Am I stupid for considering a new 11 MBA?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by intervenient, Apr 19, 2015.

  1. intervenient macrumors 6502a

    Jul 9, 2010
    I received a 15 rMBP from my work and decided to give away my 13 MBA to my girlfriend. I had planned to buy the Retina MBA but we got the MB instead, and while I do think it would solve 98% of my needs of a non-work laptop, it's definitely a generation 1 product that's $300 too expensive.

    Basically I wanted a laptop that will be super small, but I can store all my personal images and files and media collection on, which I can't do with my work computer because it gets wiped every so often. After the announcement of the Microsoft Surface 3, I was pretty dead set on that. However, reviews seemed mixed and it sounds it's neither an outstanding laptop nor tablet. Then again, I'm not going to be using this thing for anything major other than media storage and document creation.

    Also, after all the accessories I would buy for the Surface 3, it would come out to about $770. Best Buy has the new 11 MBA for ~$800. Also, if I wanted to see the MBA at some point once the rMB has a few more ports and a cheaper price, I could probably resell it for much more than then the Surface 3.

    I've also considered the 13 inch rMBP and the iPad Air 2, but the 13 rMBP is a little bigger than I would like for a non-work laptop, and the iPad Air 2 isn't a great media hub.

    I just hate the dull MBA screen and hate getting something that's so clearly going to be phased out once they can make the MB cheap enough.
  2. Dweez macrumors 65816


    Jun 13, 2011
    Down by the river
  3. Boyd01 macrumors 68040


    Feb 21, 2012
    New Jersey Pine Barrens
    I love my 2013 11" MBA and plan to keep it for several more years. It's a very powerful little computer (I have the i7/8gb/512gb) that I use as a primary machine.

    It sounds like you're considering the base model MBA, so I don't understand this part of your post: "but I can store all my personal images and files and media collection on". How could you store all of that on the 128gb MBA? Unless you have a really small media collection, it seems like you would need an external drive or network drive. If you're going to do that, why not just use your work computer since it could stay home and not get wiped.

    You say that you "just hate the dull MBA screen". Personally I don't have a problem with the screen. But I wouldn't even consider buying a computer if I "hated" the screen.
  4. AFEPPL macrumors 68030


    Sep 30, 2014
    Ignore the MBA, the screen sucks to be blunt..
    Go for the new rMB or the surface.
  5. bnmcj1 macrumors 6502

    Apr 13, 2014
    I like the mba screen better than my girlfriends rMBP. TN panel blacks are better. Hate ips glow and retina screen lag. 1400x900 on my 13" is more than enough. Would never go retina ips. The smooth scrolling on air is much more important to me.
  6. sracer macrumors 604


    Apr 9, 2010
    in exile
    The Surface 3 is going to be quite a nice device. Microsoft has ironed out the kinks in the platform (from a hardware perspective) and will be an excellent option.

    In my experiences with the Surface, they make fine notebooks/ultrabooks but mediocre/moderately acceptable tablets. The deficiency in using it as a tablet comes down to the quality and quantity of modern UI apps for Windows 8.x. The situation has greatly improved over the years, but there are still some gaping holes. If what you need is available in modern UI format, then your tablet experience will be greatly improved.

    Things to consider with regard to the Surface 3:
    • 10" screen (vs. 11.6" for the MBA)
    • the 4GB/12GB model is the minimum that I would recommend
    • trackpad quality of the typecover of the current/previous gen typecovers has not been good

    Best Buy as the 2014 11" MBA 4GB/128GB for $800. That is before their .edu student/faculty/staff discount or the 10% Best Buy mover's coupon. That would bring the price down to $720-$750.

    I find the screen on the 11" MBA to be just fine for regular use. I only noticed the deficiencies of the screen when I directly compare it to my Acer Aspire Switch 11 (2-in-1 tablet/notebook).

    As for being phased out, it is still an excellent ultrabook... and will be for quite some time. As you mentioned, the MBA will hold its value and so if you decided later on to get the rMB (2nd or 3rd gen), then not only would you pay less for it (the rMB should come down in price in subsequent generations) but you'll offset the cost even more by the proceeds of selling the MBA.

    For a full-functioned notebook, the MBA is hard to beat... especially at the discounted prices that seem to be pretty regular at Best Buy.
  7. Scepticalscribe Contributor


    Jul 29, 2008
    The Far Horizon
    Agree with your post.

    I have the exact same machine - from 2014 - and it is superb. Fast, reliable, extremely portable, and wonderfully powerful. I can live without the retina screen, as the other features matter more to me.

    To the OP: No, you are not 'stupid' at all; however, I doubt that 128GB will be enough memory - I'd recommend 256 at a minimum.
  8. intervenient thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jul 9, 2010
    Yep, small media collection, about 30-40 gigs. I could do the external drive thing, but I feel like that's not solving my device problems.
  9. Wahlstrm macrumors 6502a


    Dec 4, 2013
    That 1366x768 res is so cramped.
    You have to scroll just to see a web-sized photo.
    Air colors are horrible.
    The CPU, if upgraded can do a lot more than the Core-M thou.

    rMB apparently has the best screen Apple ever put in a laptop.
    If you have all your photos on it. Don´t you want the best screen then?
  10. intervenient thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jul 9, 2010
    Yes, but at $1299 and one port, I just don't see the value at the moment. I have no problems waiting a year or two to at least get more ports. Any laptop I buy now is a stop gap until the rMB makes more sense for me.
  11. Jacoblee23 macrumors 6502a

    Nov 10, 2011
    That one port thing is ridiculous to me. I always charge my iPhone to my 13" MacBook Air and can't do that with a rmb.
  12. cairene2011 Guest

    Dec 17, 2013
    I was completely fine with my 11" MBA's screen until I bought an iPad mini with Retina screen and "spoiled" my eyes. Then I couldn't unsee the low resolution anymore and after a year-long "struggle" (first world problem, ey?) caved and bought an rMBP.

    As long as you don't plan to use the MBA in conjunction with other higher resolution screens, you should be fine. :)
  13. Boyd01 macrumors 68040


    Feb 21, 2012
    New Jersey Pine Barrens
    Media collections have a tendency to grow… ;)

    Geez, with a library that small you could just put it on a flash drive or SD card.

    Sounds like the rMB would probably fit your needs very well. Maybe you just need to bite the bullet and spend the extra $300?

    I suppose an iPad could also handle that, but tablets are so different from laptops, you need to think about this some more. Personally, I don't like tablets. My iPhone is great, but I don't want a big touchscreen device, I'm a fast touch typist and also need to run lots of Mac software.

    Regardless, IMO it makes no sense to buy the MBA since you "hate" the screen. I would spend the extra money for the rMB instead of cursing the MBA every time you look at the screen. Life is too short for that. :)
  14. aristobrat macrumors G5

    Oct 14, 2005
    I think it's going to be more than a few years before you see any Apple notebook whose base model includes a retina screen, 256GB SSD, and 8GB of RAM drop $300 in price.

    I can see them adding more ports (and bumping the processor speed) in future generations, but I'm not sure the price point is going to move much in the downward direction (unless they introduce a new base model with a smaller SSD).

    The price you can get that 11" MBA for is great. Go with that and see how the MacBook shakes out over the next generation or two.
  15. sracer macrumors 604


    Apr 9, 2010
    in exile
    I supplement the storage on my 4GB/128GB 11" MBA by using a 64GB Sandisk Cruzer Nano low-profile USB thumbdrive. I leave it permanently installed.
  16. joeblow7777 macrumors 603

    Sep 7, 2010
    With regards to the Surface, one thing that I've noticed about the Surface line in general is that they get mixed reviews from critics, but user reviews tend to be quite favourable. For example, Engadget gave the Surface Pro 3 a 7.9, but Engadget readers voted it the best device of the year if I'm not mistaken.

    However, I see nothing stupid about wanting to get an 11" MBA.
  17. newellj macrumors 603

    Oct 15, 2014
    Boston, MA, US
    It's up to you. The 11" MBA is a great little computer hobbled with what I would say is a horrible display. I've tried twice and the display just doesn't work for me. If it works for you, you can pick up a refurb for a lot less than an rMB will cost you. Only you can really make the call on the display.

    I can tell you that I've had a rMB for a week and have given it a pretty thorough workout. It is a very capable machine. Even under extended, CPU-intensive use, it trailed my rMBP by only ~20%. In less punishing applications, you don't notice the difference.

    It's an interesting point in the product line development, actually. The MBA line is probably about to be discontinued. The rMB, on the other hand, presents a clear first gen/early adopter risk.
  18. motrek macrumors 68020

    Sep 14, 2012
    rMB has a smaller logical resolution by default (1152x720).


    The passive-matrix color LCD screen in a Gateway laptop circa ~1995 was horrible.

    The screen in the 11" MBA is simply not ideal.
  19. intervenient thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jul 9, 2010
    Just got back to the Apple Store to try out both the rMB and 11 MBA.

    The rMB screen is absolutely gorgeous, but the 11 MBA screen isn't as terrible as I remember. I remember it being much more washed out and pixel-y, but it didn't seem that bad running through the tasks I usually do. It's definitely passable as a personal laptop that I'd only use on the evenings and weekends.

    I'm going to give the Surface 3 a second chance, but I think the 11 MBA really does check a lot of the boxes I want for a laptop because the rMB is a machine I want to buy.
  20. ApfelKuchen macrumors 68030

    Aug 28, 2012
    Between the coasts
    None of us have a crystal ball, but I suspect we won't be seeing more ports on future editions of the rMB. I see it as a fundamental design decision, like eliminating internal optical drives, or putting two GPUs (and not providing for multiple CPUs) in the new Mac Pro.

    Since you mentioned you'd rather not do the external drive thing, what kind of routine use would you get out of a second port, if it existed?

    Price-wise... I have aging eyes, so I'd be comparing the 13" MBA to the rMB rather than the 11". On that basis, if both 13" MBA and 12" rMB are equipped with 256 GB of flash and 8 GB RAM, the price is the same. So, I get Retina for no extra charge? Sign me up! I'm not sure whether, the way I use a computer, I'd have an issue with the RMB's CPU and GPU - so maybe that's a cost, maybe not. A port adapter would add to my cost - I'd almost definitely have a backup drive hanging off the thing (though the cost of cloud-based backup is tempting when compared to carrying a backup drive)...

    The one thing I'm not going to do is hold my breath on the price of future models. I'd expect, based on history, that the price will hold firm, but the performance will be improved (more bang for the buck).
  21. intervenient thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jul 9, 2010
    Sorry, I was unclear. I only don't want to do the external drive on my work computer. On my personal machine, I'd consider one if my collection ever got that large.

    Other than that, I have an external monitor I hook up to at home while charging my laptop, as well as frequently charging my phone or Pebble on the laptop.

    While this makes sense, in my position, I'm not comparing the 13 MBA to the rMB. For a light, small, secondary computer, I would only consider the 11 MBA over the 13 MBA, and the base 11 MBA would work just fine for me at the moment. So that's a ~$500 price difference off the bat.
  22. Wahlstrm macrumors 6502a


    Dec 4, 2013
    The rMB is an 8h battery life machine.
    Your phone will charge fully in 1-2h? and then you can plug in the charger again.
    If needed.

    Such a non issue this.. :)
  23. motrek macrumors 68020

    Sep 14, 2012
    Actually I would find this pretty annoying too.

    Charging my phone (5S) with my 11" MBA takes about 1/3 of its battery capacity, and it might be more if I had a bigger phone (iPhone 6) and smaller laptop (rMB).

    So that's a lot of cycles/wear on the laptop battery that might only be happening because the laptop only has one port.

    Plus, if you have to charge your phone and go somewhere, that leaves you with significantly decreased laptop battery power.

    A lot of times, if I'm traveling, I won't bring a phone charger because I can charge my phone with my laptop. So before I go to bed, I plug the laptop into the wall and the phone into the laptop, and when I wake up they're both 100%. Obviously I'm not going to wake up 2 hours into my sleep in order to switch some cables around to accommodate one port.

    So I would find this a pretty annoying inconvenience too and it's not a joke of an issue that you think it is.

    What I would probably do eventually is buy an aftermarket USB-C charger with two ports so I could plug the laptop and phone into the wall at the same time. This is not super optimal because I find it pretty comfortable to have my phone plugged into my laptop because I often use both at the same time, but oh well. Also I like plugging my phone into my laptop so it can sync, too.
  24. MacBoook160 macrumors 6502

    Feb 9, 2011
    I took a very quick look between the two, and though the Retina display *is* stunning, because I'm currently using an early 2011 MBP, the Air is still an upgrade.

    Two other issues factor in for me: which will have better resale in a few years (fully souped MBA 11 inch 2015 vs. rMB 2015) and when would be reasonably expect a refreshed rMB. As so many of you have pointed out, the 2008 MBA didn't get the improvements one would have hoped for in the first refresh; more likely 2 years post launch.

    Still can't come to a decision, but the conversations sure are interesting.
  25. flur macrumors 68000

    Nov 12, 2012
    Can't this be fixed with a dongle? If you''re plugged in anyway, having the dongle won't make much of a difference.


    Both machines are a compromise. For me, if I had a workable laptop (from work or otherwise) that I could use for most things and all I needed was a media machine, I'd get the rMB.

    I do think that in 2-3 years the rMB will be a capable machine, and there won't be an either-or (or at least not the same either-or) in screen v. power/ports.

Share This Page