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The personal site of Jamie Knight, a slightly autistic web developer, speaker and mountain biker who is never seen far from his plush sidekick Lion. View the Archive

Topics: Autism Development

2015 12-inch retina MacBook Review

I wrote a first impressions article about this little MacBook a few days after it arrived. Now I have had longer to play with it and make some decisions this review goes into a bit more depth.

The one paragraph summery is that the MacBook definitely cannot replace my end of life employer provided work Mac and it’s not quite compelling enough to replace my personal 13-inch retina MacBook Pro.

What it’s great at.

This is a wonderful Mac for writing. In the time I had it I used it on many desks, sofas, in the back of taxis etc. The small size, lightness and great keyboard add up to awesome portability.

The screen is gorgeous. I tended to use the 1152 × 720 or a 1024 resolution more often than the 1280 × 800 resolution it ships with. 1152 gives the best sharpness and 1024 was more comfortable when I was tired and wanted the entire UI to be a bit bigger.

It’s competent for general computing but not amazing. It’s not the quickest for things like photos.app or mail.app but it works and it’s smooth enough.

It runs the accessibility features I use (voiceover, zoom etc) smoothly and without much stuttering. The retina screen makes screen zoom much more useful.

If my job didn’t include any development work or debugging I could see it being a good choice. However my job does requires more power.

Less good.

It will run my development tools and I can certainly do coding on it. However once pushed it gets laggy Several times I found myself waiting for autocomplete in coda to catch up. Additionally well before it gets laggy battery life dwindles. When coding I would often see the battery life drop to 2-3 hours.

This isn’t the end of the world. As Macs retain value so well and the MacBook can be found on the refurb store it could work for a 12-18 months or so and then sell for 75% of the retail price.

However as a work supplied computer on a 3 year lease it’s just not got the longevity it’s going to need.

Bad stuff.

One port is limiting. For example it’s currently impossible to easily connect this to my Cinema Display and power it at the same time.

It’s also frustrating to need so many adaptors. In the future when USB-C is more established it makes sense. But for today a single USB-C port is not enough.

Closing thoughts.

I am glad I tested one before I committed to one long term. It is an amazing piece of hardware and has lots to love. However it’s not going to last long enough to make it a worthwhile investment.

I am excited to see where it goes. While it’s a bad for for my work, it might work out better for my personal commuting burnt may take another generation or two before the hardware can match up to the promise.

Published: 23 March 2016 | Categories: , Permalink

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