new paperless typewriter.


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.

8 thoughts on “new paperless typewriter.

  1. Now you have done it… All the windoze fan boys will be beating down your door telling you how they can build it cheaper using and Etch a Sketch coupled with a iCore7 and it will blow the pants off of your Apple for just 200 dollars…

    Having heard it all, I will keep on using my 15 inch retina coupled with 2 thunderbolt displays…

    And how many of those windows laptops managed to outlast the MacBook for runtime on the battery?

    • No, actually, the first comment was from a Mac guy telling me how Windoze guys are fan boys with sucky computers. šŸ˜‰

      (My desktop is a Windows machine, by the way, because I play games on it.)

      • Heh ;)…

        Been an Apple person since my IIe.

        Eventually you get tired of hearing the same screed by the Windoze guys.

        As you stated Apple products generally are better engineered, and because of that an average Laptop lasts me 5 years. So I consider the extra money well spent, and with VM Ware having windows running for the 2 applications I need it for is only a few seconds away.

        Gave up on windows gaming a long time ago, but I don’t have a warcraft addiction to feed. Most of our gaming today is console based, but I do have Minecrack installed on the MacBook because my gaming buddies are addicted to it…

        I do have a generic hexa core Intel server box that I built, but it is running VM Ware ESXi to do geeky server things with…

        • As you stated Apple products generally are better engineered, and because of that an average Laptop lasts me 5 years.

          That’s actually not that great. I have somewhat shitty Acer Aspire that I bought for $500 that’s been kicking for that long, and is showing absolutely zero signs of its age, other than the fact that’s somewhat underpowered for some more modern applications…but it was somewhat underpowered when I bought it, so that’s not all that new either.

          And the damn thing is running Vista!

  2. For me being the self-styled-geek (we used to call ourselves hackers as in we hacked stuff apart to rework it, but the negative connotations on that word are too dire these days)/network engineer/storage admin/vmware engineer, it all comes down to the box that I can “make it work” on even if the manufacturers don’t intend it to work in quite that way.

    For that Linux is king, I rate a good Windows 7 box behind that, and Macs are better than they used to be, but still a pain. Macs derivative of BSD (derivative is a nice word for bastardized), goes pretty far afield from unix/bsd standards and makes a lot of simple things really hard to make work.

    Laptops are generally ultrabooks, hardware is pretty discrete otherwise. I agree Lenovo is a nice box these days. My first choice when buying something decent.

    My biggest beef with apple these days is the itunes tie-in for damn near everything. Thats a nasty surprise just waiting to get hacked.

  3. See, now right up until that next-to-last line you had yourself a spanking new swag Pro all earned for backup.