My next Mac

Will probably be an iMac. I guess that spoils the suspense, doesn’t it?

My iMac at work is the 27″ Late 2012 model, the one that came out one step before Retina came to the iMac. I don’t regret buying it, as my previous iMac (a 2006 model, I think) was absolutely on its last legs—constantly swapping to hard disk and running hot. I hadn’t meant to wait so long to replace it, but there was a long delay before that 2012 model came out, and I didn’t want to buy something that would be last year’s model almost as soon as I set it up.

My home Mac is the venerable 2010 13″ MacBook Air, the first good Air. In the normal course of things, this would be the Mac I replace next, and I’ve been expecting to do so for a few years now. but…

But Apple never came out with a Retina MacBook Air, choosing instead to go with the MacBook, which I find a little too far on the portable side of the portability/power spectrum. A couple of years ago, I had a crisis when my Air crapped out on me. It seemed wrong to put money into a five-year-old machine, but I wasn’t enthused about any of the MacBooks in the lineup at the time. I didn’t know the just-released 2015 MacBook Pro would turn out to be the best laptop ever made, I didn’t want to spend MacBook Pro money on my home/travel machine.

The $280 logic board upgrade turned out to be a good investment, as I’m now 2½ years into my rejuvenated Air. Yes, it takes a while to wake up when I open the lid. Yes, its 128 GB SSD is tiny. No, it can’t take advantage of many of the iOS integration features that newer Macs can. And no, I don’t think it’s a good idea to install High Sierra on it. But it’s given me 30 months of faithful use, much more than I expected at the time.

The announcement of the Touch Bar last year made me certain I’d be getting a MacBook Pro with it. A software-configurable set of controls seemed perfect for someone who’s always ginning up little scripts. But no one seems to like it, possibly because its configurability isn’t especially open to users. Bummer.

I’ve delayed the decision on my home Mac for such a long time that now my office Mac is long in the tooth, too. Still working fine for most tasks, but just a Core 2 Duo machine that often makes me wait to scroll through long PDFs of scanned engineering and architectural drawings, something I need to do at work quite often. And no Retina.

So it looks like my best bet is to buy a new iMac for work and bring my current office iMac home. This will put the power where I need it the most and will give me extra ooomph here at home. Especially with disk space (3 TB vs. 128 GB) and RAM (24GB vs. 4GB).

It will be weird, though, as I haven’t had a desktop computer here at home in a dozen years. Will I enjoy being tethered to one spot in the house? And what about a travel computer?

Both of these questions are made less pressing by the device I’m typing this on: a 9.7″ iPad Pro. While I agree with Gabe that it is by no means a Mac substitute, it can handle a lot of what I do at home and virtually everything I need to do on the road.1

As for which iMac, I think I’ll settle on a middle-of-the-road 27″ configuration with a 3TB Fusion drive. Sort of the 2017 of what I bought in 2012.

  1. I bought the iPad Pro last year as a sort of experiment to find out how comfortable I’d be working on it. I intend to write a full post about the results of that experiment soon, but in the meantime, you really should read Gabe’s post over at Macdrifter. I’ll probably use his post as a jumping-off point. And there may be a quiz.