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MacBook Air


Greg Terry
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I am strongly considering a new mid-2011 MacBook Air. I am not at all concerned about the storage capacity or the lack of optical drive. I have been extremely impressed with the application execution speed and the portability factor.

 

Anyone care to share any thoughts on their experiences with a MacBook Air?

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I got my MBA a couple of months ago. I moved from a 15" 2.8 Ghz. Dual Core MBP with combined 850 GB internal storage (I'd removed the optical drive and replaced it with a second hard drive) to an 11" 1.8 Ghz I7 MBA with 256 GB SSD. I can easily say that the MBA is noticeably faster than the MBP was.

 

The greatest aspect is its size. It's light and easy to carry. I have an external monitor, keyboard and trackpad at my desks at home and work, so the smaller screen is not an issue. Of course, right now, I'm sitting in my living room with the MBA on a lap desk. The smaller size is not an issue here either. And of course, the keyboard is normal size--not like one of those PC netbooks that cram everything in a small space.

 

The only downside is that I had to buy an external drive because my iTunes folder alone is over 300 GB. But I got one of the small WD My Passport drives (1 terabyte) and I plug it in as needed.

 

I went to the local Apple Store and bought an InCase bag designed for the 11" MBA. It actually carries both my MBA and my iPad as well as the Passport, and a few cables. It has two outside pockets, so the Passport goes in one and the Powerbrick goes in the other (I don't carry the longer part of the cord that can be attached to the brick). It's so light to throw this bag over my shoulder. My initial fear was that someone might think I had a purse because it was so small. But the easy of carrying something so light weight is a nice tradeoff if anyone wants to question my masculinity.

 

The only time I needed a DVD drive came when I was loading on software initially. I did not use Migration Assistant because I was moving from one drive to two and needed to copy everything over manually. I haven't needed one since, but I already had the external DVD drive Apple sells because my wife has the original model MBA. Wait, no, I take that back--I rendered a DVD from iDVD on my MBA and noticed that it was significantly faster to do so than on my former MBP.

 

Accordance, as you know, is already fast, but it flies on this machine. I've got no regrets. I like the small, compact and easy to carry. The only thing that will be better is when the iPad and MBA merge into one machine in the next few years. That will make my load even lighter.

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It is faster than current low end MBP's for most tasks, including opening apps and switching around the OS... this is because disk access is so much faster. Current lower end MBP's are faster only for processor-only tasks, like fancy calculations and rendering, etc. But nearly everything bottlenecks from disk access, so the MBA wins out.

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My experience is the same. MacBook AIr screams. Booting, launching programs, running programs are all faster. It so quiet too. Best Mac I have had since my first one in 1994.

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I have had an 11" Air for about six months. It replaced a 12" iBook G4, so I have no idea how the speed compares to contemporary machines. I did upgrade to the high machine (at the time) 1.6 Core 2 w/4 GB RAM, but I bought it refurb to compensate $$-wise.

 

I have no issues with web/e-mail/word processing, but you can do all that on an iPad, right? I do have issues with powerpoint files when they include multiple pictures. In fact, for my lectures I have moved to creating .pdf files directly from Mellel which I play in slideshow mode. These are easier to distribute to my students anyway.

 

My sole motivation for the Air was portability. I do most of my writing in libraries and coffee shops. Even at home, I wander around the house from the couch to the kitchen table. The Air is perfect for this and worth the extra cost to me.

 

Besides lower overall performance, the Air doesn't have quite as long of battery life as the bigger MacBooks. Also, there is no way to connect a security cable so if you have to go to the bathroom in a coffee shop you need to tuck it under your arm or something.

 

Peter

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Thank you for all the responses. It seems that most of you have chosen the 11" model of the MBA. Did you find there to be a major difference in size/portability between the two screen sizes?

I was primarily considering the 13" base model for the simple fact of the faster base processor and the SD slot - the screen size being a nice bonus.

My plan is to transition from my 2009 model iMac to the MBA with an external monitor. I would likely use the MBA remotely in my chair in the living room and for the Sunday School class which I teach - planning to use more if Accordance in class.

I am undecided on the 11" or 13" at this point.

Thanks again!

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Greg, when I bought a new MacBook 2 months ago, I did test both in store and did observe first-hand the speed differences between the MBP and MBA. But, I still bought the 13" MBP.

I need 13", cause I hate the nuisance of plugging into the external monitor, keyboard, whatever.

The price dif between 13" MBP and MBA is just too much.

Drive size still matters.

I'm very happy with my MBP.

 

Joe

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I wanted to replace the old 12" style, and I would have been fine with an 11" MBP if such a thing existed. The 13" is thin and light, but it is not particularly small. And, as Joe said, while the 11" comes at a bit of a premium, the 13" seems like a flat out luxury.

 

Pete

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If portability is your top priority, you definitely need the MBA 11'.

I got my 11" 2 months ago. And I cannot be more satisfied, since I have to do a lot of commuting and teaching.

When you are like me, a little difference in weight does matter.

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Hey all,

 

I thought I'd jump in here too. I have a MacBook Air that I bought in January. So, it doesn't have the thunderbolt upgrages and stuff. But I have to say that it is quite nice. It cost a sizable amount more than the 11 " since I also doubled the Hard drive space. But I would definitely agree with the other posters. It is faster than one might initially think because of the solid-state drive. I'm sure this is even more true with the newly updated versions.

 

My biggest fear was the fact that it didn't have an optical drive. But the cd sharing was implemented well. And, by using no optical drive and lots of solid-state memory, the battery lasts for a long time.

 

I got a macbook air because I already had a big macpro in the office with two 20" monitors. I needed something to put on my lap and use at home and to take to pastor's conferences. The macbook air is perfect. It is wonderful to update your user notes at a pastor's conference and then have them updated over dropbox to your office computer when you get back home.

 

For my part, I'd urge you to get a bigger one if you can afford it (both in screen size and memory). But you go in the direction you think best for your needs.

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Thanks to all for giving me (and others) insight into their MacBook Air experiences. Please don't stop if you have something to add to the conversation.

 

At this point, I am leaning toward the base 13" model, but I don't do important decisions well. :rolleyes: So that could change.

 

I especially appreciate the portability/ size comments.

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I do have issues with powerpoint files when they include multiple pictures. In fact, for my lectures I have moved to creating .pdf files directly from Mellel which I play in slideshow mode. These are easier to distribute to my students anyway.

 

Peter, may I suggest that you try Keynote for your presentations? My wife makes weekly presentations on her FIRST GEN MacBook Air, and she has no problems whatsoever. Her presentations are loaded with graphics and often have video segments embedded as well.

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Regarding the decision between 11" or 13", to me the real value of the MBA is in the small size of the 11" model for portability. This is especially true since I regularly sit at a desk with my 11" MBA plugged into one of two external monitors as I described earlier in this thread. I also enjoy traveling with a very small bag over my shoulder which carries my MBA and iPad and little else.

 

However, if I were in a position in which I really needed the larger screen, I imagine I might be tempted just to get the 13" MacBook Pro. There is a difference in weight of course--the 13" MBA is not quite three pounds while the 13" MBP is four and a half pounds.

 

However, you could get a much faster processor on the 13" model. And you could also remove the optical drive and replace it with one of OWC's data doubler racks and add in a second drive. Think about that 13" MBP with a 500 GB SSD for a main drive and then a 1 TB secondary drive, all powered by a 2.7 Ghz Core i7! That would be an awesome little machine that's much more powerful than the 13" MBA and only slightly more heavy.

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Oh, Rick:

 

You just made my indecision-o-mania kick in top gear!

 

I was ready to get a 13" MBA but now after considering the possibility of the MBP with a SSD, that decision is no longer solid. It is appearing more and more like this will require a trip to the Apple store about 2 hours away.

 

Thanks for the insight,

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G'day Greg

 

I have a friend who has done what Rick suggested to his MBP 13" and he absolutely loves it. However, on the other hand, I picked up an 11' MBA about three weeks ago and it is the best laptop I have ever had.

 

The plan was to buy a 13" 128GB model (primarily for the additional battery life) , but they had none in stock, so I went with the 11" and I have no regrets. My church office has a desktop, but I now take the MBA with me during the day and it is my new machine at home - sometimes connected to external monitors, sometimes used at the dining table. I thought I might struggle with the screen size, but Accordance is still really usable, with multiple zones.

 

The good thing is, you won't be disappointed which ever way you go. Enjoy the decision making process.

 

Cheers, Andrew

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Oh, Rick:

 

You just made my indecision-o-mania kick in top gear!

 

I was ready to get a 13" MBA but now after considering the possibility of the MBP with a SSD, that decision is no longer solid. It is appearing more and more like this will require a trip to the Apple store about 2 hours away.

 

Thanks for the insight,

 

I have a 256gb SSD + 500gb 7200 rpm HDD in my 15" MBP and will never go back. But, a 500gb SSD will set you back quite a few clams.

 

The other thing to consider about the MBP (13" or 15") is that they are in that stage of their life cycle where a complete refresh is imminent

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Rumor has it that new MBPs are coming next week:

 

http://9to5mac.com/2...t-price-points/

 

I wouldn't do anything until I see what's coming.

 

Sage advice!

 

Do you experience any heat issues with the 11" MBA and the 1.8Ghz processor?

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Thanks to all for giving me (and others) insight into their MacBook Air experiences. Please don't stop if you have something to add to the conversation.

 

At this point, I am leaning toward the base 13" model, but I don't do important decisions well. :rolleyes: So that could change.

 

I especially appreciate the portability/ size comments.

 

I ended up going with the 13" base MBA last month after my old MacBook finally kicked. Originally I was going to go with the 11" because of the advantage of portability. However, the two major factors that pushed me to the 13" were the battery life and memory. I tend to run multiple applications at all times (including Accordance) and 2GB of memory is just not sufficient for a proper operating experience. While the extra screen space and faster processor are a nice bonus, it's really the battery and memory that made the difference. I've only had the computer for about a month now, but I'm loving it and have no regrets.

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Sage advice!

 

Do you experience any heat issues with the 11" MBA and the 1.8Ghz processor?

 

Never. The fans come on occasionally, but that's what they're supposed to do. In fact, I believe my fans come on less often on my 11" MBA than they did on my previous 15" MBP.

 

I've not had any of the problems with the machine shutting itself down because of heat or anything remotely like that.

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I ended up going with the 13" base MBA last month after my old MacBook finally kicked. Originally I was going to go with the 11" because of the advantage of portability. However, the two major factors that pushed me to the 13" were the battery life and memory. I tend to run multiple applications at all times (including Accordance) and 2GB of memory is just not sufficient for a proper operating experience. While the extra screen space and faster processor are a nice bonus, it's really the battery and memory that made the difference. I've only had the computer for about a month now, but I'm loving it and have no regrets.

 

My 11" MBA has 4 GB of RAM, and I bought it from a physical Apple Store. You don't have to settle for 2 GB of RAM just because you want an 11" MBA. I currently have nine programs running on my MBA as I type this, and all is smooth sailing. Fans haven't kicked on once. I can usually get between four and five hours of battery life if I'm not connected to power, but fortunately, I usually am.

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My 11" MBA has 4 GB of RAM, and I bought it from a physical Apple Store. You don't have to settle for 2 GB of RAM just because you want an 11" MBA. I currently have nine programs running on my MBA as I type this, and all is smooth sailing. Fans haven't kicked on once. I can usually get between four and five hours of battery life if I'm not connected to power, but fortunately, I usually am.

 

I assume you have the entry level 11" MBA then. If I remember correctly, the upper 11" does not have the ability to go up to 4GB. That was the dilemma I found myself in. I could have gone with the base 11" and added the memory, but then I was already spending almost as much as the 13" which would get me more screen, battery, and processor. Apple is quite skilled at selecting product details that trick you into upgrading like that. They got me; not that I have any regrets. :)

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I assume you have the entry level 11" MBA then. If I remember correctly, the upper 11" does not have the ability to go up to 4GB. That was the dilemma I found myself in. I could have gone with the base 11" and added the memory, but then I was already spending almost as much as the 13" which would get me more screen, battery, and processor. Apple is quite skilled at selecting product details that trick you into upgrading like that. They got me; not that I have any regrets. :)

 

Actually, no, I got the highest end 11" MBA possible. 1.8 Ghz. i7 with 256 GB SSD. Attached is a screenshot of it on Apple's website, but as I said, I got it already pre-configured (as opposed to Build-to-Order) right from the Apple Store in Louisville, Kentucky.

 

Screen Shot 2011-10-22 at 3.42.28 PM.jpg

 

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Here's my 11" MBA with the nifty Skinit decal I created:

 

IMG_1287 (1).jpg

 

(Raphael's School of Athens)

Edited by R. Mansfield
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Actually, no, I got the highest end 11" MBA possible. 1.8 Ghz. i7 with 256 GB SSD. Attached is a screenshot of it on Apple's website, but as I said, I got it already pre-configured (as opposed to Build-to-Order) right from the Apple Store in Louisville, Kentucky.

 

post-34-087504400 1319312893_thumb.jpg

 

Gotcha. I misread the product details on the website, big surprise. :rolleyes:

 

 

Here's my 11" MBA with the nifty Skinit decal I created:

 

post-34-008632000 1319313753_thumb.jpg

 

(Raphael's School of Athens)

 

Very nice! I really do like the size of the 11" MBA. Such a convenient little notebook. And in your case, a very good looking one too.

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