A Context For Computer Reviews

Don’t take people’s word for it, you need to know why before can consider any review.

Most reviewers only tell you why they have the perspectives they have. Saying why, in detail, they do or do not like certain things — or why they believe something is truly important. These reviewers tend to base too much on assumptions — assuming that the reader knows far more about their background than they likely do in reality.

The reviewer just asks you to trust them. They know.

There’s no basis for that trust. Even if you are a paying member of this site you shouldn’t trust what I say about a product unless I tell you why you should trust me. That’s why many sites show you the process for reviewing — and a bio of the person — sometimes you even get the criteria for grading and evaluating things. None of that really matters though.

You need more context about me to see just what, why, and how I am framing my review on any computer.

Prior to getting a MacBook I hadn’t touched one in person, so I formed no opinions based on facts about having touched the device. Half out of fear of getting cold feet, and half out of wanting to not bias my opinion when writing the forward for a review of the computer.

I want to tell you how I use a computer, why, and how things may change for me over time. I want to show you the entire picture, not just the glossy stuff that you likely came here to see, so that you can better understand why I feel the way I do about certain aspects of this polarizing computer.

I’ve long been a laptop user. For me that started in college with a giant Dell Inspiron machine housing a 15” screen — I lugged that it all over. And then to the fabled 12” PowerBook G4 — a computer the new MacBook is readily being compared to — before moving to:

  • Mac mini G4 (2005)
  • Mac Pro (2006)
  • 15” MacBook Pro (2006)
  • 15” MacBook Pro (2008)
  • 13” MacBook Air (2010)
  • 15” MacBook Pro with retina display (2012)

And now on to the MacBook.

Before we move on, I want to talk about that list a little bit more. You can readily see that I am very clearly predisposed to a 15” laptop — and I can only surmise this is because those offer the best solution for a desktop laptop. But you can also see that I’ve had small and light machines and big fast machines too — that Mac Pro was awesome.

(My review of the MacBook Air is here, and here for the retina MacBook Pro)

I never reflected on this list of machines before, but in looking at it — it appears that 15” laptops are my sweet spot.


Now that I’ve gotten the good old list of credentials out of the way, the far more important part of understanding where I am coming from is in how I use a computer. Amazingly this is left out of almost all computer reviews. Maybe I am someone who demands serious performance, or someone who doesn’t — without me explicitly saying that, you wouldn’t know.

I sit somewhere just above the person that demands very little performance — because as much as I want to tell myself I lie on the serious performance end of things, the reality is that most of my work and hobbies center around typed words. As long as I can send text easily I am able to accomplish 90% of what I need and want to do.

I spent an entire week on an iPad Air with iOS 8 and I was probably more productive. “Power” doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of how I use a computer.

I edit photos on my iPad, not my Mac. I use only Sketch and Pixelmator for design, and even then I usually only touch those a couple times a month. But I do very much spend all working hours in front of my Mac. I spend it standing, lounging, and sitting. I move all around. Only spending 60% or so of my day at my desk.

I am probably a better candidate for a desktop, but I loathe the idea of a desktop and truly don’t need the power. Small and light appeals to me — it’s sexy and sleek and I love that — the idea and most implementations of laptops from Apple.

The apps I spend the most time in are:
– Slack
– Mail
– Safari
– Ulysses
– OmniOutliner
– OmniFocus
– Mail
– Messages
– HipChat

Not a single one of those are computing intensive. I could get away with less than the 2006 computers I owned, and yet I don’t have to, so I won’t.

None of this is meant to brag, or anything of that ilk. The purpose of this post is simply to give you a better understanding of how I use a computer so that when I say something is bad or good, you have a better idea of how my judgments likely will compare with yours.

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