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View Full Version : Why I bought a MacBook Air...




adamjackson
Aug 16, 2009, 01:19 PM
I don't think the MBA could be a primary machine for me but I was in the Apple Store every week for the past 3 months checking out MBAs. using them, opening and closing and picking it up. Every day I'd go home and shop for a good eBay deal, check macrumors and lust after this machine but my only concern was the screen size since I'm a power user and demand a ton of space and a long battery life.

After WWDC I bought a 3.06Ghz 17" MacBook Pro w/ 256GB SSD. It's the best notebook I've ever owned but there are a few downsides.

1. Heavy
2. Large
3. unibody wrist wrest really hurts my wrists. It's freaking sharp.
4. a hefty financial loss if stolen or lost.


I'm trying to finish my book and the weight, size and discomfort of lugging it to the coffee shop every day just gets old. Once the thing is open, I'm in Mac heaven! 1920x1200 resolution, super fast Core2Duo processor and full screen writing in Pages '09 is totally amazing plus I can write for a solid 7 hours without plugging in but i get wrist pain from the ultra-sharp edges the MBP unibody has so all of this is for nothing....


So last night I broke down and bought the MBA 2.13 w/ 128GB SSD and AppleCare. I couldn't be happier.

The front of the computer is so thin, I wrote for 6 hours and never felt any discomfort. Unfortunately, I did have to plug in but the power adapter after 3 hours but it was so small that I put the adapter in my cargo shorts pocket and carried the MBA under my arm (no backpack needed).

The speed is not a problem. i had Twitter, Pandora, Apple Mail and Pages.app opened. The SSD meant they launched ultra-fast and the processor kept up with my typing (not a huge task really). When I had to RDP into a few servers at work, it was easy and fast and I felt liberated from the 17" Macbook Pro.

The MacBook Air doesn't weigh me down and is "fast enough" for 95% of what I do. My 17" is still reserved for Call of Duty, Sim City, Final Cut Express and Aperture but that's only 30-45 minutes of my daily tasks and I can always do that when I get home.

When I have to go into the office and stare at spreadsheets all day, the 17" will still be my primary machine due to the ultra crisp screen, ports and hard drive size.

BUT

The MBA is going to be the computer that I finish writing my book on and since twice a month I'm on an airplane going to conferences, the MBA is the computer that will go with me. I went to LA last weekend for 3 days and the 17" was just stupid. I couldn't use it on the airplane, airport seats felt cramped, taking it with me on a lunch break was too much. it was just a massive machine for traveling.


So although I don't think the MBA could ever be my primary machine (unless it had 4gbs of ram and a 2.6+ Ghz processor), I do think it's the best 75% machine for what I want to do on a computer.

I spent 6 months deciding between Netbook or MacBook Air. netbooks are super slow, I'm kinda forced to run windows XP and the keyboards are always so cramped. not to mention really crappy screen quality, resolution and a super cheap feel. The MacBook Air is a fully featured portable computer with the size and weight of a netbook.


Yeah I know this was a long review but I wanted to share with with anyone on the fence about getting one.



thegoldenmackid
Aug 16, 2009, 01:22 PM
I do agree about the keyboard, but I have no problem with this Dell Mini 9. The keyboard would not be good for finishing a book. For your needs the 17" wouldn't seem like a logical solution to begin with, why not just a 15"?

Also, you can buy the MacBook Air with the SSD in-store?

PsyD4Me
Aug 16, 2009, 01:27 PM
Without heavy video use and occasional Itune use, this could be an everyday notebook.

thegoldenmackid
Aug 16, 2009, 01:30 PM
Without heavy video use and occasional Itune use, this could be an everyday notebook.
Why would occasional iTunes you cause it to not be an everyday notebook. For some this computer would be blazing fasts, everyone has differing needs.

adamjackson
Aug 16, 2009, 01:31 PM
I do agree about the keyboard, but I have no problem with this Dell Mini 9. The keyboard would not be good for finishing a book. For your needs the 17" wouldn't seem like a logical solution to begin with, why not just a 15"?

Also, you can buy the MacBook Air with the SSD in-store?


The Dell Mini 10 was the other laptop on my list. it's keyboard is 92% full size which is definitely usable but Microsoft Word for Windows has so many toolbars that I could never have finished my book with that crappy UI not to mention the 1.6Ghz ATOM processor isn't ideal in my opinion but I don't know anyone that has let me keep it overnight to try. I knew how the MBA would feel so it was more of a trust thing.

the 17" is an amazing solution. it's the best notebook I've ever owned! I love getting 8 hours of battery life (5 under normal user) and the screen is simply fantastic! I can open multiple documents and web pages and I plug it into a 24" monitor at the office which has the same resolution.

I owned a 2.93Ghz 15" (before they added the built in battery). It was nice but the pixels per inch was too low for me. I want a more crisp screen. My fiance still has her 2.6ghz 15" and using it is damn near impossible after upgrading to 17. The 13 is different because it's understood that the computer is for light and on the go work. not really intensive tasks so I expect less of it in terms of monitor size but the 15 & 17 have the exact same insides, same performance and specs yet the 15" monitor is just crappy as far as pixels per inch goes and the 17" was only $200 more. That's why I upgraded.


Why would occasional iTunes you cause it to not be an everyday notebook. For some this computer would be blazing fasts, everyone has differing needs.

Well. I can imagine that some people still buy movies and HD TV shows through iTunes. maybe they Rip CDs and re-encode songs from Apple Lossless to M4A or maybe they sync hundreds of apps to their iPhone and manage playlists. iTunes can be a serious bandwidth hog and storage hog if you're storing music and iPhone Apps on the MBA itself. Just so you know, I'm keeping the 17" as my sole iTunes system. the MBA will just be used to stream music from Pandora or Last.FM.


I mean I love my 17" as well and continue to purchase new ones, I just don't see how the difference is that much, especially with an external. You clearly have found the right solution for you. I just am sorta confused how you can use the Air, but think that the 13" needs higher PPI?


I can't be sure but the 15" is 113 PPI (I think).
The 17" and 13" displays are 130 PPI which is an improved quality. I may be wrong but I think that's what I read.

thegoldenmackid
Aug 16, 2009, 01:34 PM
I mean I love my 17" as well and continue to purchase new ones, I just don't see how the difference is that much, especially with an external. You clearly have found the right solution for you. I just am sorta confused how you can use the Air, but think that the 13" needs higher PPI?

HLdan
Aug 16, 2009, 07:00 PM
While I totally understand the OP's situation using the 17" for more of a power machine and his Air for on the go, I think he needs a reality check, I know I do every now and then. Apple's Mac notebooks are so nice, light and thin that we get used to them and spoiled by them quite fast to a point that we tend to get critical over them.
Last week I went to Best Buy and just for the heck of it I took a look at several Windows PC's, especially 17" screens, they were so big, clunky and heavy but they seemed to be the norm as most of them were that way. Then I went over to the Apple section at Best Buy and the 17" MBP seemed more like a 13" when compared to those huge 17" Windows machines. The 17" MBP is much lighter in weight, very thin and less cumbersome. They look so much more professional and easy to carry around. I was at my favorite coffee house last week and I saw a lady (looks like Lauren) with the 17" HP and that thing could barely fit on the small table, it was very thick and over bearing, I just couldn't bare carrying something like that around. Every now and then it's good to have a reality check. :)

SnowLeopard2008
Aug 16, 2009, 07:18 PM
Any notebook with a display larger than 15.4" widescreen scares me. It's so big and heavy. uMBP 17 inchers are already pushing the definition of "portable" and "laptop" as it is. PC 17 inchers are heavier, bigger and clunkier.

I don't understand what you (OP) meant by "crappy as far as pixels per inch goes". 20 PPI makes no difference at all. My 15" uMBP looks better than any 13" MacBook/Pro. Displays aren't usually classified by PPI, but by color gamut. If you have more PPI, but can't cover more color gamut than another display with 20 less PPI, it is meaningless.

ayeying
Aug 16, 2009, 07:51 PM
Any notebook with a display larger than 15.4" widescreen scares me. It's so big and heavy. uMBP 17 inchers are already pushing the definition of "portable" and "laptop" as it is. PC 17 inchers are heavier, bigger and clunkier.

I don't understand what you (OP) meant by "crappy as far as pixels per inch goes". 20 PPI makes no difference at all. My 15" uMBP looks better than any 13" MacBook/Pro. Displays aren't usually classified by PPI, but by color gamut. If you have more PPI, but can't cover more color gamut than another display with 20 less PPI, it is meaningless.

1440 x 900 @ 15.4" is 110 ppi (0.98MP), 1280 x 800 @ 13.3" is 113 ppi(0.98MP), 1920 x 1200 @ 17" is 133 ppi (2.2MP)

Thats why you don't see much difference

adamjackson
Aug 16, 2009, 10:00 PM
1440 x 900 @ 15.4" is 110 ppi (0.98MP), 1280 x 800 @ 13.3" is 113 ppi(0.98MP), 1920 x 1200 @ 17" is 133 ppi (2.2MP)

Thats why you don't see much difference


Thanks for backing me up on that. I didn't know what they were exactly so that was my point and why using a 15" now is challenging because the screen isn't crisp at all and looks fuzzy.


While I totally understand the OP's situation using the 17" for more of a power machine and his Air for on the go, I think he needs a reality check, I know I do every now and then. Apple's Mac notebooks are so nice, light and thin that we get used to them and spoiled by them quite fast to a point that we tend to get critical over them.



I work on PC notebooks every day for clients. I'm well aware at how awesome, thin and beautiful Apple notebooks are but you can't deny that a 13" MacBook Air that weighs 3 pounds is nicer than a 6.6 pound 17" MacBook Pro.

It adds up greatly over time to the point where I don't want to carry it around for those half hour coffee shop meetings and I have two of those a day and I'm flying twice a month.

It's not that I need a reality check. If I was using a 17" HP Notebook and moved to a 17" MacBook Pro, I'd still love it just as I do now but there would still be a spot for a very thin & light machine for more meaningless tasks.

I wasn't critical of the 17" because alone, it's a great machine. I was simply weighing the differences in comparison to a MacBook Air. When you re-read it with that in mind, you'd see that it's heavy (compared to the MBA) clunky (compared the the MBA)

I've seen and used 17" HP notebooks and they're simply embarrassing so I am in no way dissing the 17" MacBook Pro

Furthermore, I started my post as, "[the 17" mbp] is the best notebook I've ever owned" and I stand by that. the MBA is 2nd to that but it fills a very necessary need.

HLdan
Aug 17, 2009, 12:35 AM
It's not that I need a reality check. If I was using a 17" HP Notebook and moved to a 17" MacBook Pro, I'd still love it just as I do now but there would still be a spot for a very thin & light machine for more meaningless tasks.

Furthermore, I started my post as, "[the 17" mbp] is the best notebook I've ever owned" and I stand by that. the MBA is 2nd to that but it fills a very necessary need.

Ha, sorry about the "reality check" comment, it was purely meant in jest as I said the same thing about myself. I think the funny thing is I read a lot on MR about people saying that the Mac notebooks are heavy and too big and such and sometimes we all need reality check by visiting our local retail stores and checking out the PC world again to realize that we are much better off than we thought. :)

In terms of the Air, it's a great machine for what it can bring to the user experience. I bought the Rev B Macbook Air and fell in love with it immediately and dubbed it the best Apple notebook I've ever owned, even better than my 17" Powerbook...BUT unfortunately I sold it recently and bought the new 13" MBP. The Air is nice and I travel a lot for my work but it just wasn't convenient for the lack of ports, I needed the DVD drive from time to time and plugging it in just wasn't feasible. Also, playing streaming HD videos and Flash videos just wouldn't cut on the Air so I needed more power and convenience at the cost of a bit more weight and I couldn't be happier now with my new 13" MBP.
Glad things worked out for you.

Lounge Deluxe
Aug 17, 2009, 04:54 AM
OP, thanks for your review. I too have an uMBP 17" and love it to death and all, but its portability aspects (weight and footprint) are indeed weak to say the least imo. I have some post grad courses coming up at university but no way the 17" uMBP will fit on those little tables and let you make notes in a convenient way. The MBA seems indeed best suited for taking lots of notes when on the road, and the MBA is also a little lower than the 17" and should put less strain on my wrists. I'll buy an MBA within a week or two.

The 17" is fine for mobility within the office though (e.g. when a client visits and we move to a conference room).

adamjackson
Aug 17, 2009, 11:19 AM
In terms of the Air, it's a great machine for what it can bring to the user experience. I bought the Rev B Macbook Air and fell in love with it immediately and dubbed it the best Apple notebook I've ever owned, even better than my 17" Powerbook...BUT unfortunately I sold it recently and bought the new 13" MBP. The Air is nice and I travel a lot for my work but it just wasn't convenient for the lack of ports, I needed the DVD drive from time to time and plugging it in just wasn't feasible. Also, playing streaming HD videos and Flash videos just wouldn't cut on the Air so I needed more power and convenience at the cost of a bit more weight and I couldn't be happier now with my new 13" MBP.
Glad things worked out for you.

Thank yeah and honestly I spent a great deal of time deciding between MBP or Air for that reason. At the end of the day, it came down to my writing. 6 hours on the very sharp unibody bottom case was adding up and the 13" MBP is exactly the same as the 17". the MBA is so freaking thin it really appealed to me.

I don't plan on using any of the iLife apps on it due to space constraints so for wordprocessing and Gmail, it'll be a great machine.

thanks for clarifying.

ayeying
Aug 17, 2009, 11:24 AM
Just one more note for people who are "scared" of 17" laptops...

The MacBook Pro's, both discrete and unibody 17" models are actually smaller when you compare them to the PC counterpart. And they're about 2 lbs lighter usually. So next time you're "scared", try one out. The 17" MBPs are great powerful machines and still very portable unless you're 3 feet tall and can only lift 20 lbs max.

adamjackson
Aug 17, 2009, 11:25 AM
OP, thanks for your review. I too have an uMBP 17" and love it to death and all, but its portability aspects (weight and footprint) are indeed weak to say the least imo. I have some post grad courses coming up at university but no way the 17" uMBP will fit on those little tables and let you make notes in a convenient way. The MBA seems indeed best suited for taking lots of notes when on the road, and the MBA is also a little lower than the 17" and should put less strain on my wrists. I'll buy an MBA within a week or two.

The 17" is fine for mobility within the office though (e.g. when a client visits and we move to a conference room).

Thanks yeah that was exactly my point (in far less words). I can't imagine a better notebook than the 17" but there are some days when I think that all of my daily work could be achieved in a very tiny package and that's exactly where the MBA comes in.

they can be had for as little as $999 on Apple's refurb store granted it's the first gen, that's a nice low entry point and it's perfect for just taking notes.