How do you use and what do you use with your MBA? The ultimate set up?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by entatlrg, Mar 14, 2009.

  1. entatlrg macrumors 68040

    entatlrg

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2009
    Location:
    Waterloo & Georgian Bay, Canada
    #1
    I'm enjoying my new MacBook Air a LOT and am wondering what I should get to go with it, if anything. My MacBook Air handles 90% of my tasks, the new rev b is surprisingly fast.

    In addition I have an HP desktop with a 24" HP (2408) display, 11 months old, I'd consider retiring it but I'd have to replace it with a something, I use a second/stationery computer for downloading torrent files etc

    The options I'm looking at are:

    1. Doing nothing, using the MBA and the HP desktop as they are now.

    2. MBA plus 24" ACD - I've had the ACD monitor for 7 days now, really like it, no complaints other than it will only work from my MBA.) I'm still trying to decide if I 'really' need it or if I'd be better off to buy an iMac or Mac Mini to complete the set up.

    3. MBA plus iMac, I'd exchange the ACD and spend a little more money and get the new iMac. I'd set it up so that while at my desk I'd work off the iMac and when away from the desk I'd use the MBA, network them so they all worked together.

    4. MBA plus Mac Mini
    They're a great price and another desktop option although I'd have to add a monitor, could use the monitor from the HP and sell the HP tower or go all out and buy a Mac Monitor.

    5. The rep at the store suggested a MBP instead of a desktop to go with my MBA so I can move it around easily and the MBP has desktop performance...

    Since my MBA is quick and handles 90% of my tasks and I like the keyboard, screen, size and weight so much I'm going to use it as my primary computer, that much I've decided on. The ACD goes with it perfectly, I'm not likely going to return/exchange it. To replace the HP with something I'm not sure, even at my desk I can use the MBA as a desktop if I like with the ACD display.

    I guess the real question is to go all Apple or not ...

    What's your set up like? What would you recommend?
     
  2. Brooklyn8 macrumors member

    Brooklyn8

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2009
    #2
    I just picked up a used MBA Rev. A. It pretty much does everything I need that doesn't require graphics power. For games or CAD I have a PC desktop with an 8800GT. What is the 10% of stuff you do on your desktop? That may dictate if you should keep it as is, or what direction you could head in.
     
  3. entatlrg thread starter macrumors 68040

    entatlrg

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2009
    Location:
    Waterloo & Georgian Bay, Canada
    #3
    on the HP desktop I mostly use it for downloading torrent files, Microsoft Publisher (although I think I just found a good mac replacement), also use it as a server and for back up, by far I like to type on my MBA and I like the ACD ACD and Apple keyboard as well.
     
  4. dubhe macrumors 65816

    dubhe

    Joined:
    May 1, 2007
    Location:
    Norwich, UK
    #4
    Personally the MBA fulfils all of my needs, if I had the money I would buy the apple 24" LED display, I could plug my superdrive, external usb 'media' drive and a keyboard into it and I would have the perfect set up.

    I might actually buy it in the summer, the wife has a MB too so she could also use the display. Just with a Baby on the way I need to work out where in the apartment to put it :)
     
  5. Constantinos macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2008
    Location:
    Athens, Greece
    #5
    Going all the way Apple has distinct advantages since all machines "talk" to each other much better.

    I have started with a Mac Mini (2 years ago) to be used as a media player in the home theater setup. Then got enticed by the platform and now I have moved into two MBAs (Rev A first, Rev B now) an iMac for my daughter and 8 months ago replacing also the main home computer with a MacPro.

    The current setup is that MBA Rev B does under Mac OS X 90% of my professional needs (word processing / spreadsheets / presentations / mind mapping and of course email and web browsing), the other 10% being handled in WinXP under Parallels 4.0 (the SSD / Rev B MBA runs XP under Parallels extremely well), the reason being to ensure 100% compatibility with other colleagues work who are still "trapped" in XP ;) - unfortunately Microsoft Office is not fully in Sync among Windows Office 2003, Windows Office 2007 and Mac Office 2008 (especially in the support of greek fonts).

    Mac Mini (even the old version with the integrated graphics chip) is an excellent media player for everything except 1080p video (720p is handled quite well) provided you increase memory to 2GB and store your media in a NAS or other intranet disk device to have as much storage as you need.

    MacPro with ample memory (I use 10 GB) is really THE workhorse for intensive computational work (HD video editing, Divx to DVD conversion and vice versa).

    I know that the switching question (and cost) is an issue but I really cannot remember now the life before Mac OS X, at the time when the home network included a Windows machine (in the role undertaken now by the MacPro), when of course file sharing could work but you had to think of all sort of incompatibilities and solutions (e.g. NTFS handling, network setup for each machine to see the others, etc). If you think in a different perspective the cost incurred to switch is offset by the ease and speed of doing things under Mac OS X (and if you absolutely need Windows for the odd task, then Parallels is only a "click" away!).

    All the best in whatever you choose to do!
     
  6. kinkster macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2008
    #6
    The mini seems like the most logical choice to me.
     
  7. entatlrg thread starter macrumors 68040

    entatlrg

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2009
    Location:
    Waterloo & Georgian Bay, Canada
    #7
    Thanks for the advice so far.

    I think I have an idea. What if I bought the new Mac Mini and used it with my ACD. This way my MBA would never be tethered to a monitor and I would always have my Air in it's true form, the way it's meant to be used - anywhere :)

    I'd network the two via Time Capsule and then I'd have the Mini and ACD on the desk and the Air could be used on the desk at the same time, on couch, at the coffee shop, office etc.

    The mini with the highest spec's I'm sure would be adequate for movie downloads, video editing, design work etc.

    The only benefit of the iMac is that it would leave the ACD if I wanted to hook it up to my MBA ... but that might be overkill...

    Good idea?
     
  8. ltsching macrumors member

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2008
    #8
    If downloading torrents is important to you, I would keep the HP. In my unscientific experience, bittorrent clients are noticeably slower on my macs than my pc, an IBM ThinkPad. I use my Rev. A MBA as my primary computer and use the PC for torrents only.
     
  9. sangosimo Guest

    sangosimo

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2008
    #9
    I use the macbook air rev b as a netbook with a 13.3inch screen.
     
  10. hayduke macrumors 65816

    hayduke

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2005
    Location:
    is a state of mind.
    #10
    Why do you want another computer? It can be a serious pain to keep things segregated or synchronized between the two. If the MBA suits your computing needs, then I would keep the 24" screen and use that when you are "desk bound." I would spend money a good back-up system to go with your Time Capsule, more drive space, nice speakers, good printer/fax/scanner (laser? color laser?, GPS, good head phones, iPod Touch, bluetooth keyboard, nice mouse, software, etc. I just don't see a compelling reason to buy a second machine for the situation you've described.

    Now if you want to set up a home entertainment system, then that is a different story...
     
  11. darngooddesign macrumors G3

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2007
    Location:
    Atlanta, GA
    #11
    You can't use a laptop as a netbook. It either is or isn't a netbook, and the air is not a netbook.
     
  12. marold280 macrumors 6502

    marold280

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2008
    #12
    why cant you use it as a netbook. there is nothing stopping you. Thats a ridiculous statement
     
  13. sangosimo Guest

    sangosimo

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2008
    #13
    "netbook" is a word that describes a type of notebook computer. If I use the air for cloud applications, browsing, and other low power general purpose tasks I am using it as a netbook.

     
  14. kinkster macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2008
    #14
    If your MBA is your main machine I would use that one with your ACD, not the torrent box.

    If I were you I would probably sell the HP and it's screen and get a mini with some cheep 15-17 LCD. And keep the MBA with it's ACD as your main machine.
     
  15. Airforcekid macrumors 65816

    Airforcekid

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2008
    Location:
    United States of America
    #15
    5

    :apple:I do number 5 its the perfect setup power and portability ALL the time. Go 17 inch if you can. :apple:
     
  16. entatlrg thread starter macrumors 68040

    entatlrg

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2009
    Location:
    Waterloo & Georgian Bay, Canada
    #16
    Thanks for the suggestions.

    I agree with what some of you mentioned. To use my MBA and ACD as my main machine. For now it's also likely best to keep the HP for downloading etc, it's doing the job fine.

    I can't believe the little MBA can actually handle all my work load, that disbelief is why I'm thinking I still need to look at more computer options, lol.

    For my needs the MBA and ACD is the perfect set up. When the HP need's replacing I'll see what's new with the Mini's and iMac's, until then I have an efficient system that's a pleasure to use.

    It's reading and researching here on this forum that lead me to try the MBA in the first place, I love it! It's further reading and advice here that lead me to try the ACD, it's incredible, another great purchase.

    So Thanks, this forum is a large part of the reason that I now have the best computer set up I've had to date!
     
  17. zer0tails macrumors 65816

    zer0tails

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2008
    Location:
    Canada
    #17
    I use my MBA as my ultraportable. Tethered to nothing but its power cable when needed. It goes with me everywhere and is not confined to any desk.
     
  18. bossxii macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2008
    Location:
    Kansas City
    #18
    People don't believe the MBA can handle their computing needs because they don't realize how little/or how much machine they really need. People buy on spec's so they can brag to their friends about the spec's. Most people don't need anything near what they buy. I've used a MBA for everything I've done from email to video editing, it works for it all and does it well. Windows users are always in a mind frame they need a ton of hardware to keep the MS crapware running, then use OSX and realize OSX will do the job of windows with nearly half the computing power.

    The MBA Rev B with SSD will blow away my windows desktop with a 2.4 C2D, 4gigs, 7200 rpm drive. SSD being the big part of it but even the processer due to 6 megs of L2 Cache and faster FSB makes a difference.

    Rev A and Rev B are night and day in terms of hardware and performance. The stable Rev A's do make great "netbooks" the Rev B's do a very nice job of doing nearly anything you ask of it. The torrent issue is one of space, so I agree the MBA is not an option for that type of use.
     
  19. darngooddesign macrumors G3

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2007
    Location:
    Atlanta, GA
    #19
    A netbook is a type of laptop, a low cost, under 11" laptop, which the Air is obviously not one, its is not a kind of computing activity. Its like saying you use your station wagon as a sub-compact car. You can drive both, but your wagon is not a sub-compact.
     
  20. Scottsdale macrumors 601

    Scottsdale

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2008
    Location:
    U.S.A.
    #20
    I use my MBA as my Primary Mac. I have a rev B with 1.86 GHz and SSD. For me, as well as everyone I know that has a rev B MBA, the rev B is a fully capable MAC! It does not need to be a "second" computer to any other Mac for MOST Mac users. Maybe a Mac Pro user, maybe as secondary to only people who want a mobile Mac. However, the MBA is very powerful and capable as a desktop computer. With my way of thinking, most people should sell their iMac or "other" Mac and migrate to the MBA with SSD, and a 24" ACD.

    The 24" ACD really makes the MBA feel like a desktop computer. Not to mention, it has ALL of the cables built in for power and to use as the USB hub. I feel my setup is PERFECT, however I am thinking of making a small change.

    Right now, I use my MBA as my primary Mac, and it functions as a desktop computer while using with my 24" ACD. I have a wireless KB, and a Bluetooth Logitech Mouse which is silver. I have an iPhone, iPod, and Camera plugged into my ACD. I also use an AirPort Extreme Base Station AND I have a USB printer and a hard drive attached to the AirPort Extreme Base Station. That allows me to move around files as my MBA's 128 GB SSD is just a little too small for my media files.

    My kids use a v2,2 MBP as their media and gaming machine. I also use Windows on it for a client application one day per month.

    For my setup, I was thinking an Apple Media Center Server would be awesome. Then, I would get rid of the MBP. Since Apple seems to be dissing all of us who want this product, I guess we are forced to consider the Mac mini. Since my 24" ACD will also work with a Mac mini, I have considered letting my kids use the 24" ACD with a Mac mini for all of their gaming and media watching/listening. The problem is there are two kids, and currently ONE MBP... and I refuse to let them use my al. MB, which hasn't been touched for months, and I refuse to let them use my MBA, for obvious reasons.

    So, while I should sell the MBP and buy a Mac mini, I think I am going to buy a Mac mini and use it as a media server. I think I will plug it into the ACD and also use with LCD TV.

    If you wanted to add a computer to make a "system" of sorts, I think the 24" ACD along with a Mac mini makes a LOT of sense. The Mac mini can be set to use the ACD whenever you are downloading files and etc and can always be the file server and media file server. The power cable from the ACD can always charge your MBA even when using the ACD with the Mac mini.

    As a desktop plus notebook plus display setup, I think the best route is MacBook Air, Mac mini, and 24" ACD. Can always use both separately. Can always leave your MBA's charger in your notebook bag. Can always make your MBA a desktop in a one computer system while allowing a Mac mini to serve your media and downloading of torrent needs.

    My two cents.
     
  21. entatlrg thread starter macrumors 68040

    entatlrg

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2009
    Location:
    Waterloo & Georgian Bay, Canada
    #21
    Scottsdale - yes this morning when I posted this adding the Mac Mini was what I was leaning towards. The idea being, I'd use the Mini and ACD together and not use the ACD my MBA ... I'd communicate with the two machines via the network and leave the MBA untethered, ready to grab n go.

    Then as was mentioned above it can be a pain to work between two computers, one is easier by far, once I thought about it I agree. Therefore I've decided I am going to use "one" computer for work and that will be my MBA. The Mini if added would replace my HP and be used for Entertainment, surfing and emails. Therefore I would 'not' like to share the ACD between the Mini and the MBA, it wouldn't be convenient if the mini was in use when I wanted to use the ACD with my Air for example

    But I think I've ruled out adding the mini to my set up for now. Another reason for that is media center use as you mentioned. I have my HP hooked up to a 24" monitor via HDMI and also a 37" Panasonic Vierra, and I have a long HDMI cable going to my 65" Vierra to watch movies direct from the pc.

    Had the mini or iMac had HDMI ports the decision would be easier. I'd of been more than willing to try the Mac for my entertainment purposes, but that point alone compared to how easy it is to plug in TV's and Monitors to my HP makes me think I should just leave things as they are for now.

    Plus, since I've ruled out sharing my ACD between a Mini and my MBA the next thing I'd look at is the iMac, but that's more money and I wouldn't really gain or be able to do anything that I'm not already (conveniently) doing, so really there's no point at this time to do anything except continue to enjoy my MBA and ACD :)

    On a side note, I realize Apple has their own idea and directions planned with their mini display port .... but imagine how many consumers they would of made happy if they would of added HDMI ports to some of their computers, at the very least the Mini ... they would of pleased a LOT of consumers if nothing else ... if Apple has a better idea or way than HDMI, great, but they should of given us what's popular now until their idea took off ... hooking up to a TV or another monitor is a pain in the *ss ... whereas HDMI 'plug and play' is super easy, I really don't get why Apple wouldn't it.
     
  22. sangosimo Guest

    sangosimo

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2008
    #22
    Netbooks can be over 13 inches and ha e established use patterns, so I can use a MacBook air a netbook. A suv can be used as a minivan (not a suv) to haul people or a truck (not a suv) to haul stuff. Minivans and trucks both have established usage patterns that help describe how the suv is used.
     
  23. frogcat macrumors member

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2007
    #23
    I've actually been playing around with the idea of getting a 'headless' macbook pro. I've seen some go for around $400. These things just have broken LCDs, which seems like an easy enough fix, but I don't even want it for that. I just need some type of desktop performance.

    Anyone here who has the SSD version answer a newb question for me: Does that in anyway affect game performance (for instance I've been playing Left 4 Dead on my MBA)?

    Thanks.
     
  24. lucidmedia macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2008
    Location:
    Wellington, New Zealand
    #24
    I have a macbook air (rev. B), a mac pro, and a macbook pro as my primary computers.

    The MBA entirely replaces the macbook pro for me... so I would point you to get the mac mini.

    I use mobile me and dropbox to keep all my computers in a wonderful form of sync.
     
  25. darngooddesign macrumors G3

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2007
    Location:
    Atlanta, GA
    #25
    But that's not the analogy I used

    Netbooks are small cheap computers for basic computing tasks. Ultraportables are full fledged laptops that are smaller and thinner than regular laptops. There is no badge of honor in paying 2 grand for a netbook; however, that does get you a stupid sticker.
     

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