Sweaty Spice, the other Spice Girl

In the last two weeks, I have (finally) upgraded from my 6 year old MacBook Pro to a sparkly new MacBook Air. This is the one with the M1 processor in it.

While it can be had for as little ad $999, I know the best investment is to max out the memory and CPU options (better resale or residual value at upgrade time) and to pick a storage size that works. So I went with the beefier processor (more CPU/GPU cores), the 16G ram, and 1 TB of SSD. I got it in Space Grey.

That configuration was not locally available, (plenty of 512G storage units) so I had to order. Not a big deal, it took about a week to arrive.

I also chose to trade in the MacBook Pro. 6 years of service is plenty, and while it was in good condition (great condition really) the battery was shagged, and replacing it would be about $200. And it was clearly not a DIY project (it requires using acetone to soften adhesive to swap. Ugh). The wizard told me that in its as stated condition, I would get $320 for it. That seemed very reasonable, and took the sting out of the upgraded storage.

It arrived…

Of course, it came mid afternoon on a work day, but I couldn’t wait to get started. Unboxing was a joyous experience, as with most Apple products. It needed to be charged so I stuck it on the charger.

After about 10 minutes I booted it up, and got started with the migration from my MacBook Pro. The migration assistant makes it a breeze, and in about 5 minutes, the transfer was started. It took about 2 hours to move files, settings, and accounts over. I had it move all the applications as well, knowing that I needed to do some cleanup of the cruft there.

About 2 hours later, all was done, I rebooted for good measure, and fired it up. All (and I mean ALL) my settings moved over, and it was like I was on my old computer.

The Purge

As I mentioned above, the applications folder had a lot of garbage in it. As the MBP was my main computer for a few years, there were a lot of application and utilities that really didn’t need to be carried across.

I just deleted them outright. Probably 40% of what was installed was blasted to kingdom come.

Then I looked at what I felt was a kernel of “needs” and began the process of upgrading. Clearly, I wanted universal binaries so that they ran natively on the Apple silicon, and most of them had a new version that fit the bill.

One complaint: The open source programs that I use heavily are not migrated. Sigil, Calibre, and the like are still intel only binaries. I would have expected the open source projects to begin compiling as Universal binaries within a year, but alas, that was not to be. Bummer.

The only main app that isn’t universal is Amazon Music. Hopefully that is rectified soon.

Battery life

As it is a laptop, and a casual use computer, I have had several multi hour sessions and it remains above 75% of capacity. Truly the M1 chip and Apple’s power management are first class. Epic all the way.

Supposedly, I can expect up to 18 hours of normal use, and so far, it seems to be living up to that ideal. Time will tell as it ages, but I can say with my current iPhone (10x) that three years of daily use, it still has 85% of its life (as reported in the battery tool), it is pretty clear that Apple has battery management down to a science.

Keyboard

The keyboard is a joy to use. It is way better than my work 2018 vintage MacBook Pro. That has the ultra short throw butterfly switch keys (and the much hated Touch Bar) that makes it lousy to use.

In contrast, this is crisp, good tactile feel. It has the full, real-key function keys, and it has a power button / fingerprint reader.

It is marginally better feeling than the keyboard on my old MacBook Pro, and that is a pretty high bar.

Ports

Alas, this is one area that sucks. It has a headphone/microphone jack, and two USB-C Thunderbolt 4 ports. And that is skimpy. The MacBook Pro had two Thunderbolt / Mini Display ports, two USB ports, an SD memory card slot, and an HDMI port. A fucking oasis of ports and connectivity.

Oh well, c'est la vie.

Final thoughts

As with any Apple laptop or computer for that matter, fit and finish are outstanding. The Retina display is a delight. The keyboard is superb, and so far, I am totally grooving on the reduced power consumption yet plenty oomph of the M1 chip.

It was really tempting to spend an extra grand and get one of the new 14” MacBook Pros, but I am not missing it so far. I figure when the next generation of the silicon is released, it might be time for that jump. For now, this machine bests the 13” MacBook Pro it replaces in every way.

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