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palpatine
May 4, 2011, 06:31 AM
Hi. I am looking to replace my eee pc netbook with something that will be able to deliver better performance, and I am wondering if the MBA could manage.

Here is what I do:
1) PDF creation, editing, searching, ocr, optimizing, etc. with Adobe Acrobat Pro.
2) word processing (relatively large files with some images)
3) Internet
4) emails
*often all at once

Here is the problem:
I know it doesn't sound like much. It's not like gaming or anything, but my netbook takes 1hr + to combine about 300 images/pdf and ocr them. Meanwhile, the rest of my tasks slow to a painful crawl. I can be typing, switch to the Internet to check a database, and it takes a second or two for a page to come up. Over the course of the day it gets more and more frustrating.

Here is what I am thinking:
I would love to have something portable AND powerful. I was originally excited about the sandy bridge, and the chance to get a MBP 13" or 15" that would be able to whip through these tasks. A few people in that forum, though, have suggested that the MBA would be plenty of power. I find that difficult to believe. However, if the difference is negligible for what I am doing (in other words, I wouldn't even notice anyhow), and I could get an 11" MBA, that would be ideal. What do you think?



rookiezzz
May 4, 2011, 07:15 AM
well, i used eee pc from asus once.. i agree if that thing's so slow, due to it's price.. i think that mba will do your works greatly..
example:
multitasking, i often open itunes+lots of google tab+1safari running java web based+download constantly+unrar 2-6gb files at the same time without any lags i guess..
combining job? i think i already answered it with unraring lots of file, downloading constantly, light photoshop 2 images or more, cut paste etc..
thx to the air ssd :D

i'm sure that you'll feel the speed change, just like when you're crawling and running lol ;)

poobear
May 4, 2011, 07:15 AM
Don't forget that MBA has a SSD and MBP comes with a 5400 rpm drive, makes a huge difference in my experience at random multitasking as you are mentioning.

JonLa
May 4, 2011, 07:41 AM
Hi. I am looking to replace my eee pc netbook with something that will be able to deliver better performance, and I am wondering if the MBA could manage.

Here is what I do:
1) PDF creation, editing, searching, ocr, optimizing, etc. with Adobe Acrobat Pro.
2) word processing (relatively large files with some images)
3) Internet
4) emails
*often all at once

Here is the problem:
I know it doesn't sound like much. It's not like gaming or anything, but my netbook takes 1hr + to combine images/pdf files into a single file. Meanwhile, the rest of my tasks slow to a painful crawl. I can be typing, switch to the Internet to check a database, and it takes a second or two for a page to come up. Over the course of the day it gets more and more frustrating.

Here is what I am thinking:
I would love to have something portable AND powerful. I was originally excited about the sandy bridge, and the chance to get a MBP 13" or 15" that would be able to whip through these tasks. A few people in that forum, though, have suggested that the MBA would be plenty of power. I find that difficult to believe. However, if the difference is negligible for what I am doing (in other words, I wouldn't even notice anyhow), and I could get an 11" MBA, that would be ideal. What do you think?

I don't have the MAc version of Adobe Acrobat Pro, but the answer is of course, yes.

I moved from a C2D sony laptop (much better than your eee) to the C2D Air and the Air is like greased lightning in doing every day writing, editing, blogging, etc. If you can wait a month or two, there might be a Sandy Bridge Air (might!) and that will be quicker still.

The only hesitation I might have is if you do Final Cut Pro or giant Photoshop files, but you don't, so don't worry.

unclet
May 4, 2011, 07:49 AM
I have a 13" MBA, and can assure you that it would be able to perform all of those tasks simultaneously with ease. I'm pretty sure from what I've read that the 11" would also be able to handle it no problem. I've worked with PDFs on mine with the Safari and Word open and didn't notice any lag. I just checked to make sure I'm not giving you false information. Right now I've got Safari open with 3 tabs, Microsoft Word, and Adobe Acrobat. I combined 4 Pdfs of about 30 pages each. It took less than two seconds. I also do pretty heavy duty photo editing on 20 MB + RAW files on this machine and it is snappier than my 2009 15" Macbook Pro. You can't really compare Macbook Airs with netbooks. They don't exist in the same universe. In short, you should get the Air. It won't disappoint.

palpatine
May 4, 2011, 08:03 AM
well, i used eee pc from asus once.. i agree if that thing's so slow, due to it's price.. i think that mba will do your works greatly..
example:
multitasking, i often open itunes+lots of google tab+1safari running java web based+download constantly+unrar 2-6gb files at the same time without any lags i guess..
combining job? i think i already answered it with unraring lots of file, downloading constantly, light photoshop 2 images or more, cut paste etc..
thx to the air ssd :D

i'm sure that you'll feel the speed change, just like when you're crawling and running lol ;)

great advice. it sounds like the kind of work i am doing.

palpatine
May 4, 2011, 08:08 AM
Don't forget that MBA has a SSD and MBP comes with a 5400 rpm drive, makes a huge difference in my experience at random multitasking as you are mentioning.

great point. i am quite excited about the ssd.

palpatine
May 4, 2011, 08:10 AM
I don't have the MAc version of Adobe Acrobat Pro, but the answer is of course, yes.

I moved from a C2D sony laptop (much better than your eee) to the C2D Air and the Air is like greased lightning in doing every day writing, editing, blogging, etc. If you can wait a month or two, there might be a Sandy Bridge Air (might!) and that will be quicker still.

The only hesitation I might have is if you do Final Cut Pro or giant Photoshop files, but you don't, so don't worry.


thanks! i am not very keen on waiting. that was another reason to look at the mbp. at least i know i am getting the best available hardware. it is a tough decision.

palpatine
May 4, 2011, 08:23 AM
I have a 13" MBA, and can assure you that it would be able to perform all of those tasks simultaneously with ease. I'm pretty sure from what I've read that the 11" would also be able to handle it no problem. I've worked with PDFs on mine with the Safari and Word open and didn't notice any lag. I just checked to make sure I'm not giving you false information. Right now I've got Safari open with 3 tabs, Microsoft Word, and Adobe Acrobat. I combined 4 Pdfs of about 30 pages each. It took less than two seconds. I also do pretty heavy duty photo editing on 20 MB + RAW files on this machine and it is snappier than my 2009 15" Macbook Pro. You can't really compare Macbook Airs with netbooks. They don't exist in the same universe. In short, you should get the Air. It won't disappoint.

i edited my original post. it should have said 1.5 hr+ to combine and ocr. still, combining 4 files like that would be a couple of minutes. thanks for running the test. and, you are right about the different universes. even opening a directory takes a couple of seconds on my netbook. nevermind actually doing anything.

would you be amenable to running ocr on a file for me? i'd be interested in seeing how times vary on the same file.*

i am really surprised to hear how confident everyone is that the 11 mba could do this. it would really be wonderful if the 11 works out for me, but i still find it hard to believe.

Beaverman3001
May 4, 2011, 08:34 AM
i edited my original post. it should have said 1.5 hr+ to combine and ocr. still, combining 4 files like that would be a couple of minutes. thanks for running the test. and, you are right about the different universes. even opening a directory takes a couple of seconds on my netbook. nevermind actually doing anything.

would you be amenable to running ocr on a file for me? i'd be interested in seeing how times vary on the same file.*

i am really surprised to hear how confident everyone is that the 11 mba could do this. it would really be wonderful if the 11 works out for me, but i still find it hard to believe.

This thing wasn't made in 1990. Your tasks are pretty basic.

palpatine
May 4, 2011, 08:51 AM
This thing wasn't made in 1990. Your tasks are pretty basic.

yeah. the individual tasks are basic, but in aggregate, they are significant.

searching through a few thousand pdfs (my patience usually wears thin around twenty or so), ocr for large files of 300+ pages, and word processing chew up a lot of memory if they are done at once.

my netbook spends a few hours each day churning through tasks that i suspect could be accomplished in a few minutes on a decent computer (no access to anything newer than old xps for a few months in my current location, so i cannot confirm this).

unclet
May 4, 2011, 09:21 AM
i edited my original post. it should have said 1.5 hr+ to combine and ocr. still, combining 4 files like that would be a couple of minutes. thanks for running the test. and, you are right about the different universes. even opening a directory takes a couple of seconds on my netbook. nevermind actually doing anything.

would you be amenable to running ocr on a file for me? i'd be interested in seeing how times vary on the same file.*

i am really surprised to hear how confident everyone is that the 11 mba could do this. it would really be wonderful if the 11 works out for me, but i still find it hard to believe.

I just ran a test in Adobe Acrobat X combining 5 files to make a 103 page PDF, then performed OCR on the entire document. At the same time I was working in Word and had Safari open with five tabs. As before, the actual combining only took two or three seconds. The entire OCR process took 8 minutes and 55 seconds. This definitely made the computer do some work. It heated up a bit and the fan started running on high, but when it was done, it cooled down almost immediately. As I said before, I have a 13" Macbook Air. It has a 2.13 Ghz C2D processor and 4 GB RAM, so it is more powerful than the 11". I experienced no lag in performance in Word or Safari while this was going on. So if you are working with 300 + page documents, you are probably looking at around 25-30 minutes with this computer, probably a bit longer with the 11". I hope this helps.

palpatine
May 4, 2011, 09:31 AM
I just ran a test in Adobe Acrobat X combining 5 files to make a 103 page PDF, then performed OCR on the entire document. At the same time I was working in Word and had Safari open with five tabs. As before, the actual combining only took two or three seconds. The entire OCR process took 8 minutes and 55 seconds. This definitely made the computer do some work. It heated up a bit and the fan started running on high, but when it was done, it cooled down almost immediately. As I said before, I have a 13" Macbook Air. It has a 2.13 Ghz C2D processor and 4 GB RAM, so it is more powerful than the 11". I experienced no lag in performance in Word or Safari while this was going on. So if you are working with 300 + page documents, you are probably looking at around 25-30 minutes with this computer, probably a bit longer with the 11". I hope this helps.


that is great help. thanks so muchnfor doing that. i think it is fair to say that your test is many times faster than my daily use. i will time ocr for a file about the same size and see what happens. i wouldn't be surprised if it takes my netbook an hour for 100 pages.

unclet
May 4, 2011, 09:40 AM
that is great help. thanks so muchnfor doing that. i think it is fair to say that your test is many times faster than my daily use. i will time ocr for a file about the same size and see what happens. i wouldn't be surprised if it takes my netbook an hour for 100 pages.

No problem. Glad to help.

Are you looking more at the 11" or the 13"? I'm really happy with the screen real estate on the 13". I thought it would be hard to step down from a 15" screen, but this one has the same resolution as my Macbook Pro had, and I haven't really noticed the difference. However, if you're already used to working on a netbook, the 11" would probably be just fine for you, although as I said before, it's not quite as powerful as a 13" Ultimate.

palpatine
May 4, 2011, 09:52 AM
No problem. Glad to help.

Are you looking more at the 11" or the 13"? I'm really happy with the screen real estate on the 13". I thought it would be hard to step down from a 15" screen, but this one has the same resolution as my Macbook Pro had, and I haven't really noticed the difference. However, if you're already used to working on a netbook, the 11" would probably be just fine for you, although as I said before, it's not quite as powerful as a 13" Ultimate.

screen real estate is always welcome, but for what i do, it isn't terribly high on my list of priorities. the mba 11 is a great size for me, but a 13 would be fine as well, especially with the superior performance. if i go up to a 13, though, i wonder if it wouldn't just be better to take a hit on the weight and get an mbp 13. i played with the mbp 15 today and it felt obcenely large. i have been relying on a netbook so long that it has warped my sense of time and space.

unclet
May 4, 2011, 10:31 AM
screen real estate is always welcome, but for what i do, it isn't terribly high on my list of priorities. the mba 11 is a great size for me, but a 13 would be fine as well, especially with the superior performance. if i go up to a 13, though, i wonder if it wouldn't just be better to take a hit on the weight and get an mbp 13. i played with the mbp 15 today and it felt obcenely large. i have been relying on a netbook so long that it has warped my sense of time and space.

The new 13" MBP would definitely give you even better performance for processor-heavy tasks like the OCR. My guess is that in overall everyday performance, you might still find the MBA to feel more snappy and responsive, thanks to the SSD. I don't know how much bottleneck a regular hard drive creates in a computer's performance, but I still can't believe how quick my MBA starts up, launches apps, and responds when performing normal tasks. And you really feel the one and a half pound difference. Perhaps you should have someone try the OCR test on a new 13" MBP to see if the difference in processing time is worth the added weight and lack of SSD to you.

palpatine
May 4, 2011, 12:18 PM
The new 13" MBP would definitely give you even better performance for processor-heavy tasks like the OCR. My guess is that in overall everyday performance, you might still find the MBA to feel more snappy and responsive, thanks to the SSD. I don't know how much bottleneck a regular hard drive creates in a computer's performance, but I still can't believe how quick my MBA starts up, launches apps, and responds when performing normal tasks. And you really feel the one and a half pound difference. Perhaps you should have someone try the OCR test on a new 13" MBP to see if the difference in processing time is worth the added weight and lack of SSD to you.

fabulous idea. i proposed it in the mbp forum. i think to make the results meaningful we ought to pick the same material. i suggested a text from project gutenberg. we save it to our desktop, convert it to pdf (time this) and run ocr onit ( time this). what do you think? if you would be willing to try it, please pick a text :)

palpatine
May 4, 2011, 07:22 PM
Would anyone be willing to help with this performance test?

Besides the install if you don't have Acrobat 10, it shouldn't take more than about 5 minutes to complete the test. The goal here is to give some indication of differences in everyday use between the mac machines I am thinking about buying (the mba 13, mbp 13, and mbp15). THANKS!

ADOBE (free trial apparently available)
http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobatpro.html

PROJECT GUTENBERG TEXT (Gibbon's history of the Roman Empire)
http://www.gutenberg.org/cache/epub/25717/pg25717.txt

TEST RESULTS (Computer info)
(1) Asus 1005ha-pu17 netbook, 2gb memory, Intel Atom N280 (1.66GHz, 512KB L2 Cache, FSB 667MHz). Adobe Acrobat 9.
(2) mba 13"
(3) mbp 13"
(4) mbp 15"

step 1 (preparation):
(1) Asus original conversion = 10.2 seconds (cold start, right click, convert to pdf)
(2) mba 13"
(3) mbp 13"
(4) mbp 15"

step 2 (preparation):*
(1) "save as" tiff file type in a folder= 17.5 seconds (in order to enable conversion. otherwise, i get an error because of "renderable text". also, this will produce 42 images that we can convert into pdf similarly to the way i actually do it with my work.)
(2) mba 13"
(3) mbp 13"
(4) mbp 15"

step 3 (main test):
(1) second conversion = 1:27.3 seconds (combine supported files in Acrobat, larger file size)
(2) mba 13"
(3) mbp 13"
(4) mbp 15"

step 4 (main test):
(1) ocr = 3:07.3 (English (US), Searchable Image output style, lowest (600 dpi) downsample images)
(2) mba 13"
(3) mbp 13"
(4) mbp 15"

step 5 (comments):
The machine didn't seem to be struggling too much. I decided not to start up other programs during the process, because I didn't want to introduce too many variables. However, in past experience, the computer has major problems switching from one application to the next, there is lagging, and the fan is on a lot.

*The methodology isn't perfect. Ideally, this would be done multiple times with 600 dpi scans of printed Chinese or Japanese texts, because those are a lot of the materials I actually work with, and they take far longer to combine and do ocr, but I think this will at least indicate practical performance differences between machines.*

meiluj
May 4, 2011, 08:15 PM
Will you be carrying your laptop with you? I ask this because I need to do work on the run (dont really have an office) and the weight of the laptop is an important factor for me. I move from MBP15 to MBA13 and I find that I get more work done just because the laptop is lighter. I carry it all over the place with me and it is not a pain to take it out and put it in the bag several times a day. Easier on my shoulders as well. Furthermore the MBA13 is powerful enough to be my primary laptop. By the way I use Adobe pro to change Word to Pdf files. I also use Nvivo programme via Windows in parallel. I find the MBA13 powerful enough and is gentle to my shoulders. If weight is a factor for you then I would suggest MBA but if you are not going to carry it around so much then MBP would be better.

unclet
May 4, 2011, 08:31 PM
Here's my addition to the test using my 13" MBA. I've just filled in the #2 slot on each step.

TEST RESULTS (Computer info)
(1) Asus 1005ha-pu17 netbook, 2gb memory, Intel Atom N280 (1.66GHz, 512KB L2 Cache, FSB 667MHz). Adobe Acrobat 9.
(2) mba 13" 4gb memory, Intel Core 2 Duo (2.13 Ghz, 6MB L2 cache, FSB 1.07 Ghz). Adobe Acrobat X.
(3) mbp 13"
(4) mbp 15"

step 1 (preparation):
(1) Asus original conversion = 10.2 seconds (cold start, right click, convert to pdf)
(2) mba 13"= 1.3 seconds
(3) mbp 13"
(4) mbp 15"

step 2 (preparation):*
(1) "save as" tiff file type in a folder= 17.5 seconds (in order to enable conversion. otherwise, i get an error because of "renderable text". also, this will produce 42 images that we can convert into pdf similarly to the way i actually do it with my work.)
(2) mba 13"= 5.4 seconds
(3) mbp 13"
(4) mbp 15"

step 3 (main test):
(1) second conversion = 1:27.3 seconds (combine supported files in Acrobat, larger file size)
(2) mba 13" = 43.8 seconds
(3) mbp 13"
(4) mbp 15"

step 4 (main test):
(1) ocr = 3:07.3 (English (US), Searchable Image output style, lowest (600 dpi) downsample images)
(2) mba 13" = 1:38.1
(3) mbp 13"
(4) mbp 15"

step 5 (comments):
13" MBA Ultimate: It looks like the Air completes the heavy-duty tasks (steps 3 and 4) in almost exactly half the time of your netbook. I forgot to quit the other apps that were running at the time, so my test was done with Safari, Skype, and MS Word running in the background (I wasn't using Skype, it was just open). While performing the tests there was no lag in internet browsing or the responsiveness of MS Word. Hope you get some input from MacBook Pro owners. I'd be interested to see how much better the Sandy Bridge processor performs.

palpatine
May 5, 2011, 12:06 AM
Will you be carrying your laptop with you? I ask this because I need to do work on the run (dont really have an office) and the weight of the laptop is an important factor for me. I move from MBP15 to MBA13 and I find that I get more work done just because the laptop is lighter. I carry it all over the place with me and it is not a pain to take it out and put it in the bag several times a day. Easier on my shoulders as well. Furthermore the MBA13 is powerful enough to be my primary laptop. By the way I use Adobe pro to change Word to Pdf files. I also use Nvivo programme via Windows in parallel. I find the MBA13 powerful enough and is gentle to my shoulders. If weight is a factor for you then I would suggest MBA but if you are not going to carry it around so much then MBP would be better.

thanks. this is a real conundrum. i will be carrying it every day. mobility and long battery life drove me to the netbook in the first place...

palpatine
May 5, 2011, 12:10 AM
Here's my addition to the test using my 13" MBA. I've just filled in the #2 slot on each step....13" MBA Ultimate: It looks like the Air completes the heavy-duty tasks (steps 3 and 4) in almost exactly half the time of your netbook. I forgot to quit the other apps that were running at the time, so my test was done with Safari, Skype, and MS Word running in the background (I wasn't using Skype, it was just open). While performing the tests there was no lag in internet browsing or the responsiveness of MS Word. Hope you get some input from MacBook Pro owners. I'd be interested to see how much better the Sandy Bridge processor performs.

thanks for doing the test! that is really helpful. i hope someone in the mbp forum will give it a try. i'd like to see the numbers as well. of course, it is tough to get a sense of the multi-tasking (the strength of the mbp), but it is something more for me than the abstract performance numbers i usually see.

palpatine
May 5, 2011, 10:23 PM
A big thank you to everyone who has kindly commented in this thread and offered advice. In answer to the original question I posed: "MBA powerful enough for my needs?" I think the answer is clearly "yes." However, in the end I decided to buy a 13" mbp with 8gb ram.

My decision involved a lot of factors, but mainly came down to a preference for the updated processor. I am glad I could take advantage of the refreshed product line. I could have waited until June for the possibility of an mba 13, but I would have lost the back to school free ipod, and I would have had to suffer another month of netbooking for a day that might not come.

Secondarily, I also prefer things like the all glass screen, the backlit keyboard, and the larger hd. My biggest compromises were on weight (the mba is incredible) and the ssd drive (I actually asked for this, but it would have taken a couple of weeks to order one, so I went with the ram upgrade in its place--in the end it was probably a good decision for multitasking).

For those who might be interested, I recorded my test results for the pdf conversion / optimization. I want to thank unclet for helping out by providing times. Overall, I felt the mpb was significantly faster than the mba 13, but not by the huge margin I expected. Of course, my poor old netbook was completely blown away by both.

TEST RESULTS (Computer info)
(1) Asus 1005ha-pu17 netbook, 2gb memory, Intel Atom N280 (1.66GHz, 512KB L2 Cache, FSB 667MHz). Adobe Acrobat 9.
(2) mba 13" 4gb memory, Intel Core 2 Duo (2.13 Ghz, 6MB L2 cache, FSB 1.07 Ghz). Adobe Acrobat X.
(3) mbp 13" 8gb memory, Intel Core i5 (2.3 Ghz, 4GB, FSB 1.33 Ghz)
(4) mbp 15"

step 1 (preparation):
(1) Asus original conversion = 10.2 seconds (cold start, right click, convert to pdf)
(2) mba 13"= 1.3 seconds
(3) mbp 13"= 1 second? It happened too quickly.
(4) mbp 15"

step 2 (preparation):*
(1) "save as" tiff file type in a folder= 17.5 seconds (in order to enable conversion. otherwise, i get an error because of "renderable text". also, this will produce 42 images that we can convert into pdf similarly to the way i actually do it with my work.)
(2) mba 13"= 5.4 seconds
(3) mbp 13" = 3.4 seconds
(4) mbp 15"

step 3 (main test):
(1) second conversion = 1:27.3 seconds (combine supported files in Acrobat, larger file size)
(2) mba 13" = 43.8 seconds
(3) mbp 13" = 33.3 seconds (I was hoping for a bit more speed here. Maybe my computer will shine a bit more with multi-tasking.)
(4) mbp 15"

step 4 (main test):
(1) ocr = 3:07.3 (English (US), Searchable Image output style, lowest (600 dpi) downsample images)
(2) mba 13" = 1:38.1
(3) mbp 13" = 1:01.8 (I was pleased with this result, but was still hoping for a bit more. Again, I might appreciate the capabilities of the computer more after a day of work.)
(4) mbp 15"

step 5 (comments):
I had a few things running in the background (BitTorrent, Chrome, Mail, and Evernote), but not much. I think that after I get a couple of days of work in I will have a better sense of how it performs with multi-tasking. At any rate, the mbp is at least a huge improvement over what I was using up until yesterday. And, of course, I could go on and on about the smooth os, beautiful screen, sexy lines of the computer, etc.!