Is any Designer/Developer using an MBA 11" without an external monitor?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by DieterRams, Aug 11, 2011.

  1. DieterRams macrumors regular

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    Aug 3, 2010
    #1
    I am deciding between sizes and I will be using stuff like Xcode (with iOS simulators), Adobe CS5 applications, Eclipse, and lots and lots of web browsing (multiple windows, tabs), iTunes, a bit of word processing, PDF viewing, streaming video and streaming music.

    Can an 11-inch Macbook Air be used as a primary and *only* machine? No external monitor connected to it either. I've done search on here to see if anyone has this experience or can give advice as to whether I'd be selling myself short using an 11" instead of 13" but can't quite nail it down. My concern is the screen size of course but also the way your hands would rest while typing (without the edge digging into your wrists/palm), and the smaller trackpad on the 11"

    Does anyone have this experience or offer suggestions? I don't have an external monitor and don't plan on getting one - I prefer to use the notebook on my lap pretty much at all times.

    Thanks!
     
  2. Mmarzex macrumors member

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    Aug 23, 2009
    #2
    I can't say anything for the adobe suite as I've stopped using them since I got my new mba but I do all my design and developing work on my 11" mainly in eclipse and I actually find that It is about the same experience as I had on my old 13" macbook.
     
  3. KlytusLord macrumors regular

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    Apr 11, 2011
    #3
    1366 x 788

    I only use my MBA for writing, but I do have a couple of Acer Timeline that I use for programming, and they run the same 1366 x 788 resolution.

    I have found that for coding, the display is adequate, but when it comes to design elements for an application or website, I do start feeling the constraints of the low resolution and small screen.
     
  4. MRU macrumors demi-god

    MRU

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    #4
    You are going to find it restrictive and if you are doing a lot of photoshop work your going to be zooming in and out a lot. Add to the fact you can only go to 4GB, as a sole machine for design that would be limiting.

    If you can afford to buy a copy of CS5 (assuming you actually bought it) then you would be better off buying a MacBook Pro and upgrade to 8GB, or at a minimum the 13" MBA.

    The MacBookAirs get very hot whilst working on Photoshop, if you plan on keeping it solely on your lap - you better be prepared for toasted hazelnuts .
     
  5. Ubuntu macrumors 68000

    Ubuntu

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    #5
    Might want to look at my thread, linked in my signature. I've included a few screenshots of Xcode on both the 11 inch and 13 inch. The 11 inch is good in my experience (but I do have an iMac where I do most of my coding) except for iPad projects if you're going to be using Interface Builder as you can't see a lot and can't zoom out. It can definitely be used as a primary machine otherwise, although for Photoshop it'd be a bit annoying.
     
  6. Philalbe macrumors 6502

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    #6
    Hi. I'm a freelance graphic designer. My iMac died some months back, so I've been using my MBA as my primary computer. I do have an external monitor, but strangely enough I find I rarely have to use it. I do most of my work in Photoshop, Illustrator and Indesign (some Dreamweaver too). I'm surprised with how comfortable I feel working on my MBA's 13" screen. I suppose it depends on the size of the layout too? For instance my latest project was creating a couple of small newspaper ads for a repeat client. Obviously a 13" screen is more than enough for a 3" layout. I find even with larger layouts though, I still feel rather comfortable. I did, I must admit, start out with an 11", but eventually felt the need for more storage and a bit more screen real estate, so stepped up to a 13" model. Even though it's only a couple of inches difference, the change in screen real estate going from an 11" to a 13" model seemed drastic. Hope this info helps :)
     
  7. jvmxtra macrumors 65816

    jvmxtra

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    Sep 21, 2010
    #7
    No real productive person would consider 11 inch any laptop for full time computing when it comes to multimedia. Carry few more pounds and at minimum do 13 inch.(BARE minimum)
     
  8. jvmxtra macrumors 65816

    jvmxtra

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    Sep 21, 2010
    #8
    Just saw your review. Even though I prefer 13 Mba and 27 iMac combo for serious work and portability, I really enjoyed your through detailed review of very needed 11 vs 13 mba comparison. Thanks and continue the good work man!!!
     
  9. robvas macrumors 68020

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  10. DrNelly macrumors member

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    #10
    To be completely honest, trying to actually design/mock up an iPad app on anything but an 21.5 or 27 iMac is a bit of a stretch, although it can be done.

    I feel very limited for anything graphic related on my 11" MBA i7/1.8/256 but for coding and email/browsing can be very productive.

    If you need to do anything that needs the bigger real state you can always plug it in to a big boy monitor and zip by... :)
     
  11. DieterRams thread starter macrumors regular

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    Aug 3, 2010
    #11
    What about this video showing the iPad simulator? It looks like it fits

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dao6-r58a_Q&feature=player_detailpage#t=142s

    Skip to 2:24 (sorry the time thing isn't working for me for some reason)
     
  12. Ubuntu macrumors 68000

    Ubuntu

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    #12
    Not a problem. Sadly I had to return the MBA 13 earlier than I expected so I couldn't finish the comparison but I'm glad I helped and I totally get you about the 13 inch MBA/iMac combo, thats a nice setup.
     
  13. Ubuntu macrumors 68000

    Ubuntu

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    #13
    Thats true, its scaled down, but if you're going to be using Interface Builder it'll be a bit of a nuisance as you can't zoom out/scale the interface for some reason.
     
  14. DieterRams thread starter macrumors regular

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    #14
    But what about doing so on a 13"? Will it be only a little better or actually be quite usable?

    How do you find the keyboard and trackpad as compared to the 13"? It is noticeably smaller experience with your hands, isn't it? Do you mind that your palms have less room and have to stay above the edge or else it cuts into them? Or that your fingers and thumb need to narrow the gap more to use the trackpad?

    Also, I see you got an iTunes card from talking to the rep, is it because you bought it then and there or did he offer it without you buying anything at the time?
     
  15. Ubuntu macrumors 68000

    Ubuntu

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    #15
    It is a bit better on the 13 inch, yes, as it has more vertical space. The keyboard and trackpad on the 11 inch are great, only the function keys are dramatically different in shape and still no issue and the trackpad provides plenty of space. I prefer the 11 inch even with less room for my palms because it just feels more portable, more mobile, and my wrists don't hurt (I know what you mean, I had an old macbook that would dig into my wrists). Its a really comfortable laptop to use.

    The iTunes card, basically it was because I'd be returning one macbook either way. I had the iTunes card with the MBA13 (which is discounted when you pay, so say -£65 from overall cost) and if I would return this MBA I would just get the amount I paid, thus the card would be cancelled so he sent me one with the MBA11, and then kindly made sure the first card wasn't cancelled, too. I didn't even ask him to.
     
  16. FieldingMellish Suspended

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    Jun 20, 2010
    #16
    You can do it, but at more fatigue. Zooming out, you don't see the total picture. Zooming in, you have less visual context seeing the surroundings of some detail that you are working on.
     
  17. DieterRams thread starter macrumors regular

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    Aug 3, 2010
    #17
    Thanks for your reply. You say the keyboard is fine but do you notice that you have to curl your fingers in a bit more to type with your fingers on home row (F and J) while maintaining your palms/wrists above the edge so it doesn't cut into them on the 11"? In other words, if you switched your hands between the 11" and 13", do you curl your fingers in more on the 11" to use it more comfortably versus the 13" where there's more palm rest room? Or are your fingers in exactly the same position for both?

    Also, if you were me and, given the description of how I'd be using the computer (no monitor) and for what purpose (browsing, coding, designing, etc), while knowing the experience you've had, which would you go with?
     
  18. fireworksdesign macrumors member

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    Apr 8, 2011
    #18

    Here's what I think. I bought a 13inch base model, and I just installed adobe fireworks. It doesn't have a full screen version and the text is somewhat tiny but u can work on it. Im afraid using the trackpad all the time will damage it, so I think i will buy the mighty mouse next week. I think the mouse really helps when you use illustrator, photoshop, etc since it's difficult eding the points or selecting objects using the trackpad.

    The 13 is not heavy , believe me, the 11 is lighter but the screen is much smaller.
     
  19. DieterRams thread starter macrumors regular

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    #19
    I also use Fireworks quite extensively (maybe 90% of the time when using any adobe apps). If text is tiny there on 13" then it ought to be even worse on 11"? Or is that not the case? As for using a mouse, I would primarily be using the MBA on my lap so that wouldn't really work out. Plus, I kind of prefer the trackpad so knowing it's a bit smaller on the 11" may not be great, but perhaps its not that bad? Also what made you go for 13" over 11"?
     
  20. fireworksdesign macrumors member

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    Apr 8, 2011
    #20


    Its small but its readable, unless your like 70 or something. The trackpad is somewhat new to me , if you have used a macbook air/pro in the past using the built in trackpad, so it may be something I need to practice first, but regardless I'm buying the external mouse. Base 13 has a bigger screen/screen resolution as the 11 , its not heavy actually and if your canvas size in fw is around 1500 x 1400 or more, then get the 13. Btw do you use the mac version of fireworks ? Do you know if theres a panel extension for buttons ( undo redo ) bring to front,back toolbars that are present in the windows version ? Im not a big fan of keyboard shortcuts
     

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