MacBooks are gaining lots of ground in business deployments. Now that mainstream workers are using them as their only computer, providing support requires a deeper understanding of Apple’s products. I need to install obscure software, control them en masse, connect them to various peripheral devices, and troubleshoot advanced issues quickly and effciently.
In my opinion, there’s no better way to learn a system, than by using it everyday. I decided to take advantage of the holiday shopping season to purchase a M1 MacBook Air from BestBuy. At $799 it was the least expensive way to get an Apple silicon based computer. $200 off the normal bill.
I’ve had the unit for a few weeks. I am thoroughly impressed. The fit and finish of the hardware is fantastic and the operating system has facilitated easy adoption. I purchased it intending to use it primarily on my lap. The size and weight of the Air make it ideal for that role.
The retina screen looks just as phenomenal on my new laptop as it is does on an iPhone. Bright, clear, and crisp are words that come to mind. The text is so razor sharp that it seems to defy the abilities of a screen with these specs. It almost appears to float above the background of this post as I type.
The laptop is totally silent. There are no cooling fans in an M1 Air. I cannot over exaggerate how amazing of a feat this really is. Previous fan-less options traded performance for silence. The Air doesn’t make similar concessions, it runs at impressive speed without overheating.
The battery life is astonishing. I have only charged up twice in the last 8 days and I’ve been using it pretty hard. I’m half convinced there’s some type of Sci-Fi space generator hidden inside. There aren’t many systems that come close to matching the 14 plus hours of runtime that the M1 air is capable of.
Switching between platforms has never been easier, there’s no technical skill involved. Most of it comes down to knowing where your stuff is. All of my data is in the cloud and remains fully usable by all of my computers. I’ve just added another one to the collection, lol. The most tedious task was having to look up a ton of usernames and passwords.
It took me about four hours to get the laptop configured to be my main computer which is pretty average for setting up one of my systems. The most difficult install was the driver/control software for my Logitech MX Anywhere 2S mouse. It took a surprising amount of effort to get my forward and back buttons working properly. I got there eventually, but I’m still not exactly sure how.
My work life requires living in Microsoft’s world no matter whose hardware I’m riding on. To that end, installing the Edge browser was a good move. Microsoft Office and Onedrive were next. I also installed Visual Studio Code and the PowerShell extension for it. All of which already had Apple Silicon compatible editions ready to go.
I was able to easily find the apps, or equivalents for all of the software that I use. All but one program worked natively with the M1’s ARM based architecture. Rosetta mark 2 installed automatically when the app that didn’t required translation from the Intel Mac to the Apple Mac. The Rosetta utility worked perfectly for it.
Tip: I noticed that some of the software packages would only install if I right-clicked on them and used the Open With option to start the installer.
Apple’s computers are generally not considered gaming machines. So, I was pleasantly surprised at the number of familiar titles I found in Apple’s on-line store. Most iPad software will also install and run on the M1 and M2 MacBooks, and that includes some games.
I used the “Install App” feature of Microsoft’s Edge browser to “install” my GamePass Ultimate Subscription as an app. Saving my creds and creating a shortcut makes starting up a game a seamless experience. I also found Steam Link in the App Store which let me stream some of my favorites from my Gaming PC.
I expected the learning curve to be steepest while configuring the operating system and software, but that isn’t what threw me for a loop. The adoption challenges have come from the little things. A good example; screen snipping is built-in to both operating systems but activated with a slightly different set of key presses in each.
One of the most troublesome changes has been the lack of interoperability between the new laptop and my phone. I did not realize how fantastic Windows Phone Link really is, or how much I used it until it was no longer available. I know that if I swap to an iPhone I could get the integration features back.
Should my computer manufacturer choose my phone for me? I’m not saying it will never happen but, Apple doesn’t make a mobile with an expandable screen. I did setup a 5th gen iPad mini to experience the tight integration Apple is famous for. I really like the sidecar function.
I have enjoyed my re-introduction to Apple computers. The MacBook Air is perfect for working on the couch and taking on the go. It makes me wonder what the M2 MacBook Pro must be capable of….