to come along. Vizio looks promising and I hope they get through the final few iterations quickly. The best part with Vizio is the clean install of Windows.

Oh, and by the way, did I mention I own a Windows Surface RT, a Nexus 4 and a Nexus 7 in addition to the Mac? I do think that with Nexus 4 and Nexus 7, Android has certainly leveled the playing field in terms of mobile devices and the Surface is not a bad device at all. A tad bit slow, but very smooth and I’m warming up to Metro the same way I warmed up to the Mac.

Here’s one gripe though. Why are OSs still stuck in the past? Why is everything compartmentalized in Apps and why is a user made to do so much hard work to get stuff done? Alfred single handedly beats any other application at increasing productivity. That should be the job of the OS! So, is someone at Redmond or Cupertino, or maybe even Mountain View trying to do this in a meaningful way? I sure do hope so.