That’s the new word-banger-outer here in the Castle Frostbite Novel Factory, a 13″ MacBook Pro with Retina display. (I usually work longhand and then transcribe stuff every chapter or so, but the current deadline means that I have to skip a step and write straight on the computer.)
I had a MacBook Air last year, but I sold it to a friend. It was a perfectly cromulent machine, and shared many of the great properties of its successor, but it was a little too thin for me. In particular, the keyboard on the Air is slightly but noticeably more shallow than that on the Pro because there’s less vertical space for key travel, and with my typing style, I tendedtomissthespacebaralot. The new one doesn’t have that issue for me, and it has that fabulous Retina display.
I keep using Mac portables because they offer me a few things that Windows laptops (even the nicest ones) don’t:
- I like the design and the hardware, especially the great keyboards, and the glass trackpad is simply the best in the industry by a fair margin. The friction is just right, it’s easy to clean off, and all the gestures just work. I’ve never used a Windows laptop with a trackpad that comes even close to those on the MacBook Pros and Airs.
- I run Scrivener, and the Mac version of Scrivener is one version number ahead of the Windows version. It’s not a great feature disparity, but enough to make me pony up the Mac premium. (For example, Mac Scrivener lets you write toward a deadline and keeps a running word count that calculates your daily quota to meet that deadline. Small thing, but something I use all the time.)
- Macs hold their value better and have a longer usable service life. I replace PCs in about half the time I get out of my Macs.
- I think Mac OS X is still better than Windows, and it won’t run on anything but a Mac,of course. In addition, I can run both MacOS and Windows on a MacBook Pro via Boot Camp, which makes it more flexible than a Windows laptop.
I have to say that this MacBook Pro is seriously the nicest piece of computing hardware I’ve ever owned. The Retina screen is just pin-sharp, and there’s a major difference in quality between it and a non-retina display. Text looks like it’s been painted on with an ink brush, no visible pixellation at all in any resolution. Combine that with the far better text anti-aliasing of MacOS vs. that of Windows, and there’s simply no comparison when it comes to the way text looks on screen. When you spend hours and hours looking at words on a screen, stuff like that becomes a compelling factor for purchasing decisions.
The battery life is insane. Apple specifies “over 9 hours” for the battery, but with the brightness dialed down to 50-60% and just word processing going on, it routinely clocks 11-12 hours. That’s nuts for a pro-level machine with a Core i5. It’s just the perfect blend of power, portability, endurance, screen size, and hardware build quality, and I’m quite glad I decided to pick one up.
(Quick hardware census from the Super-Secret Writing Retreat: two of us with MacBook Pros, and five with Windows laptops of various brands. Two of those five PCs were Lenovo ThinkPads, which are really nice machines and probably the brand I would buy if I couldn’t get my hands on a MacBook Pro. Great keyboards, and they managed to retain that distinctive “bento box” square black design from the IBM days.)
The hard drive in the background is a LaCie Porsche Design 2TB USB 3.0 for TimeMachine backups and media stuff. Thunderbolt drives are a smidgen faster, but two to three times as expensive, and I don’t need the extra little bit of speed for incremental TimeMachine backups.
So there you have it: I’m not an Apple fanboi. I am an informed consumer with particular preferences.