Tuesday, 24 October 2017

My one-year review of Macbook 2016 (rose gold!)

English roses for my Rosie...

Breaking a bit from my Okada Masaki-fever, I’d like to talk about my laptop now. My 2016 Macbook rose gold, to be exact…

There was only one good thing that happened after Trump went into power last year for me. That was: suddenly The Good Guys had a massive discount on their Apple-related products. Since I had always coveted for the rose gold 2016 Macbook, as soon as I realised that TGG dropped the Macbook price, I went to one of their stores. Using my very rare pay for a big work that I did in Oct-Nov 2016, I went in, and went out again with an AUD 2,000 rose gold Macbook 2016. The 20% off was certainly appealing… (and no, I don’t think TGG dropping the Apple price had anything to do with Trump winning, but it was a weird coincidence…).

Now, a year later, I thought that I’d better give a review of how my life has been with Rosie, the rose gold 2016 Macbook. For reference, she’s my first Mac, and I have loved her since I saw her. I organise the review in no particular order, and since I’m not an IT person, if you want to get this baby, you better read other people’s review, like this one, for better reference. Oh, and this website gives a good review of why many of us love rose gold (“Rose gold is compelling, Eiseman says, because it offers a subtle sense of peacefulness. It's soothing and calming.” – dang right!). 

Here’s the spec of my Macbook:

In November 2016, the 29W USB-C charger charges to 100% in about 1.5 hours. I remember writing this passage: “I just charged my rose-gold Macbook (aaahhh!! Rose gold!!) at 13:40 when it was 27%. At 15:03, it was already 100%. Hence, it took max 1.5 hours to charge to 100% from almost empty. Very good indeed.”

A year later, the charging rate is still about the same. I only need about 1.5 hours for my Mac to be fully charged. If I use my Mac solely without an external monitor, the battery lasts for more than 8 hours (I don't think it lasts for 10 hours, but certainly a whole day's of normal work will do). If I use my Mac with an external monitor, the monitor sucks up battery a lot, thus I have to recharge the battery after 4-5 hours of usage. Read on for my dongle choices for external monitor.

The USB-C of Macbook 2016 brings hassles on its own. I had to, for the first time in my life, buy dongles. The first dongle that I have is Linden LUSBCHS16 (USB-C 5-in-1 connection kit) that provides me with a micro-SD slot, an SD slot, two USB-B slots and one USB-C slot.

Linden LUSBCHS16 allows me to charge the Mac
and transfer data, but not for external monitor dongle

Then, since I like to use my laptop screen and an external screen at the same time, I bought the XC-Source USB-C to VGA and USB-A (the usual USB, anyway) from eBay. The adaptor works well with my old Dell external screen and my older Genius Traveler 700 mouse. However, this adaptor isn’t charging when I’m using the VGA adaptor as well. In another word, the USB-C connector in the XC-Source is pretty useless. Perhaps it is a reflection of its AUD 20 price tag?

Contrary to the XC-Source, Linden allows me to charge my laptop at the same time as I use the USB-A. XCSource also makes the second monitor flickers at times. Again, perhaps price does reflect quality here, for I bought the Linden adaptor for AUD 60. Oh, one thing that I like about the Linden adaptor is that it has a short “beak” that connects it to the Macbook, hence it sticks at its length to Macbook’s width, instead of dangling away from the Macbook using a long-ish cable. It’s neat and stylish (only if it comes in rose-gold).

Considering that it only takes 1.5 hours to charge my Macbook from almost empty to 100%, I consider it not a major hassle. I can always charge my Macbook while I’m having lunch or when I leave the room for a meeting. Still, it sucked that I couldn’t charge my Macbook while using the VGA connector at will.

That was when I bought the Satechi dongle that facilitated an HDMI port. I purchased the Satechi USB-C to HDMI port dongle from Satechi’s website because Amazon does not ship it to AU. I can still charge my Macbook with this dongle while using other ports as well (including an HDMI port). That solves the problem for my Samsung external monitor at home.

Click here to buy this baby! She's now my go-to dongle for external monitor!

Oh, and the Satechi rose gold is amazing and matches my rose gold Macbook perfectly! The only thing I would change is the male port, I like the short one like the Satechi Type-C Pass Through USB Hub with USB-C Charging Port (Rose Gold).

I want to buy this dongle just because... it's rose gold, and it's so neat ...
(although it functions just the way my Linden dongle does)

How well-matched...

For the Dell monitor at the office (it unfortunately has no HDMI port), I was using XCsource that I bought for AUD 20 in eBay. As I wrote earlier, although this cheap dongle connects directly from USB C to VGA port, it does not allow me to charge the laptop while I am using the VGA port. Hence, I can only charge my laptop when I’m on a lunch break or away from the desk for a while.

It took me a while to realise that I can actually buy a HDMI to VGA dongle. I finally realised it when I was looking at my old Asus 12” (not sure what the series is). My Asus it has no VGA port which used to confuse me. It has a HDMI port, but I never bought an HDMI to VGA extension. Now, I do need such a dongle.  Thus I bought Rankie HDMI to VGA dongle from Amazon, which surprisingly ships to Australia (!). To connect the Rankie dongle with my Macbook, I use the Satechi HDMI port. So, from the Macbook, it is Macbook-Satechi HDMI-Rankie HDMI to VGA-Dell monitor. A long way to go to the external monitor, but I can still charge my Macbook when I need to, while I’m also still using the external monitor.

Buy it from Amazon (but it cancels out audio)

The downside is (sigh) that I can’t listen to music while on Satechi+Rankie dongles. I can do that with Satechi only (hence, Macbook-Satechi-external HD gives me music without earphones), but with +Rankie, I have to use earphones. Grumble grumble grumble!

Oh, forgot to say that both the XCSource, Linden and the Satechi dongles allow me to use the old-fashioned cable mouse with my Macbook. As in, I don't have to buy the new bluetooth mouse for my mouse. I can use my partner's $30 wireless mouse as well, but I have no desire to buy a bluetooth mouse.

MacBook software commentaries (OS X El Capitan):

Display and desktop: Love the crisp display. I didn’t know Mac(book) can create two different desktop backgrounds when I use the extended desktop feature using an external screen. Now I’m using it to my heart’s content!

Office suits: Works fine, but at times my Office often crashes, particularly if I opened too many apps at the same time. I have to be very patient with El Capitan + Office… Perhaps I need to upgrade to Sierra.

Preview: Love it, cos you can change your colour images into Noir with the ‘Tools’. However, it’s a bit difficult to know how noir is noir, so iPhone and iPad actually do better jobs with their Photo. I also use Preview to combine PDF docs these days, for I don’t want to pay for Adobe Acrobat.

Keynote: Love it, cos I can talk over my presentations and directly recording it, and also converting it to mp4 without the need of Camtasia and other softwares. I’d still use Powerpoint to make presentations; but Keynote is wonderful if I want to have it recorded afterwards.

iMovie: I used it for my Michael/Barbara MVs and Okada Masaki MVs. It does a good job, though I’m surprised at the lack of filter suits and that I cannot make double filters. What I mean is, if my original image is in colour, I cannot apply double filters to make it noir and ‘dreamy’. What I’ve learned to do is I change the image into Noir with Preview, then I make the image ‘dreamy’ in iMovie. Another easier way is just to make the colour image Noir, screen cap that image, then apply ‘dreamy’ filter to the new Noir image. A bit of a hassle, but it works wonder. iMovie does a really good job at transferring the video to YouTube and Vimeo. It doesn’t take as long as I would do that manually (with Windows).

iMovie suits for titles is inflexible. I cannot change the font size of some titles, which is annoying. Amazing that Windows Movie Maker does a better job at it, i.e. offering titles with flexible font sizes! Read this post for my tips for subtitling with iMovie (and let me know if you have better tips for me!).

SPSS IBM ver 24: Installed this software last month and surprisingly it runs well with my Mac. I was tempted to install ArcGIS, but decided against it. Don’t want to clog my machine too much. Besides, ArcGIS is better used with Windows machines.

Verdict after almost a year

Very glad I bought the 2016 Macbook. Super really glad that I got the rose gold colour, and supremely grateful for the discount I got from TGG. Thank you, Universe!

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