Well, I was looking at purchasing a laptop for personal use for quite some time but I’ve been holding off because I had a work laptop. One of the things I enjoy doing a lot is having the TV running in the background while I do some labs, best way to learn right :). Doing it from the couch is even more comfortable, hence the laptop.
Anyways, having a laptop that is given to you by work is restricting in some ways and at the same time I don’t like to be installing tools and utilities that I use at home that I normally wouldn’t use at the office, I like to keep that separated, especially when I use beta software to test things out. This is why I went ahead and purchased a new laptop. Although I went with something a little different this time, instead of buying an HP or a Dell laptop, I got a Mac, actually a MacBook Air to be precise. So why did I do that? well, for the shear purpose of learning something new. I have a gaming rig at home for all my games running Windows 8.1 and of course my work laptop is a Windows machine as well. I wanted something different and something that I could use for my lab, although any laptop would suffice.
I chose the MacBook Air 13.3 because of it’s size, weight, and portability, you can literally fit it in any bag, and the screen size is perfect for what I need. With that said, I’d also like to mention my experience so far with OS X Mavericks.
One thing I noticed right away, was how quick and easy it was to get everything setup upon first boot. I’ve heard this from many Mac users that Macs just work, and I can see what they mean. The next thing I did was setup my email and download Chrome, Twitter, and MS Office for Mac. Basically the essential apps that I use on a daily basis. If you’re an iPhone or an iPad user, downloading Apps is going to be very easy for you, an App store exists on the Mac for downloading apps. Another awesome feature I got really used to, are the gestures on the track pad. Swipe to the left or right and you can go forwards and backwards on web pages, or switch from one desktop to the next. Swipe up and you can see all the apps from all the desktop on one screen, and so on.
The next App I installed was the Microsoft Remote Desktop for Mac, I pretty much use it daily for RDP’ing to all the virtual machines in the lab. There are of course many Remote Desktop Apps that you can use with a Mac, if you do a search on the App store, you can see for yourself. Earlier I mentioned that I downloaded MS Office for Mac, I actually downloaded it for free because I have an Office 365 subscription, but regardless, from my first impression, the word, powerpoint, and excel applications are very easy to use and seem to have most if not all of the features of the Windows version, I could be wrong because I don’t use Office that much on the Mac, but regardless, seems like a good integration with OS X. I also would like to mention that by default, the OS X does come with a word processor such as Pages (word), Numbers (Excel), and Keynote (PowerPoint) so it’s good to know that you’re not completely in dark without some sort of an office suite.
Next, I wanted to see what kind of integration could I get with work, in other words, can I sync up my email, create a VPN connection, have all my contacts, etc and to say the least, it all seems to be working well. For those that don’t use the Mac, there’s a built in VPN client that you can configure to access your office network. This client can be found under the System Preference -> Network then click on the + and select VPN, input your information such as username, password, shared key, etc and connect away!
Last piece I tested was a little bit of gaming, I know this laptop is not really built for that, but regardless, might as well test it to the limit. One thing that really surprised me, is that Steam is actually available on the OS X, I knew it was available on Linux and so I guess it’s not big news, but still pretty impressive. So, I downloaded Steam and signed in, right away Steam picked up on all the games I had in my library and displayed all the Mac versions of the games I own, that’s pretty cool I find, saves me the time having to filter through games trying to figure out which ones are Mac compatible.
So far I have to admit that my experience with the Mac has been really pleasant. Once I figured out may way around the operating system, it became really easy to use and I pretty much got accustomed to doing this the OS X or Mac way. Getting used to the trackpad, the gestures, the buttons, location of the preferences, the apps store, and so on. Would I recommend this laptop to someone else? Definitely! I don’t see why I wouldn’t. Either it’s for work or personal uses, it just fits everywhere and the most important part, is that it just works, for those that are not very technical, a Mac is a really good machine to start with.