A Month with a Mac - Part II: The Mobile Experienceby Anand Lal Shimpi on January 24, 2005 12:01 AM EST
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The Aftermath of Part IBefore proceeding with this article, please read through the first Mac article, "A Month with a Mac article", to get a foundation for the purpose, perspective and background that led to this article. This article is very much intended to be a sequel and not something that will stand on its own. If you've never used Mac OS X at great lengths or haven't read through the positive and negative points of the Mac platform from a PC user's perspective (from the first article), go back and read Part I before continuing.
When I originally committed to doing a Mac section on AnandTech, I actually committed it to the readers before discussing it with the rest of AnandTech staff. So when it came time to implement it, the rest of the staff didn't see much of a place for Mac articles on AnandTech. It took a lot of convincing (as well as some executive privilege) for the establishment of the Mac section, and then came the publication of the first Mac article: A Month with a Mac: A Die Hard PC User's Perspective.
Within the first three days of publication, that little Mac article skyrocketed to becoming one of the all-time most popular articles ever published on AnandTech. The flood of emails that came in as a result of that article is greater than the response to any single product launch that I'd ever seen. Even to this day, I get tons of emails from users just now stumbling upon the article, searching for PC user experiences with OS X as folks contemplate trying out OS X for the first time, thanks to the release of the Mac mini.
Immediately after the publication of the first Mac article, I already thought about doing a follow-up. The scope of the first article was already quite massive and the depth was as thorough as I could be without writing a book on the experience, yet there was already so much more to cover.
Then there were the responses to the article - Mac users complained that I was being too harsh on the one-button mouse, PC users complained that I was being too positive on the OS, but then the vast majority of users actually provided some very good feedback, asking for more information in certain areas. In fact, I'd say that the Mac article resulted in the most positive email responses that I've had from an article to date. I introduced the original article by talking about how difficult of an article it was to write, but after the overwhelming response to it, a sequel didn't seem that difficult.
One problem with these types of articles is that they inevitably take much longer to put together, simply because there are no structured tests to run and analyze. Articles like this are very much about the experience, and to do the experience justice, it's truly something that you have to integrate into your daily routine for a while. Prior to the first Mac experiment, I'd used Macs at various stages in my computing life, but never actually trying to integrate them into my daily routine. Writing an article based on any of those experiences would have turned out very differently compared to what the first article ended up being.
The downside to these long-term subjective evaluations is that the hardware industry changes at a spectacular pace and a lot happened during and immediately after the publication of the first Mac article that changed things dramatically. Before diving into the focus for this article, I'd like to briefly touch on some of the hot items that have surfaced since Part I.
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RMSistight - Monday, January 24, 2005 - linkHey Anand, make sure you check your video links. One of them doesn't work. Also, when are you going to release a full review of the Mac Mini? I'm dying to see it's performance and also what it looks like piece by piece under the hood.
billsuspect - Monday, January 24, 2005 - linkWhen it comes time to review the mini, please please please keep focused on the fact that it's a Grandma Machine!
Entropyq3 - Monday, January 24, 2005 - linkThat iLife comment above - what I've found, silly as it may sound particularly from a middleaged man, is that Llife really encourages creativity in its users.
Just about everyone I know that has gotten in touch with the programs have gotten more interested in some creative area - be it making tracks in GarageBand, using their digital camera much more since it's so easy to keep track of your pictures in iPhoto, getting back into music due to iTunes, or actually doing something with your videos in iMovie so that they can be shown to and actually enjoyed by other people.
Just seeing them as lightweight "getting started" apps misses the effect of them being so damn accessible that even my elderly mother can use them. And she finds surfing the web difficult. If you have a latent interest or talent, the iLife suite will let you get your feet wet and try things out. And that's important.
Entropyq3 - Monday, January 24, 2005 - linkInteresting to see your takes on the mac - as a long time user of many platforms I'm gratified to see a representative of the PC hardware reviewing community opening up to what other platforms can offer. Although it is a bit galling when a newbie on a platform you have used for a long time comes up with nifty features you weren't even aware was there. :)
If you are going to review the Mac mini, then having a look at the iLife suite is nigh on unavoidable - it makes up such a large part of what the user experience of the Mac mini would be to many general users. But then, that would probably make the review take longer, and the suite is not at all specific to the mini.
goates - Monday, January 24, 2005 - linkGreat article.
If only more PC users were this open minded about using other platforms.
Chuckles - Monday, January 24, 2005 - link#6: You can set the trackpad to click when tapped without Sidetrack.
Anand: Nice article again.
habibbijan - Monday, January 24, 2005 - linkIf you want to try to avoid using the mouse as much as possible, you should take a look at Quicksilver.
This little freeware app allows you to launch any program or navigate your filesystem with just a few keystrokes.
Hikari - Monday, January 24, 2005 - linkGood article!
However, I sort of disagree on the screen. I think Macs have an even bigger need for higher resolutions. I hope the Powerbooks get 1400x1050 or some similar widescreen resolution soon, but that might not be until the next OS version which has resolution independence I think.
I owned a Pbook 867. :D
hopejr - Monday, January 24, 2005 - linkGreat article! Learnt a few things in that I didn't know about before (e.g. the fn+delete thing - not having a proper delete key on my iBook G4 always irked me, but now I know I had one all along!, oh, and the drag folders into the save window thing - that's really nice).
I think I'm going to be even more productive on my laptop than I already am! (I use it as my main system too :P)
vmajor - Monday, January 24, 2005 - linkI just bought a an iMac for my elderly neighbout that has never used a computer before. There really wasn't any other choice. A PC just would not work as well - the viruses and trojans would have brought the system to its knees within a week.
What surprised me was how much I liked the iMac! The machine is truly fantastic! I am a hardcore PC user - having built all my PCs over the past ten years or so. But I can really see myself owning a nice Mac with a huge wide screen (or two) sometime in the near future, and keep my XP Althlon 64 (FX) box for games.
All of you really need to play with MacOS X and admire the achievement... simple and nice and it still has a fully functional UNIX shell...