During my first few weeks with the 2016 MacBook, this machine could do no wrong. I gladly looked passed its shortcomings, because it was beautiful — highly functional, even.
Two months in, and the infatuation stage has predictably elapsed and reality has started to set in. Was it a mistake to make the 12″ ultra-portable machine my full-time work rig?
The answer to the question is a little complicated, but I don’t regret my decision. The 12″ MacBook is an engineering marvel. It’s fast enough to handle most of the tasks that I use it for, and I suspect that the majority of users considering the machine will love it.
But just like anything else in life, if you spend enough time with something or someone, the flaws become more evident. The question is: will my appreciation for what the MacBook does well enable me to look past its flaws? In this post, I share some of my observations from the last two months.
Coming from a 2013 MacBook Pro with Retina display, the silence was readily apparent when I first started using the MacBook. Today? The silence has become the new normal; I don’t even notice it anymore.
During the times when I run up against frustrating processing bottlenecks or the rare error messages telling me that my MacBook needs to cool down, I try to remember just how incredibly loud my MacBook Pro was. Having a quiet machine means that I can easily record voiceovers without worrying about fan noise.
It can edit videos in Final Cut Pro X, but not without struggles
As I brought out in my recent post about how to use proxy media, the MacBook is a capable Final Cut Pro X machine if you’re willing to make some compromises. Before I owned a 12″ MacBook, I’d never really messed with proxy media. Now? I know more about proxy media than I ever imagined I would.
I’ll go as far as to say that Final Cut Pro X is unusable when editing 4K video without using proxy media. Even editing 1080p videos can be a bit of a struggle.
Because proxy media works so well, and on-chip encoding makes exporting videos a breeze, the lack of processing power isn’t a huge problem. Yes, Final Cut Pro X can be used full-time on the MacBook, but only if you’re willing to make some compromises.
The screen still impresses me
The other day I was helping a friend with his 13″ MacBook Air, and it really made me appreciate the Retina display and bezel on the 12″ MacBook. The fact that Apple has given us a machine in this form factor with a Retina display is still remarkable when you think about how good the battery life is.
I do suggest adjusting the resolution to the More space setting in System Preferences → Displays. This enables the 1440-by-900 resolution setting. There’s just not enough real estate when using the MacBook’s default resolution for creative applications like photo or video editing.
If you enjoyed this tip, then you should check out the remaining 9 tips from our top 10 tips for new MacBook owners. In it, I highlight several useful tips for getting more out of your new MacBook. There’s also a video:
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The keyboard can be annoying
Although not everyone enjoys the low travel distance of the MacBook’s keys, it never posed a major issue for me. I have noticed, however, that some of the keys can get stuck as if infested with crumbs.
The stuck keys still work, but they provide even less key travel than before, if you can imagine that. I’m certainly not the only one with this problem, as I’ve seen quite a few complaints on the web regarding the stuck key issue. I’ll probably take the MacBook to the Genius Bar to address the problem before the one-year warranty expires.
I still love its portability
The MacBook is king when it comes to portable productivity. I don’t even think about leaving my MacBook behind in favor of my iPad Pro due to size or weight concerns.
The MacBook has a smaller footprint than the 12.9″ iPad Pro, and only weighs half a pound more. Considering I can get way more accomplished on a MacBook than I can with an iPad Pro, it’s an easy decision to keep the MacBook with me when on the go.
USB-C peripherals are finicky
Jordan talked about the issues with USB-C in a prior post, and I can vouch for the fact that many of the USB-C peripherals that you’ll encounter can be finicky. I’ve experienced issues with devices abruptly disconnecting, devices that aren’t recognized without a reboot, and other annoyances.
Having a single USB-C port does occasionally present a problem, but that doesn’t bother me nearly as much as the wishy-washy interaction with some of my USB-C peripherals. As the technology matures such occurrences will be less frequent, but early adopters are subject to these growing pains.
My favorite MacBook USB-C accessories thus far
Would I buy it again?
If I had to do it all over again, I’d still buy the MacBook. The honeymoon has worn off, and the flaws are as clear as ever, but in the end, I still really enjoy using this machine.
The MacBook isn’t for everyone — I’d hesitate to recommend it to those who are particular about keyboards, power-users who need lots of processing capability, and for those that often need to connect peripherals. If you fall into one or more of those categories, the MacBook can still work, but the extra effort required might result in considerable frustration.
That said, the MacBook is a capable machine; it can generally hold its own on all but the most processor-intensive tasks. And when you do encounter an issue, such as when editing 4K video, there’s wonderful software like Final Cut Pro X to help pick up the slack.
The 12″ MacBook is far from perfect, but I’m going to stick with it for the foreseeable future. If the next MacBook Pro is significantly more portable than its current iteration, I’ll have some hard decisions to make come late 2016.