Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Is it the time to buy a new laptop?

The MacBook Air laptop which we have to our place was bought almost 5 years ago from Japan. I bought it with a discount that I received when signing up for an internet connection with OCN. I did not use it that much because I had my trusty PC with me. But my wife used it a lot, but mostly for watching tele dramas.

It’s received all the OSX update up to date. I think it will change from this time though. It is running a Sandybridge CPU clocked at 1.7GHz with 4GB RAM which is quite slow for today’s standards, but it is almost as fast as the 12” MacBook. So there is no real reason for Apple to stop supporting it, except for sales reasons. They want us to pay for a new laptop.

From the outside, other than few scuff marks which are only visible if you look closer, the outer shell has held up very well. However the screen has some imprints of the keys on the keyboard, which I am not sure if they are permanent or I can get rid of. They haven’t caused any inconvenience while using the laptop, but when you power it on for the first time after resuming from standby, when the screen is dark.

To be honest, OSX is quite slow for my needs. The 4GB RAM probably is the culprit. Opening lots of tabs in Chrome can bring it down on knees.

But Windows 10 which I have installed using Bootcamp is quite snappy. But it too has its problems. The trackpad does not feel as good as in OSX and the battery drains quite quickly too. The battery is quite weak to begin with. My wife used to watch tele dramas on battery! In OSX, I get the “Service battery” waning near the clock. A clean install of OSX did not fix it. The battery is quite bad.

The keyboard is also the Japanese keyboard. The layout is slightly different to the US keyboard, although alphanumeric keys maintain QWERTY standard. I don’t need to type Japanese anymore, so it is an inconvenience, especially in Windows 10. The keyboard defaults to US English because settings sync between the desktop PC and the MacBook. I have the English keyboard set as the primary keyboard on the desktop and I don’t want to change it. But then the primary keyboard in the MacBook Air also becomes US English, and the layout does not match with the physical keyboard. So I have to manually select the Japanese keyboard every time after a reboot.

These days, I am the one who is using the laptop. I use it at work, for researching stuff. We do not get internet to work PCs due to security reasons, but I can hook my PC up to a mobile hotspot and use it to go online. The work I am doing these days is totally different to my past experience, hence researching is paramount. I am working on a ReactJS project these days. It is a great opportunity for me to escape from traditional programming. I’ve setup the programming environment in OSX and it works pretty well. OSX still drives me insane when trying to get simple things that we Windows users take into granted, done.

I wish I could buy a new laptop to replace this aging MacBook Air. But having tested few laptops in the past, I would not touch anything built by anyone other than Apple or Microsoft. If I go Apple, I would try to get a MacBook Pro this time, and if I go for Windows, I would get the Surface Pro or Surface Book. But all these options are very expensive. With larger priorities at hand, I think I would have to keep using this laptop for another 2 year or so.

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