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Old Sep 18, 2014, 01:00 PM   #1
gomac22
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My 11 year old wants a Macbook Air

After years of Windows I bought my first Macbook Air a few weeks ago.

My 11 year daughter is a little nerd/bookworm who loves coding and doesn't like to use any of our other PCs. I was going to buy her a Chromebook for Christmas but have decided to buy her a Macbook Air 11 inch but a few years old maybe a 2010-2011 for her first computer.

Is it worth it to buy one so old? It will get light use and I am not worried about space and ram. I just don't trust her with a brand new machine yet. Are Ebay and Amazon good places to look?
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Old Sep 18, 2014, 02:41 PM   #2
MRrainer
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gomac22 View Post
After years of Windows I bought my first Macbook Air a few weeks ago.

My 11 year daughter is a little nerd/bookworm who loves coding and doesn't like to use any of our other PCs. I was going to buy her a Chromebook for Christmas but have decided to buy her a Macbook Air 11 inch but a few years old maybe a 2010-2011 for her first computer.

Is it worth it to buy one so old? It will get light use and I am not worried about space and ram. I just don't trust her with a brand new machine yet. Are Ebay and Amazon good places to look?
I'm nowhere near your personal situation, but on a purely technical basis:
I wouldn't get anything that doesn't have at least 4GB of RAM.
While you may not worry about RAM, OS X will!

Best would be to get a 2013 4GB MBAs. 8 GB ones are far better and more future-proof, but harder (and more expensive) to come by. They are basically the same as the 2014 models.
The 2013 models saw a big increase in SSD speed, which will hopefully allow them to run a couple of more releases of OS X.

Of course, I don't know your daughter (and you know better than anybody else) - but 11 year olds can be surprisingly mature and careful with stuff, if they see it as valuable themselves (witness various dolls or toys kept in love over years).

Prices on ebay.com are insane - you'd be better off buying new like this one:
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc..._notebook.html
(last years model)

Maybe I'm a bit naive (no kids), but it might help to establish a couple of rules like "no drinks, no snacks while at the computer" or not allowing it outside the house for the first 6 months - to see how if and how she can handle such an expensive item.

If you could wait another 6 months, Apple should update the MBA-line after Broadwell is released early next year. Prices for the 2013 edition should then decline a bit further.
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Old Sep 18, 2014, 04:38 PM   #3
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Save the $$$ and buy a used one with an i5 or better. I just picked up a '14 13" rMBP for work and it really doesn't feel much faster than my '11 13" Air. I used it for development when away from my desk and it never let me down or made me wait.
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Old Sep 18, 2014, 09:46 PM   #4
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A 2012 13" MBA 4GB RAM / 128 GB SSD is still a great machine to use. Not an ideal gaming platform, but for casual games, productivity, browsing net, light photo / video editing, it would be a dream machine for an 11 year old. Not sure how much you'd save over new, can't understand how market on eBay is so high for this device (between $700 - $900 USD) when new is about $1000.
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Old Sep 18, 2014, 09:48 PM   #5
mad3inch1na
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Originally Posted by gomac22 View Post
After years of Windows I bought my first Macbook Air a few weeks ago.

My 11 year daughter is a little nerd/bookworm who loves coding and doesn't like to use any of our other PCs. I was going to buy her a Chromebook for Christmas but have decided to buy her a Macbook Air 11 inch but a few years old maybe a 2010-2011 for her first computer.

Is it worth it to buy one so old? It will get light use and I am not worried about space and ram. I just don't trust her with a brand new machine yet. Are Ebay and Amazon good places to look?
A 2010 MBA would be fine. As a fair warning, the memory pressure on Mavericks stays constantly in the yellow for basic web browsing. It isn't that bad, but there will definitely be a little lag. In a year or two it will probably be too slow.

The issue with buying early generation MBAs is that they were relatively expensive when they were new, so the resale values are above what they should be. You can get a 2014 11" MBA with 4GB RAM/128GB SSD for as little as $650 brand new. I got a new 2014 13" MBA for $750 back in June, and I could have found it for less.

If you are worried about getting your daughter a new device, that is a reasonable concern. The sentiment is great, but if you can get a new device for cheap, there isn't a very good argument to buy a used one, because a 2014 model will last much longer. I would be most concerned about spilling liquids, which you can't do much about. Other than that, get a good case to protect against drops.

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Old Sep 18, 2014, 10:03 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gomac22 View Post
After years of Windows I bought my first Macbook Air a few weeks ago.

My 11 year daughter is a little nerd/bookworm who loves coding and doesn't like to use any of our other PCs. I was going to buy her a Chromebook for Christmas but have decided to buy her a Macbook Air 11 inch but a few years old maybe a 2010-2011 for her first computer.

Is it worth it to buy one so old? It will get light use and I am not worried about space and ram. I just don't trust her with a brand new machine yet. Are Ebay and Amazon good places to look?
If they love coding then I recommend a 13" Unibody white MacBook. It has great expandability and is a great machine for Xcode. I am 16 and started my little "business" when I was 13 off of a PowerMac G5 doing video editing. I then moved into coding and really enjoy it...
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Old Sep 18, 2014, 10:57 PM   #7
beeh
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Is it worth it to buy one so old? It will get light use and I am not worried about space and ram. I just don't trust her with a brand new machine yet. Are Ebay and Amazon good places to look?
Yup, I've had one for almost 4 years now and still do coding on it, works great. May not run the iDevice simulator as quickly as a new one, but it'll do. The only consideration ( with any laptop ) is the simulator eats through the battery. So normally mine still gets ~3 hours of battery life, but while developing if I use the simulator about half the time, I get an hour or hour and a quarter.
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Old Sep 18, 2014, 11:13 PM   #8
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Yup, I've had one for almost 4 years now and still do coding on it, works great. May not run the iDevice simulator as quickly as a new one, but it'll do. The only consideration ( with any laptop ) is the simulator eats through the battery. So normally mine still gets ~3 hours of battery life, but while developing if I use the simulator about half the time, I get an hour or hour and a quarter.
You are right, the simulator is a battery pig... So much for long coding sessions on the road.
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