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View Full Version : Is the MBA for me, or the Pro?




Bocaj
Feb 17, 2010, 03:23 PM
I have (what I hope is) simple question regarding the MBA.

I'm considering getting a MBA because of its weight (for portability), but what I'd also like to know is, how would it handle Photoshop CS4, video editing, etc?

If not I may go for the MBP, but a part of me is leaning slightly towards the MBA because of its weight.

Do any of you sometimes wish you had a DVD slot?

How is the actual unit on one's lap when using it?
I use my friend's HP and it almost burns my thighs sometimes and since I don't know anyone else with it I thought I'd ask here.

Any input or suggestions would be appreciated, thanks.



MikhailT
Feb 17, 2010, 03:29 PM
Honestly, MBA isn't worth it right now. You should wait for the update first before considering. MBP will be refreshed sooner or later. You should wait as well for that.

How often will you be carrying the laptop? Are you seriously going to be doing photoshop on your lap?

Honestly, if you aren't carrying the laptop that much, go for the more powerful MBP. 13" for portability and get a 24" monitor to make up for the screen estate you'll want for photoshopping. You can get 15" for more performance as well or 17".

I still think you should wait til the i5 MBP comes out.

MacModMachine
Feb 17, 2010, 03:52 PM
i too think the 13" MBP is more what your looking for, the macbook air is great with photoshop CS4.

video editing its not as good.

i love the air....it does have its drawbacks though.

Paperboy2010
Feb 17, 2010, 03:53 PM
I have (what I hope is) simple question regarding the MBA.

I'm considering getting a MBA because of its weight (for portability), but what I'd also like to know is, how would it handle Photoshop CS4, video editing, etc?

If not I may go for the MBP, but a part of me is leaning slightly towards the MBA because of its weight.

Do any of you sometimes wish you had a DVD slot?

How is the actual unit on one's lap when using it?
I use my friend's HP and it almost burns my thighs sometimes and since I don't know anyone else with it I thought I'd ask here.

Any input or suggestions would be appreciated, thanks.

The hope is that the MBA will be updated alongside the MBP. Wait and see the new specs of each and go from there....

PsyD4Me
Feb 17, 2010, 04:16 PM
for any type of video editing the MBA is a no go, it overheats easily...
My system still overheats from time to time when I watch a 30 minute show in Itunes....but it is much better than my original rev A.

ayeying
Feb 17, 2010, 04:35 PM
for any type of video editing the MBA is a no go, it overheats easily...
My system still overheats from time to time when I watch a 30 minute show in Itunes....but it is much better than my original rev A.

I never had a overheating problem even while playing CoD: MW2 non stop for hours when I had my Rev. C...

Mintin8
Feb 17, 2010, 04:54 PM
I never had a overheating problem even while playing CoD: MW2 non stop for hours when I had my Rev. C...

Don't you use a cooling pad?

Bocaj
Feb 17, 2010, 05:17 PM
Thanks guys, I guess I'll wait a bit longer for the new ones to come out (if they ever do) lol

I don't plan on doing heavy photoshopping on it, but sometimes if on the road, I don't see why not.

So maybe the MBP is the way to go for me.

If that's the case, why did I see video editing software on the MBA on display at Crap Buy (best buy)

Or is it more to show the features of it and people will assume it'll work fine and not think of the heating issues?

MacModMachine
Feb 17, 2010, 05:22 PM
Thanks guys, I guess I'll wait a bit longer for the new ones to come out (if they ever do) lol

I don't plan on doing heavy photoshopping on it, but sometimes if on the road, I don't see why not.

So maybe the MBP is the way to go for me.

If that's the case, why did I see video editing software on the MBA on display at Crap Buy (best buy)

Or is it more to show the features of it and people will assume it'll work fine and not think of the heating issues?

it does not overheat easily....thats bogus....

my mba is my main machine and it never overheats on me...i use aperture 3 editing RAW photos all the time.

running email

running itunes

playing games.

running virtual machines

no overheating.

it will edit video, just not as well as you would probably like it to....nothing to do with overheating.

ayeying
Feb 17, 2010, 06:11 PM
Don't you use a cooling pad?

Not since MW2 came out. I never found a reason to anymore, instead it's actually counter productive because the internal fan will run slower causing the system to actually overheat rather then cooling it.

inott
Feb 17, 2010, 10:30 PM
I have a Rev. C MBA as my main machine. HEAVY CS4 + a million other things spread out between dual-monitors.. Never an issue of slowdowns, let alone ever overheating.

The overheating thing is an MBA hate troll remnant from the Rev. A. Problem has since been fixed in the Rev. C series.

flynz4
Feb 18, 2010, 12:02 AM
I have a 15" MBP, and a MBA rev C w/SSD. I like the MBA 10 times as much as my MBP. I have owned about 20 laptops in my life, and the MBA is the best by far.

I am looking forward to the next MBA model. My wife really wants to take over my MBA... and she is comfortable with me getting the new model for myself. I'll probably wait until summer when the run the special for students and educators.

For those who talk about the "carry weight"... they are missing the whole point about the MBA. It has almost nothing with the weight of your computer bag. The advantage of the MBA is during use... sitting on the couch, moving it from side to side... laying in bed, etc. I don't care how much my computer bag weighs (within reason)... but I care a lot how much the computer weighs when lounging around using it.

/Jim

Bocaj
Feb 18, 2010, 09:38 AM
Thanks for all the replies, I'll wait it out a bit and see what happens in regards to releases from Apple.

Flynz, that's the appeal for me and the MBA, the portability of it, being light, on the couch, in bed, etc.

One other question to those of you who own it, what's the battery life like on a full charge for basic surfing and what not?

Scottsdale
Feb 18, 2010, 02:30 PM
I have used Adobe CS 3 in my v 2,1 MBA (2.13 GHz | SSD). Photoshop works well, but it could use some more screen real estate (a higher resolution than 1280x800). A wonderful feature is its ability to drive up to a 30" external ACD.

As MikhailT suggests, I wouldn't recommend you buy an MBA right now. With 2 GB of RAM, the current MBA is extremely limited forever. Waiting will probably result in a price reduction as well as a much more capable MBA. Look at the last two updates for gigantic value proposition improvements with each MBA update.

MikhailT
Feb 18, 2010, 03:04 PM
Thanks for all the replies, I'll wait it out a bit and see what happens in regards to releases from Apple.

Flynz, that's the appeal for me and the MBA, the portability of it, being light, on the couch, in bed, etc.

One other question to those of you who own it, what's the battery life like on a full charge for basic surfing and what not?

You might want to consider if iPad makes more sense instead of MBA if you're just doing basic surfing. Can always get iPad with MBP.

flynz4
Feb 18, 2010, 08:58 PM
You might want to consider if iPad makes more sense instead of MBA if you're just doing basic surfing. Can always get iPad with MBP.

At this point, I am certainly planning to get a iPad. I think the jury is out regarding how comfortable I am using it as a "lounge around" notebook replacement... especially for typing. Still, I do plan on getting one. I think the "instant on", small light form factor, etc will be compelling.

I plan to replace my MBA rev C when the new models come out and the education promo starts. My decision is fairly easy since my wife really wants to replace her MBP with my MBA. She doesn't care that it has 2GB of memory. She just wants a nice light laptop. If she did not want my MBA... I would not be replacing it this year, as I absolutely love the device.

I am also going to be replacing my "work provided" 15" MBP with the 13" MBP. If they would buy me a MBA, I would do it in a second... but it is not a supported model by our IT department. I'll deal with the extra weight and inconvenience of the MBP... and I am looking forward to reducing from the 15" model.

So... by this summer sometime, I will have a 13" MBP as my work machine, a MBA for my personal laptop, and an iPad (TBD config) as my "experimental machine. My wife will have my current rev C MBA as her sole laptop. We both share a 27" i7 iMac as our home desktop.

/Jim

flynz4
Feb 18, 2010, 09:03 PM
One other question to those of you who own it, what's the battery life like on a full charge for basic surfing and what not?

3 - 3.5 hours. Email, web surfing, basic use. More would always be better, but it fits my needs OK. I would not want it to be heavier or larger to get longer battery life.

/Jim

elmogs
Feb 18, 2010, 09:30 PM
I was in the same dilemma. I went from a Aluminum Macbook 13 Unibody 2.4 to a 1.6 Macbook Air Rev A. It had the stuttering video problem so I went with a 1.86 Rev C. It was much cooler temp wise than the 1.6, battery life was almost the same, and most videos played better on the 1.86 than on the 1.6 Rev A.
But one day I was trying to watch the HD video on the Apple website about the Hubble. Its under trailers.
On the 1.86 Macbook Air it was dropping frames like crazy!
I picked up the 2.4 Macbook and it played it perfectly.
The next day I went to Bestbuy to do a test.
I put the same video on the Macbook 2.26 Unibody 13 and then on the Macbook Air 1.86 they had on display.
Exact same results. The Macbook Pro 13 was smooth as butter. The Macbook Air was stuttering. And I noticed a few other things as well.
The Macbook Air screen can get brighter than the 13. But.. the colors on the Pro 13 were richer. And it was a pretty easy to see. Also the strange thing about the screen on the air is that straight on the whites were white. But when you went to the left or right the whites started to look yellow.
This did not happen to the Pro.
And last but not least when going to a website or opening apps..the Pro machine was noticeably faster.
I was a big fan of the Air for a while but if you can handle the extra weight the Pro is the way to go. Once they update the Macbook line..I'll get the new Pro. Or maybe the new Air if its improved upon. But for now...my lust for the Air is gone. Well....maybe just lying dormant!

cloroxbleach4
Feb 18, 2010, 10:55 PM
I've heard people on this forum who claim the MBA could handle video editing and some games. But personally I would go with the pro. If you're worried about portability go with the 13" it's really the best value.

As far as using the DVD drive, I rarely use it, maybe once a month?

Scottsdale
Feb 19, 2010, 12:37 AM
I was in the same dilemma. I went from a Aluminum Macbook 13 Unibody 2.4 to a 1.6 Macbook Air Rev A. It had the stuttering video problem so I went with a 1.86 Rev C. It was much cooler temp wise than the 1.6, battery life was almost the same, and most videos played better on the 1.86 than on the 1.6 Rev A.
But one day I was trying to watch the HD video on the Apple website about the Hubble. Its under trailers.
On the 1.86 Macbook Air it was dropping frames like crazy!
I picked up the 2.4 Macbook and it played it perfectly.
The next day I went to Bestbuy to do a test.
I put the same video on the Macbook 2.26 Unibody 13 and then on the Macbook Air 1.86 they had on display.
Exact same results. The Macbook Pro 13 was smooth as butter. The Macbook Air was stuttering. And I noticed a few other things as well.
The Macbook Air screen can get brighter than the 13. But.. the colors on the Pro 13 were richer. And it was a pretty easy to see. Also the strange thing about the screen on the air is that straight on the whites were white. But when you went to the left or right the whites started to look yellow.
This did not happen to the Pro.
And last but not least when going to a website or opening apps..the Pro machine was noticeably faster.
I was a big fan of the Air for a while but if you can handle the extra weight the Pro is the way to go. Once they update the Macbook line..I'll get the new Pro. Or maybe the new Air if its improved upon. But for now...my lust for the Air is gone. Well....maybe just lying dormant!

Your update from a 1.6 GHz to a 1.86 GHz wasn't the difference in your performance. That came from it being a Penryn CPU operating at 17W versus the 20W Merom CPU in your original MBA... AND, the Nvidia GPU in your newer MBA being far superior than the original MBA's Intel 3100.

I wouldn't recommend anyone buy a "rev C" 1.86/HDD new because they can get a much faster and more capable MBA by buying a "rev B" refurbished and save $150. For $150 less, everything is the same except you don't get an ethernet/USB cable, but you do get an SSD that will reduce the bottleneck and give the MBA an incredible improvement over the newer 120 GB HDD. It's too bad not enough people realize the differences before buying.

From what you've reported here, it doesn't seem you have ever used an MBA with an SSD. The SSD changes the performance of the MBA completely. It makes an MBA feel faster for most normal tasks than a standard MBP with 2.53 GHz CPU and 7200 rpm HDD.

Remember the bottleneck for most computing tasks lies in the bandwidth/transfer speed of the drive. An SSD can access files over 10X faster than an HDD. The stock SSD reads upwards of 8X faster and writes 1.5X faster than a stock HDD. It makes a huge difference to the end user for normal computing tasks. Add in the RAM limitation and the much faster process of swapping with an SSD. I don't believe anyone has ever truly experienced an MBA and its full/true capabilities if they haven't used an SSD for a few days to realize the change in complete system performance.

To further the SSD phenomenon, a Runcore SSD will operate 3X the speed of a stock SSD. One truly hasn't understood the capabilities of the MBA until they have used a Runcore SSD in a capable MBA (meaning any Nvidia MBA) for a few days. Put any Nvidia MBA to a test and be prepared to be stunned!

The MBA does have some graphics limitations, but most of the problems I have seen when playing HD content is when running a video through a browser plugin. I haven't had any problems downloading HD content and playing it directly from a video player. However, when running an HD video via Hulu or YouTube can lead to problems within the browser. Even in a MacBook or MacBook Pro, Flash and HD tasks can hit the CPU very hard within a browser. Add to that the 9400m in the MBA is underclocked due to its limited space for cooling... and that's the only performance difference between the MB or 13" MBP and the MBA.

I am surely not saying the MBA is as capable as an MBP... it's not. But the MBP isn't that far ahead of the MBA. I wouldn't choose an MBP because for me the weight is not worth it as I don't need the ports, I wouldn't use the optical drive, and I can live with not watching 1080p inside a browser.

At the same time, I surely hope the next MBA update narrows the gap further in video playback performance differences. The MBA is really quite capable, but imagine it with a Core i7-640LM and an Nvidia graphics system using Optimus for hybrid graphics support between an Nvidia 3XX and Arrandale's IGP. WOW, we're talking Sony Z type performance!

1rottenapple
Feb 19, 2010, 02:01 AM
I went form the rev a 80gb 1.6 air to rev b 1.86ghz 128ssd to my current mbp 13in with 4gb and 250hd... it was totally worth getting the mbp and selling the air. I still miss the air sometimes but the battery life and the speed with the mbp is worth it. i usually do dvd re-incode for movies and the 2.56ghz mbp is fast! plus when I had the air rev b hooked up to my 24inch external monitor, it would lock up when i played video with flash and a word processor. the mbp doesn't even run out of breath. like the other day, I was typing on the monitor, opened several documents, encoding a dvd, playing music and downloading all at same time. it barely got hot. the air would have locked up for sure.

The thing that pissed me off about the air experience was rev a (paid $1800) couldn't play flash without overheating, and the rev b couldn't play 1080p video without studdering. and for the rev b, a $2400 dollar computer was truly unacceptable. so i sold it for like $1230, lost $70 in the process but got a superior machine in the macbook pro. I got it new on ebay for $1200 with a bing cash back. some people had different experiences, some better others worst but i've never had that many issues on a computer before the air so that really soured my experience paying more for form factor was a mistake and learned hard on that one.

I can't wait to max out my pro machine though. i miss the airs ssd but I can't buy at least an ssd with 250gb (my current harddrive space) for a decent price. I guess that's for later.

nagromme
Feb 19, 2010, 12:01 PM
I have a version A MBA (the first one) and I do most of my professional production work on it: Photoshop (Web resolutions, seldom print) and Flash mainly. A bigger screen would be NICE, especially for video editing. However, I’m sitting here next to my 24” iMac which is turned off, doing my work on the Air. I almost always do—because the ability get up and go is so nice.

The portability of the Air is night and day vs. any other machine I’ve used (previously I had a 15” PowerBook). Not just from the weight: the shape lets you pick it up with one hand. Try that with a 15” laptop some time. You can hardly get your fingers under it, whereas with the Air you don’t have to give it a thought.

With full-screen video (or 3D games, where it does fall short) you get fans coming on but it’s still not terribly hot. And battery life is good for me still, after several years, but for video editing you probably want to bring a power cord.

I wish I had a DVD slot for one reason only: proof-of-purchase required by games. But my Air is too old to really play them anyway.

You can actually boot your Air off a remote DVD (inserted in another machine) and reinstall the OS or whatever—so I’m glad I didn’t waste money on the DVD drive. If I watched a lot of DVD movies maybe I’d feel differently.

So what do you want? Bigger screen and extra speed? Or “good enough” screen and speed with awesome portability. I’ll always choose the latter—which surprises me. But as I say... this speedy 24” iMac is sitting collecting dust next to me. That’s just a personal call.

And what KIND of video will you be working with? Super high res in Final Cut Pro? I’d question the Air for that (but never tried). Smaller tasks, maybe iMovie? Air should be fine.

matthemercyless
Feb 19, 2010, 01:11 PM
This is just the thread I was looking for. I currently have a 15" 1.67ghz G4 PowerBook, and after serving me loyally for several years, she is ready to give up the ghost.

I have been toying with the idea of buying a high-end 15" MacBook Pro, but I'm not sure I need all the power any more.

The thing I'm concerned about the most is moving from a larger screen to a smaller one. Having never owned a 13" laptop before, I don't really know what to expect.

Also, I'm definitely waiting for the next revision. If I get the SSD version and the new revision still only has 2GB of RAM, is that still going to be a problem? I tend to multi-task like a mofo and usually have about 10 apps open at once (much to the dismay of my aging PowerBook and my little swimmers)
:D

stoconnell
Feb 19, 2010, 02:10 PM
This is just the thread I was looking for. I currently have a 15" 1.67ghz G4 PowerBook, and after serving me loyally for several years, she is ready to give up the ghost.

I have been toying with the idea of buying a high-end 15" MacBook Pro, but I'm not sure I need all the power any more.

The thing I'm concerned about the most is moving from a larger screen to a smaller one. Having never owned a 13" laptop before, I don't really know what to expect.

Also, I'm definitely waiting for the next revision. If I get the SSD version and the new revision still only has 2GB of RAM, is that still going to be a problem? I tend to multi-task like a mofo and usually have about 10 apps open at once (much to the dismay of my aging PowerBook and my little swimmers)
:D

Matt-

I had a work-issued 15" PowerBook G4 (1.67GHz and 1280x800 resolution 1.5GB RAM) which was mercifully (Leopard really killed it even with Spotlight shut off) replaced by a first gen 15" MacBook Pro (2.16GHz and 1440x900 and 2GB RAM) -- which I still have but rarely use in favor of my Rev B MacBook Air w/ SSD. I really don't mind the step down in panel size from 15" to 13" as the quality of the screen (even with a mild case of the dreaded lines) is so much better than either the PowerBook or old MBP -- you also get the total awesomeness of the touchpad. I do miss having the 1440x900 resolution from the MBP from time to time and would really really love that on 13" panel (come on Apple!).

Kan-O-Z
Feb 19, 2010, 04:50 PM
I would get the MBA. We have a Pro and an Air and we like our Air!

The only reason to get a Pro is if you're doing some serious heavy duty work or need a lot of storage. The Air + SSD drive actually makes the Air zippier than our Pro :)

On top of that, it's 10 times easier to carry around and use. It just makes you reach for it for daily around the house use much more than the Pro. On top of that it gets looks when you leave home :)

It's not always about specs and power. It's about a very focused device that does what 95% of the people want it to do better than anything else out there.

Kan-O-Z

rockos
Feb 22, 2010, 08:12 PM
I have a thre year old blackbook. and really getting the bug for a new computer. i am maxed out at 2.0 c2d with 3gb ram. and have a 500 gb drive.

two things that would make me buy a mac air in the next rev

1. an sd card slot. would elimnate the need for me to use the only usb slot to plug in a camera

2. and 4gb min of memory. give me those two things and i will get out my checkbook.

other than that i have wanted an air since it first came out..

sorry to hijack but all the air owners how many have the superdrive and how often do u really use it.

thanks
rockos

drjsway
Feb 23, 2010, 02:38 AM
The thing that pissed me off about the air experience was rev a (paid $1800) couldn't play flash without overheating, and the rev b couldn't play 1080p video without studdering.

Play your 1080p video in Plex. It runs much more smoothly than VLC (or whatever else you were using). I connect my rev B to a 1080p projector all the time and it runs perfectly.


sorry to hijack but all the air owners how many have the superdrive and how often do u really use it.

I bought the super drive and have only used it twice. Once to install windows and once to install Final Cut Studio. Most software you can buy online now as a digital download. Get my movies online too (NetFlix streaming, iTunes, etc.)

flynz4
Feb 23, 2010, 05:42 AM
sorry to hijack but all the air owners how many have the superdrive and how often do u really use it.

I have a superdrive that I picked up from a friend who had two. Other than to initially test it, I've never used it... and quite frankly, I am not too sure why I would need to. I have also not used the "remote drive" other than to test the function. Of course, my MBP has a DVD drive... which I have only used once (to install Aperture 3)... but I had the option to install from the web.

I have used the DVD drive in my 27" i7 iMac a couple of times, but I do not find that as essential either. I would have preferred to have had a 2nd internal drive instead, so that I could have had an SSD plus a 2TB HDD.

The DVD drive has become about as useful as a floppy drive. I certainly do not want to carry DVDs with me, nor do I want the bulk and weight built into my laptops. Even for desktop computers, which still have a legitimate (but fleeting) use for an optical drive... it is obvious that their days are numbered. As Nicolas Negroponte so eloquently said in his 1995 book "Being Digital", the molecules of physical media have been replaced with electrons.

/Jim

Dwanep
Feb 23, 2010, 07:30 AM
Just get the Air, the only thing that I remotely miss from my pro is the glass track pad. I have had none of the problems talked about on this site and if you use the air for a month then pick up a pro you will not have any regrets. The Pros are tanks compared to the Air. I also thought I could not live without my cd drive, I don't even keep it in my back pack any more I leave it at home and rarely use it.