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View Full Version : should I buy an MBA now ?




smadoc
Feb 28, 2010, 12:26 AM
Hi all, first time poster here ! 23 years of proud Mac ownership, we have have bought probably 50 Macs since 1987 for my wife, kids, our small business, and for me - a veritable museum in my basement.

My dilemma: i want to buy a lighter thinner laptop b/c i travel frequently. I've been wanting an Air forever. Cost is not a factor here b/c it will be paid from research funds I control that were never public domain, it's entirely my pleasure to decide.
I will be replacing my current black MacBook, purchased in fall 2007 which has 2.2 Ghz Intel Core 2 Duo; 2 GB 667 MHz DDR2 SDRAM; L2 cache 4 MB; bus speed 800 MHZ; HD 160 GB, w/ 50 GB still free. I still have 8 or 9 months of AppleCare. It's in great shape. I will use it at home, just want to travel w/ the Air.
I travel tons and am wanting to downsize everything. Weight and thinness are the primary selling points; speed is secondary - altho important. Cost effectiveness comparisons of MBAs vs.MBs and MBPs are not relevant to me.
My current black MB described above is going to tether to my office desk and will serve as the creative hub if i keep most of my music there and photo library. I will clear all unnecessary applications (eg Garageband) from the MBA. For travel I need email and Safari; Keynote and Powerpoint, iCal. I need so few other small applications when i travel that i can't even think of any as I write this.
I am willing to spend the extra to get the 128 SSD - and I've also read that some reputable places (OWC ? or similar high level vendors) can instal expensive larger capacity SSDs for somewhat more cost, also an option.
So friends my question - is this an okay time to buy this ? I fully realize where we stand in the MBA lifecycle (from MacRumors and other sites and common sense). Any major suspicion that Apple is going to be upgrading the MBA soon w/ larger drives (including SSDs) and upgrading speed parameters too ? Or might this risk initial success of the Pad ?
Thank you !



Lambros
Feb 28, 2010, 01:53 AM
Hi all, first time poster here ! 23 years of proud Mac ownership, we have have bought probably 50 Macs since 1987 for my wife, kids, our small business, and for me - a veritable museum in my basement.

My dilemma: i want to buy a lighter thinner laptop b/c i travel frequently. I've been wanting an Air forever. Cost is not a factor here b/c it will be paid from research funds I control that were never public domain, it's entirely my pleasure to decide.
I will be replacing my current black MacBook, purchased in fall 2007 which has 2.2 Ghz Intel Core 2 Duo; 2 GB 667 MHz DDR2 SDRAM; L2 cache 4 MB; bus speed 800 MHZ; HD 160 GB, w/ 50 GB still free. I still have 8 or 9 months of AppleCare. It's in great shape. I will use it at home, just want to travel w/ the Air.
I travel tons and am wanting to downsize everything. Weight and thinness are the primary selling points; speed is secondary - altho important. Cost effectiveness comparisons of MBAs vs.MBs and MBPs are not relevant to me.
My current black MB described above is going to tether to my office desk and will serve as the creative hub if i keep most of my music there and photo library. I will clear all unnecessary applications (eg Garageband) from the MBA. For travel I need email and Safari; Keynote and Powerpoint, iCal. I need so few other small applications when i travel that i can't even think of any as I write this.
I am willing to spend the extra to get the 128 SSD - and I've also read that some reputable places (OWC ? or similar high level vendors) can instal expensive larger capacity SSDs for somewhat more cost, also an option.
So friends my question - is this an okay time to buy this ? I fully realize where we stand in the MBA lifecycle (from MacRumors and other sites and common sense). Any major suspicion that Apple is going to be upgrading the MBA soon w/ larger drives (including SSDs) and upgrading speed parameters too ? Or might this risk initial success of the Pad ?
Thank you !

I would wait a bit if I were you...your current system should last for work a while longer.

If in doubt, check here:

http://buyersguide.macrumors.com/

Also, if you really think you need it, then sure, get it. I don't know, maybe the MBA will be replaced by the iPad? But, I REALLY doubt that. Hope I've helped even the slightest.

stoconnell
Feb 28, 2010, 08:31 AM
I am willing to spend the extra to get the 128 SSD - and I've also read that some reputable places (OWC ? or similar high level vendors) can instal expensive larger capacity SSDs for somewhat more cost, also an option.


I have not seen nor heard of any larger capacity drives that fit in the MacBook Air. The drives in the unit need to be 1.8" form factor drives with a SATA-LIF connector and be up to 5mm in thickness. These constraints remove all but a few 3rd party drives from consideration.


So friends my question - is this an okay time to buy this ?


I would only buy right now if I really needed one. I suspect the current higher spec model would run circles in perceived performance (esp. with the SSD) around the black book and weigh 2 pounds less. You also get the much nicer touch pad, clearer screen, etc etc. It's really a crap shoot as you are on the trailing end of a model life cycle. When I bought mine, I didn't think the Airs were going to be updated any time soon, and within 2 plus months, they upped the speed, battery life, added the USB ethernet adapter (which I bought extra) and reduced the price by $700.00. So, you just never know :rolleyes:

Good luck with your decision.

smadoc
Feb 28, 2010, 08:43 AM
[QUOTE=stoconnell;9354088]I have not seen nor heard of any larger capacity drives that fit in the MacBook Air. The drives in the unit need to be 1.8" form factor drives with a SATA-LIF connector and be up to 5mm in thickness. These constraints remove all but a few 3rd party drives from consideration.

Thank you for the advice ! Check out Runcore - I've seen references to them for some time. I don't understand the technical specs too well; if you have a moment to Google Runcore and advise me if this makes sense per your caveats, i would be grateful !
I know what you mean regarding buying on the trailing side of the product cycle...

puma1552
Feb 28, 2010, 09:13 AM
Until Apple quits selling MBAs with defective screens, I wouldn't give them a dime.

jimboutilier
Feb 28, 2010, 09:27 AM
We know the MBA will be updated this year but not when. Due to the Nvidia/Intel debacle I expect it will be later in the year rather than earlier but you never know.

Given the economy I don't see a revolutionary new MBA being offered, but there could be a price drop and/or a novel new feature.

Personally if I traveled a lot and the current MBA met my needs with respect to performance and capacity, I would buy a new MBA now and enjoy its benefits.

Scottsdale
Feb 28, 2010, 12:47 PM
The others posting have been correct.

The ONLY update available for a rev B/C MBA is a Runcore SSD which has only the same 128 GB of SSD space. Apple uses a 1.8" form factor SSD and furthers the limitation by requiring a height clearance of 5mm. Lastly, Apple uses an LIF connector not used by any of the other aftermarket SSDs. Basically, you have the stock SSD or Runcore SSD as options for SSD. The Runcore is 3X faster on average. But, the stock SSD still runs quite well.

The high-end MBA will run circles around your BlackBook. It is just faster at 2.13 GHz with 6 MB cache Penryn C2D CPU. In addition, much faster RAM, and most importantly it has an SSD which blows an HDD away in terms of speed. DEFINITELY BUY AN SSD FOR IT! The SSD is why so many of us can accept an ultraportable as our primary computer.

I would also wait until the MBA is updated and buy the newest model assuming it has more RAM. The current MBA will be stuck with 2 GB of RAM forever. It's by far its most limiting component. I don't believe 2 GB of RAM will be sufficient two or three years down the road. Waiting for an update is absolutely a no brainer in my opinion. I bought my MBA nine months ago because it was updated with a new CPU and had a $700 price drop... but now I know 4 GB of RAM is needed moving into the future... I wouldn't buy an MBA anymore for the RAM limitation alone. Hopefully that changes with the next update which could come as early as this Tuesday.

Even if you have to wait a month or more, wait it out. The BlackBook will get you through until you can get an MBA that will truly be a relevant computer for many years.

halledise
Mar 3, 2010, 01:46 PM
Until Apple quits selling MBAs with defective screens, I wouldn't give them a dime.

huh - I've had 2 and they've both been fine.

the RevC I purchased when they first came out had noticeable 'bleed' at top and bottom of screen when I first started him up.
1 phone call to Apple who asked me to take it along to local reseller for verification which I did same day.
new MBA arrived following afternoon and has been perfect since then.
I've had 2 follow-ups from Apple - one by phone and the other a most polite email which included a $50 iTunes voucher for the inconvenience.

can't get better than that :)

as for the original question of this thread, hang on if you can for the next MBA revision which I'd say will be around end of Q2 or early Q3. the iPad will be centre stage for at least a couple of more months.
unless you really need to buy now, in which case a refurb 2.13 with SSD would be the way to go

Max(IT)
Mar 3, 2010, 02:00 PM
I would wait a couple of weeks ...

innominato5090
Mar 3, 2010, 02:17 PM
Well, I've bought a Macbook air just a couple of days ago. I use it between home and university and my previous macbook (that is similar than yours: late 2007, 2.2GHz, apple care till nov.'10) was too big and heavy.
Replacing it with a 2.13GHz MBA was a real pleasure. it's really fast, and much lighter. I'm actually using it as my primary machine for heavy web browsing, watching movies and tv show and C/C++ programming w/ eclipse.
If you need it you should buy it. there'll not be such a great difference between actual MBA and the next generation, and macs have usually longer lifetime cycle.

jjahshik32
Mar 3, 2010, 06:50 PM
Well, I've bought a Macbook air just a couple of days ago. I use it between home and university and my previous macbook (that is similar than yours: late 2007, 2.2GHz, apple care till nov.'10) was too big and heavy.
Replacing it with a 2.13GHz MBA was a real pleasure. it's really fast, and much lighter. I'm actually using it as my primary machine for heavy web browsing, watching movies and tv show and C/C++ programming w/ eclipse.
If you need it you should buy it. there'll not be such a great difference between actual MBA and the next generation, and macs have usually longer lifetime cycle.


Hmm I've been eying the MBA for the past month and my usages will be very similar to yours.

I'm also taking C programming and it would be a great little machine to pull out than my current 17" monster..

Scottsdale
Mar 3, 2010, 06:59 PM
If only Apple would update already!

silverblack
Mar 5, 2010, 01:49 PM
Those that are planning to get the Macbook Air for traveling, there's one important thing to realize.

While the MBA is very light and thin, it has a pathetic battery life of ~2 hours; less if you do anything processor-intensive and need high screen bright. With the fact that it has a non-swappable battery, it's very limiting for traveling.

But then again, is there such a "perfect" laptop out there...?

(only read the following if you have nothing better to do, it's just my rant)
========================
Here is my story. I also have my own funding for computers, so I've experimented a "few" in the past few of years.

I have been a Windows users for a long time, my first Mac was the Mini (being the first cheap Mac computer). I quickly switched over to Mac, and bought a 12" PowerBook. However, I still needed Windows for some applications, and so I used the painfully slow Virtual PC. Then out came the Intel Macs.

Unfortunately, Apple discontinued the 12" laptop line. I held out for a year waiting for their <13-inch "ultraportable", which never came. Finally gave in, and bought myself a White Macbook (Santa Rosa). This was a night-and-day performance upgrade from my PowerBook; however, I've always found my 13" MB to be too big and too heavy to carry around.

Then came the Macbook Air. I quickly traded in the MB for the MBA, and really enjoyed its feather-weight. However, it was a noticeable downgrade in performance and battery life. The slow PATA hard drive that came with the 1st generation MBA definitely made what was slow even slower.

At the end, the MBA just didn't cut it. I grabbed the unibody MB (13") as soon as it came out, sort of as a reincarnation of the 12" PowerBook, and mainly because it could accommodate the Intel X25 SSD, one of the fastest SSDs at the time.

Everything was good for a while, the uMB was my sole computer (with an external Samsung monitor). Then Apple came up with beautiful 27" iMac, which I had to get one and traded in my uMB. I started using hackintosh netbooks as my ultraportable (which I still have). 90% of the time my hackintosh is reliable, but 10% of the time it failed me (including some close call on important occasions; like giving a lecture).

So I was back to looking for an Apple laptop. One choice was the 2nd gen MB Air, but the short battery life really turned me off. Second choice was the 13" MBP, which was the most logical. However, the non-swappable battery concerned me, and the MBP line should be upgrading soon. So I ended up going back to a used black MB from ebay, with a 2nd battery. It was the fastest model of the black MB, which I've always liked. I also wanted to save some money, but didn't turned out that way with the unexpected duty.

Am I completely happy? No. At the end, there is no 100% in life, because we are human and always want more.

Oh, there's the iPad coming up too, although I don't think I can lecture with it.

halledise
Mar 5, 2010, 02:19 PM
Those that are planning to get the Macbook Air for traveling, there's one important thing to realize.

While the MBA is very light and thin, it has a pathetic battery life of ~2 hours; less if you do anything processor-intensive and need high screen bright. With the fact that it has a non-swappable battery, it's very limiting for traveling.

huh???

I run settings for screen on max all the time, do all the usual stuff and easily get 4+ hours from a charge or I can watch a 3 hour movie and still have a little juice left in the tank.

methinks you battery needs reconditioning or even replacing ;)

Jobsian
Mar 5, 2010, 02:40 PM
I'd also strongly recommend not buying now

gianly1985
Mar 5, 2010, 02:40 PM
Oh, there's the iPad coming up too, although I don't think I can lecture with it.

Actually you can :D

http://img.skitch.com/20100305-gg2cjdfixt35aayugt34665hks.jpg

http://img.skitch.com/20100305-qscqjpcbehxk539u7ek2ggdh5t.jpg

http://img.skitch.com/20100305-euffeh56ewanj6f5nciab38d57.jpg


Of course this is true only assuming your lectures are based on Powerpoint/Keynote presentations or other office documents or applications available for iPhone OS...

alphaod
Mar 5, 2010, 06:02 PM
Screw the iPad for lectures. Go for the Air.

silverblack
Mar 5, 2010, 07:23 PM
I run settings for screen on max all the time, do all the usual stuff and easily get 4+ hours from a charge or I can watch a 3 hour movie and still have a little juice left in the tank.

methinks you battery needs reconditioning or even replacing ;)

http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=838371
4+ hour battery life is possible, but ~2-hour life is not uncommon. It certainly doesn't mean something is wrong.




Of course this is true only assuming your lectures are based on Powerpoint/Keynote presentations or other office documents or applications available for iPhone OS...

They are not. In my lectures I need to:
- run .exe files via VMWare Fusion;
- remote access to my iMac in case I forget some files...
- play Flash files
- use extended desktop so I can open the file, inspect in before showing it on the screen

Scottsdale
Mar 5, 2010, 10:03 PM
I can do intensive stuff or even videos and get 3+ hours from my MBA. I can turn the display brightness down and always get 4 hours from the battery.

I have ALWAYS had power available to plugin to if I needed more than four hours from my MBA. I have an airline charger for long flights, and I have a car power inverter if I need it between engagements (EXTREMELY RARELY NEEDED). Seriously, I feel the MBA's battery is a feature not a limitation! It's a feature because it's saving 1.5 lb. from an MB/MBP.

The MBA weighs three pounds, and the 13" MBP and MB weigh a full pound-and-a-half more... a lot of that is BATTERY WEIGHT! The MBP's battery weighs about a pound. I would NOT elect to add a half pound of weight to my MBA to get double the battery life between charges. Again, the MBA's battery is a feature to allow us four hours away from a charger!

Another thing I don't want any part of... doubling the battery life by going from an Nvidia 9400m to Intel's Arrandale IGP as sole graphics solution. I am fine with four hours of battery, and I think people need to be realistic about expectations. This is a three pound ultraportable Mac that still has a full-sized display and capabilities/performance.

To get more battery life, we're going to have to give in somewhere else... nowhere else is acceptable for me. I am more concerned about weight than thinness too! I can handle a little thicker, but I don't want any heavier. And I would rather drop half a pound than gain battery or reduce thickness. Seriously, the MBA is so fun and convenient everywhere and all of the time, because it's so lightweight.