Making the switch: My first week as a Mac user

Making the switch: My first week as a Mac user

It’s been a long road, as many of you know, but I’ve finally become the proud owner of a 15″ MacBook Pro. For me, this is a first. I’ve only touched OS X before, and I’ve never owned an Apple product other than my iPod Touch. To say that I was in for a shock was putting it lightly. Were things really so much better that I’d never look back? That answer remains to be found, but I do have a few observations after my first week.

Feeling Different

The first thing that I can tell you, from touching the MacBook Pro, is that I wasn’t really surprised. Being the owner of an Apple-branded keyboard for quite a few months now, I was pretty certain what was in store. There were a couple of things that I have found odd about the MacBook’s key placement (what is up with the tilde being where the left shift should be?) but ultimately I found it to be incredibly comfortable just as I thought it would be.

There is one other design choice that I don’t quite understand, either. The sharp, leading edges of the MacBook Pro make for a rather uncomfortable resting place for that area just before your wrists. It took me about an hour to realize that, in order to do long blogging sessions on the Mac, I was going to need to attach my external keyboard.

Once I did connect the keyboard (and a 24″ monitor, via a generic connector purchased from a local Mac shop) things were starting to feel a bit more normal. I did notice, however, that mouse movements with my trusty Logitech were laggy. Reading through some forums, this seems to be an issue not only with Logitech mice, but RF mice in general in OS X. It doesn’t make much sense to me, but I was told that using a Bluetooth mouse might solve the issue.

Magic Mouse in hand, I welcomed back the multitouch, but was put off a bit by the inability to rest both fingers on the mouse without causing unwanted action. I’m still getting used to the feeling of only leaving one finger on the device, but MagicPrefs has made that a bit more bearable as well. Interestingly, it seems that the forum folks were right. I’ve not noticed a bit of input lag since switching to a Bluetooth mouse. Could that lag have been attributed to me having 6 total USB devices via a hub? I’m not sure; I’m just happy that it’s fixed.

Acting Different

I had done some reading up on the gesture inputs of OS X before my MacBook hit my door, and I was looking forward to trying them. Interestingly, for someone who hates to use the trackpad on a laptop, I quickly fell in love with using it on my MacBook. Things were simply intuitive, or at least they were to my way of thinking. In fact, I’m so enamored with gestures that I’m seriously considering switching over to a Magic Trackpad instead of the Magic Mouse.

Being a keyboard addict, I was also keenly aware that many of the functions on a Mac would be faster if I’d use keyboard commands. This is another area that has surprised me. While I used a number of them on Windows, there are a huge amount that I’ve found to be even more useful on a Mac. Learning the commands, while sometimes tedious, has already made life much easier.

Looking Different

What’s probably most surprising, to me, is how different things look on a Mac versus a Windows computer. Even this site, while I love how it looks on Windows, looks infinitely better on a Mac (likely because it was designed on a Mac). Applications are another surprising thing. While most Mac apps that I’ve seen do look great, what I hate to see is how far behind their Windows counterparts are. Even VLC, my media player of choice, looks infinitely better on the Mac. Is it a matter of Windows not supporting what it takes to make the better looking applications? I can’t imagine that is the case, but it seems the only reasonable explanation.

While it’s taking some getting used to in order to head back to the Northern part of my screen to access menus, most Mac apps have a sleek look to them that I’m growing fond of quite quickly. I also appreciate the clarity of the screen on the MacBook Pro, though I loathe the fact that it has shown me the age and discoloration of my trusty 24″ monitor.

It’s clear, from first boot, that OS X is built with a heavy hand on aesthetics. Though that sometimes can be annoying for a Windows user (maximizing a window still leaves a good portion of the screen with unusable space by that window, in favor of the launcher), it’s another factor that I’ve quickly grown used to and actually started to like.

The Verdict?

Day one sucked. Though I was excited to play with new Mac apps, so many things just seemed to not make sense. But, I was determined to stick it out, so I started fresh on day two. The second day proved to be better. I found more applications, things started to make more sense and I was beginning my love affair with gestures. By the third day, I was feeling pretty much normal.

Granted, I will still have a Windows machine in my house for the foreseeable future. There are certain programs that I simply can’t run on a Mac and they’re essential to some of the things that I do. Booting Windows on my MacBook isn’t an option, as I am running on a limited-space SSD, but that very fact leads me to another which has stood to be very telling to how I feel about the Mac a week after I’ve used it.

That second fact? I’m purchasing a drive adapter to remove my SuperDrive and install a 500 GB SATA storage drive instead. Why? Because I don’t like going back to my PC to access music or other things that take up the bigger GB’s for me. I want to be able to use my Mac solely, other than for those programs that simply don’t exist. What’s it mean? It means that I’m sold. I still don’t understand hardcore fanboys, but I do have a newfound respect and love for the best laptop that I’ve ever touched.

Oh, but I’m still not buying an iPhone.

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