Not all great tech has to be new

Anthony Caruana
19 February, 2018
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A few weeks ago, I started to take a cursory look at some online sale sites to see what an 11-inch MacBook Air was selling for. When Apple released the 12-inch MacBook, the smaller Air was shunted aside and discontinued.

I purchased one back when it was first released and it was a great machine. But, I’m pretty restless and soon wondered if a larger machine, or some other device might better suit my needs. So, I sold that computer and moved on to other systems. These days, my main computer is a three year old Mac mini.

That curiosity, to see what an 11-inch MacBook Air would be worth today resulted in (you can see where this is going) a shift from looking to shopping. I tracked down a used unit with a 128GB SSD and 4GB of memory – pretty much the least you need to reliably run macOS High Sierra – for $400. That seemed to be at the low end of the prices I spotted but was in good condition, other than the loose screen hinge all MacBook Airs seem to suffer.

Over the last week, I’ve used that computer a lot. While I spend much of my working time at home, having a “proper” computer when I’m out, rather than the far faster but slightly limited iPad Pro, is very helpful. It’s light enough to carry almost anywhere and the screen, while unspectacular passes the “good enough” test for me.

I’m running it very lean, with just a few applications installed. The main programs I use are Feedly (for keeping up with all the newsfeeds I check on), Evernote (for interview recording, writing and research), Pixelmator (for image creation and editing) and the chat/collaboration apps Slack and Hipchat which I need for working with some of my clients.

No Microsoft Office (I use the cloud versions of those apps if I’m desperate) or third-party apps for mail, my diary or other utilities.

What I’ve realised is that Apple’s gear has great longevity. My Mac mini is over three years old and LED Cinema Display it’s connected is about seven years old. The MacBook Air is nudging six years but still works perfectly and looks great. Aside from the loose hinge (which is an annoyance more than anything) the battery could use a refresh. I can buy one from a reputable source for about $100 and swapping it looks like a process I can do myself). Otherwise, I can run the latest software on both computers and stay productive.

We can be easily tempted to buy the latest and greatest, convinced we have to have the most recent tech to stay productive. But the reality is that’s not the case. I suspect I’ll be hanging on to some of tech a little longer than usual after this exercise. Or, when i next come to a need to upgrade, I might spend a little more time looking at used Macs rather than brand new, bleeding edge gadgets.

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