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Stuntcar
Apr 21, 2010, 10:44 PM
I was hoping a new MBA would have been released with the MBP upgrades.

I am buying a machine with view to 3 year life cycle. How redundant is the current 2.13Ghz 2Gb RAM MBA now, let alone by mid 2013?

My current Vaio T series is kaput - I want to purchase a new machine by next Friday (4/30) to have it up and running for travel the week after.

Not sure about being suckered into buying an already obsolete MBA or just go with the current Vaio (the current one has been great).

Open to advice.

SC



madmaxmedia
Apr 21, 2010, 11:04 PM
To me the greatest limitation of the current MBA is RAM, since it cannot be expanded. They should really bump it to 4GB, that would have more impact for most users than a bump in clock speed.

Scylax
Apr 22, 2010, 03:47 AM
I don't think the current MBA is 'obsolete' at all. Most people seem to have an obsession with specs, but unless you do a lot of videos or gaming, the current model has plenty of power for everyday use. I am using a top spec current MBA with SSD, and it feels much faster in everyday use than my top spec 13" MBP 2009 without SSD. The MBA is my system of choice by far. I have used Sony Vaio machines (Desktop and ultraportable), and have been very, very disappointed, whereas my MBA has been one of the best purchases I have ever made. If I needed a new machine today, especially for travel, I wouldn't hesitate to buy a current MBA whether they update it soon or not.

Kingcodez
Apr 22, 2010, 04:12 AM
The MBA is great if you only use it for what it was intended for, Office Work, Internet, mobility.

Yet when you start trying to use the MBA as a MBP that's when people start complaining.

gwsat
Apr 22, 2010, 09:38 AM
I agree with a couple of the thoughts expressed above. First the current MBA is not obsolete. Nevertheless, as noted by an other poster, its being limited to the 2Gb of RAM it ships with is a serious problem for some users. For example, I love the MBA and would have had one by now but for not being able to upgrade the RAM. Because of the software I need to run on any Mac, Fusion running Windows 7 in Unity mode being a couple of them, 2Gb of RAM won't cut it for me. Otherwise, though, the MBA is an impressive computer.

The bottom line seems to be this: The OP needs to satisfy himself that 2Gb of RAM would be sufficient to allow him to use an MBA for his intended purposes for the next three years, keeping in mind that a lot can happen in three years. Alas, only he can answer this question.

Scottsdale
Apr 22, 2010, 10:43 AM
One should NOT be buying a current MBA if they need to use the computer for three years. Right now, the MBA is stuck with 2 GB of RAM forever. That amount of RAM was acceptable eighteen months ago when the MBA was introduced in the v 2,1 update in October 2008. In June of last year, it badly needed an update. However, the $700 price drop made the lack of a RAM upgrade acceptable.

Now, it's just too limited for the average user who plans to own this MBA for more than a year as their primary Mac. Now, if you want a secondary Mac, the MBA is fine. But to use it as most use a primary Mac, it's just too limited in two main points. One, the RAM. Two, the drive space. There is no way to upgrade the RAM, ever without access to Apple's plant and robotic soldering ARM. And the drive is so specific in size and has such a connector as to make it damn near proprietary.

The drive uses an LIF cable, and Apple is the only company using LIF on a SATA-II drive controller. Furthermore, the drive is not only a 1.8" form factor, but it also is limited to a 5mm height clearance.

The RAM is soldered to the board, and I asked a computer/electrical engineer about soldering larger capacity RAM chips on the MBA and was told it's NOT possible without access to original equipment/computer/robot that soldered the RAM on there in the first place. Or if one would be willing to pay the setup costs and production costs to have a computer production company (like Foxconn) make a custom batch of logic boards with larger capacity RAM chips soldered on. So, Steve Jobs could easily have the facility use larger capacity RAM chips soldered onto his own personal MBA giving it 4 GB or 8 GB of RAM, easily without any extra costs other than the additional cost of larger capacity RAM chips. You and I, cannot have it done without a robot specifically designed to solder RAM onto the MBA's logic board. Easy to do with the robot, impossible to do without the robot. So, unless we can get some MBA logic boards without the RAM chips soldered on, and we can pool together maybe $100k, and get SJ's permission to have Foxconn do it, it isn't going to happen.

The better option is to wait for an MBA upgrade. It is very possible, I would say probable, that Apple will update the MBA before or at WWDC by late June or early July. If Apple takes a similar approach to the next MBA update as it did in October 2008, we can expect an MBA with a Core 2 Duo CPU, Nvidia 320m GPU/chipset, and probably more RAM and more drive space options (assuming Apple takes same strategy and doubles RAM and increases drive space - also assuming Apple realizes what we do that would be MBA buyers want more RAM and drive space to make the purchase). We can hope for other updates, like a glass trackpad, new display tech, or more advanced CPUs and dedicated graphics, but it seems unlikely if Apple uses the same strategy as it implemented in October 2008. Since then, Apple has used one chipset/GPU setup across five Macs (13" MBP, 13" MB, 13" MBA, Mac mini, and 20/21.5" iMac). Since the 13" MBP is Apple's best seller, and since the MBP hadn't been updated in far too long for a "pro" user, it is obvious Apple would use all capacity to manufacturing enough 13" MBPs first, then moving onto MBA, MB, Mm, and 21.5" iMac updates.

I expect the MBA update will occur as a silent update but it could happen at WWDC if Apple has bigger plans for it, like say an IPS/OLED/3D display, or a completely different chipset and CPU strategy for the MBA. Some think maybe the MBA will wait for the next MBP update to get updated to beyond C2D CPUs and Nvidia GPUs/chipsets. I suppose that is one great possibility too, but I hope Apple gives a damn about the MBA/luxury buyers too. I hope Apple isn't so limited in scope that it has forgotten about the MBA, Mac Pro, larger ACDs, and other high-end products, while it focuses all of its energy on the iPad/iPhones.

Stuntcar
Apr 23, 2010, 01:51 AM
Hi,
Further to making purchase decsion on a current MBA.

Does anyone have any experience running SPSS v18 on the MBA 2.13Ghz? I'll be on the road for a month and will need to run it from the MBA as it would be my primary machine.

When at home or in the office (not on the road) the MBA is not my primary machine.

Any advice appreciated.

SPSS OSX Spec sheet are:
IBM SPSS Statistics 18 for MacOperating system: Apple® Mac 10.5x (Leopard™) and 10.6x (Snow Leopard™). (32-bit and 64-bit)
Hardware:
Intel processor
Memory: 1GB RAM or more recommended
Minimum free drive space: 800MB***
DVD drive
Super VGA (800x600) or higher-resolution monitor
Web browser: Safari™
Java™ Standard Edition 5.0 (J2SE 5.0)

Just to be ugly also need to have Office and iWork 7 iTunes with about 3Gb library plus iLife (maybe not essential but iLike). will also be using MobleMe.


/Sc

gwsat
Apr 23, 2010, 09:40 AM
One should NOT be buying a current MBA if they need to use the computer for three years. Right now, the MBA is stuck with 2 GB of RAM forever. That amount of RAM was acceptable eighteen months ago when the MBA was introduced in the v 2,1 update in October 2008. In June of last year, it badly needed an update. However, the $700 price drop made the lack of a RAM upgrade acceptable.

Now, it's just too limited for the average user who plans to own this MBA for more than a year as their primary Mac.
I think you are right about this. Upon mature reflection, I agree that it is unlikely any computer limited to 2Gb of RAM, as is the current MBA, is going to be satisfactory to most users over the course of the next three years. The only laptops Apple currently ships with only 2Gb of Ram are the MBA ($1,500 to $1,800) and the humble white Macbook ($999). What's wrong with this picture?

BlizzardBomb
Apr 23, 2010, 10:19 AM
I would stay away from the MBA for now given the RAM issue that's already been mentioned, as well as the fact that the 13" MBP now has double the battery life as the MBA. No-one knows when the new ones will be out, but the current models are poor value for money IMO.

InfoSecmgr
Apr 23, 2010, 12:19 PM
I don't think the current MBA is 'obsolete' at all.

The user defines obsolete.

If the computer still does what it was originally implemented to do, then it should not be considered obsolete.

If you let the computer manufacturers tell you when something is "obsolete" you'd be buying a new $2,400 Mac Pro every 6 months.

I would stay away from the MBA for now given the RAM issue that's already been mentioned, as well as the fact that the 13" MBP now has double the battery life as the MBA. No-one knows when the new ones will be out, but the current models are poor value for money IMO.

Yes, I would personally like 4GB of RAM myself in a MBA, but what of battery life? I'm no expert, but isn't the battery in the MBA smaller than say the other 13 inchers? If they put more RAM in it wouldn't battery life go down? I'm not sure by how much...I'm just wondering.

glitch44
Apr 23, 2010, 02:17 PM
Redundant? I don't think that word means what you think it means.

"1. Exceeding what is necessary or natural; superfluous."

Scottsdale
Apr 23, 2010, 02:49 PM
Yes, I would personally like 4GB of RAM myself in a MBA, but what of battery life? I'm no expert, but isn't the battery in the MBA smaller than say the other 13 inchers? If they put more RAM in it wouldn't battery life go down? I'm not sure by how much...I'm just wondering.

No.

The problem with people wanting more battery life is the fact that they're not considering how the 13" MBPs get such great battery life... they use a battery that's nearly half the weight of the MBA. That battery takes up a great deal of space too. If people want an MBA that is super thin and lightweight, they have to accept the battery life.

I have never had a problem with my MBA's battery capabilities. I would prefer to drop a half pound from the current MBA vs. doubling the battery life. Even if Apple went to an ultra low voltage CPU, there is no space for a battery that gives the MBA 10 hours between charges. I really hope Apple can give us a true 5-hour battery by using the new tech used in the MBPs/MBs. However, I don't want anything that adds weight or thickness to the MBA. I will gladly accept the current 4-hour battery over something that ruins the MBA experience.

trip1ex
Apr 23, 2010, 04:06 PM
I hadn't picked up a MBA in awhile when I did so again today and I just marveled (again) at how light and thin and sleek it is.

I do think 4gb would future proof it a bit more although I only have 2gb in my Imac and am mostly fine. I do notice some paging if I open all my tabs in a bookmark folder and do a little too much at the same time on my 2009 iMac.

Still for the most part no slowdowns. IT's just opening 25 pages at a time or running a virtual machine or having iMovie open with some of this other stuff where it can get into paging mode.

Plus an SSD though would alleviate much of that pain should it arise.

My main beef though is I wouldn't buy an Apple product this far into the lifecycle 2gb or 4gb of RAM.

jdechko
Apr 23, 2010, 04:16 PM
One should NOT be buying a current MBA if they need to use the computer for three years. Right now, the MBA is stuck with 2 GB of RAM forever. That amount of RAM was acceptable eighteen months ago when the MBA was introduced in the v 2,1 update in October 2008. In June of last year, it badly needed an update. However, the $700 price drop made the lack of a RAM upgrade acceptable.

Now, it's just too limited for the average user who plans to own this MBA for more than a year as their primary Mac. Now, if you want a secondary Mac, the MBA is fine. But to use it as most use a primary Mac, it's just too limited in two main points. One, the RAM...

I agree. 4GB minimum, but I'd also like to say that I'd really like it if the high-end model had 6 (or even 8). That'd be 2+4, which is slightly more affordable than the 4+4 required for 8.

Scottsdale
Apr 23, 2010, 04:46 PM
I agree. 4GB minimum, but I'd also like to say that I'd really like it if the high-end model had 6 (or even 8). That'd be 2+4, which is slightly more affordable than the 4+4 required for 8.

Of course we all want 8 GB of RAM possible. The problem is Apple would have put two RAM slots in the MBA to begin with if it was possible. I doubt Apple would offer an MBA with 8 GB of RAM soldered to the logicboard. I suspect that it's more costly to make two logicboards - one with 2 GB of RAM and one with 4 GB of RAM. Therefore, I suspect 4 GB of RAM in all versions of the next MBA.

If Apple could put one RAM slot there would they do it? I don't think so. Apple wouldn't really benefit from the costs and space of changing it to one RAM slot. So, if there's one RAM slot is Apple going to put 2 GB RAM into one and 4 GB RAM into one model? I don't think so because that would cost Apple a lot of money for one DIMM of 4 GB of RAM. Seriously, this only leaves soldering 4 GB of RAM to the board.

In addition, Apple doesn't want people to open the MBA up. Apple has used a damn near proprietary drive/connector for the MBA and it's most likely due not to space but to costs and margins. Apple wants to make as much as possible, and allowing users to upgrade their own SSD leaves Apple probably out $200 vs. selling it to us in a high-end model.

I think we get double the capacity RAM chips soldered to the board giving us all 4 GB of RAM with the next MBA. I see two different SSDs being used in the next MBA. I suspect Apple to maintain the LIF proprietary connector. Apple only has Runcore competing with it and at a high-cost aftermarket option.

I will guess that Apple differentiates the high and low-end MBAs by drive space and maybe something else, like an HD IPS display in the high-end.

MBA $1599
2.13 GHz CPU
Nvidia 320m GPU
4 GB RAM
128 GB SSD
LED backlit 1280x800 display

MBA $1999
2.13 GHz CPU
Nvidia 320m GPU
4 GB RAM
192 or 256 GB SSD
LED backlit 1440x900 IPS display

There you have my two MBA predictions. I also say glass trackpad, no USB 3.0, no dedicated graphics, no Arrandale CPUs, limited battery change due to using slightly denser flat cells vs. cylindrical cells, and nothing else different. I say update before or at WWDC. I say new iMac, Mac Mini, and MB at the same time. I say new 27" and 32" LED ACDs at WWDC, newly designed Mac Pro, new 7" iPad at $349, and of course the new iPhone HD.

Anyone else care to make predictions? I expect to be completely wrong, as my timing is usually completely wrong. However, I expect the MBA C2D, GPU, RAM, and SSD capacity to be completely right, unless it doesn't get updated at all until late 2010 or early 2011. Please GOD, make SJ update the MBA for us before or at WWDC 2010!

gwsat
Apr 23, 2010, 04:57 PM
I agree. 4GB minimum, but I'd also like to say that I'd really like it if the high-end model had 6 (or even 8). That'd be 2+4, which is slightly more affordable than the 4+4 required for 8.
A 6 or 8Gb MBA would be my dream machine, which I would buy on Day One. Alas, I agree with the conventional wisdom that if the MBA is refreshed, it will probably be offered with only 4Gb of RAM at most.

glitch44
Apr 23, 2010, 06:26 PM
I say update before or at WWDC. I say new iMac, Mac Mini, and MB at the same time. I say new 27" and 32" LED ACDs at WWDC, newly designed Mac Pro, new 7" iPad at $349, and of course the new iPhone HD.

I say new iPhone at WWDC. That's it.

Scottsdale
Apr 23, 2010, 07:49 PM
I say new iPhone at WWDC. That's it.

Not much of a day for Apple fans then... assuming we already got our iPhone HD reveal last weekend.

Anything different about the iPhone? Or did we see the exact release model?

jdechko
Apr 26, 2010, 01:51 PM
I agree that it may cost more than it's worth for Apple to maintain stock of 2 separate logic boards for a (comparatively) low volume product like the Air. Therefore, I also think that the new models still will have soldered-on RAM, which means we will be stuck with whatever Apple gives us.

That aside, I don't think the RAM is as big a deal as you are making it. Currently, there are 16x1gigabit chips making up the RAM in the Air which appears in System profiler as 2x1GB. So there are already 2 "slots" in the Air. See this (http://forums.macrumors.com/showpost.php?p=8596557&postcount=22) post.

To get to 4 GB, Apple will likely use 16x2gigabit chips for cost reasons (or 2x2GB sticks). Going to 6GB only requires that Apple uses 8x2gigabit and 8x4gigabit chips, which is essentially 1x2GB and 1x4GB.

Least likely is going to 8GB, which requires a full 16x2GB chips, but will probably not see daylight as it would be much more expensive.

I know how badly we all want more RAM in the Air, and we'd all love to have 4GB. But going higher than 4GB is not an engineering or space issue, it's cost vs. returns for Apple.

Also, we might see something at WWDC, but I think that Apple has started to shy away from product reveals at conferences and likes the media attention of their special events.

Scottsdale
Apr 26, 2010, 08:39 PM
I agree that it may cost more than it's worth for Apple to maintain stock of 2 separate logic boards for a (comparatively) low volume product like the Air. Therefore, I also think that the new models still will have soldered-on RAM, which means we will be stuck with whatever Apple gives us.

That aside, I don't think the RAM is as big a deal as you are making it. Currently, there are 16x1gigabit chips making up the RAM in the Air which appears in System profiler as 2x1GB. So there are already 2 "slots" in the Air. See this (http://forums.macrumors.com/showpost.php?p=8596557&postcount=22) post.

To get to 4 GB, Apple will likely use 16x2gigabit chips for cost reasons (or 2x2GB sticks). Going to 6GB only requires that Apple uses 8x2gigabit and 8x4gigabit chips, which is essentially 1x2GB and 1x4GB.

Least likely is going to 8GB, which requires a full 16x2GB chips, but will probably not see daylight as it would be much more expensive.

I know how badly we all want more RAM in the Air, and we'd all love to have 4GB. But going higher than 4GB is not an engineering or space issue, it's cost vs. returns for Apple.

Also, we might see something at WWDC, but I think that Apple has started to shy away from product reveals at conferences and likes the media attention of their special events.

I thought that once until I measured it. It is just barely space enough for one full RAM DIMM when including the slot and soldering to the board.

I wish Apple could fit two RAM slots in there, but I just don't think it's possible. I thought about one on top of the other but there is no space available in the depth either.

I really think Apple will just solder 4 GB of RAM to the board.

jdechko
Apr 27, 2010, 01:01 PM
I wish Apple could fit two RAM slots in there, but I just don't think it's possible. I thought about one on top of the other but there is no space available in the depth either.

I don't think it's possible either, but that's not what I'm talking about. The RAM currently occupies the same space on both sides of the logic board, as clearly seen in the iFixit teardown photos. All I'm saying is that it's possible for Apple to replace half of them (8, or one side) with 2 gigabit chips and the other half with 4 gigabit chips.

Now, if we were talking about a single DIMM, this likely wouldn't work because there's probably some rule about not mixing chip sizes or something, but it's cool in this case because it already appears as 2 separate DIMMS. (http://forums.macrumors.com/showpost.php?p=8596557&postcount=22)

So when I said "slots" I didn't mean physical RAM slots, but logical ones.

glitch44
Apr 28, 2010, 10:25 AM
John Gruber on WWDC:

The focus is heavily iPhone OS centric. There are some Mac OS X developer sessions and labs, but not many. (Translation: Mac OS X 10.7 is not going to be announced this year.) The IT track appears to be gone. Looking at the session list, one could argue that this year’s WWDC is an iPhone OS developers conference, not an Apple developers conference. Look no further than this year’s Apple Design Awards, which will only honor iPhone and iPad apps — no category for Mac apps.

CyberBob859
Apr 28, 2010, 10:47 AM
John Gruber on WWDC:

Then it's probably OK to purchase a MBA with its 2 GB RAM limitation because it looks like we're not going to see 10.7 for at least two years.

I'm not an MBA fan, but if you want one, get the latest gen refurb unit with SSD and use that with 10.6. Should be perfectly fine for Internet, Office and light to medium duty work without a lot of peripherals.

swanie
Apr 28, 2010, 01:25 PM
Battery life, RAM, processor speeds at a MINIMUM have to go up ... otherwise, no point in promoting a new MBA ...

- 7 or 10 hours
- 4 GB
- 2.25+ GHz

If they come out with this, I'll get an MBA in a heart beat ... I'm eying the new MBP 13" right now, but a MBA with the above upgrades would be the deciding factor for me ... SSD for sure

I'm indifferent about the trackpad ...

I would like to see an anti-glare screen option like they have for the 15 and 17" MBPs ... I can't stand the high-gloss screen ... I'd have to buy anti-glare screen otherwise

higher screen resolution wouldn't be bad either ... i can handle small icons and text ... prefer more room for editing software (adobe)

jdechko
Apr 28, 2010, 02:23 PM
Battery life, RAM, processor speeds at a MINIMUM have to go up ... otherwise, no point in promoting a new MBA ...

- 7 or 10 hours
- 4 GB
- 2.25+ GHz

If they come out with this, I'll get an MBA in a heart beat ... I'm eying the new MBP 13" right now, but a MBA with the above upgrades would be the deciding factor for me ... SSD for sure

I'm indifferent about the trackpad ...

I would like to see an anti-glare screen option like they have for the 15 and 17" MBPs ... I can't stand the high-gloss screen ... I'd have to buy anti-glare screen otherwise

higher screen resolution wouldn't be bad either ... i can handle small icons and text ... prefer more room for editing software (adobe)

Based on the 13" MBP, I think there's little chance of there being a faster processor available in the new Air. I'm inclined to believe that we will see the same processor with an nVidia 320. However, we should see an increase in battery life if that's the case as the 320 uses less power than the 9400. So it's a push.

aquintanilla
Apr 28, 2010, 03:30 PM
Just wait or buy an MBP. Though I wouldn't recommend waiting seeing as they will probably phase out the MBA.

gri
Apr 28, 2010, 04:20 PM
I got my refurbished 1.86 MBA a week ago and live it. Its amazing to see how much useless stuff you are actually carrying along on your HD - I could get rid of all that and still have 25G free on my 128 SSD. Don't seem to be bothered much by the 2 G RAM either. LOVE the weight. Great computer. Would I live to see a new one. Oh yes. Would I buy it? Oh yes as well. Would I regret having bought this one? No. Its of much uise for me in the next monts (and our IT dept. needs about 2 months to get a computer anyway...)

gwsat
Apr 28, 2010, 04:40 PM
I am jealous of those of you, and I know there are quite a few, whose needs allow them to operate with only 2Gb of RAM quite comfortably. Unfortunately, as a slave to VMware Fusion running Windows 7 in Unity mode, I need at least 6Gb of RAM. I had hoped that 4GB might be enough but from what I have seen in the VMware Fusion 3.1 Beta Forum at the VMware Web site, unpredictable things seem to happen to Fusion when its host machine has only 4Gb of RAM. Thus, unless a miracle happens and Apple finds a way for a refreshed MBA to accept at least 6Gb of RAM, I guess I am out of luck. More's the pity, I love the little things and fervently wish that there were a way for me to make an MBA work with my preferred setup. I could even live with relatively short battery life but a limitation of 4Gb of RAM would be a deal breaker.

oldaaplexec
Apr 28, 2010, 10:43 PM
New MBA on June 1st at the 'D: All Things Digital' Conference.

1. It's a Tuesday
2. Jobs has announced products at this event in the past

Scottsdale
Apr 28, 2010, 11:41 PM
New MBA on June 1st at the 'D: All Things Digital' Conference.

1. It's a Tuesday
2. Jobs has announced products at this event in the past

I wouldn't doubt it. Jobs just might share an MBA there especially if it's completely redesigned!

To those saying the MBA will be EOL'd, it just doesn't make sense. To me it's obvious that the MBA represents the future of Mac notebooks. I even think that when the MB and MBP go completely Air-like the MBA will go even more ultraportable. Apple has big plans for the design of the MBA, and I believe it will continue to use the MBA as a launching platform for other Mac notebooks.

Duncanreally
Apr 29, 2010, 10:49 AM
New MBA on June 1st at the 'D: All Things Digital' Conference.

1. It's a Tuesday
2. Jobs has announced products at this event in the past

Good idea! Fingers crossed...

tenPlus
Apr 29, 2010, 01:48 PM
SC,

I purchased the 2.13 with SSD last year. Like you I was replacing a Sony Viao, a $2300 3lb version. I pretty much doubled the speed, memory, drive space and battery without increasing the weight. I use pretty heavy programs on both the native mac side and even running parallels. I cannot speak for the non-SSD version but this one really does a fantastic job. I use SPSS v18 among other intensive programs such as Autodesk's Maya to name another. I had my Viao for five years and I expect no less from the MBA. Memory is only one deal, all computers use swap drives ie the hard drive, using SSD will exponentially improve this. The last sell note I have is the bus speed on this thing is pretty good, again like the Viao, it set it apart from the other laptops.

Given the fact I spent $1700 instead of $2300 this time, I could not have been happier.

Now to define redundant, I have an iPad now and the laptop seems like the desktop of the family now. Go figure.

T

gwsat
Apr 29, 2010, 02:38 PM
SC,

I purchased the 2.13 with SSD last year. Like you I was replacing a Sony Viao, a $2300 3lb version. I pretty much doubled the speed, memory, drive space and battery without increasing the weight. I use pretty heavy programs on both the native mac side and even running parallels. I cannot speak for the non-SSD version but this one really does a fantastic job. I use SPSS v18 among other intensive programs such as Autodesk's Maya to name another. I had my Viao for five years and I expect no less from the MBA. Memory is only one deal, all computers use swap drives ie the hard drive, using SSD will exponentially improve this. The last sell note I have is the bus speed on this thing is pretty good, again like the Viao, it set it apart from the other laptops.

Given the fact I spent $1700 instead of $2300 this time, I could not have been happier.

Now to define redundant, I have an iPad now and the laptop seems like the desktop of the family now. Go figure.
I have an iPad too and within its limits, it has been great. Nevertheless, it's not a real computer. Your post concerning your satisfaction with running both OS X and Windows apps on your MBA intrigued me. The only factor that has stopped me from already having bought one is my fear that I can't simultaneously run Windows apps in VMware Fusion and OS X apps simultaneously. Your comment, though, about how much faster swapping RAM to and from disc is when you have an SSD drive captured my attention. Could you tell us how you manage Windows apps and OS X apps on your MBA?

tenPlus
Apr 29, 2010, 03:49 PM
I have an iPad too and within its limits, it has been great. Nevertheless, it's not a real computer. Your post concerning your satisfaction with running both OS X and Windows apps on your MBA intrigued me. The only factor that has stopped me from already having bought one is my fear that I can't simultaneously run Windows apps in VMware Fusion and OS X apps simultaneously. Your comment, though, about how much faster swapping RAM to and from disc is when you have an SSD drive captured my attention. Could you tell us how you manage Windows apps and OS X apps on your MBA?

iPad, agreed it's an interface, albeit a quick one with focus, not a desktop. This is great for a multi-tasker like me, or I should say multi-distractor as is the case on a desktop or laptop. I can read my journals and news with focus.

To answer the posed question about OS X/ Win management, first I must say I do not have experience with VMware Fusion so the answer will be one sided. I use Parallels and I set the memory to 1GB and video to 160 MB out of the 256 available. Some key points about my setup:
1. I do not share the network connection, meaning I do not have internet connection turned on for my Windows XP.
2. As said in 1, I run Windows XP.
3. I have the windows antivirus program turned off, this goes a long way in running the windows programs fast. This is true for any PC machine setup. Disconnect the web and turn off the anti-virus and you have a fast stable system. Since I am running OS X side by side, I use the Mac side for all web related work, and since it shares the desktop, document folder, and downloads folder. The files are immediately available to the windows side. Copy paste works smoothly between the two OS's too. In the rare occasion I need to access the web from the windows side, a simple toggle of the share internet button and turn on the anit-virus, and boom, surgical strike what I need and revert back to said setup.

What I did not mention before is how I decided the MBA passed the mustard for windows performance. I took my usb/firewire external 7200 rpm drive that can run in target mode and hooked it up via usb to the MBA 1.6 GHz machine. Booting from the external hard-drive was my "laptop" between the desktop at home and work so I could work with all the same files and program setups. In short I was surprised it ran well, not great but well. This was running via usb so I was convinced that with the SSD I would have no problems, and that indeed became the case.

I still have 3 computers that I have to sync up with my data, er, files. I achieve this through mobile me and just created a documents folder, and yes this is accessible through my windows setup too. I have access to all my work files via iPad, iPhone, desktops, and laptop. This has been great for managing a quick answer to questions involving something I may have presented 10 years ago because I always have it at my fingertips. I am a digital pack-rat so I was glad when they finally got mobile me right.

T

tlinford
Apr 29, 2010, 05:26 PM
I am jealous of those of you, and I know there are quite a few, whose needs allow them to operate with only 2Gb of RAM quite comfortably. Unfortunately, as a slave to VMware Fusion running Windows 7 in Unity mode, I need at least 6Gb of RAM. I had hoped that 4GB might be enough but from what I have seen in the VMware Fusion 3.1 Beta Forum at the VMware Web site, unpredictable things seem to happen to Fusion when its host machine has only 4Gb of RAM. Thus, unless a miracle happens and Apple finds a way for a refreshed MBA to accept at least 6Gb of RAM, I guess I am out of luck. More's the pity, I love the little things and fervently wish that there were a way for me to make an MBA work with my preferred setup. I could even live with relatively short battery life but a limitation of 4Gb of RAM would be a deal breaker.

I totally agree with this. I use VMware quite a bit, to run XP. I am certainly no addict, but there are two web-apps I use which require Windows Explorer. These are medical type things, of which the companies behind them are unwilling to bear a cross-platform expense of medical system approval.

I have two MacBooks, one a white 2Mbyte machine, which I use to drive a big monitor and to provide a back-up to my MacBook Pro 13 4Gbyte machine, which I carry around with me. The difference between the 2 machines, on memory, is quite incredible. The 2 Gig machine, becomes asthmatic running VMWare, it really needs the 4 Gbyte RAM, just to breath! I've never felt that 6Gig is required, but I'm not playing games, just running web-apps.... which are not exactly resource demanding!

tlinford
Apr 29, 2010, 05:34 PM
SC,

I purchased the 2.13 with SSD last year. Like you I was replacing a Sony Viao, a $2300 3lb version. I pretty much doubled the speed, memory, drive space and battery without increasing the weight. I use pretty heavy programs on both the native mac side and even running parallels. I cannot speak for the non-SSD version but this one really does a fantastic job. I use SPSS v18 among other intensive programs such as Autodesk's Maya to name another. I had my Viao for five years and I expect no less from the MBA. Memory is only one deal, all computers use swap drives ie the hard drive, using SSD will exponentially improve this. The last sell note I have is the bus speed on this thing is pretty good, again like the Viao, it set it apart from the other laptops.

Given the fact I spent $1700 instead of $2300 this time, I could not have been happier.

Now to define redundant, I have an iPad now and the laptop seems like the desktop of the family now. Go figure.

T

I find the discussions fascinating over comparisons between sony Vaio's and MBpro's and people wanting more out of the MBA. When the MBA came out, the outcry over the lack of DVD device was loud. Now is is accepted in other flagship laptops. The Sony Vaio Z, for example is being compared against the MBpro, wrt the i5/i7 chips or lack there of.

Maybe it's time to reform the MBA based in the chunkier MBpro 13, with-out the DVD, with the new intel processor and GPU. A laptop like this would not as radically light as the MBA, but it would be lighter (unless it had a beefier battery?), might be better all round?

tlinford
Apr 29, 2010, 05:36 PM
SC,

I purchased the 2.13 with SSD last year. Like you I was replacing a Sony Viao, a $2300 3lb version. I pretty much doubled the speed, memory, drive space and battery without increasing the weight. I use pretty heavy programs on both the native mac side and even running parallels. I cannot speak for the non-SSD version but this one really does a fantastic job. I use SPSS v18 among other intensive programs such as Autodesk's Maya to name another. I had my Viao for five years and I expect no less from the MBA. Memory is only one deal, all computers use swap drives ie the hard drive, using SSD will exponentially improve this. The last sell note I have is the bus speed on this thing is pretty good, again like the Viao, it set it apart from the other laptops.

Given the fact I spent $1700 instead of $2300 this time, I could not have been happier.

Now to define redundant, I have an iPad now and the laptop seems like the desktop of the family now. Go figure.

T

Clearly not using the laptop properly, if you can't tell the difference? I would miss OS X big-time!

gwsat
Apr 29, 2010, 07:40 PM
iPad, agreed it's an interface, albeit a quick one with focus, not a desktop. This is great for a multi-tasker like me, or I should say multi-distractor as is the case on a desktop or laptop. I can read my journals and news with focus.

To answer the posed question about OS X/ Win management, first I must say I do not have experience with VMware Fusion so the answer will be one sided. I use Parallels and I set the memory to 1GB and video to 160 MB out of the 256 available. Some key points about my setup:
1. I do not share the network connection, meaning I do not have internet connection turned on for my Windows XP.
2. As said in 1, I run Windows XP.
3. I have the windows antivirus program turned off, this goes a long way in running the windows programs fast. This is true for any PC machine setup. Disconnect the web and turn off the anti-virus and you have a fast stable system. Since I am running OS X side by side, I use the Mac side for all web related work, and since it shares the desktop, document folder, and downloads folder. The files are immediately available to the windows side. Copy paste works smoothly between the two OS's too. In the rare occasion I need to access the web from the windows side, a simple toggle of the share internet button and turn on the anit-virus, and boom, surgical strike what I need and revert back to said setup.

What I did not mention before is how I decided the MBA passed the mustard for windows performance. I took my usb/firewire external 7200 rpm drive that can run in target mode and hooked it up via usb to the MBA 1.6 GHz machine. Booting from the external hard-drive was my "laptop" between the desktop at home and work so I could work with all the same files and program setups. In short I was surprised it ran well, not great but well. This was running via usb so I was convinced that with the SSD I would have no problems, and that indeed became the case.

I still have 3 computers that I have to sync up with my data, er, files. I achieve this through mobile me and just created a documents folder, and yes this is accessible through my windows setup too. I have access to all my work files via iPad, iPhone, desktops, and laptop. This has been great for managing a quick answer to questions involving something I may have presented 10 years ago because I always have it at my fingertips. I am a digital pack-rat so I was glad when they finally got mobile me right.
Thanks for your comprehensive response, it was very informative. It convinced me that for my uses, there are too many unanswered questions about how successfully I could run Fusion and Windows 7 in a 2Gb MBA for me to make the substantial investment needed to buy the current model. I am still hoping for something more capable later on because I would love to have an MBA.

Scottsdale
Apr 29, 2010, 08:18 PM
SC,

I purchased the 2.13 with SSD last year. Like you I was replacing a Sony Viao, a $2300 3lb version. I pretty much doubled the speed, memory, drive space and battery without increasing the weight. I use pretty heavy programs on both the native mac side and even running parallels. I cannot speak for the non-SSD version but this one really does a fantastic job. I use SPSS v18 among other intensive programs such as Autodesk's Maya to name another. I had my Viao for five years and I expect no less from the MBA. Memory is only one deal, all computers use swap drives ie the hard drive, using SSD will exponentially improve this. The last sell note I have is the bus speed on this thing is pretty good, again like the Viao, it set it apart from the other laptops.

Given the fact I spent $1700 instead of $2300 this time, I could not have been happier.

Now to define redundant, I have an iPad now and the laptop seems like the desktop of the family now. Go figure.

T

I believe ANY/EVERY current and prior MBA will be irrelevant and incapable of optimal computing in three years. The original MBA is obviously already completely outdated. Without h.264, the 3100m is just beat. With a PATA drive controller the bottleneck is great. With an overheated CPU its capabilities are "stuck" in January 2008. With 2 GB of 667 MHz RAM, the original is far inferior to even the current MBA.

The MBA has many problems to last three years and remain relevant.

The positives for the v 2,1 MBA.

1. The Runcore SSD and even stock SSD give superb speed in the bottleneck of the common computer.

2. The Nvidia 9400m allows h.264 hardware acceleration and OpenCL access for applications.

3. The RAM speed is sufficient. The CPU can take advantage of Grand Central Dispatch and make the most of its limited clock speeds that are throttled.


The negatives.

1. With 2 GB of DDR3 1067 MHz RAM, the MBA is "STUCK" in the October 2008 FOREVER. This is the number one problem with the current MBA. The RAM is soldered to the board and short of access to a new logic board with 4 GB of RAM soldered to the board, the MBA is forever stuck in the past. When the v 2,1 MBA was introduced in October 2008, it was fair to assume the MBA would last for three years into 2011... but that's with serious limitations.

2. The CPU is throttled so it's really normally performing at around 1.6 GHz, 1.2 GHz or even just 800 MHz most of the time. While I often bash the Core i7 ultra low voltage CPUs, they truly are possibly superior to the low voltage SL9600. While 2.13 GHz sounds fast, and it markets great, it's not the performance we're experiencing. While 1.2 GHz sounds slow, the Core i7-640UM boosts up to over 2 GHz when needed possibly outperforming the current SL9600.

3. The GPU is throttled so it's really normally performing at about 73% of the same 9400m in the other Macs. At the same time, if applications take advantage of OpenCL, new OpenGL drivers, and the best capabilities of h.264, the 9400m could be sufficient in three years for the non-intense graphics demands.

4. The 1.8" and 5mm height requirement of the SATA-II SSD that also uses an LIF connector prohibits the use of larger than a 128 GB SSD at this time. It is very likely that Apple will change the connector on the next SSD that moves to 192 or 256 GB. Therefore, I see the MBA stuck with a maximum of 128 GB of drive space FOREVER.

Even one year ago, the MBA was fairly acceptable in terms of an ultraportable's power and capabilities for $1799. The HDD model MBA is even further outdated and insufficient of making it to the future.

The biggest problem is software is requiring more and more resources. RAM is a huge limitation in the MBA, and not being able to upgrade later makes buying an MBA an absolute guarantee of not getting three years of "current" capabilities. People always say if they keep using the same apps the computer will be just as relevant in three years; the truth is the OS, and applications, get constant updates that over time become greater and greater making the computer obsolete without even adding an application.

Anyone considering an MB, MBP, Vaio Z, or any other 13" or ultraportable computer that can be upgraded to 4 GB of RAM is probably ten times more likely than the MBA to run current software in three years. Look at what software already needs what to run properly. First, HD programs need 2 GHz CPUs which the MBA doesn't really run at (and there are plenty of problems running HD on current 2.13 GHz MBAs). Second the more software someone wants to run at the same time, the more RAM they need. Third the more someone wants to run multiple OSes the more they absolutely NEED more than 2 GB of RAM (the MBA cannot even meet the bare minimum demands of both OS X Snow Leopard and Windows 7, because the GPU takes 256 MB of RAM first and the remaining doesn't leave 1 GB for each OS). Four, the more someone wants to use one computer for all of their computing needs, the more likely the current MBA will NOT be able to meet those needs in three years... with 2 GB of RAM forever, with 128 GB of drive space forever, and with a slow CPU forever, the current MBA is NOT the computer of the future.

If Apple upgrades the MBA to 4 GB of RAM, uses the same SL9600 CPU but removes the throttling, uses the Nvidia 320m and throttles it at a 50% performance improvement over 9400m, and finds a way to include a 256 GB SSD, the MBA will be very capable of being a primary Mac and running current software in three years. Imagine 2.13 GHz all the time. Imagine the apps that will be taking advantage of the 320m h.264. Imagine HD performance running on a fast 2+ GHz CPU and fully h.264 capabilities for all third-party playback. Imagine 256 GB of SSD performing fast in the MBA's bottleneck and allowing people space for two OSes or more, allowing space for all files without needing external storage, and allowing future expandability.

I would say anyone that needs a computer to last three years should NOT even consider an MBA unless they only plan to use it for word processing, email, and Internet. Everyone that needs their computer to last three years should seriously consider a Sony Vaio Z if they just need Windows as it's more powerful than any Mac notebook. Those that need Windows would get the greatest long-term value by the 13" MBP. With a 2.4 GHz CPU all the time plus Grand Central Dispatch making future capabilities even greater, a 320m GPU with OpenCL, OpenGL, and h.264 dominance, with up to 8 GB of RAM multiple Oses are a breeze for this Mac notebook, and with a standard 2.5" drive, one can always upgrade to a larger faster SSD reducing the bottleneck completely.