Friday, August 15, 2014

Shiny New Word Machine

There's no way to show you how pretty this screen is, so instead of even trying, here's a lousy flash-ridden camera phone shot...

This week, after a research and shopping frenzy which rivaled that of my hypothetical toaster shopper, I purchased a new MacBook Pro Retina 13". Honestly, there's nothing wrong with the "old" mid-2010 MacBook Pro it replaces, but I've been trying to do more writing directly on the computer (traitorous, I know, but it's a skill I need to develop), and frequently this writing takes place away from home, so the light weight and superb battery life of the new models appealed. Also, my sister wants to buy my older one, so I had additional incentive to upgrade. Also, Apple just updated the MacBook Pro line with a minor processor spec bump and Best Buy had the previous generation discounted, plus I had a 10% off coupon, plus a friend had a student coupon she wasn't using.

So I jumped.

I went into all this more or less planning to buy a MacBook Air. The 11.6" model in particular is so, so very portable: not much bigger than an iPad + bluetooth keyboard (neither of which I have), easy to slip into a purse. But then I saw that high-density Retina screen--something no Air has as of this date. Most of the advertising rhetoric surrounding Retina seems to be aimed at photographers and other visual artists, but let me tell you, it makes text a thing of beauty: smooth, solid black. Considering I'm prone to headaches after long days of screen staring, Retina was love at first sight.

There's supposed to be a MacBook Air on the horizon with a Retina screen, and I debated waiting to see how that panned out, but three things (on top of a good price) changed my mind:

  • I use dual monitors at work, and LOVE this setup: it lets me easily compare similar documents, or put reference material up on one while writing/working in another, etc., etc., etc. For editing, I'd like to have this option eventually. There are some kludgy ways to attach multiple screens to the Air, but it's not really advised. The Pro, on the other hand, has plenty of ports for making this happen, including full-sized HDMI out, plus two Thunderbolt 2 ports.
  • There's no telling how much the Retina Air will cost, and it's a totally new model for Apple and may have some kinks to work out.
  • My sister's elderly netbook is on its last legs, and she is pretty eager to get my old one NOW.

So I went to Best Buy, dithered around for about thirty minutes before getting up the nerve to ask one of the sales associates to get the box from the back, and committed.

Thanks to Apple's Migration Assistant, pretty much all I had to do to set up the new system was to press a few buttons, watch a couple more episodes of "The Closer" while the two computers did a mind meld thingie, and boom: it was as if my old computer's brain had been transplanted into a new, sleek body: a body with a GORGEOUS screen and NINE FLIPPIN' HOURS OF BATTERY LIFE.

Granted, I haven't tested that battery life to the extreme, but based on usage so far, I have no reason to doubt it.

I've spent a good amount of time in Scrivener these last few days, and I'm really pleased that I don't have to zoom in nearly as much as usual: fonts are clearer even at small sizes, so I can work with more text on the screen at a time. I can also switch to scaled resolutions (1440x900 or 1680x1050) to fit even more. These resolutions aren't *quite* as perfect as the "Best for Retina" looks-like-1280x800, but still clearer than the old screen.

It's also a good pound lighter than the old system, which matters. Much slimmer as well, making it easy to slip into a bag. No built-in optical drive, but I don't use one all that often.

And have I mentioned the screen?

So yeah, so far, I'm quite happy with it. I shall call it Donald, because Donald is a good name for a Mac, and we shall write many, many stories together.

Old and new...


Dallin Crump said...

Great word machines, those MacBook Pros! Congrats on your upgrade and may you have many happy years together.

Anonymous said...

Glad you're happy with the new machine and at a good price. I understand the appeal. The screen I spend most time looking at is an e-reader. The sharper print and adjustable back lighting on a Kindle Paperwhite makes long-term reading MUCH easier.

Despite years of doing it, I still HATE typing on computers for more than a paragraph or two. So glad I don't have to anymore.

Jeff The Bear

Little Flower Petals said...

@Dallin - thank you! I tend to keep my computers for at least four or five years, so I'm hoping this is the beginning of a long and productive relationship. ;-)

@Jeff - yes, I still use my Kindle for pretty much all non-paper reading. But this screen is probably the closest I've seen to e-ink quality on a back-lit device. The one drawback is that I can already tell it will spoil me for everything else.

Scott Kernaghan said...

Psssst... for righting I highly recommend Scrivener. Brilliant application.

Little Flower Petals said...

Indeed. I referenced Scrivener briefly in this post. ;-) It's head and shoulders above any other writing application I've tried. I love how it does as much or as little as you want it to, and otherwise gets out of your way.

notagain said...

It looks nice enough in the photo. I never could swallow hard enough to pay the mac premium, but then I never had a decent discount and the money at the same time. I hope it lass a long time for you.

Little Flower Petals said...

Seems like PCs have gone up in price since the last time I shopped. I thought about switching back this time, though I loved my Mac: Scrivener was the application that sent me to Mac last time around, but it's now available for Windows (albeit slightly behind the Mac version). But once I figured in my wants (primarily light weight, SSD, quality screen, and good battery life), I would have had to pay at least as much for a PC. They do have more touch screens available, but thus far, I don't get the appeal.

I may play with Linux again someday, but currently there's only a beta version of Scrivener for Linux, plus I had frustrating driver experiences last time I messed with Linux, which makes me leery.

It will be interesting to see how technology changes in the next four or five years--there seem to be a lot of shifts happening right now.