Switch to MacBook Air from ASUS Zen Book

The Zenbook is a great machine, slim and light with a 1920X1080 display with a matte finish, all aluminum construction, an Ivy Bridge dual core processor, 4 gigs of ram and oodles of sex appeal. So why ditch it? For the most quotidian of reasons and for some that are a little more highbrow.

The drab mundane truth of the matter is that Mac’s appear to excell in three unexciting areas. No windows laptops I have ever held in my hands, no matter the price (and I’ve always bought expensive laptops), the maker or the heft of the machine have come close to Mac standards in these areas. They are as follows:

  • Keyboard. Every other laptop I’ve used, and especially the last few (Vizio and Acer, but all the Dells, Sonys, HPs, and Toshibas that preceded them) had problems if you let your wrist rest on the margin below the keyboard. Errant characters and unusual outcomes meant I had to retype every line when my wrist position was sloppy. Now while my piano and typing teachers would approve, I did not. In addition the key travel, responsiveness, touch, and clickyness (whatever that is) of the Macs are better. I need my keyboard to help me when typing, I make enough errors on my own.
  • Trackpad. Nobody comes close to the MacBook track pads. They are more accurate, more responsive and better built with a more solid feel. They are also less likely to respond as if  you have touched them when only resting your wrist on the margin below the keyboard. Many, many fewer errors result from the cursor moving unexpectedly while typing.  Support for trackpad gestures is much smoother and easier to use on the Mac
  • Overall build quality of the device. As an object the MacBook looks and feels superior to the other machines. The ASUS was a Cadillac, but the Mac is an Audi or BMW.
Some additional things I like about the Mac over the Windows Machines, including the Zenbook,
  • Noise.  The Mac is quieter, its fan runs less often and when it does, it is quieter than the ASUS or any other windows machine I’ve used.
  • Lack of squirreliness when coming out of sleep suspend.  Even with Windows 8, which suspends and resumes smoother than Windows 7, the Mac wakes up quicker and with less random ill effects than the ASUS.  Often under  Windows 7 and 8 there would be a problem reconnecting to wireless access points, especially if I was waking the machine after just coming home from work.  I have not experienced any of that under OSX.
  • No windows 8 interface.  I don’t like it.  I realize that I could be using Windows 7 but feel that if you’re uncomfortable using the latest release of software that represents the makers vision for its future, you are best served by using something else.  I like a windowing interface and, while Mac makes the Launchpad interface available for an App style experience, its optional, not the default.
  • The default mail application, address book and calendar application work and play well with GMail.  This gives me usable desktop clients without jumping through any hoops.  Given current relations between Apple and Google there are no promises how long that will remain possible, but it is now and that is good.

There are also some things I like less about my Mac than windows:

  • Fuzzy fonts.  Mac and Windows make choices about how to render fonts.  The Mac version looks fuzzier to my eyes at the same resolutions than windows does.  I like the sharper fonts.
  • Costs of Applications.  $40 for an offline blog editor (I’m looking at you Mars Edit) is absurd.  I suppose that the producers of Mac software figure if you shelled out the money for a Mac you’ll spend a lot on apps.  Wrongo.
  • File management.  This is my only really major beef with the OSX way of doing things.  Apple appears to go out of its way to make it impossible for you to manage your files.  The paradigm in the Mac is that applications manage files, not users so finder is a seriously bad application.  Complaints about its suitability as a file manager go back years and it is essentially unchanged since its inception.  There are some replacements, I recommend Forklift which is not only a dual pane file manager but allows connections to SFTP accounts, but the experience remains less than wholly satisfactory.  This is the one instance where I feel my Mac is working against me instead of with me (I found a solution to most of my issues and posted it here.
But the major reason I moved from Windows to Mac was to give the integrated Apple ecosystem a chance to work.  It was impossible for me to have such integration with Windows, even given the launch of Windows 8 for desktop, tablets and phones for a single reason.  There is no no desktop client for Windows 8 that integrates with Gmail Contacts except (with a plugin) Outlook.  And Outlook is a pure dog when dealing with IMAP accounts.  Given that I don’t like Windows 8’s direction anyway, Apple was the obvious choice.  The integration works pretty well.  All my devices sync seamlessly with each other, I can use Gmail calendars, contacts and mail as sort of the center of my universe with Dropbox for sharing files and Evernote for notes.  I don’t like file sharing under iCloud or Google Apps because the account for file sharing is associated with your mail account.  If you log in to the file share you are logged in to the mail account.  My wife and I like to share a files, but not email addresses.
So, in a nut shell my reasons for the switch boil down to better build quality, an operating system direction I like better, and better ecosystem support.  Your milage may vary.