Since I am planning to graduate this year, I thought it is a good time to finally get a laptop from Apple when I still have a student discount. Another purpose of it was using Keynote to make presentations effectively. Mac OS X is the only sensible desktop environment that supports GUI engine that can handle vector graphics properly. One can grab a figure, formula, table, etc. from a PDF and just paste into a presentation slide and scale it without worrying about blurring. This is really great for LaTeX users because one just reuse the contents from a paper, don’t have to recreate snippets re-formatted for slides. I had old mac mini that looked like a white bento-box from about 2007, made few slides with it and was very satisfied. Now, I it got too slow for new software and cannot even upgrade it, so I got a brand new machine, 11’’ MacBook Air with 256GB SSD. The minimum amount of128GB is about $100 less, but I really need to use Linux (either via virtual machine or dual boot), so more storage was inevitable. There are packaging systems OS X ports of software mainly targeted for Linux, but I was never satisfied with it, unfortunately. I heard that there a better option came up recently called homebrew, but still, I can’t get used to the keybindings using command rather than control and all those things :(
I like the hardware, of course. Fine looking aluminum, high-quality display (11’’ didn’t feel that small), and Apple’s touch pad is no comparison to other laptops. It’s first time using SSD sotrate, and it seemed to work faster than HDD. So, even though it does not have high-computing power in the CPU, it wouldn’t feel that slow compared to machines with higher-end CPU’s with HDD. I don’t have serious graphic/video/audio tasks, so it’s fine for me. When using a virtual machine, SSD definitely wins. And it uses less battery as well.
The Keynote for iCloud is great as well. You can edit the contents of your (or others’ shared to you for editing) presentation online, even in non-Mac machines; although it works best with Safari, a lot of jobs are doable in Firefox as well (e.g., fix typos, edit text, minor layout changes, add new slides, and so on). One problem I had with iCloud Keynote is that it does not properly scale vector image, just stretches out and makes it blur. So, if you use vector graphic source images like eps or pdf format, don’t try to present it through web-browser but stick to Keynote for presentation.
Other than Keynote and web-browsing, I tend to work inside Debian linux running on virtualbox. Since I don’t need much of graphic acceleration, I’m currently happy with visualized Linux environment; I think SSD makes it feel less that it is a virtual machine than running guest OS on HDD.