Leonick

Macbook Air

Back in late spring I got myself a MacBook Air, the 2014 11" model to be specific. 2014 because of the price, it was discounted and the 2015 went up in price despite not being much of an update.

Anyway, I noted down some thoughts on it but then never got around to posting them until now.

Positive

  • Outstanding build quality.
  • MagSafe is just amazing. Not because I trip over the cable but I love how you can just hold the power connector close to where it goes and it snaps in place. The old L-shaped connector looks like it'd be nicer though, not a big fan of how the cord stick straight out.
  • Comes with both a cable and a plug for the charger. Most PCs just come withone or the other from what I've seen. Having the option of plugging the charger straight in to the outlet or extending with an extra cable is really nice.
  • Great keyboard, but that comes from someone who has always loved scissor-switch laptop keyboards. Just like the feel of it.
  • Track pad is fantasitc. As many times as I've heard this I didn't quite believe how good it could be. Having only used PC trackpads before I expect that I'd want to by a mouse for the MacBook within a week but nope, there's absolutely no need. Nice, smothe surface. Very precise, which is usually the biggest issue with PC trackpads.
  • The screen while not the best it could be is actually really good for a TN panel. It's definitely not as bad as people like to say. I'm not saying Apple shouldn't have put an IPS display in the Air a year or two ago, they should have, but all in all I do think it's a good screen.

Negative

  • When setting up OS X I had to tell it what keyboard layout to use. It's a laptop made by a company known for tight integration between software and hardware, you'd think it would know the layout.
  • Keyboard layout is somewhat different from the standard Swedish PC layout. The main keys are the same but the Alt combos are quite different.
  • To make the last point worse, the only Alt key combo that is marked on the keyboard is '@'. Want some brackets? Time to Google or you could try random key combos until you find it. Yes, there's the keyboard viewer but most new users won't know about that, I sure didn't.
  • What you'd think would be rubber pads on the bottom is in fact just hard plastic. Provides little to no grip at all.
  • Wish I could open the lid just a little bit more. Not much of a negative, but would have been nice.
  • I had to install a third-party app to be able to close the lid and not have the computer go to sleep. OS X isn't lacking in configuration options in general so it was surprising to find it lacking this basic option.
  • I hate how the Finder can’t ever be closed and how it has an invisible window. Why? Because it always shows up in the task switcher (CMD+Tab) and if you cycle though Finder windows there is a point where there is no window in focus… The Finder is responsible for the desktop icons and that’s why you can’t close it, seems to me that’s reason enough to break out the desktop to a separate process and let the Finder just be the file manager.

More on the keyboard layout

The issue isn't just that the layout is different and not marked on the keys, the layout is also rather stupid. I see the logic behind it, but it's stupid. They put square and curly bracket on 8 and 9. So it's grouped with parentheses, makes logical sense, having to use Alt+Shift+8 to get a curly bracket however does not. Similarly backslash and the pipe symbol have been grouped with slash, logical but stupid. I also noticed that Alt+5 gives a § which is a bit odd since it has it's own key right below Esc.

On a Swedish PC keyboard curly brackets are on AltGr+7/0, square brackets are on AltGr+8/9, backslash is on AltGr++ and the pipe is on AltGr+< (On Swedish keyboard < and > are both on the key next to left Shift).

I'll give them some credit though, Apple put € on Shift+4 rather than AltGr+E. Not a big difference you might say, '4' and 'E' are close to each other and you only use on modifer key. All true, but Shift+4 is a lot easier to do with one hand. On PCs Shift+4 is wasted on '¤'. No, I have no idea what that symbol is used for either...

Fortunately, thanks to an app called Ukulele it was easy to create a new keyboard layout which works more like what I'm used to. I considered just getting used to the Mac layout but frankly, it's just stupid, and I use a PC keyboard all day at work and my main computer at home.