Looking to buy 11" MBA for wife - questions

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by maverick22, Nov 18, 2014.

  1. maverick22 macrumors 6502

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    Sep 30, 2012
    #1
    My wife is a teacher and a graduate student. She will mainly be using it for research and typing documents. She often has several tabs open at a time, is on Blackboard, and might be typing a document at the same time. We are looking to replace our 7 year-old Toshiba laptop. It's pretty slow and bulky compared to laptops available now. We are looking for something portable (11-13"), light, and with a SSD.

    I had some questions:

    1) I'm sure 4GB RAM will do, but in case we want to use it for more in the future, is a 6GB MBA even available?

    2) How is the screen after long use (being non-Retina and only 11")? Sometimes she is up typing and researching until midnight or later. Would the retina be much easier on the eyes?

    3) best place to buy it? (Best Buy, Apple store). I think Best Buy still has interest-free financing for 18 months. That sounds appealing right now as Christmas is around the corner, we are paying for her grad. school, etc. However, I believe Apple has no restocking fee whereas BB does.

    4) We have not used Apple OS on a computer. We have iphones and an ipad. Will the adjustment take very long from Windows to Apple's OS?

    5) any other important factors you all can think of? Does the 11" MBA sound fitting?

    Thanks in advance!
     
  2. balamw Moderator

    balamw

    Staff Member

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    New England
    #2
    1) No 6GB version 4GB or 8GB only. 8GB only available as custom build (i.e. from Apple only).

    2) The MBA11 is my favorite machine mainly due to the portability. The screen is better than many PCs I've worked with and for extended sessions you can always connect it to a large inexpensive 1080p display.

    3) If you want the 8GB option, you're stuck with Apple. Otherwise, go for convenience.

    4) Different people adapt to the change at different rates than others and find different things jarring. I always find that the approach that works for me is not to try and make it work like the other OS, but to figure out the native way it is supposed to work. Much less frustrating that way.

    5) The MBA11 sounds fine for her uses. It really is my favorite box.

    B
     
  3. Mr Kram macrumors 68000

    Mr Kram

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    Oct 1, 2008
    #3
    i have a 11" MBA and i love it. however, i chose this size because i travel a lot and it's perfect for plane trips. if this weren't the case, i'd have opted for the 13". if you buy from best buy, i think you can use the 10% coupon found at the post office.
     
  4. balamw Moderator

    balamw

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    #4
    FWIW I have both a 2013 11" and a 2012 13". For most purposes I reach for the 11". (I should really clean up my sig.)

    B
     
  5. motrek macrumors 68020

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    #5
    How easy a screen is on the eyes probably depends mainly on the "point size", i.e., how many logical points are there per inch.

    You don't want to be squinting at tiny letters on the screen all the time.

    The retina MacBook Pro displays 113 points per inch. (By default.)
    The 11.6" Air is 135 PPI.
    The 13.3" Air is 127 PPI.

    So, text is about 15-20% smaller on the 11.6" Air vs. the retina MBP. You can decide if that's a big enough difference to warrant changing models.

    If your wife does a lot of work in the same physical location, it might warrant getting an external monitor and a wireless keyboard/mouse. You can get a nice big full-HD monitor for under $200 these days and a keyboard/mouse combo from e.g. Logitech is dirt cheap. That way you get all the benefits/comfort of a desktop computer with the portability of the small laptop as necessary.
     
  6. maverick22 thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Sep 30, 2012
    #6
    Thanks for the fast, informative responses!

    She actually works in various places: desk, bed, living room, her parents' house, etc.

    I guess she would have to look in stores for awhile at 11 vs 13.

    We are also considering the MS Surface and Lenovo Yoga series. I assume everyone here will like the Mac better. Are those good options to look at?
     
  7. balamw Moderator

    balamw

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    #7
    I really like the Surface Pro 3, but have yet to get one or use one for a long periods. The Yoga available when I bought the MBA11 was much heavier than the MBA11.

    Both are far too heavy for me to actually use as a tablet for long times being that they weigh a lot more than an iPad Air/Air 2. That is one of the things that continues to hold me back on getting one.

    Just note that Windows 8.1 can be about as foreign as Mac OS X if you are used to an earlier version of Windows.

    B
     
  8. capathy21 macrumors 65816

    capathy21

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    Houston, Texas
    #8
    I think for her usage the 4GB of ram would be more than enough for several years. The 11 vs 13 depends on how much screen real estate she is comfortable with. I use the 13 virtually anywhere like the couch, coffeeshop etc and it has never felt bulky or big. I prefer having those extra two inches of screen real estate. That being said, many prefer the 11 inch and depending on her preferences, she may also prefer the 11. Go to a store where both sizes are present and have her take a look. As far as eyestrain, I don't for see a problem. I went from a retina back to a non retina and have had zero issues with strain or fatigue. I think the operating system will be very easy for her to adjust to. After taking the plunge myself, I cannot stand to mess with Windows anymore. While the other devices you mentioned are nice, they are always lacking in one area or another since they try to be multiple devices in one. Your wife needs a reliable notebook to accomplish serious work on. Either Air model would be perfect for that.
     
  9. Cmd-Z macrumors 6502

    Cmd-Z

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    #9
    If you do decide on 8GB of RAM, you don't necessarily have to go to Apple (e.g. B&H Photo has 8GB 11" in stock, even with stock i5 processor and 128GB SSD).

    You didn't mention storage capacity, and since (like RAM) it can't be upgraded later you might consider the 13" for the SDXC slot to expand capacity someday (the 11" doesn't have this).

    Also consider the keyboard width 11" vs. 13" for long periods of use, the 13" keyboard size and layout may be a significant factor if this is going to be her primary computer.
     
  10. maverick22 thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Sep 30, 2012
    #10
    Thanks for the replies!

    I was wondering if 4gb would be usable a few years from now. My Toshiba laptop has 4gb, it's 7 years old, and has turned pretty slow the past few months.

    More input is welcome! Thanks
     
  11. Meister Suspended

    Meister

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    Oct 10, 2013
    #11
    Don't worry about it. Get a black friday offer for the base 11". You wont regret it. ;)
     
  12. motrek macrumors 68020

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    #12
    I was under the impression that the 11" and 13" MBAs had the same keyboards.
     
  13. Crazy Badger macrumors 65816

    Crazy Badger

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    Scotland
    #13
    My better half doesn't get to choose her laptops as they are my cast offs but after almost 4 years with a couple of 13" MBAs (and using Windows at work) she still doesn't get on with OSX.

    Doesn't use it for much more than mail, web and MS Office so can't see why not, but she's not wired like me :D No problems with iOS but then my 2 year old daughter and 83 year old grandma can use an iPad!!

    Good luck...
     
  14. Cmd-Z macrumors 6502

    Cmd-Z

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    #14
    The body of the 11" is an inch narrower than the 13", which doesn't sound like much but (to me) it made a big difference ... the 11" just felt too cramped for extended use. I believe it has the same number of keys as the 13", but they are scrunched down to make up the 1" width difference.

    Oh, and don't forget the (rated) 33% longer battery life of the 13" (12 hours) vs. 11" (9 hours).
     
  15. motrek macrumors 68020

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    #15
    No, the keyboards are identical. If you look at pictures of the 11" and 13" side by side, you can see that there's simply more space between the left/right edges of the keyboard and the edges of the laptop on the 13" model.
     
  16. Boyd01 macrumors 68040

    Boyd01

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    #16
    Sorry, but I can't agree with you there. B&H Photo, MacMall and probably other places stock the 8gb models. I bought my 11" i7/8gb/512gb MBA in the store at B&H Photo in the summer of 2013. They stock just about every imaginable configuration of Mac…. none of the Apple Stores even had these in stock at the time.

    I have owned both 13" and 11" MacBook Airs and really prefer the 11". As has already been said, it is fantastic for travel. But the 13" is also very nice, maybe a better choice if she doesn't travel much.

    You could also consider an Apple refurb, they have the same warranty as new - base model 11" 2014 MBA is $769 at Apple's online store. I actually just bought a refurb 13" MBA for $800 for a family member (she wanted the 13" screen, like her old computer).
     
  17. maverick22 thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Sep 30, 2012
    #17
    I forgot about refurbished. Someone mentioned above that whatever you get in terms of RAM, that is what you are stuck with. It's not upgradable. Is that correct? If that is the case I think I might want to go with at least 6gb.

    Also I suppose I will need to get Office Suite for Mac. Are there any cheap options? I'm completely new to Mac.

    Thanks for all the info so far!
     
  18. motrek macrumors 68020

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    #18
    You can't get 6GB, you have to choose between 4GB and 8GB. But you're right, it's not upgradeable after you purchase. But that alone is not a reason to upgrade.

    As for Office--you might as well try Apple's software (Pages, Numbers, etc.) which comes for free with new Macs. If you don't like that, you can try LibreOffice which is what I use and it works okay. And if you don't like that, maybe Google Docs? There are a lot of options.
     
  19. Mr Kram macrumors 68000

    Mr Kram

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    #19
    as mentioned earlier, 4GB or 8GB. seriously, 4GB is plenty for what you intend, but it's only $100 more.
     
  20. Danley macrumors member

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    #20
    Recently converted after being a long-time Windows user...

    It's much easier to pick up on OSX when you consider how much of a mess they've made of Windows 8 . Very intuitive on its own.
     
  21. snorkelman, Nov 18, 2014
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2014

    snorkelman macrumors 6502a

    snorkelman

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    #21
    Looking to keep it for the next four years or more? buy it with 8GB RAM

    Last four OS upgrades have saw minimum memory requirements all in the 2GB range - but that ignores the first of those (10.7) coming in at just over 1GB, versus 10.10 coming in at just under 2GB

    With annual upgrade schedules on the OS side being the current norm, then if that trend was to continue you might see the best part of 3GB required come version 10.14 ..which isnt going to leave you a great deal to play with in a 4GB config.

    That doesnt come to pass? Then worst case scenario you've wasted 100 bucks

    Office wise? Pick up an office 365 subscription, or look to see if educational pricing for an 'outright purchase' conventional office licence is an option given her job.

    Dont think MS do a 30 day trial verion any more, if so I'd start with office 365 monthly sub to let you give it a try for 10 bucks or so (and then cancel it immediately). You then have the rest of that first month to play around with it and decide if you want to go down annual subscription route for office, get an educational licence or just abandon it in favour of pages or libre office.
     
  22. motrek macrumors 68020

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    #22
    Huh? How do you figure "just over" and "just under" here?

    Nonsense. When Apple says the minimum amount of memory required for e.g. Yosemite is 2GB, that doesn't mean that Yosemite takes up all 2GB and you won't have any memory left over to run software. It means the OS can be used to do useful work if you have 2GB. And this is confirmed by all the reports of people with 2GB who have upgraded to Yosemite and say that it runs well.

    If you have 4GB of RAM that means you exceed the minimum requirement by a very comfortable margin and you will be good to go for years to come.
     
  23. maverick22 thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Sep 30, 2012
    #23
    Well, I'm confused by the above posts as far as 4gb vs. 8gb.

    I forgot to ask about storage (128-256-512). As this will primarily be a work computer, I don't think there will be much of a need for storing a whole lot other than school/work files (.doc, .pdf, other similar files). So storage is also not upgradeable? What are other good options other than external hard drive/USB drive?

    Thanks so much for the replies. Ya'll have been of great help!
     
  24. motrek macrumors 68020

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    #24
    Don't worry about it. There are a lot of people on this forum who will always recommend upgrading memory no matter how little sense it makes technically.

    I assume this is because in the past (10+ years ago) the memory required by software was quickly outpacing what people typically owned, so the go-to computer upgrade was more memory. Those days are basically over but a lot of people haven't figured that out yet.

    Part of it is also consumer psychology. People see that the lowest amount of memory offered by Apple now is 4GB so they assume that's the bare minimum necessary to get anything done. If Apple still offered computers with 2GB of memory then everybody would be telling you to upgrade to 4GB. It has nothing to do with the actual amount of memory, they just want you to get an upgrade so you won't have the "minimum."

    Don't worry, 4GB is way more than enough for your purposes.

    The size of almost all word processing files, PDF files, etc. is negligible. The base amount of storage (128GB) will be way more than enough to store all your files.

    The things that really start cutting into storage for a typical user are video files, either shows/movies that they download or maybe videos that they take with cameras or phones. Large music collections and large photo collections can also take up space. But for most people I would guess that 128GB is enough, even counting their photo and music collections.

    But if you're concerned, there are a million options for external drives. You can use any external drive you can find at any store, it doesn't have to be an Apple drive or Mac-specific. Costco usually has good deals on small portable external drives, for example.
     
  25. Mr Kram macrumors 68000

    Mr Kram

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    #25
    i agree, the base MBA is more than sufficient.
     

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