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Three things I miss after ditching my MacBook

Macbook Razer

A few weeks ago, I swapped out my 2014 MacBook Pro for the latest Razer Blade. I needed something that was VR-Ready, and it was clear from the last hardware refresh that Apple wasn't going to be prioritizing GPU anytime soon. Switching from the 13-inch MacBook Pro to the 14-inch Razer Blade was a relatively simple thing since I've never been "all in" on the Apple ecosystem, and Razer has the closest thing to Apple quality build and materials right now.

That said, it didn't take long for me to be reminded of the many small things Apple does really well in order to create that experience you can't get anywhere else.

Auto-brightness

MacBook

MacBook Keyboard (Image credit: Rene Ritchie/iMore)

Not a big deal by any stretch, but there are no other laptops that handle both display and keyboard brightness like a MacBook. The times I felt it necessary to adjust the brightness on either the display or the keyboard on my MacBook were few, and never both at the same time.

I'm a huge fan of the Chroma light system on the Razer Blade, and being able to adjust the color and brightness of the individual keys on this keyboard is amazing. I can launch Adobe Lightroom and Chrome automatically adjusts to highlight my shortcut keys, which is very clever. Without a grasp of the basics, like making sure those colors don't blind me when working in a dark room, this very cool feature falls a little flat.

Quality trackpad experience

MAcBook

There is nothing quite like scrolling and accelerated tracking on a MacBook. Scrolling around in any app is perfectly smooth, and being able to press down on the trackpad as a mouse click is nice. Slightly more important, the way Apple handles measuring distance traveled on your screen depending on how fast you moved your fingers is fantastic.

I don't dislike the trackpad on the Razer Blade, but Windows 10 just doesn't offer as polished an experience. Most apps behave slightly differently when it comes to scrolling smoothness, and while you can tweak settings to get something close enough it's clear Apple's method is the better overall experience.

Silent running by default

MacBook

You can make MacBook fans get really loud if you push the system, but light browsing or streaming means the system is whisper quiet by default. You can make this Razer Blade almost as quiet if you tweak the settings, but every once in a while I find myself wondering what that sound is only to realize it's coming from my computer when I'm not even touching it.

It's a shame I can't go back

These are largely personal quibbles, and doesn't even begin to touch things like effortless backups with my Time Machine or the way macOS interacts seamlessly with iOS.

Apple has worked hard to create a superior overall experience that makes it hard to leave their ecosystem. I happen to live in a niche for now with my need for slightly more capable hardware, and that's ok. Rather than slam Apple for not appealing to me directly as a consumer right now, I find myself wondering why it is these seemingly simple bits of polish are so difficult for the competition to pull off consistently.

It's a question that will, most likely, have me back in an Apple store should the VR-Ready box be checked for a MacBook Pro in the future.

Russell is a Contributing Editor at iMore. He's a passionate futurist whose trusty iPad mini is never far from reach. You can usually find him chasing the next tech trend, much to the pain of his wallet. Reach out on Twitter!

9 Comments
  • I dual booted for 3 years before finally giving up on Mac's. I still prefer the OS but the software simply isn't there. Dual booting means double the maintence/updates, always deciding which system is your 'home' system for keeping music and photos as such.... And I'm really liking Windows 10.
    My Surfrace pro 4 has been amazing on holiday, it really does do the job of a tablet, watching movies and reading magazines on the flight, and its a full Windows 10 with full Lightroom and everything I need from a PC abroad.
  • I find it interesting that the only things you listed in this article were specific to the laptop you moved to. There are plenty of options in the Windows world that offer those things you miss.
    I've used both Windows and Mac for years, and the only time I find myself working on a Mac is when I need specific software for it, like Xcode. Otherwise, the environments are similar enough that I opt for the full features of Windows.
  • Yes, the article was based entirely on my personal experiences. To my knowledge, there does not exist a VR-Ready Windows-based laptop that offers the feature set I miss from my MacBook.
  • I admit, VR hasn't been an experience I have been interested in. So, I haven't looked at the selection of systems that specifically support it. Now you make me wonder what other VR-Ready systems are out there. Strictly wondering for educational purposes only, not for purchasing purposes. :)
  • I followed the exact same path. After waiting for a new 11" MacBook Air with Retina; I purchased a Razer Blade. I like the laptop a lot but the keyboard on the Air was my favorite. I've now resorted to watching if the 12" MacBook's ever fall below $1K.
  • Even if it 12" Macbook drop below $1K, it may not be the right choice for you. You mention that the Air's keyboard was your favorite, but the Macbook's keyboard is VERY different. I've gotten used to it on the current MBP, but I definitely feel the difference when I go back to an older Pro or Air (or even an Apple external keyboard). If your prefer macOS, then "getting used to" the keyboard is still worth it (it was for me) -- but if having the Air's old style of keyboard is important to you, then you might actually be dissatisfied with the retina Macbook.
  • Very true! Outside of the chance that the MacBook Air will be making a comeback...what other choice do I have??? I feel it's worth a shot but not at current retail price.
  • Well I'm sure that you miss much more than the 3 items that you mentioned, especially if you are using a Win10 system right now. Moving to a Mac / macOS platform is easy. The visa versa - not so much. lOlz
  • I was a PC user for over 20 years and have no plans on ever going back. Windows 8 was a f'in joke and 10 isn't much better. Windows 7 was the last stable, solid Windows OS.
    Notice I didn't say I would 'never' go back, as I realize that things change and something might happen to sway me but even with the rather questionable decisions Apple has made with the new MBP hardware and the OS that seems a bit outdated at times... Even with all that... macOS is still more reliable, protected and simply does what it's supposed to do. Is it perfect? Not by a long shot but next to Windows 10... yeah, head-and-shoulders.
    I can't get away from PCs completely. I have to use them at work and I'm still asked on to fix my wife's PC, my in-law's PC, (hardware and software). All the while, my older MBP just keeps chugging along like a well-oiled machine, doin'-the-work.