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View Full Version : Pondering using MBA as sole computer




convert2b
Dec 18, 2008, 07:12 AM
Yes, a newbie about to get flamed on here probably.
I'm a long standing PC user who is debating switching to Mac after another virus and hard drive loss. Thinking about using the MBA as my sole computer.
Have read a lot of articles about the MBA being an exceptional 2nd computer, supllement, great pair to the iMac etc.
My one fear is winding up with a slow computer. Couldn't stand that.
I work mostly on web based programs and MS Office (the std's plus Powerpoint and Publisher).
-My longwinded question - if i put all of my Windows based programs into my office network (outlook, MS office etc), would I be able to access/utlilize those offerings through a Mac version of "remote desktop connection"?
-If that would work, why don't people utilize that instead of Boot Camp, Parallels or Fusion?
-If that would work, would that minimize any reduction in the MBA's performance?
Again, apologies for the simple newbie questions. Am fed up with PC and in love with Apple. Just scared to death of having buyer's remorse and being stuck with a nice "supplemental" laptop.



pstoehr
Dec 18, 2008, 07:23 AM
HI,

My one fear is winding up with a slow computer. Couldn't stand that.
I work mostly on web based programs and MS Office (the std's plus Powerpoint and Publisher).

for this office stuff the MBA is fast enough. Even witth a "first revision" Intel Mac Mini it is no problem to use word and the other tools.


-My longwinded question - if i put all of my Windows based programs into my office network (outlook, MS office etc), would I be able to access/utlilize those offerings through a Mac version of "remote desktop connection"?
-If that would work, why don't people utilize that instead of Boot Camp, Parallels or Fusion?
As far as I know there nothing like a "Remote Desktop Connection" from a Mac to a PC and vice versa.

Best regards
Peter

justit
Dec 18, 2008, 07:25 AM
Yes, a newbie about to get flamed on here probably.


You may get flamed for not using the search tool here :D

1) RDC works great
2) RDC requires a dedicated PC somewhere, many mac owners do not own a PC but need to run some PC programs sometimes. Parallels works fine.
3) Your question relies on memory. For just being 2GB it handles switching between programs well with no lag.

As far as your sole computer, be sure to buy a good USB hub and if you own a camcorder make sure it works on USB, and look into USB External hard Drives for more storage/back-up. And the SuperDrive CD if you have no other computers. The only lag you will see are with software that require CPU rendering, (ie. if you see a status bar) which are about 1/2 the speed of a today's desktops/laptops, but much faster than a netbook.

nick9191
Dec 18, 2008, 07:35 AM
Unless your a kind of person who travels all day every day with a computer by your side, you would be better off with a Macbook. Even if you do some travelling, the Macbook is still best in class for size and weight. It weighs 1.5 pounds more than the Air, which is worth it for the faster system with far more connectivity, and of course cheaper.

Only obvious downfall of the Macbook is the screen, which while a good screen for a consumer, might get on your nerves if your doing any colour work. The Air has a nicer screen, but again you are unlikely to notice/care. All laptop screens, Mac or PC are pretty pretty poor for that kind of work anyway.

pstoehr
Dec 18, 2008, 07:43 AM
Hi,
You may get flamed for not using the search tool here :D

1) RDC works great

the original poster asked for a 'Mac version of "remote desktop connection"'!
Again, as far as I know there nothing like a "Remote Desktop Connection" from a Mac to a PC and vice versa.

Best regards
Peter

bbotte
Dec 18, 2008, 07:46 AM
We have a MBA and it is our only computer. I bought the LED Display and Time Capsule, and the USB Mac keyboard they give me enough USB Ports and extra drive space. SO it is a desktop sometimes and when I need to leave or want to be lazy on the couch, it's a Laptop. Works great, I have office 2008, and Photoshop Elements 6 on it. Best computer I have owned in my 33 years. Our iTunes stuff is on it too for our iPhones. But we are not into hoarding tons of music, we have what we like to listen to, like our favorites and some kids music for our daughter. I have 78GB open on the 128SSD. The SSD is huge compared to our last HP Laptop, 40GB was tiny.

Expensive, but worth every penny and will be even better with Snow Leopard.

edesignuk
Dec 18, 2008, 07:48 AM
the original poster asked for a 'Mac version of "remote desktop connection"'!
Again, as far as I know there nothing like a "Remote Desktop Connection" from a Mac to a PC and vice versa.
Remote Desktop Connection for Mac (http://www.microsoft.com/mac/products/remote-desktop/default.mspx).

smukkebenne
Dec 18, 2008, 07:49 AM
Hi,

the original poster asked for a 'Mac version of "remote desktop connection"'!
Again, as far as I know there nothing like a "Remote Desktop Connection" from a Mac to a PC and vice versa.

Best regards
Peter
There is! It's called RDC and is made by M$. Works from a Mac to a PC. The other way around, you can use VNC.
@OP: I think a MBA is sufficient for your needs.

justit
Dec 18, 2008, 07:49 AM
Again, as far as I know there nothing like a "Remote Desktop Connection" from a Mac to a PC and vice versa.

You'll need to set-up a VNC server on the Macbook Air to be able to see it on a PC.

pstoehr
Dec 18, 2008, 07:53 AM
Thanks for the link to the RDC for Mac!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Peter

Hey Jude
Dec 18, 2008, 08:02 AM
It weighs 1.5 pounds more than the Air, which is worth it for the faster system with far more connectivity, and of course cheaper.




I must say, I have held both computers ---Air and MacBook --- and I could not believe how heavy a measly 1.5 pounders were.

I can't wait to get my hands on an Air, once the line/flickering screen issues are resolved.

Jude

bbotte
Dec 18, 2008, 08:05 AM
It weighs 1.5 pounds more than the Air, which is worth it for the faster system

Some of the benchmarks I have seen of the SSD Air vs the MB, the MBA was more on par with the MB Pro. :confused:

justit
Dec 18, 2008, 08:16 AM
Some of the benchmarks I have seen of the SSD Air vs the MB, the MBA was more on par with the MB Pro. :confused:

apples & oranges, but the new MBA is faster than the first gen macbook pros

But still, speed is not why I chose the MBA, it's more lifestyle/functionality.

Kan-O-Z
Dec 18, 2008, 08:31 AM
Yes, a newbie about to get flamed on here probably.
I'm a long standing PC user who is debating switching to Mac after another virus and hard drive loss. Thinking about using the MBA as my sole computer.
Have read a lot of articles about the MBA being an exceptional 2nd computer, supllement, great pair to the iMac etc.
My one fear is winding up with a slow computer. Couldn't stand that.
I work mostly on web based programs and MS Office (the std's plus Powerpoint and Publisher).

...

Again, apologies for the simple newbie questions. Am fed up with PC and in love with Apple. Just scared to death of having buyer's remorse and being stuck with a nice "supplemental" laptop.

The MBA can make a good primary computer. Think about it this way, the 1.86 SSD version is about the same performance as the base 2.1GHz Macbook and it's faster than the Mini and faster than Macbook Pros from just 2 years ago. For what you are doing, the Air will handle with ease. As a matter of fact, it's SSD makes the Air 'feel' like it's one of the fastest Macs ;)

As someone else posted, you should ask yourself if you will be carrying the computer around with you a lot. You could save yourself a good amount of money by going with regular Macbook and the regular Macbook will give you an optical drive as well as many ports. That being said, I don't really use the ports as everything is wireless and the optical drive can be 'borrowed' from another computer in your house (PC or MAC). It's very easy, it's done using Apple's built in software. If you are in love with the Air and willing to spend more money, you won't have any regrets :)

Kan-O-Z

jackiecanev2
Dec 18, 2008, 01:23 PM
Since getting my Air, I haven't so much as touched my MBP 2.6 or iMac. It's more competent than you would realize, or maybe I just don't do as much heavy computing as I used to. Either way, it should be more than suitable for your needs. It's benchmarked faster than last year's MB's, with the only real difference being expandability, ports, and the optical drive. And the size difference really is phenomenal, if that matters to you (and if you're considering an air, it should).

Tastannin
Dec 18, 2008, 01:37 PM
Hmm. I'm just worried I'll miss Firewire too much. LOL. Any feedback from this perspective?

convert2b
Dec 18, 2008, 01:41 PM
Since getting my Air, I haven't so much as touched my MBP 2.6 or iMac. It's more competent than you would realize, or maybe I just don't do as much heavy computing as I used to. Either way, it should be more than suitable for your needs. It's benchmarked faster than last year's MB's, with the only real difference being expandability, ports, and the optical drive. And the size difference really is phenomenal, if that matters to you (and if you're considering an air, it should).

Thanks for all the comments. I really appreciate the reference above the iMac and lack of use since adding MBA to your arsenal. I will study up and read more regarding RDC and whether or not this is better than virtualization.

Regarding my computer usage/demands. I travel frequently and also take my laptop to/from work daily. I think this makes me lean away from MB to MBA. My whole thought process was whether or not to have an iMac at work and travel with the MBA. If the MBA meets my needs, the iMac would be overkill in my estimation.

Thanks to everyone for their insight and assistance!

justit
Dec 18, 2008, 01:57 PM
I will study up and read more regarding RDC and whether or not this is better than virtualization.

Virtualization will always be faster since its local to your machine. RDC is only as fast your internet connection. I use RDC to log in to make some quick changes or look something up, but never to actually get a full days work done.

Kan-O-Z
Dec 18, 2008, 05:26 PM
Thanks for all the comments. I really appreciate the reference above the iMac and lack of use since adding MBA to your arsenal. I will study up and read more regarding RDC and whether or not this is better than virtualization.

Regarding my computer usage/demands. I travel frequently and also take my laptop to/from work daily. I think this makes me lean away from MB to MBA. My whole thought process was whether or not to have an iMac at work and travel with the MBA. If the MBA meets my needs, the iMac would be overkill in my estimation.

Thanks to everyone for their insight and assistance!

I think you should start out with an Air...and I think that's all that you will need. If you ever do need more you could at that point get a cheap iMac but personally I don't think you'll need it. The latest Air is quite nice :)

Kan-O-Z

Manzana
Dec 18, 2008, 06:42 PM
RDC will be plenty fast enough, esp if your office network is gigabit and you are accessing through n wireless. I actually think this is a better way to run your windows apps from an Air since it takes very little processing power and no disk space as compared to a virtualization solution. Away from the office it will be a different story since it depends on your internet connection speed.

habubauza
Dec 21, 2008, 06:24 PM
I was waiting for the Macbook Pro updates in October to replace my current Macbook. After the new Macbook Pro's were released and after doing extensive research, I decided it wasn't for me. I previously owned the beautiful last generation Macbook Pro's (2.4 GHz 200GB) but unfortunately several were replaced due to faulty GPU's. After I received the third from Apple, I decided to flip it on Ebay and I settled on a Macbook until Apple updated the GPU's on the new Macbook Pro's. Well, I was stunned to see what Apple did with the new MacBook's and although there are some improvements in some areas I didn't like the new updates on the new Macbook Pro's either. I work for the airlines and spend about 50 percent of my time in hotels. I am an amateur photographer, and I love shooting wildlife with my Nikon D40. I was stuck with the decision on what to do as far as my computing platform and after reading many reviews, and a lot of research, I came to the conclusion that for my needs, the best combination for the amount of money I wanted to spend was a very discounted Rev. A Macbook Air and an iMac. The iMac is my main computer and is very beautiful. The Macbook Air, is more capable than I thought it would be. Yes, only one USB, One Inline Port and one DVI Port, but it gets the job done for me when I'm on the road. I have no problems at all using the Macbook Air to process my raw images from my Nikon using Photoshop Elements 6. It does it. Is it blazingly fast? No. Is it fast enough? Yes. Furthermore, the Macbook Air has a better screen than Apples current Macbook lineup and for me that sealed the deal. My 20" iMac is the best investment I have made in computing in a long time. I never thought I would ever get a desktop again but here I am. Anyway that's my $.02 and I think that the Macbook Air is an excellent choice, especially if you are willing to invest in a Rev B. 128 SSD with 1.86 GHz processor. I will venture to say it's probably the best laptop in Apples current lineup, I didn't say most capable, I just said it's the best as far as build quality. Cheers!

CoreyMac
Dec 21, 2008, 10:36 PM
Regardless of your usage, I would never recommend an Air as a PRIMARY and SOLE computer. For the money its simply not future proof and unless you want to be buying a new Air every 2 years then this seems like a pretty poor purchase. Unless you travel every day, there's no need to get the Air over the Aluminum MacBook. I was pondering this decision for MONTHS (New 1.86/SSD vs the laptop in my sig) and it just came down to upgradeability, future performance and options. The screen isnt as good as the Air's...HOWEVER, that aside its damn near the most perfect laptop on the market in both design/style, size, weight and performance/functionality/upgradeability. Bias? Maybe, but like I said I was gawking at the new Air for months before I decided 3 weeks ago to order the 2.4 Alumbook with 4GB RAM for $900 less than the Air

aussie.damo
Dec 22, 2008, 02:46 AM
I'm thinking about going down this track, MBA Rev B (SSD) as sole computer. Portability is my key driver, but I still need reasonable performance. I'd like a machine that can run XP/Office under Fusion well, with OS X for everything else (Safari, iTunes, Adium).

I've found my MBA Rev A (HDD) to be inadequate for this, any thoughts on whether the Rev B SSD would do the job? I currently use an Early 2008 MBP which runs great, but is a little too heavy for the daily commute.

Any feedback gratefully accepted.

Damo

pstoehr
Dec 22, 2008, 04:08 AM
Hi,
I'm thinking about going down this track, MBA Rev B (SSD) as sole computer. Portability is my key driver, but I still need reasonable performance. I'd like a machine that can run XP/Office under Fusion well, with OS X for everything else (Safari, iTunes, Adium).

I've found my MBA Rev A (HDD) to be inadequate for this, any thoughts on whether the Rev B SSD would do the job? I currently use an Early 2008 MBP which runs great, but is a little too heavy for the daily commute.

Any feedback gratefully accepted.

Damo
it depends on why you haven't been happy with the Rev A. The Nvidia chip improves the performance of the graphic output. But from my point of view, the applications that you are using will not benefit that much from the new graphics chip. The SDD will give you a boost while starting the programs, in daily live this is (from my point of view) not noticeable, based on the fact that one normaly starts those applications once a day.

If you already had a 1.8GHz Rev A MBA I don't see a chance that you will be happy with new one.

Best regards
Peter

justit
Dec 22, 2008, 09:30 AM
None of the programs you listed above should have choked your MBA Rev A. If you work mostly with office productivity and IM you may want to look at a slightly heavier unibody Macbook that will absolutely solve your issues. And you already own a MBP with a great screen so you've got the 'better' of both worlds. ;)

HasanDaddy
Dec 22, 2008, 10:17 AM
I'm not going to spend $3000 on a 'supplemental' computer

I use the MBA as my sole computer and it rocks

convert2b
Dec 22, 2008, 10:42 AM
Well, most posters seemed to think the MBA should be adequate so I made the leap. If this proves to be a mistake, you may see a barely used rev b for sale here soon. Thanks for all the help and I've got my fingers crossed!!

justit
Dec 22, 2008, 11:11 AM
^^^---- you'll probably need to change your screen name now ;)

aussie.damo
Dec 22, 2008, 02:23 PM
None of the programs you listed above should have choked your MBA Rev A. If you work mostly with office productivity and IM you may want to look at a slightly heavier unibody Macbook that will absolutely solve your issues. And you already own a MBP with a great screen so you've got the 'better' of both worlds. ;)

Yeah, you're right, they don't choke it, as such. In fact, apart from the Fusion component, it works just great. The issue is when I do run Fusion, it's a big slow down. Probably wouldn't be so bad if I hadn't seen the performance from my MBP :D

Anyhoo, perhaps i'll wander down to the Apple store and see if they have one with Fusion loaded. Nothing like seeing it for yourself I guess!

Damo

jackiecanev2
Dec 22, 2008, 03:08 PM
VMWare, I've found, works better than fusion on the new airs. No lag, no choke. Obviously I'm not virtualizing and then gaming, but +1 for VMWare if it matters.

cyberwolf777
Dec 22, 2008, 05:21 PM
Although I myself am still waiting for an upgrade to 4GB to get a MBA, my partner has a Rev A HDD MBA and a close friend a Rev B SSD MBA and I've used both machines quite a bit.

I think the capabilities of the MBA are more than sufficient for 95% of users, the main exception being of course a lot of photo/video editing and gaming.

But even for some Photoshop now and then and some Aperture and (Rev B) for some casual gaming the MBA is really fine.

- If you are pondering about saving money and getting a Rev A, don't. The MBA has much less heat issues in Rev B and because of the new nvidia chip used in Rev B, you will likely see performance gains in SnowLeopard with OpenCL

- Also, as often said already in the board, the SSD used in RevB is extremely fast and worth every $.

- About Firewire: Well, I've had my first generation MB now for 2.5 years and the only two times I needed Firewire was to transfer videos from my old DV camcorder (the new ones all have USB 2) and to test a satellite TV box from Elgato (the new TV sticks, again, all have USB 2). My external drive can be operated through USB, Firewire 400 and 800.
So if you don't already have a device that uses firewire you won't miss it. Although it is faster when using external drives, for simple time machine backups and storage USB 2 is enough...

aussie.damo
Dec 22, 2008, 05:25 PM
VMWare, I've found, works better than fusion on the new airs. No lag, no choke. Obviously I'm not virtualizing and then gaming, but +1 for VMWare if it matters.

I assume you mean VMware works better than Parallels?? Fusion = VMware!

In any case, can you tell me more about your setup? Have you got XP installed under VMware? What applications do you use? How much RAM have you assigned to it?

I plan to us VMware to run XP and Office 2003, that's it, no other apps. I'd like to think that the SSD would give me near enough performance to my MBP, but am I dreaming?

I would so love to just carry the Air to work of a day. As light as the MBP is, it still weighs me down a bit!

Damo