Is MBA as practical as netbook?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by Zisa, Mar 31, 2009.

  1. Zisa macrumors member

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2009
    #1
    I have a dilema. I am a full Mac convert. I am looking for a secondry "computer" to lug around with me wherever I go. Analysing my movements, I would like to access my emails and do some office activities (predominantly iWorks, FileMaker Pro and Freeway Pro) in the following situations:

    1. At coffee shops, waiting for my wife in shopping malls
    2. On the train and tube (travel twice week, 90 minutes each way)
    3. In hotels

    This is going to sound like "spoilt brat syndrome", as I already have a 15" PowerBook, which I can address points 2 and 3. However, for point 1, which is quite frequent - which of the following would you go for:

    a. MBA (second hand for £500)
    b. NetBook (c £350 for a decent model)

    The only things swaying me towards the Windows netbooks are the free machines you get if you subscribe to a mobile broadband contract. However, you get free Wifi in most places/coffee shops these days, anyway, don't you?
     
  2. antonioanmar macrumors member

    antonioanmar

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    Location:
    Albacete (Spain)
    #2
    Really, i think that the main target for MBA is the one that you describe.
    I have the lower rev.A, and it is working perfectly for the kind of things that you want to do, and very soon i will get the top rev.B, because since i have my MBA i never carry my alu. Macbook (i am using it like desktop computer now).
    Concerning to the Wifi, it depends of your living area. Where i live. mostly of the caffe shops now have free Wifi for the use.
     
  3. Airforcekid macrumors 65816

    Airforcekid

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    #3
    I say go for the air since your going to be on for more than 30min at a time. You also get more power duo core instead of an Atom Proccesor.
     
  4. Scottsdale macrumors 601

    Scottsdale

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    #4
    I rarely recommend the original MBA, but it could be perfect for you. The original MBA has some problems, but it is beautiful to look at and super lightweight to carry around. I think if you buy it refurbished from Apple, and you install Cool Book on it, you would have a really nice secondary Mac.

    Definitely look into Cool Book, as it seems to be the common simple fix to the original MBA's overheating problems. Also note that you can buy the refurbished for $999 to $1299 from Apple.com.

    It's a lot of money for a netbook, but it sure is pretty and nice to keep Mac OS X in your sights.

    Good luck.
     
  5. iann1982 macrumors regular

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    Jul 9, 2008
    Location:
    Leicester, UK
    #5
    They're on the Apple store for £750 refurbished - might be more than you want to pay, but you get 12 months Apple Care with it.

    I had a Dell Mini 9 with Ubuntu on it for a few days, didn't get on with it, the main issue was the battery, it fully discharged after 12 hours even when in sleep mode, stuttered on YouTube / iPlayer videos, the keyboard was cramped..

    I got an Air as a replacement to my Macbook and have used the rev A and B, I think the rev A would be perfect for what you want. I
     
  6. Halon X macrumors regular

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    Sep 22, 2005
    Location:
    Malibu, CA
    #6
    I own both Rev A and B MBA's as well as a couple Dell Mini 9 netbooks, one running OSX.

    Two key differences between the two are performance and size. The atom processor in most netbooks is very capable and will easily handle your needs. The biggest difference between the two is the size and as portable as the MBA is, it cannot touch the portability of a 9" netbook, especially for option 1. I keep one of my Mini's in my car so it's always with me and have used it many times in just those situations.

    If you are looking at running OSX, I'd recommend the Dell Mini 9 as all hardware and functionality is supported out of the box. 2GB of RAM are a must and with a 64GB SSD, there is tons of space for files and whatever else you might need. One of the nice things about the Dell compared to other netbooks is that it's 100% solid state so it's absolutely silent.

    Let me know if you've got any specific questions comparing the two. I'll try and dig up a photo of the two side by side.
     
  7. Halon X macrumors regular

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  8. pr5owner macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2007
    #8
    i wouldnt get the 64SSD from dell, its a peice of crap, get the SMALLEST SSD from dell, take it out and throw it away, then install a RUNCORE SSD and you'll be set. (i recommend getting ram from somewhere else too)
     
  9. zedsdead macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2007
    #9
    The Macbook Air is a perfect companion computer and great at portability. I say go for it.
     
  10. notjustjay macrumors 603

    notjustjay

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    Sep 19, 2003
    Location:
    Canada, eh?
    #10
    My only issue with the MBA is the battery life. It's decent, but some of the newer netbooks are getting 9-13 hours now. It means you just pull out the computer and start using it whenever you want, without playing the "gee, should I really use up the battery now, what if I need it later" game.

    Of course, a netbook wouldn't run iWork or other OS X apps (unless you hack it) so if that's a primary factor, get the MBA.

    For me, I wanted the battery life, and I don't mind Windows, so I bought an Asus 1000HE with 9 hour battery.
     
  11. pr5owner macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2007
    #11
    if you really need more battery life (since all im seeing is the battery life complaint in this thread) you can get an MSi Wind and get the extended battery, that way you can swap batteries if you need too, the wind is 100% compatible with OSX (as with the dell)

    if you already bought the 1000HE, you can get a 13000mAH battery which boosts your battery life to over 20hrs, 14ish for the big battery, but since you already have your stock battery you add 7-8ish hours to that 14.

    im saying 7-8 if you have full wifi and brightness on.

    with the MBA you cannot do anything about the battery life, your just stuck with what apple gives you
     
  12. Constantinos macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2008
    Location:
    Athens, Greece
    #12
    The ergonomics of the 13 inch screen and the large keyboard are very seriously weighing towards the MBA. Of course the large battery capacity of netbooks (not all - you have to be careful there to get the right type of battery with it) cannot be matched with the good but not that great autonomy of the MBA. Other than that, it may sound strange but MBA is much more convenient and well balanced to carry than most netbooks, while the weight is very similar.

    My personal experience includes the use of an MBA rev A, now rev B and three netbooks which I was tempted to get out of curiosity (Toshiba NB10, LG X110, Samsung NC10 - the last one I have kept as of now). Nevertheless I cannot keep myself far from the MBA because once you try to type even a small email or read a web page in the 10 inch screen (let alone the smaller screen ones) compared to the MBA you will find our what I mean.
     
  13. notjustjay macrumors 603

    notjustjay

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    Canada, eh?
    #13
    Were it not for the proprietary MagSafe connector, you could also buy one of these devices to prolong the life of the MBA battery (or netbook, or any other device). Perhaps someone will see fit to adapt a MagSafe compatible version. I wouldn't mind carrying one of these in the car or backpack.
     
  14. Zisa thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2009
    #14
    I have just lost two bids on eBay for the MacBook Air:(

    Doing some more digging. How much are you paying for the 64GB SSD? The cheapest I can find is £160 from Crucial

    Simple arithmetics - Dell 9" with 4GB = £199 + 64GB SSD for £160 = £460. Still shopping for RAM, but the MBA is going for £900 on eBay so far. Might have to wait a bit. Budgeting for £600 for a second hand MBA - not sure how realistic I am, though
     
  15. Zisa thread starter macrumors member

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    Feb 10, 2009
    #15
    Yes, I would love to "hack it", but, I am more than content with Linux. I am still concerned that the Dell's 4GB or 8GB is enough, though
     
  16. Zisa thread starter macrumors member

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    Feb 10, 2009
    #16
    OK - I have just come across people warning me about Rev A? what is that all about, in the real world? Amy I going to end up paying more than a new one, with any repair costs?
     
  17. Scottsdale macrumors 601

    Scottsdale

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    #17
    Where have you been for the last year. If you are going to buy an original MBA, make sure you buy it refurbished from Apple. You get a one year warranty. Also, make sure you read about all of the problems with the original MBA and read about Cool Book. Most have success with undervolting their MBA's CPU with Cool Book software.

    If you get a good one, it can be a lot of fun. Definitely a lot nicer and more powerful than a netbook. Beautiful display and super portable.

    The best way to get a really great MBA is to buy the new revised model. It is completely changed on the inside, but has different components that eliminated the problems. Biggest problem is it costs a heck of a lot more money. And really you don't need a rev B MBA if you want to use it like a netbook or as a secondary Mac.

    Good luck!
     
  18. robeddie macrumors 65816

    robeddie

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    Jul 21, 2003
    Location:
    Atlanta
    #18
    Wait, please clarify. Out of the box? Is that to say that if I put an OSx Leopard install DVD into the Dell, it will install, without having done anything else?

    I thought you have to do some kind of software hack first to get mac osx to install ...
     
  19. notjustjay macrumors 603

    notjustjay

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2003
    Location:
    Canada, eh?
    #19
    They're getting better. According to what I'm reading in those forums, apparently all you need to do now is install one special "hack enabler" to the Dell first, then you just pop a stock OS X Leopard installer DVD into a USB drive and it installs.

    With many other models you still need to find a torrent and download a hacked Leopard disk image.

    Also, the Dell is the one netbook model that is the easiest to get things up and running. Many of the other netbooks can successfully run OS X, but at the expense of a lot of things: sleep, Wifi, ethernet ports, mic/audio jacks might not work. They can sometimes be fixed by a lot of hacking around or by replacing the Wifi card with a different model. Some models don't have workarounds, so you have to accept that you've got OS X installed but, say, with no sound.

    With the Dell, you don't need to do all that. Pretty much everything works.

    This BoingBoing chart shows this pretty clearly. The Dell is the only model that shows all green (everything works).
     
  20. Halon X macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2005
    Location:
    Malibu, CA
    #20
    Exactly what notjustjay said.

    Many of the other brand netbooks require you to replace unsupported hardware (wireless card for example) to get full functionality, will be missing some functionality (because of unsupported hardware) or even will not work at all. The Dell Mini 9 works 100% out of the box using an OEM Leopard disk and and a boot loader.

    Check out the OSX forums on www.mydellmini.com, everything you'll ever need to know is there including tutorials and links to the boot loader.
     
  21. IgnatiusTheKing macrumors 68040

    IgnatiusTheKing

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    Nov 17, 2007
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    das Fort
    #21
    I don't believe the refurb RevA's have the overheating issue. At least, mine and a host of other posters here haven't had it, even without installing Cool Book.
     
  22. antonioanmar macrumors member

    antonioanmar

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2009
    Location:
    Albacete (Spain)
    #22
    It depends. I had a refurb revA (now my girlfriend use it) and never we had overheating problems. Mostly of the refurb. never show this problem (at least this is what i find reading comments of the owners).

    Concerning to the main question of the post, i did use the rev.A and now i am using (since today) the rev.B and if you will use it for the normal works of a laptop, it is a tottanly practical netbook (since i have MBA i never need my alu. Macbook as netbook now it is my desktop computer).
     
  23. Halon X macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2005
    Location:
    Malibu, CA
    #23
    My RevA has zero issues with overheating, Cool Book is not installed.

    I can simultaneously play multiple YouTube videos and an iTunes video, all while doing other tasks. The fans will ramp up but the laptop will not overheat or shut down a core as it did early on. I'm not sure if it changes to hardware later in the product cycle or tweaks in the software but the Rev A is definitely much more stable than it was when first released.
     

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