Apple Macbook 12 Retina 2016 review

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I’m typing on a MacBook 12 Retina 2016 … and I like it. ūüėÄ

With an iPad Mini I wrote about 40,000 words thumb typing on the split keyboard and I was actually ok with that. ¬†But I was always looking for the right physical keyboard to add to the Mini. ¬†I tried two but in the end it was iOS that ended the Mini’s run as a content creation tool.

So I went with a cheap Dell 3531.

I knew what I really wanted though:  an iPad-ish sized machine with a physical keyboard and glorious battery life, but not iOS.  For a long time I had my eye on the Dell XPS 13.

The perfect combination finally appeared in the Macbook 12. ¬†This past Christmas 2016 I put an order in for¬†a refurbished¬†2016 m3/256 in the correct color, space gray. ¬†I ended up with a new one and a free Apple¬†multi-port dongle for the same price, but that’s another story (caused by UPS).

The thing that made the difference here is MacOS (vs iOS).  There were now no limitations due to software.  The limitations due to having only one USB-C port are mitigated with the dongle.

SIZE:
The approximate size of this laptop is slightly smaller than an iPad Pro.  It is thicker but it will still fit in sleeves designed for a regular iPad.  It will stick out since it is about 0.75 inches wider than an iPad is tall.

 

BATTERY LIFE:

Outstanding.

I have gotten, no kidding, more than 12 hours of casual use, such as typing on this blog.  That was 1/3 brightness.  50% brightness brings it into the the realm of 9-10 hours.  Certainly still fantastic.  Running out of power is not a worry of any sort.  With my Dell 3531 I was always distractingly conscious of the battery life lol.

ERGONOMICS:
When closed it feels awesome, like holding a favorite paper notebook.  Opening the lid can be done one-thumbed, barely raising the base of the laptop, yet keeping whatever angle you set the lid.

And now the keyboard. ¬†Yes, this keyboard. ¬†I like it. ¬†I’ve seen youtube videos and articles online talking about the keyboard. ¬†But for me it’s fine. ¬†Keys are spaced out quite nicely, easy to type on and the feel, or travel, of the keys is again, just fine.

And, they’re backlit. ¬†That may seem ho-hum to you but my Dell was not backlit lol. ¬†I t was something I always wished I had. ¬†I knew what I was buying when it came to the Dell so that’s ok.

TRACKPAD:
Yep, I love the trackpad. ¬†The Windows/Dell combo tried to mimic many of the gestures in it’s own trackpad but smoothness, the robustness of the software, yes, software, simply was not there. ¬†It would take several swipes for the trackpad to recognize what you were trying to do.

With the MacBook trackpad it almost seems to read your mind.  It is awesome.

CONCLUSION:
All told I am very pleased with my MacBook 12 m3/256gb space gray. ¬†It’s a keeper ūüėÄ

Four tips for writing with your iPhone 6 Plus

What have I written with my iPhone 6 Plus? This entire post for example, pictures and everything.

I’ve written entire chapters with it as well.

Is it my first choice? Nope. But it happens to be a very adequate second choice.

Here are four tips for using an iPhone 6 Plus as a writer’s tool.
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1. Do NOT upgrade your phone to iCloud Drive
The online forums talk about files getting lost, new changes not being saved …
Do NOT upgrade your phone to iCloud Drive.
Your files are still saved to iCloud you just won’t be able to use the Pages/Keynote/Numbers apps on the web portal until the web portal is upgraded.
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2. Use Apple’s Pages app
I put this second only because of how important it is to NOT upgrade your phone to iCloud Drive. I wanted to mention that first.

Make sure your phone is set up and activated to use iCloud (not iCloud Drive). Your first 5gb is free so go ahead and do it.
I discovered that I did NOT have to upgrade the web portal to see changes from one iOS device on the other. Anything I did on Pages on my iOS 8 iPhone 6 Plus showed up in Pages on my iOS 7 iPad Mini. I just couldn’t use the web Pages.

Writing using iOS Pages allows for automatic backup to your iCloud.

Naturally this could be very important one day so I’ve stuck with this combo.
Until you upgrade the web portal though you won’t be able use web based Pages on the desktop.
I don’t have an Apple desktop or laptop at the moment but when I did I found that Mac App Pages (vs web Pages) also backed up to iCloud when set up properly.
I could make changes on my iPhone 5 (at the time) and see them in the Mac App Pages file.

On your behalf I bit the bullet one day concerning the web portal for Pages and I can report that it IS OKAY to upgrade the web portal to iCloud Drive-ness.
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3. Typing on your iPhone 6 Plus
As I mentioned earlier I’m writing this entire post on my phone using Pages. Then copy and paste into the WordPress web portal (because the iOS app has such poor reviews lol).

I’m typing in landscape mode. The additional function keys have been very useful.
The graphics on the left are as follows:

Cut (the scissors)
Copy (the A with another box behind)
Bold (the heavy B)
Paste (the graphic is supposed to represent a glue bottle lol)
Undo (the curved arrow. Press and hold will not give you Redo)
Microphone (for dictation. It actually works great … sitting on the couch at home, in the quiet, which is the only place I’ve tried it.)

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The size of the phone makes it easier to type on than my iPad Mini, even when using the separated keyboard (thumbs on G and H then move apart).
I’ve since given the Mini to Mom lol.

The additional screen real estate on the Plus is very noticeable over the regular 6.

Several of the function keys are missing from the landscape mode on the regular iPhone 6. This was another reason I went with the Plus.

These are the things I tested out in-store before finally settling on a Plus model.

4. Stick to a process.
I like simple. You’ve heard the phrase KISS. I like the adult version of the acronym:

Keep
It
Super
Simple

I do stuff on iOS Pages and it immediately updates to my iCloud. From there I can log in to the web Pages and make changes, updates, whatever.

It is automatic and seamless.

Any other apps would mean using yet a second app for backup or saving.
Hey, I use Dropbox too for stuff, but not for writing.

When I’m again at the coffee shop I can whip out my iPhone 6 Plus and continue on with the same exact file.

This way I always have notes, drafts, character updates, everything … in one place.

I love writing in a small notebook with pencil but I’ve become honest with myself, I’ll have the notebook sometimes, I’ll have the Mini sometimes, but I’ll ALWAYS have my phone.

And the Plus is still small enough to put in my front pocket. ūüėÄ

Comments are always welcome.

Thanks for reading!

Five steps for enjoying your iPhone 6 Plus

Here’s how I managed to enjoy my iPhone 6 Plus, aka iPad Micro ūüėÄ

For a while I had the iPhone 5. I chose to skip the 5S model and held on to my upgrade until I saw what the 6 series would be all about. I also had an iPad Mini (first model).

Then two 6 models were released. I visited the Apple store at least three times to play with both models.

On the first visit I discovered that I could trade in my 5. $209 credit toward the purchase of a 6.

The catch? I had to buy in-store. An online upgrade would be a mess to then bring into the store, return it, buy it back, restore the upgrade, apply the upgrade, apply the trade-in.

What a nightmare that would have been.

I had no problem buying in-store. Supply was the issue. I ended up driving an hour and a half to the Apple store in the Mall at Wellington Green in south Florida.

Picked up a white 6 Plus 64gb. Why did I get white? Because black wasn’t available lol. I got tired of waiting. Also picked up an Apple leather cover.

1. Determine how you use your phone most.
I always used mine as a tool first, phone second.
Tool; contact book, texting, remote desktopping, email, and sporadically, iMovie and Pages.
If you use your phone AS A PHONE I would recommend the regular 6. I was leaning that way until I sat down and determined that the phone function was really secondary in my usage pattern.

2. Try them out in-store.
I played with three key functions while in the store: landscape for most everything, iMovie, and Pages. The three things I used most between my iPhone and iPad Mini.
That’s right, I chased the Plus to replace both my phone and tablet.
The additional function keys have turned out to be much handier than anticipated. I’ve drafted query letters and entire chapters on my 6 Plus now.

3. Get an Apple leather cover.
A bit pricey but fortunately it’s worth it.
Feels real good, maintains the thinness of the phone, and allows for a nice, secure grip on the phone.
I had the Apple leather cover for my 5 and was very pleased with it. I also had the Apple leather case for my Mini and was impressed with that as well.
If you appreciate the minimalist approach you can see that the Apple leather cases are well thought out.

4. Use your new iPhone 6 Plus exclusively during the 14 day trial period.
You have 14 days to return the phone, no questions asked, if it really doesn’t work out for you. Make the most of that time by using it exclusively.
I used my store visits to make my determination.

5. Don’t upgrade the software until you’re sure it won’t mess things up.
I used to upgrade right away. Fortunately, with iOS 7, I began to wait, to see how the ‘update’ affected things.
I purchased my iPhone 6 Plus with iOS 8.1 and Set Up As New. I lost my text history but that’s ok. Everything else was always in iCloud (except photos).
I also turned off Auto Updates … period.
I peruse the New Changes first whenever an App update shows up. Then I decide if I want to upgrade it at that time lol.
Same thing with the operating system. If it works great I’ll wait a couple of upgrade versions before I think about making any changes. Again, same thing with Carrier Settings. I’ll wait, see what the online forums says about it.

So that’s it! Enjoy your new iPhone 6 Plus!