By Dan Moren
May 14, 2021 3:15 PM PT
The state of my Apple hardware
I’m used to having an Apple product to covet.
It’s a little weird right now, having just been through an Apple event, and having WWDC around the corner that there’s nothing that I want right now. Sure, there are things that I’d be happy to have were some magical fairy to bestow one on me, but as attractive as the latest versions are, it’s simply not something I need or, even, really desire.
To be frank, I chalk a lot of it up to the pandemic. Over the last year, my routines have codified—calcified even, perhaps—to the point that all of the things that I do every day are, weirdly, pretty much addressed by the hardware I already have.
The MacBook Air
I spend most of my mornings on my MacBook Air at this point, because it’s the most comfortable machine for wherever I am in my house. The morning tends to be when I work on my fiction writing projects, while my brain is still fresh and I’m still in pajamas, and generally I’m not yet ready to sit down at a desk.
Instead, I’ll often curl up in the IKEA Poäng chair in our living room, or on our couch. (Of late I have occasionally taken the MacBook Air to the other desk in the office, which I cleaned off for my wife’s use, because it has a nice view out the front window.)
Last year’s jump from a 2014 11-inch MacBook Air to the new M1 certainly improved my workflow a lot, if for no other reason than the 13-inch Retina display allows me to fit a lot more on the screen, and the Apple silicon processor doesn’t feel like it’s chugging to keep up with a modern operating system. For a long time, I was a laptop-only user, and the M1 Air is good enough that it convinces me I could go back to that lifestyle if I really needed to.
Though my iMac hails from 2017, it’s hard at times to believe that it’s four years old, since it still largely handles anything I throw at it with aplomb. This machine, which lives on a sit/stand desk in my office, tends to be where I do most of my day work, whether it be recording or editing podcasts, or working on pieces for Six Colors or Macworld.
The biggest advance to the desktop, aside from the large screen, is the static nature of my setup there. With my microphone, speakers, lighting, and other accessories in place, I don’t have to worry about getting things “set up” when I sit down to record.
Admittedly, the iMac can occasionally feel like it’s straining at the seams, especially when I’m streaming video for Total Party Kill games, but I find myself wondering how much of that is because of streaming software lacking optimization for the Mac or the relatively paltry 5Mbps upstream speed of my cable modem.
Certainly, the new 24-inch iMacs have some appeal for me, both in terms of their design and the performance that Apple silicon brings (which I’ve seen firsthand in the M1 Air), but mostly because of the promise of what may be in store for the larger iMac when Apple gets around to revamping that, probably later this year.
The iPad Pro
There was a while there where I was doing more and more work on the iPad Pro, since it made a convenient and light package to take to the coffee shop for my morning writing routine. But I haven’t gone and sat down in a coffee shop for about 14 months, so the iPad has definitely fallen by the wayside.
These days, it’s mostly used as occasional device for watching video, playing weekly Among Us games, and referring to my D&D character sheets. If it weren’t for the frequent battery drain I’ve run into—multiple times now I’ve picked it up after it’s been unplugged overnight and it’s totally dead—the idea of replacing it wouldn’t have even occurred to me.
But the real thing that keeps me from coveting a new iPad is what exactly I would do with it. Even this 2017 iPad Pro is a very capable device, and updating to a new model doesn’t really unlock any new capabilities for me at present: I still can’t use it to record podcasts, for example, or multitask as effectively as I can on my MacBook Air. In short, it’s got a lot of power, but not a lot of purpose.
With WWDC just a few weeks away, maybe the calculus on my current device load-out will change. Given the recency of the 24-inch iMac announcement (and the fact that, as of this writing, those products still aren’t shipping), it’s not likely that the desktop line will see much of a refresh.
But the iPad has me thinking. Could Apple announce something about the iPadOS roadmap that might shift my thinking, and encourage me to buy a new iPad? It’s certainly possible. As much as I might not need any new Apple gear right now, I definitely miss having something to sigh dreamily over on the configuration page.
[Dan Moren is the East Coast Bureau Chief of Six Colors. You can find him on Twitter at @dmoren or reach him by email at email@example.com. The latest novel in his Galactic Cold War series of sci-fi space adventures, The Nova Incident, is available now.]