I own three Hackintosh netbooks. (Yes, each with a separate OS X license.) I love my Hackintosh netbooks, but I can't use those Hackintosh netbooks. I can no longer pry them out of the all-embracing hands of my Mac-addicted children.
Last Friday, I placed my order for a refurb/open box Air. I am about to join the Air Club for Men (and Women).
So why move up? After three netbooks with Hackintosh installs, all of which I was entirely happy with, why am I buying Apple? Three big reasons people: software update, use case and keyboard.
Frankly, I've grown a little tired of the the software update dance that's involved in all non-standard mods. Whether waiting for iPhone jailbreaks to catch up with the latest firmware or standing firm until I hear if an update will kill my Hackintoshes, I'm kind of over the wait-and-see game.
It is true that I normally delay upgrades whenever possible, even on my Macintoshes. I'd rather other people figure out what's gone wrong with a dot release first. But with a standard-issue Mac laptop, I don't have to. And that flexibility actually means something to me, for a machine I'm hoping to get actual work done on.
That brings me to use case. I have already posted about why laptops and iPads/netbooks fill separate niches in the use case ecosystem. I love my iPad. I use my iPad. But an iPad is not going to provide the same kind of full Mac portability that I'm looking for from my soon-to-arrive Air. I need to be able to do actual work while mobile.
While I've been able to cobble together solutions in the past with my Hackintoshes, the physical compromises with the netbook form factor made them unattractive for blogging more than a paragraph or two, let alone reviewing chapters or coding.
Yes, I do have items in the iOS App Store that were completely developed and deployed from a Hackintosh, just to show I could. They were also created while using external keyboards, mice and monitors. In other words, I had to transform the Hackintosh from a laptop into a desktop unit. I think these compromises demonstrate how limiting the native hardware on a netbook actually is.
I'm not kidding myself in any way about the 11-inch MBA screen, but after testing out Steve Sande's MBA at the recent 360 MacDev conference in Denver, I convinced myself that the Air could handle work use far better than the 9- and 10-inch Dell netbooks I'd been using previously.
And that brings me to the keyboard. I have yet to meet a netbook keyboard that I loved. I've met many that I've loathed and some that I've tolerated, but they weren't really usable for an experienced touch typist to write on for more than a minute or two at a time. Test-driving Steve's unit showed me that a well designed keyboard could make the difference, at least as far as blogging goes, between getting an emergency post out the door and continuously providing coverage throughout an event. Our main blog posting system had changed at that point to no longer provide iPad support, a fact I discovered during the conference, which certainly colored my decision to go MacBook.
I expect my new MacBook Air to arrive shortly, having waited until I could no longer put off buying a unit and until I found a nice refurb deal over at Apple. It didn't hurt that Dave Caolo and Kelly Guimont gushed enthusiastically about their 11-inch MBAs, or as Kelly put it, "I pink puffy heart my 11" Air." Steve Sande calls it "the perfect blogger's computer." It looks like Megan Lavey may be the next one to drop into the fold, as she balances her time on TUAW with newspaper journalism and design.
We're all becoming Airheads over here at TUAW, I suppose.
What about you?
Got an Air success (or failure) story? Or want to advocate for an alternative mobile computing solution? Join the discussion in the comments.