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View Full Version : Productivity on an 11" Air: Share your experiences with prospective buyers




That Guy No1
Jun 25, 2012, 01:54 PM
Hello all you 11" Air owners!

To save your precious time I'll first post my question and then, if you are interested, follow up with my reasoning for starting this thread.
Question: What do you get done on the 11" screen on your air? (W/O using an external display)

Reasoning: My reason for starting this thread is that generally people thinking about buying an 11" air are worried that the screen is too small to actually be productive.

As this is a very subjective matter there is nobody who will be able to say if I, or anyone else for that matter, will be able to be productive on an 11" screen. They are however able too share their own experiences of being productive on an 11" screen. From this information prospective switchers from larger screen sizes (like me) will be able to se what other people manage to do on their 11" screens and perform a personal assessment of whether they themselves will be able to utilise the 11" screen in the same way.

This should effectively eliminate 90% of future "Help me decide if I should get the 11" or the 13" Air"–threads (Probably not, but it would help me figure out if I should go 11" or not).

Best regards,
That Guy



3bs
Jun 25, 2012, 02:29 PM
I have a late 2010 11" ultimate and waiting for my new 2012 11" ultimate. It's my main and only computer. I use it for:

- watching tv shows and movies
- document viewing/editing
- web browsing
- music

I don't do any photo or video editing. I don't play any games either but I probably would if the MBA was capable of it without getting too hot and loud. I was worried 11" would be too small of a screen to watch my shows on but it's been fine. I do sometimes wish I had more screen real estate when I have documents open but it's not that bad and definitely not enough for me to get a 13" MBA. I just love how small and portable it is (some might say a 13" isn't that much different in that department but I can't argue since I've only owned an 11")

andrepelly
Jun 25, 2012, 03:15 PM
Nice thread.
I'll get minetomorrow morning so i'll be back next days with feedbacks and feelings! :cool:

jimboutilier
Jun 25, 2012, 03:25 PM
My 11" MBA has a screen resolution of 1366 by 768 or about 1.049mp. My last 13" notebook (and the current 13" MBP) is 1280 by 800 or 1.024mp. So screen real-estate is just about a wash.

It can be argued that the aspect ratio of the 11" MBA is not as practical but I found it to be just fine once I moved my dock from the bottom to one side.

And its definitely true the everything appears smaller on the 11" even though its pixel real-estate is about the same as a 13"

The bottom line for me is I can do everything on my 11" MBA that I used to do on a 13" MBP. I have to sit closer to the screen and I wouldn't want to work on it all day long (where I could on the 13") but its just as usable for me for everything I do except how long I can use it at a stretch. My work is interspersed with many meetings so for me its not an issue between the 11 and 13"

As to what things I do - I have over 100 programs in regular use. Some of the ones I use every day include Word/Powerpoint/Excel, Panorama, dbvisualizer, omnigraffle, omniplan, evernote, mail, adium, parallels, pandora, sandvox, pdfpen, neatworks, terminal, text wrangler, iPhoto, browsers, web conferencing, videoconfrencing, and much more.

I travel a lot so often just use the 11" screen to do these things but at some locations I have a big monitor/keyboard/mouse setup, just as I did when I had a 13" notebook to allow for more comfortable and productive long sessions.

Hope this helps

jvmxtra
Jun 25, 2012, 03:39 PM
Just a matter of how long you will be working on your laptop.
Longer you work, you notice smaller screen more and more..

For short amount of work I would imagine is ok.

glen e
Jun 25, 2012, 03:52 PM
I use it in a hotel room at night when I'm on the road. At home it plugs into a 27" LG monitor and keyboard

The 11 is perfect for me...

jmoore5196
Jun 25, 2012, 04:49 PM
I have a 2011 MBA - 11", i5 with 128GB SSD - and carry it around the city in a Tucano One bag along with my iPad 2.

I love the portability and the form factor of the machine ... but working on it is a bit of a frustration. As long as I'm not doing anything too serious, the 11" is perfect. If I try to work on a Photoshop or InDesign project, though, the limitations of the form factor make themselves apparent very quickly.

I will upgrade to an "ultimate" 2012 13" MBA, but I may keep the 11" for trips. It's ideal for about everything except intensive design work.

ixodes
Jun 25, 2012, 05:24 PM
I use my 11" MBP for occasional use while traveling across the pond, it's just too small for serious productivity. But it does fit well on an airplane tray table.

For getting work done quickly and efficiently like I'm used to doing, my 13" MBA is a far better laptop. It's only one inch wider, yet that's a big difference in comfort, balance, and day to day use.

That's my take on it.

3bs
Jun 25, 2012, 05:27 PM
Just a matter of how long you will be working on your laptop.
Longer you work, you notice smaller screen more and more..

For short amount of work I would imagine is ok.

I don't agree with this but that's just my opinion.

I use my 11" MBP for occasional use while traveling across the pond, it's just too small for serious productivity. But it does fit well on an airplane tray table.

11" Pro :eek: I gotta get me one of those

Sounds Good
Jun 25, 2012, 09:01 PM
Interesting thread...

palpatine
Jun 25, 2012, 09:23 PM
Your mileage may vary.

I think that is the best we can say.

Some people love to go around posting on the forums that the 11" or the iPad could not possibly be used for X and you have to get this or that in order to do it. That's balderdash. Know yourself, know your needs, and know the devices. It's as easy as that. You'll be able to make the decision that's best for you.

IJBrekke
Jun 25, 2012, 11:26 PM
Wirelessly posted

I have one. Slightly too small for me, but I knew that going into it, it was simply the one I could afford. I would love to switch to the 13, I'll gladly sacrifice .6 lbs for that extra screen and battery.

Aaron from KY
Jun 25, 2012, 11:43 PM
I bought one of the discontinued mid-2011 11in Airs about a week ago and my experience has, so far, been great. I do have a 15in MBP for my "desktop" and Diablo 3 needs so the Air is mostly used for web browsing. As others have noted, moving the Dock to one side of the screen helps, and I find full-screen mode helps too if it's supported. The high DPI keeps everything crisp, while the low weight means you barely feel it on your lap. I like the light touch of the keyboard almost as much as the onscreen keyboard on the iPad. In all honesty it feels much closer to the 13in MBP in use than you might expect. Seeing it in a store environment makes it seem really small, but in a home setting it's about perfect.

Booji
Jun 25, 2012, 11:44 PM
If its your only machine and you don't use an external monitor that often, I'd say yes it can be limiting to productivity. While I loved my 11" for the form factor, I traded it for a 13" and found it much more useful. For me, my main work is the traditional MS Office Suite - the usability with multiple open windows and work on large spreadsheets and detailed Powerpoints I found was a limiting factor.

jinesh
Jun 26, 2012, 12:21 AM
I'm a web designer & developer with photoshop, eclipse, firebug, chrome, GIT client, FTP client & a text editor open at most times. The i5 is powerful enough to handle all tasks & is my primary machine (with a 22" 16:10 external monitor, keyboard & magic mouse).

Working without an external monitor I've noticed -


Due to screen size, making minor changes/edits in Photoshop is fine but creating a design from scratch involves scrolling like a maniac!
The smaller trackpad quickly becomes annoying if you're coming from 13" or above
The battery lasts 2 hours with a broadband datacard which is barely enough for one client meeting
The smaller fonts do cause some eye strain after a few hours of usage


With this in mind, my next machine (2013 Haswell) will be 13" with a comfortable, 16:10 display ratio & battery......or will it? :)

Whorehay
Jun 26, 2012, 12:54 AM
My Late 2010 (C2D) 11" has been my only computer for over a year and a half now and I still love it. I know the new ones are even better with Ivy Bridge and extra storage potential.

3 reasons Why I love the 11":
1) It's thin, light and SMALL! I can bring it almost anywhere and do whatever I need to do. For example, I fly Southwest a lot, and the seats/tables aren't all that big. My 15" really had trouble with flying, especially if the person in front of me adjusted their seat back. 11" fits great in all types of these tight situations.
2) It's more than powerful enough for most types of computing needs...even with Core 2 Duo. Ivy Bridge is even sweeter! This Core 2 Duo one put my Dell Netbook with the Atom processor to shame. I couldn't use Flash or any sort of multimedia on the Dell, everything was slow, and the resolution was awkward. The 11" MBA was essentially portable enough to replace my netbook and powerful enough to replace my 15" MBP.
3) Has enough ports for "home expansion". I connect an external monitor, keyboard, M Stand and mouse to the MBA for home use, essentially making it a desktop computer. It's able to power the screen nicely, I rarely get any hiccups even when playing games. Yet when I need portability, 5 seconds later it's in my bag.

A few nitpicks:
1) Small screen/quality of screen. Yeah, I did buy the 11", but coming from a 15", it's quite a bit smaller and not as nice. A year and a half later, I'm still not totally used to it. When I'm away from home for a prolonged period of time, I get "big screen withdrawal." But it's a trade-off I'm willing to make for the ridiculous size of the thing.
2) Light on the hard drive size. I have the 128GB, which was tops at the time, and I'm struggling to keep enough space even with a lot of my stuff on external hard drives. These days, I'd go 256GB minimum for the internal drive for my only computer. This problem is essentially fixed these days with 512GB hard drives, but keep in mind it is quite a bit more expensive than the base model.

Honestly, the 11" pretty much the best of both worlds if you're able to squeeze in an external screen. There's not many computers out there that are able to adapt to different environments as well as the 11". Powerful enough for so many tasks, yet incredibly portable. I love mine, and I think it'd be hard to "upgrade" to a rMBP of any size if I had to give up the size of this thing. My next computer will likely be the 11" Haswell Ultimate ;)

jojoba
Jun 26, 2012, 01:52 AM
I could do everything I need to do on an 11", but it would drive me a bit nuts. It's a beautiful machine, but I wouldn't even rely on my 13" MBA without an external monitor. I can travel or go abroad for months with my 13", but at home I want access to a large screen at regular intervals. I'm a researcher and my preferred way of working is to spread out my data, my notes, my mind maps and my literature next to each other as I'm writing, and the smaller screen, the less of that is possible. But that's just a personal preference.

hrl
Jun 26, 2012, 02:05 AM
Other than editing movies and photos, I find the 11' screen perfectly adequate without external monitor. It's my main workhouse. I don't find the battery to be an issue because whenever I visit my customers, there are always electrical outlets nearby. So short battery life isn't the issue, the issue is seeing my customers amazed my this amazing thin machine and its beautiful power supply :D

EmaDaCuz
Jun 26, 2012, 03:24 AM
I bought a discontinued 2011 i5-128SSD, I use it as my main PC at work. I am a research in pharmaceutics, so I mainly do image and data analysis, along with lots of PDF reading.
No problem so far, processor is powerful enough and I have plenty of disk space as I archive all the data on a network storage straight after processing.
The downside is the screen, a bit too small if you have to spend ages in front of it. But I find the rule 45 minutes work+15 minutes pause quite OK, so my eyes don't get red.

KohPhiPhi
Jun 26, 2012, 06:47 AM
The MBA 11" is no productivity machine. Not because it's not powerful enough (which it is), but because the screen and resolution are too tight to do any serious "productivity": Photoshop, dreamweaver, iMovie, etc. Yes, the MBA 11" is powerful enough to chew through those applications, but its screen is not comfortable enough to go fully productive on them.

The MBA 11" is a fantastic road warrior for content consumption, but it's no content production machine.

Monkeyat
Jun 26, 2012, 07:25 AM
I have a new 2012 11" as my main and only computer and I can say it's great!!! I had a MacBook Pro 13" mid-2009 and I'm really happy with the new size and portability. Just put the Air in my backpack (no sleeves and so.. just an A4 envelope) and GO ! I use it mainly to :

1) note taking during classes (Circusponies Notebook with 150% zoom)
2) surfing the web (here the zoom touch is a great function to read small letters, just like writing this right now :)
3) Photos (Lightroom is just great)
4) DVD's and Blu-ray's ripping and encoding (super fast, using MakeMKV and Handbrake)
5) Parallels (for running Windows when I need to help someone)

All of that experience is just great with a 11". And battery life for a so small piece of hardware is amazing! I'm currently getting 7 hours (no WiFi) and 5 hours with basic Internet surfing!

palpatine
Jun 26, 2012, 07:42 AM
The MBA 11" is no productivity machine. Not because it's not powerful enough (which it is), but because the screen and resolution are too tight to do any serious "productivity": Photoshop, dreamweaver, iMovie, etc. Yes, the MBA 11" is powerful enough to chew through those applications, but its screen is not comfortable enough to go fully productive on them.

The MBA 11" is a fantastic road warrior for content consumption, but it's no content production machine.

This is wrong. I am quite productive with these applications and more.

I think you do a disservice to prospective consumers when you make a blanket claim that it is "no content production machine." To be fair, these are the kinds of statements you see all over the forum. That doesn't make it helpful, though.

Instead of making claims like this that are demonstrably false, why don't you word it as "When I owned an 11" I wasn't able to be as productive." Of course, this brings up a key point. Have you ever owned one?

I'm not trying to beat you up here or anything, but I think we owe it to other forum members to make it clear where we are coming from and what we mean when we pass judgment on devices. If, for example, you have owned an MBA 11" and tried to use it in your movie production classes, but the color gamut was no good for that use, then this is the kind of thing you need to let others know. If you just saw it in the store and didn't like how small it was sitting next to the 13" or the iMac, then that is something else.

islanders
Jun 26, 2012, 07:50 AM
I too could do anything on an 11 but the screen would drive me nuts. I've had the 11 for over a week and looking forward to the 13 later this week. I have an external monitor but would rather have the larger screen on the laptop as well. For Office the vertical space is too cramped for my taste. I have a desktop with dual monitors for graphic design and video apps. It's a nice option to use an external with the Air but the reason I got the Air is for a portable laptop for it's own screen, battery powered, and low power requirements. If the 11 were a better deal I would use it, but the 13 is a better value for what I do.

Sounds Good
Jun 26, 2012, 07:59 AM
I was almost there on my own, but this thread has pretty much pushed me towards the 13". Since I'm NOT a road warrior I don't need ultra-ULTRA portable -- the 13" will be portable *enough* for me. And even though my laptop is hooked up to an external monitor the majority of the time, I think I'll appreciate the extra screen space (and the 16:10 ratio) of the 13" for all the times I'm NOT hooked up to the monitor. Besides, something tells me the Air will have me wanting to be "free" more often (away from the external monitor) so I'm sure I'll appreciate the larger screen. Truth is, the ONLY thing I prefer about the 11" is the small footprint (which I absolutely love) but I guess I'll get over it. :)

palpatine
Jun 26, 2012, 08:30 AM
I was almost there on my own, but this thread has pretty much pushed me towards the 13". Since I'm NOT a road warrior I don't need ultra-ULTRA portable -- the 13" will be portable *enough* for me. And even though my laptop is hooked up to an external monitor the majority of the time, I think I'll appreciate the extra screen space (and the 16:10 ratio) of the 13" for all the times I'm NOT hooked up to the monitor. Besides, something tells me the Air will have me wanting to be "free" more often (away from the external monitor) so I'm sure I'll appreciate the larger screen. Truth is, the ONLY thing I prefer about the 11" is the small footprint (which I absolutely love) but I guess I'll get over it. :)

The 13" is a great device! In my case, the fun part of having the MBA 11" is that everything fits in a man bag. I have stopped using backpacks, and because I digitized my personal library, I haven't carried a book in a bag for years now. The 13" would push me up to a larger bag, and that makes my daily bike commute a little less fun, and gives me extra weight I don't need.

islanders
Jun 26, 2012, 08:32 AM
I probably shouldn't have said the 11'' is driving me nuts. Most of the time it's very functional because the track pad works so well, but I'm anticipating the 13'' extra screen will be worth the larger footprint. Sometimes it's a little annoying if I zoom in to read the text and there isn't quite enough room to see stuff that is off to the side, such as who is making the post or how many responses, which varies with each website. That's just one example but you get the idea.

If you are used to an iPhone 11 is huge, but after a week it's seems just a little too small. As many people have said would be nice to have an extra inch on the 11 screen.

hbtd
Jun 26, 2012, 08:37 AM
I use my 11'' MBA as my primary machine (without an external monitor) for light personal use. Web browsing, email, iTune, photos. Some very light word processing with Pages. I also have a 13'' MBA that I bought before the 11''. Yes the screen is shorter but you do have enough real estate to get things done. The battery really needs to be improved. For really heavy duty use, the 11'' may not be a good choice if you need a larger display.

Try them both. Be in a position to buy an 11'', use it intensely for a few days, and if you don't like it return it for a 13''. I bought an 11'' for a friend and she didn't like it and the Apple store accepted the return with no problems.