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Old Jun 19, 2012, 09:49 PM   #1
ravenvii
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Should I buy an 11" MacBook Air as my main computer?

I know, I know, you guys get dozens of those types of threads every week. And every post claim that their story is slightly different from the last.

This post is no different. I, too, make the claim that my situation is a snowflake.

Okay, so I currently have a early 2008 iMac. It's a little over 4 years old, and frankly, I'll be perfectly happy with this bad boy until at least next year, especially since this machine will continue to be supported with Mountain Lion.

HOWEVER. I am going to school for computer science. I am a commuting student, and will have a couple of long gaps between class. I also work. So I'm quite busy, as you can see.

Previously, I have stuff like math classes and stuff that I could take care of sans computer. However, this is becoming less and less true as time goes on.

So I will definitely need to make wise use of the time gap. Going all the way back home, then going back to school is out of the question.

Hauling my iMac there to work on is, too, laughably out of the question.

And hence I'm seriously thinking of buying a laptop to accomplish this. I will need it mainly for programming, so a speed demon, it does not need to be.

At home, I would buy an external display, keyboard and mouse, the whole shizbang, to use the MacBook Air as a desktop. Maybe even two displays, because I'm bad like that.

So... should I? My other options: a) do without (jerk off during the gap, and work on assignments when I'm home), b) buy the cheapest clunker of a PC laptop I could find to keep me afloat for a year, or c) find a way to program on the iPad (yeeeeah right).

tl;dr: Got early 2008 iMac. Considering replacing it with 11" MacBook Air+kvm so he could program when at school.
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Old Jun 19, 2012, 10:21 PM   #2
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if your planing to have external monitors, your practically eliminated the biggest downfall for having an 11 inch as a main comp. Your golden id say.
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Old Jun 19, 2012, 10:30 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by sacricide View Post
if your planing to have external monitors, your practically eliminated the biggest downfall for having an 11 inch as a main comp. Your golden id say.
I have an 11" Macbook Air in the mail, I will be using it as my primary machine for web development. I will be hooking it up to my 27" cinema display.
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Old Jun 19, 2012, 11:46 PM   #4
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IM also looking to get a 11 inch air, but i am trying to determine, without actually having used it a few days aka FIELD TEST, which i feel is only way id realize if its too small or not. its a tough call, i used a ipad for reading, but it was literally 1.5 feet or so from my face lol

and it would be a my MAIN computer, NO external display...minimalism. Really the only more intensive app id be using is tinkering with GARAGEBAND. but visiting the apple store to play with either model didnt help. I might go back a few more times and do something on a display model more involving.
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Old Jun 19, 2012, 11:50 PM   #5
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with all the gaps between classes, it sounds like battery life might be an issue. so my question for you is why an 11" over 13"?
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Old Jun 20, 2012, 12:11 AM   #6
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I will be.
11' i7 2.0/8Gb RAM/128SSD.

Was going for a rMBP but my decision was for the MBA.

Reasons:
- Powerful enough for what i need (upgrading from MBP '08)
- Liked the smaller footprint
- My partner, she is travelling overseas and wanted a lightweight machine to go with her - no point in buying two laptops.
- Will have it hooked up to an external [monitor and hard drive] (Dell for now, waiting for a thunderbolt USB3 display & Synology NAS at home, USB 3.0 portable to come)
- Saved some cash.

I code (web) and do RAW processing of photos, i think it'll be fine without the monitor for the coding aspect. It'll be a matter of learning to use the desktop space a heck of a lot better

Hope that helps. Good luck with your decision.
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Old Jun 20, 2012, 04:11 AM   #7
aleni
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the new 2012 11" air is really powerful with that ivybridge chip.

i bought the ultimate 2012 11" air too, and by the look at this chart

MacBook Air (11-inch Mid 2012)
Intel Core i7-3667U 2000 MHz (2 cores)
6902
iMac (27-inch Mid 2010)
Intel Core i5-680 3600 MHz (2 cores)
6841

it's faster than the mid 2012 iMac which my cousin have, which is a fast machine even without the SSD.
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Old Jun 20, 2012, 05:01 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by aleni View Post
the new 2012 11" air is really powerful with that ivybridge chip.

i bought the ultimate 2012 11" air too, and by the look at this chart

MacBook Air (11-inch Mid 2012)
Intel Core i7-3667U 2000 MHz (2 cores)
6902
iMac (27-inch Mid 2010)
Intel Core i5-680 3600 MHz (2 cores)
6841

it's faster than the mid 2012 iMac which my cousin have, which is a fast machine even without the SSD.
You mean mid 2010 iMac. But yes, the Airs are a bunch of little, powerful machines. I can't wait to get my hands on one of them. I still can't decide between the 11" and 13".
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Old Jun 20, 2012, 05:37 AM   #9
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The MBA 11" is a very capable machine, but it suffers from 2 main problems: limited battery life (not nearly enough for a day out) and it low screen resolution (tons of vertical scrolling).

The MBA 13" is a far better balanced machine all around, even if it's not as incredibly portable.
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Old Jun 20, 2012, 06:27 AM   #10
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I bought both since I couldn't decide & I travel a lot.

After a year I find that the 13" is my fav by far. It's only an inch wider & the extra space on the palm rest balances it out when your not at a desk, just sitting somewhere. For grab & go computing it's ideal.

At home I just connect it to my Apple thunderbolt display.
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Old Jun 20, 2012, 07:53 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by KohPhiPhi View Post
The MBA 11" is a very capable machine, but it suffers from 2 main problems: limited battery life (not nearly enough for a day out) and it low screen resolution (tons of vertical scrolling).

The MBA 13" is a far better balanced machine all around, even if it's not as incredibly portable.
i have an 11" and the battery is not an issue at all...i at least get 5 hours of battery life, which is plenty for a day out w/o the charger. Also, the screen is not an issue at all for me. Just move the dock to the right and hide it. I don't even use full screen mode and it still does not bother me. It will completely come down to preferance, so i would suggest you go to the store and play with them both for a little bit. As for the lower res, the screen actually looks better than the 13" because it has more pixels per inch
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Old Jun 20, 2012, 10:04 AM   #12
ravenvii
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I remember when 3 hours was fantastic betters life, and I was fine with it. I think 5-6 hours will suit me fine.

I agree re: 11" vs. 13". I might go ahead and buy a 11" and try it out for a week or so. If 12" turns out to be too small I'll just return it and get a 13".

Thanks guys for your thoughts!
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Old Jun 20, 2012, 11:40 AM   #13
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I will be.
I code (web) and do RAW processing of photos, i think it'll be fine without the monitor for the coding aspect. It'll be a matter of learning to use the desktop space a heck of a lot better
I'm a Rails dev and use the 11" by itself most of the time, every once in awhile add the iPad as an external using AirDisplay.

Some things I do to speed up my workflow:

- Divvy in conjunction with BetterTouchTool, so I can quickly tile windows. With Divvy note you can break the screen up to a 20x20 grid to get fine control

- TotalFinder and TotalTerminal so I have those visored.

- Hide all unnecessary elements in my editors (Sublime Text 2 and VIM)

I original went from an early 2k8 MBP to a base 2k10 11" Air as an experiment in minimalism. I thought it could make me actually faster by having to learn how to work with less. All I can say is I just upgraded to the 2k12 11" Air, this time 8/128.
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Old Jun 20, 2012, 12:39 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by ravenvii View Post
At home, I would buy an external display, keyboard and mouse, the whole shizbang, to use the MacBook Air as a desktop. Maybe even two displays, because I'm bad like that.
Unless you plan on dropping $2000 for 2 ATD's, I don't think you can hook up more than one monitor to your Air. In order to hook up 2 displays you need to daisy chain them as you only have the 1 MDP/TB port on the Air, unless there is an adapter that I am not aware of.

Just a heads up so you don't go out and buy 2 monitors only to realize you can't use both.
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Old Jun 20, 2012, 01:31 PM   #15
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Unless you plan on dropping $2000 for 2 ATD's, I don't think you can hook up more than one monitor to your Air. In order to hook up 2 displays you need to daisy chain them as you only have the 1 MDP/TB port on the Air, unless there is an adapter that I am not aware of.

Just a heads up so you don't go out and buy 2 monitors only to realize you can't use both.
There are plenty of USB display adapters that can increase the number of monitors usable with the Air.
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Old Jun 20, 2012, 01:38 PM   #16
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You said KVM, so you're fine! I am planning on getting a monitor for my 13" Air
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Old Jun 20, 2012, 01:53 PM   #17
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There are plenty of USB display adapters that can increase the number of monitors usable with the Air.
Does the performance suffer at all? If not, I may be interested in this for my setup as well
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Old Jun 20, 2012, 03:26 PM   #18
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Does the performance suffer at all? If not, I may be interested in this for my setup as well
I haven't used them personally, but I plan to eventually once I get my Air. I'll be using them for coding, so it won't be an issue for me, but it may or may not be awesome for things like video display (or editing).
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Old Jun 20, 2012, 03:27 PM   #19
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Old Jun 20, 2012, 03:33 PM   #20
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Ahh, the ol' 11 vs 13 thread. My favorite.
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Old Jun 20, 2012, 03:39 PM   #21
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What kind of charge is the 11 inch holding being used heavily 4+ hours or less??
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Old Jun 20, 2012, 03:48 PM   #22
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There are plenty of USB display adapters that can increase the number of monitors usable with the Air.
Or something like this:
Matrox TripleHeadToGo DisplayPort
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Old Jun 20, 2012, 03:57 PM   #23
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What kind of charge is the 11 inch holding being used heavily 4+ hours or less??
im getting closer to 5
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Old Jun 20, 2012, 05:45 PM   #24
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I just got a 2012 13" Air for school too. And I work. And I have an iMac. But I did replace my 2007 iMac last summer with a new one. So I can use the iMac as a 2nd screen for the Air when I need to.

As much as I liked the idea of the 11" and it being somewhat cheaper and able on the upper end model to get the 2.0 i7 and 8GB RAM, and it being even lighter than the 13", I chose the 13" for two reasons.

1. Battery life. I couldn't get past the 7 v 5 hour difference.

2. Real estate. I didn't want to feel like I was working on a screen that was too small. Now the Air is replacing an older MacBook, so the 13" is the same, and there was no way I'd opt for the heft or $$ or size of the MBPr, but I dropped a lot of weight going from the MB to the MBA.

BTW, if you have the iMac at home, how is this your "main computer"?
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Old Jun 20, 2012, 06:59 PM   #25
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BTW, if you have the iMac at home, how is this your "main computer"?
the idea is that I sell my iMac and get the MBA.
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