For the past two years, I was the proud owner of an HP Envy 14. The Beats-branded laptop served as my combination work tool, web browser, game console, Netflix streamer, and everything else I could make it do. It rocked Windows 7, one of my favorite operating systems to this day. It was flexible, powerful, and efficient.

Unfortunately, all good things have to come to an end sometime. When it came time recently to invest in a new laptop for the future, I looked long and hard at the choices available. Asus was a serious contender. That company makes superb machines. Their Zenbook line was a prime candidate for a while. Even Samsung got in on the action with some quality Ultrabooks.

However, in the end I chose to buy the new MacBook Air. As a longtime Windows user, this was quite a jump. I’ve been using OS X as much as possible for the past two days and have a few initial impressions. This is not a comprehensive review, just a few thoughts about using an Apple laptop from someone who doesn’t normally use Apple products.

See Also: How to Improve the Boot Speed of your Mac

First Impressions of the Macbook Air

Hardware Done Right

The first part you notice about the Macbook Air is the superb hardware. Weighing in at three pounds, this featherweight is easy to carry around and slide in and out of a backpack.


This laptop embodies the thin-and-light form factor. Its body is so thin that Apple actually has to solder every part together upon assembly. You can’t crack into the Air’s motherboard like you can a Pro.

The materials give off a premium feel. Everything is made of classy brushed aluminum to give it a neat silvery look. I’m told the aluminum scratches easily, though, so the aesthetics come at a price.

When you flip open the lid and start typing, the keyboard sings. The keys are slightly more shallow than I’m used to on the old Envy, but they’ve got just enough travel to make the difference negligible. As someone who types constantly, this is important.


I also like the row of function keys at the top of the keyboard. Apple thoughtfully included two skip buttons and a play/pause control among a volume switch and brightness control. The small touches help a lot.

The touchpad is the star of the show, though. The Air uses a special glass-covered sensor for increased accuracy. The results are light years ahead of anything on Windows.

Mac touchpads are phenomenal. Two-finger scrolling, pinch-zooming, and multi-touch gestures for switching between full-screen apps are all flawless. I could use this thing all day.


Speaking of multi-touch gestures, I especially like swiping up with four fingers to activate Mission Control. It splays your open windows out for selection and sorting.


The feature proves its worth when you start juggling a lot of windows on that small 13-inch screen. This is the best way to handle multiple apps outside of having an external monitor.

The other software stuff is good as well. OS X is… different. It’s not bad, but I’m still adjusting to the changes. I’m sure in time I’ll be used to Command-Q’ing out of apps and not having a Delete key. Missed opportunity, Apple.

The software selection available on Mac impresses. The Mac App Store is packed with good stuff, and that’s not even counting all the great Mac apps outside official channels.


I did notice that a lot of stuff seems more costly. For example, Growl, a freeware utility on Windows, is $4 on OS X. Other apps range from $5-15. One blogging tool wanted $40.

You could argue that the cost is recouped in quality and convenience… but I still prefer freeware and Open Source software.

Game Over

Going into this purchase, I knew that I was giving up serious PC gaming. Macs are not known for their game support, and for good reason.


First, DirectX doesn’t support OS X. It’s a Microsoft product, so it never will. Unfortunately, most games run on DirectX, making porting more difficult.

Second, Macs tend to be under-specced compared to similarly priced computers. You can get a Windows machine with much higher RAM and a better GPU for less than the cost of a new Mac.

Third, the Macbook Air has integrated graphics. Say what you want about the Intel HD 5000’s improved performance, but it’s still an Intel GPU. It values power savings more than performance.


Still, it’s not all bad. I got Portal 2 running at full settings. The computer heated up a lot, but nothing broke. Yet. Might need to look into some cooling stuff. (Once I get used to this machine, we will post some tips for keeping your Mac temperature under control)

OS X also has some decent games available. Max Payne 3, Civilization V, XCOM: Enemy Unknown, and The Walking Dead are all on Mac. Valve and Blizzard universally support Apple machines as well. Team Fortress 2 and Left 4 Dead 2 are great games.

Aspyr, a company that specializes in Mac ports for games, posted that they’re working on an OS X copy of BioShock Infinite. After playing it once on Windows, I can’t wait to try it again.


OS X has a good selection of indie games for those of you who don’t care about triple-A titles. Famous and soon-to-be-famous indies like Bastion and Limbo tend to release for Mac. You can find some unique experiences there.

Final Thoughts

Right now, I’m not worried about how I’m going to keep playing Mass Effect 2. I’m too busy focusing on enjoying the new computer and acclimatizing to OS X.

Learning a new system is exciting. Here’s looking at the future.