11" MBA is the best for traveling (from a 13" owner)

jetlagged

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Sep 6, 2012
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I have a MacBook Air 2012 13" i5/256/8gb. Bought it on November 2012. Amazing computer. I've had a Dell and HP 15" notebook before, but they both died on me 2-3 years down the line.

I've been traveling since December, backpacking through Southeast Asia and South Asia. and one thing I notice is that the 11" MBA is probably the ultimate size and weight for traveling. With the 13", I do notice the weight on my pack/luggage with and without it. and sometimes I wish I had the 11".

A part me of wants to switch to an 11" model by selling my current MBA, and maybe my first generation iPad mini with retina. But more than likely I'll be keeping them, because it looks like I'll only be able to get a total of $700 for both if I sell them. 800 if I'm lucky. One of the reasons why I went with the 13" is for the screen size, sd card reader, and the weight of the 13" was so much lighter compared to my previous Dell and HP notebooks.

So I just wanted to share my experience for those who are deciding between an 11" or 13" when it comes to traveling. I would advice an 11" MBA if you're traveling, on the move a lot, and wants to pack as light as possible. I just love how compact and so unassumingly capable it is.
 

Appurushido

macrumors 6502
Sep 28, 2012
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It's give and take with the 11" vs 13" when traveling. One trade off for each; 11" is the ultimate in portability, and 13" has about at least 3hrs more battery life.

I choose the ultimate portability and got the 2015 11" MBA. I add it with my iPhone 6+ and I get more than enough battery life. The extra 3hrs+ of battery life on the 13" would be nice, but smaller size and slight weight difference is better when traveling.
 

Boyd01

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Feb 21, 2012
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New Jersey Pine Barrens
I had a 2011 13" MBA and switched to an 11" 2013 model. Never looked back, I like the 11" so much more. I have the i7/8gb/512gb and it does everything I need. No plans to upgrade anytime soon. :)
 

SSD-GUY

macrumors 65816
Sep 20, 2012
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I have a MacBook Air 2012 13" i5/256/8gb. Bought it on November 2012. Amazing computer. I've had a Dell and HP 15" notebook before, but they both died on me 2-3 years down the line.
Hi,

Sorry for the thread hijack, but can I ask a quick question?

Can I ask if you notice any differences between the keyboard of the 11 Air and the 13 Air, most notably, the key travel for each keyboard?

Do you also have an Apple wireless keyboard you could perhaps compare this too?

Thanks
 

jmoore5196

macrumors 6502a
May 19, 2009
769
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Midwest US
I don't notice any genuine difference moving from my 11" MBA to my wife's 13" MBA. Key travel on the wireless keyboard is more substantial, and the MBA keyboard is a little more pressure-sensitive, if that makes sense. The three are remarkably similar; overall, I prefer the wireless. I tend to travel with one if I'm on a lengthy trip; I use it with the MBA instead of the MBA keyboard.

I hope this helps.
 

SSD-GUY

macrumors 65816
Sep 20, 2012
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I don't notice any genuine difference moving from my 11" MBA to my wife's 13" MBA. Key travel on the wireless keyboard is more substantial, and the MBA keyboard is a little more pressure-sensitive, if that makes sense. The three are remarkably similar; overall, I prefer the wireless. I tend to travel with one if I'm on a lengthy trip; I use it with the MBA instead of the MBA keyboard.

I hope this helps.
Thanks. By pressure sensitive, do you mean the keys on the MBA 11 are harder to press/tighter when compared to the apple wireless keyboard?
 

motrek

macrumors 68020
Sep 14, 2012
2,428
157
Hi,

Sorry for the thread hijack, but can I ask a quick question?

Can I ask if you notice any differences between the keyboard of the 11 Air and the 13 Air, most notably, the key travel for each keyboard?

Do you also have an Apple wireless keyboard you could perhaps compare this too?

Thanks
I have an 11" Air and have used a 13" Air occasionally. The keyboards feel the same to me and I imagine they are likely literally the same--I doubt Apple would go to the (presumably unnecessary) trouble of making two different keyboards for the different models.

I had a 2010 Air and now have a 2014 Air, and those keyboards are different. I assume Apple made some changes when they switched to the backlit keyboard. (I find that the newer keyboards are stiffer.)

I also have the Apple Bluetooth wireless keyboard and it feels the same to me as the MBA keyboard but it sounds different. I think the MBA keyboard resonates more and sounds "deeper" but like I said, they feel the same to me.

As for the OP's question about portability -- I already have a desktop computer so my first (and almost only) priority for me for a laptop computer is portability. That's why I bought the 11" MBA as soon as it came out and haven't looked back. I've traveled with it to foreign countries for months at a time and it has always been great. The times when I've used a 13" MBA, it feels like an unwieldy brick. Well, a flat brick, but you get the idea. :)
 

dwfaust

macrumors 603
Jul 3, 2011
6,404
7,270
It's give and take with the 11" vs 13" when traveling. One trade off for each; 11" is the ultimate in portability, and 13" has about at least 3hrs more battery life.

I choose the ultimate portability and got the 2015 11" MBA. I add it with my iPhone 6+ and I get more than enough battery life. The extra 3hrs+ of battery life on the 13" would be nice, but smaller size and slight weight difference is better when traveling.
I have a 13" MBA that I take when I travel. The biggest reason for choosing the 13" over the 11" was the SD card reader. This gives me the option of offloading photos from my DSLR while traveling, without the need for carrying external adapters that can get lost. The extra battery life is nice, but in all honesty, it was not the biggest deciding factor for me.
 
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RickInHouston

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May 14, 2014
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or you could buy a dell xps 13. The thing has next to no bezel and it's in a 11" form factor. Sweet.
 

Appurushido

macrumors 6502
Sep 28, 2012
265
254
I have a 13" MBA that I take when I travel. The biggest reason for choosing the 13" over the 11" was the SD card reader. This gives me the option of offloading photos from my DSLR while traveling, without the need for carrying external adapters that can get lost. The extra battery life is nice, but in all honesty, it was not the biggest deciding factor for me.
Yeah the 13" is awesome too! I only travel with my iPhone 6+ as my primary camera, as my line of work is usually in the boardroom, conventions, and conferences. I would love for the future Airs to come in retina and at 15hrs standard batt life, but that's wishful thinking :p 9hrs is still enough for my needs in a day before I get back to the hotel room.
 

zhenya

macrumors 604
Jan 6, 2005
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If you want the portability, the 12" Macbook is now a terrific contender. It's considerably thinner than even the 11" Air, and approximately the same dimensions, but with a retina screen, force touch, and no fan. For the kind of work one is likely to be doing with an ultraportable computer, the rMB is plenty powerful and it feels considerably more modern at this point than the Air.
 

MarvinHC

macrumors 6502a
Jan 9, 2014
762
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Belgium
If you want the portability, the 12" Macbook is now a terrific contender. It's considerably thinner than even the 11" Air, and approximately the same dimensions, but with a retina screen, force touch, and no fan. For the kind of work one is likely to be doing with an ultraportable computer, the rMB is plenty powerful and it feels considerably more modern at this point than the Air.
I beg to differ. I had some time to kill in the Apple Store today and compared the 11" Air and the new 12". Honestly in terms of size and weight, the difference is next to nothing. The little bit extra thinness adds no value IMHO. Force touch solves an issue which would not be there if the thing was 1mm thicker. It works fine in all fairness, it really feels like clicking but it also does also feel like real clicking on my 11" as it is ;)
Now of course it has the upside of the slightly bigger retina screen (I am not so blown away by the retina/non-retina difference but that is my personal taste. However I tried a couple of times to use the keyboard and simply didn't like it. Now if I didn't have a choice and had to get used to it, I probably could. But there is simply not enough travel, it feels more like typing on a touchscreen aka iPad rather than a 'real' keyboard. For a fast 10 finger typist as I am, I need the feedback for a good rhythm. I feel I am not getting it on the new Macbook.

Long way of saying: For me the 11" remains the ultimate travel machine. No need to bring any dongles etc. along plus one big advantage: A lot less money in the bag, again important for me when travelling. Just take a base 11" refurbished - half the cost of the new Macbook.
 

HeyKatie

macrumors 6502a
Sep 7, 2012
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I plan on getting the MBA 13" coming from a 15" MBP later 2011 it'll making traveling with it a lot better :)
 

motrek

macrumors 68020
Sep 14, 2012
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I beg to differ. I had some time to kill in the Apple Store today and compared the 11" Air and the new 12". Honestly in terms of size and weight, the difference is next to nothing. The little bit extra thinness adds no value IMHO. Force touch solves an issue which would not be there if the thing was 1mm thicker. It works fine in all fairness, it really feels like clicking but it also does also feel like real clicking on my 11" as it is ;)
Now of course it has the upside of the slightly bigger retina screen (I am not so blown away by the retina/non-retina difference but that is my personal taste. However I tried a couple of times to use the keyboard and simply didn't like it. Now if I didn't have a choice and had to get used to it, I probably could. But there is simply not enough travel, it feels more like typing on a touchscreen aka iPad rather than a 'real' keyboard. For a fast 10 finger typist as I am, I need the feedback for a good rhythm. I feel I am not getting it on the new Macbook.

Long way of saying: For me the 11" remains the ultimate travel machine. No need to bring any dongles etc. along plus one big advantage: A lot less money in the bag, again important for me when travelling. Just take a base 11" refurbished - half the cost of the new Macbook.
In terms of ultimate portability, the 11" MBA strikes me as slightly wider than it has to be. There's about half an inch to the left and right of the keyboard that could be shaved off. The rMB is narrower but they had to get rid of the ports to make that happen, which is an annoying compromise.

I think the rMB is neat to play with at the store but am also happy with my 11" MBA.
 

zhenya

macrumors 604
Jan 6, 2005
6,708
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I beg to differ. I had some time to kill in the Apple Store today and compared the 11" Air and the new 12". Honestly in terms of size and weight, the difference is next to nothing. The little bit extra thinness adds no value IMHO. Force touch solves an issue which would not be there if the thing was 1mm thicker. It works fine in all fairness, it really feels like clicking but it also does also feel like real clicking on my 11" as it is ;)
Now of course it has the upside of the slightly bigger retina screen (I am not so blown away by the retina/non-retina difference but that is my personal taste. However I tried a couple of times to use the keyboard and simply didn't like it. Now if I didn't have a choice and had to get used to it, I probably could. But there is simply not enough travel, it feels more like typing on a touchscreen aka iPad rather than a 'real' keyboard. For a fast 10 finger typist as I am, I need the feedback for a good rhythm. I feel I am not getting it on the new Macbook.

Long way of saying: For me the 11" remains the ultimate travel machine. No need to bring any dongles etc. along plus one big advantage: A lot less money in the bag, again important for me when travelling. Just take a base 11" refurbished - half the cost of the new Macbook.
The advantage of Force touch is not in thickness. Whether on the rMB or on the new MBP's it is an improvement over the old style by a dramatic margin. Going back and using my wife's Air is a quick reminder of how much of an improvement Force Touch is where the click force is 100% the same no matter where you are located on the trackpad.

Paired with the better screen, lack of the picture frame bezel, fantastic speakers, smaller power adapter that can double as my iPhone/iPad charger with a tiny dongle I'm carrying anyways (the only one I need), the technological and the weight advantage begins to add up. Sure - the weight isn't huge, but anyone who is a careful packer knows that the last 10% of weight dropped is a lot harder to get than the first 50%.

I too am a reasonably fast typist (~top 5% of members at typeracer) and I type just as fast on the new keyboard as the old ones. What it lacks in travel it more than makes up for with larger keys and crisper activation.

Would I replace a functional MBA that I already owned with a rMB? No, not unless I was on an early version and short of battery life, but if I was looking new, I would definitely give the new design a close look.
 

Ulenspiegel

macrumors 68040
Nov 8, 2014
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Land of Flanders and Elsewhere
I beg to differ. I had some time to kill in the Apple Store today and compared the 11" Air and the new 12". Honestly in terms of size and weight, the difference is next to nothing. The little bit extra thinness adds no value IMHO. Force touch solves an issue which would not be there if the thing was 1mm thicker. It works fine in all fairness, it really feels like clicking but it also does also feel like real clicking on my 11" as it is ;)
Now of course it has the upside of the slightly bigger retina screen (I am not so blown away by the retina/non-retina difference but that is my personal taste. However I tried a couple of times to use the keyboard and simply didn't like it. Now if I didn't have a choice and had to get used to it, I probably could. But there is simply not enough travel, it feels more like typing on a touchscreen aka iPad rather than a 'real' keyboard. For a fast 10 finger typist as I am, I need the feedback for a good rhythm. I feel I am not getting it on the new Macbook.

Long way of saying: For me the 11" remains the ultimate travel machine. No need to bring any dongles etc. along plus one big advantage: A lot less money in the bag, again important for me when travelling. Just take a base 11" refurbished - half the cost of the new Macbook.
I share your view in all aspects.
 

motrek

macrumors 68020
Sep 14, 2012
2,428
157
The advantage of Force touch is not in thickness. Whether on the rMB or on the new MBP's it is an improvement over the old style by a dramatic margin. Going back and using my wife's Air is a quick reminder of how much of an improvement Force Touch is where the click force is 100% the same no matter where you are located on the trackpad.
...
As others have already observed, click force is essentially irrelevant if you use tap-to-click.
 

zhenya

macrumors 604
Jan 6, 2005
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As others have already observed, click force is essentially irrelevant if you use tap-to-click.
I used to use tap to click exclusively, but after living with Force Touch for a while now, it's absolutely an improvement, even without Apple making much use from the secondary click or other features it will bring. The click is much more reliable than the tap, requires less finger movement to activate, and for fine pointer control, doesn't require your finger to leave the trackpad before making a selection.
 

Appurushido

macrumors 6502
Sep 28, 2012
265
254
If you want the portability, the 12" Macbook is now a terrific contender. It's considerably thinner than even the 11" Air, and approximately the same dimensions, but with a retina screen, force touch, and no fan. For the kind of work one is likely to be doing with an ultraportable computer, the rMB is plenty powerful and it feels considerably more modern at this point than the Air.
I was looking at both the 11" Air and 12" rMB and ultimately decided on the Air. Maybe down the line I'll get the rMB if the future Airs get discontinued or never adopts the ret display, and .35ths of a lb is not even noticeable in weight. I needed that extra little power, USB ports, an the no borders when watching movies on the plane.

Unlike most people, I'm not bothered by the 1366x768 screen resolution and my fans have yet to turn on, or I have never noticed them on. To each their own. I love my 11" as if it were my first born :)
 

SSD-GUY

macrumors 65816
Sep 20, 2012
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Selling my retina 13 soon as I hardly use. The Air is just as powerful for my needs and I love the weight of it.

I agree with the poster above, sure the retina screen is a bit crisper, but for most things I hardly notice the difference
and I have 20/20 vision.
 

Digital Skunk

macrumors 604
Dec 23, 2006
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In my imagination
If it hasn't already been said the 12" Retina Macbook is also a nice consideration if you don't mind having ABSOLUTELY no ports. I picked one up mainly to keep working while on the move and to use in tight places. I don't plug anything into it at all so the lack of ports isn't a concern. I can update my website using Muse, and work in iWork and do the simple things the machine was meant to do.

Other than that port issue it's a sweet little machine.
 

motrek

macrumors 68020
Sep 14, 2012
2,428
157
If it hasn't already been said the 12" Retina Macbook is also a nice consideration if you don't mind having ABSOLUTELY no ports. I picked one up mainly to keep working while on the move and to use in tight places. I don't plug anything into it at all so the lack of ports isn't a concern. I can update my website using Muse, and work in iWork and do the simple things the machine was meant to do.

Other than that port issue it's a sweet little machine.
"ABSOLUTELY" no ports is a bit of an exaggeration, though. It does have a port. And you can plug a lot of stuff into it if you use a hub. And hubs are getting super cheap.
 

dwfaust

macrumors 603
Jul 3, 2011
6,404
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"ABSOLUTELY" no ports is a bit of an exaggeration, though. It does have a port. And you can plug a lot of stuff into it if you use a hub. And hubs are getting super cheap.
One port IS more than zero, but barely. No number of hubs will ever change that, nor will it ever make the usage a pleasant experience, if you need to connect things to the computer. A hub may add connectivity, but will NOT add ports to the rMB. Additionally, you now have one more piece of gear to haul around with you (and worry about the power requirements of the hub) while using a "mobile" computer "on the go".

Hub ≠ Ports.
 
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