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Old Jun 22, 2010, 11:06 AM   #1
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Join Date: Jun 2010
my macbook air cant even play video

I bought my macbook air back in 2008. The specs are as follows:
Hardware Overview:

Model Name: MacBook Air
Model Identifier: MacBookAir1,1
Processor Name: Intel Core 2 Duo
Processor Speed: 1.6 GHz
Number Of Processors: 1
Total Number Of Cores: 2
L2 Cache: 4 MB
Memory: 2 GB
Bus Speed: 800 MHz
Boot ROM Version: MBA11.00BB.B03

I recently built a new i7 PC, and I am realizing how pathetically terrible my MBA is. I can't watch crappy youtube videos without my computer freezing. That's normal right? 'cuz macs always suck with flash right? Well how about this: I can't even watch downloaded .avi or .mpeg (low quality video) without it skipping/freezing/displaying the spinning color wheel LOL! I honestly think an iphone provides a better internet browsing experience than my MBair.

I am a university student, so I liked being able to slip my skinny MBA into my bag so i could use it to take notes during lectures etc. yeah yeah, i cant really even browse the internet, but at least the word processing(microsoft word processing i might add) works great! so it is still a productive college tool.

On to the point: I am now considering the destiny of my old macbook air. Is there any way i can upgrade the firmwire, or tweak some settings, or add some ram, or do anything at all to improve my old macbook's lifespan? Or should i just throw it on ebay and hope to find a sucker to pay 25% of what i paid for it 2 years ago?

question two: Do the new macbook airs suck any less? can they at least play youtube without spinning the pinwheels of doom for 2 minutes at a time?

question three: does apple have any kind of step-up program? i would love to mail my crappy MBA in for a not-so-crappy MBA!
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Old Jun 22, 2010, 11:49 AM   #2
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Join Date: Jul 2004
Flash, and therefore YouTube is an issue on all Mac computers. It just sucks more on the original MBA because it was clocked so slow and produced too much heat. The iPhone doesn't use flash and can only play back videos with very specific requirements, so it will only provide a good experience with those videos.

There was a firmware update for the original MBA. Check for any system updates and make sure they're installed.

Coolbook seems like it's a good fix to your YouTube problems. I don't know about the avi or mpg problems, but it might also be remedied by coolbook.

Make sure you're updated to the latest Flash Player as well, and install Click-to-flash in Safari. CTF will essentially block all of the flash (especially ads) in safari, which will free up resources.

Newer MBA's have some of the problems of the original, but are usually much better due to the nVidia graphics chip used in the Rev B & C (9400m). The overheating (CPU core shutdown) issues were resolved with the later models, which helps with video playback.
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Old Jun 22, 2010, 11:54 AM   #3
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Regarding question one, you can't add RAM, but an SSD upgrade is possible. That wouldn't help with playing video, though. Likely, the best you could do is make sure you have all the latest software updates from Apple and Adobe. Maybe open it up and give it a good cleaning with a can of compressed air as well.

In answer to the second question, my 2.13GHz SSD Rev. C Air has proven to be just as capable as the two year old 2.4GHz 15" MacBook Pro that it replaced. Watching 720P YouTube video under Flash causes the the temps to reach into the 70s and the fan to spin up. The video skips and jumps a bit, but I haven't gotten any beachballs. Playing the same HD video using the HTML5 player shows no problems. The video plays smooth throughout and temps stay around 60C, SD video streams play fine using both Flash and HTML5.

As for the third question, you can send your old computer in to Apple for recycling, but they won't give you anything in return. If I were in your position, I would sell off the old Air and either wait for a possible refresh or get a MacBook Pro.
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Old Jun 22, 2010, 12:25 PM   #4
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Join Date: Mar 2008
It's possible that you've got software or hardware issues; I've also got a 1.6Ghz rev A MBA, and I can watch youtube and other flash stuff on it, it just runs the CPUs at max and heats up after a bit. Watching the same .flv files downloaded locally using VLC uses hardly any CPU at all.

I'd recommend the same as the previous posters; with the addition of check what all you have installed, as some things increase overall system load and decrease performance, sometimes even after you think they are uninstalled (Parallels, I'm looking at you, here.) You might try backing up your user folder and doing a full re-install and patch back up to 10.5.8. (Assuming you haven't installed 10.6 yet) I've done it, and it does help clean things out if you install a lot of weird stuff.

Finally, along with some of the other recommendations, RealPlayer has a tool that comes with their software(some of it; they recently started pushing a new package that doesn't have the downloader) that will let you download .flv files that show up in web pages, as they get downloaded by Flash. I often will load a page with a video, pause it while it caches to the end of the video, then use RealPlayer Downloader to grab the .flv file, and play it with VLC; VLC uses WAY fewer resources than Adobe's browser plugin, and renders at least as good, if not better, than the flash-based video player app provided by the site.
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Old Jun 22, 2010, 03:42 PM   #5
Cave Man
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Location: Neander Valley, Germany; just outside of Duesseldorf
Try Plex or xbmc. I can play Blu-Ray rips on my MBA 1.83 so long as the audio is down sampled to DTS or AC3.
2012 Mac Mini; i5 Quad Core ITX Hackintosh with Blu-ray playback HTPC; 1 TB eSATA Apple TV; 3.8 gHz i7 Quad Core Hackintosh, 2GB HD5870; MacBook Pro i7; MacBook Air; iPhone 4s; 1st Mac=Centris 610
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