Six Colors
Six Colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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By Dan Moren

What I Use: Hardware

In the past, we depended on our hardware to have a certain amount of longevity. We invested in them, kept them around for a long time. But as the pace of technology has sped up, our devices have often become a bit more fungible. This occurred to me as I considered that this year I’ve replaced all but a single piece of the major computing hardware that I rely on. Here’s a quick rundown of what I’m using right now:

iMac 5K 27-inch Going into this year, I was still using an old 21.5-inch mid-2011 iMac that had been purchased for me during my tenure at Macworld. It was a pretty solid machine with a good processor, and I’d even upgraded the RAM in it fairly recently. But it had a line of dead pixels on the display, lacked the newer chipsets to enable features like AirDrop and Apple Watch unlock, and was constantly running low on disk space. So when Apple announced the revised iMac line-up at WWDC, I decided to take the plunge. In the end, I got a top-of-the-line iMac 5K with a few extra bells and whistles, and you know what? I haven’t looked back. The Retina display has made a huge difference for me and this thing has really sped up my podcast production pipeline. It’s an improvement in more ways than I can easily enumerate.

iPad Pro 10.5-inch The new iMacs weren’t the only things that caught my attention at WWDC. My iPad Air 2 had served me well, but the idea of a larger iPad display in a package that wasn’t that much bigger on the outside definitely struck a chord. Plus I’d already been itching to try out the Apple Pencil. Again, I haven’t looked back: the 10.5-inch was a negligible jump in size and weight, but with iOS 11’s iPad enhancements, it’s now become my de facto travel computer. Plus, the improved speakers mean I don’t need to carry a battery-powered Bluetooth speaker with me on trips. Of late, I’ve even found myself eyeing a Smart Keyboard for this sucker…

iPhone X And, of course, the yearly iPhone trade-in ritual. I liked the iPhone 7, but the iPhone Upgrade Program has gotten me far less attached to my phones. So I traded in for the 256GB iPhone X to finally get a bigger screen, Portrait mode on a non-Plus device, and, of course, Face ID. On the whole, it’s a solid trade-up with not much of downsides (though I may be the rare person who still seems to miss aspects of Touch ID). In terms of having the device to write about, it was a no-brainer decision, even if it’s going to take a bigger bite out of my budget. But if my iMac experience has taught me anything, it’s that sometimes you have to go top of the line.

So, with those upgrades accomplished, I only have one device that’s not from 2017. And it’s one that holds a special place in my heart.

MacBook Air 11-inch I’m still clutching on to my MacBook Air with all my might, even as I blink at the blurry screen every time I open it. To me, it’s the greatest Apple laptop ever created: small, powerful, with a keyboard that I enjoy typing on. And the good news is that because I invested in a higher-end version, it should still have plenty of years of life in it. I’m thankful for that, as there’s nothing in Apple’s “new” laptop lineup that fits the bill right now: the MacBook Pro is too big and too heavy for me while the MacBook is light and thin but lacks the power, the better keyboard, and more than one port. So I guess that means my best option is to run the Air into the ground and hope that either Apple revises its laptop lineup by the next time I’m in the market or eventually make the jump to the iPad Pro as my full-time portable computer—either of which could potentially happen. Until then, the MacBook Air’s going to have to be pried from my cold, dead hands.

Now that I’ve got all my devices pretty current, I don’t expect my hardware lineup to change much for at least another year (until the iPhone XI or whatever it’s going to be called comes out). A laptop upgrade isn’t in the cards yet, and I plan to keep my iMac 5K and my iPad Pro around for a few years yet.

Well, unless something really awesome comes out.

[Dan Moren is the East Coast Bureau Chief of Six Colors. You can find him on Mastodon at or reach him by email at His latest novel, the supernatural detective story All Souls Lost, is now available for pre-order.]

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