Macbook Air 11 First Impressions

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by st0p., Mar 7, 2011.

  1. st0p. macrumors newbie

    Feb 23, 2011
    Hey Guys,

    My MBA '11 arrived today, largely due to the advice/feedback I got on these forums, so I thought I would give back and provide some quick first impressions of the machine after some brief use.

    Some brief but pertinent info about me, and my intended use of the machine: this is my first Apple computer, which I picked up to supplement a 15' PC laptop I use as a media center/gaming device. The intended use of the air is pretty spartan: writing, blogging, light internet browsing (considering never installing flash), occasional skype conversations and itunes.

    My Specs
    2gb ram
    base processor
    128gb hard drive

    Not sure I can say anything more about this that hasn't already been said: this machine is astoundingly beautiful. You have to see it to believe it, and even then nothing really compares to holding it in your hands. It is compact to the point of absurdity, but it achieves this without sacrificing durability. My 15' inch dell laptop is infinitely more fragile to the touch, with more give/flex at all points than the MBA.

    Mac OSX
    This is my first real use of OSX, so I thought I'd give a synopsis of what I've noticed so far. First of all, coming from a PC, the whole OS is incredibly intuitive. I could see myself buying a Mac for my parents, whose knowledge of computers is incredibly limited, because, compared to Windows 7, this strikes me as incredibly simple. There is definitely going to be an adjustment phase, but it won't be painful by any means, and I have the feeling that learning OSX from Windows 7 would be a lot easier than going the other way around.

    First Impressions
    • Incredible trackpad. It was absolutely unbearable to use the trackpad on my PC; this is so useful I don't see myself ever wanting to use a mouse
    • The widescreen and resolution make for an interesting viewing experience. There isn't a whole lot of vertical scrolling room, which could be problematic once I start doing heavy writing, but the text, though small, is incredibly crisp, and a few hours of use produced no strain on my eyes
    • Heat...Uhoh. I skyped for about two consecutive hours, and there was noticeable heat on the underside of the computer. This is my biggest concern so far. It was absolutely stone cold during light web browsing (blogs/wikipedia), but within half an hour of skyping the bottom was hot enough to be uncomfortable on my lap.
    • I have 2gb of RAM, and while I am still confident that that will suffice for my needs, the very first thing I did with the laptop was open iTunes and transfer my music, and it struggled with this immensely, so the point that iTunes crashed and OSX froze.
    • The included software is great. What a difference to not have terrible bloatware pre-installed. iCal looks great, as does iPhoto, and I look forward to using both extensively
    • A lot of talk has been made about the backlit keyboard...and I can't see why. The screen brightness illuminates enough of the keys to make it useable at night. The biggest issue with any keyboard, especially any laptop keyboard, is the quality and depth of the keys, and I am ecstatic with the MBA keyboard. This is my first time using a chiclet keyboard, and the transition has been incredibly easy. Don't anticipate any problems with long typing sessions
    • Lastly, and this really needs to be said, as sturdy as this thing is, I highly recommend purchasing a case. The lid will scratch pretty easily from contact with a zipper or metal button.

    Thanks again for helping me pick this bad boy out. If anyone has any experience with heat issues (am I the only one who has experienced this level of heat?), I would really appreciate a comment or advice.
  2. firewood macrumors 604

    Jul 29, 2003
    Silicon Valley
    The non-backlit keyboard only looks horrible to someone who has recently used a MacBook Pro keyboard indoors in a non-bright room.

    After using my MBP for awhile, my MBA 11 keyboard look dull, dingy, and hard to see. Pretty bad...

    But after a few days of just using my MBA (which I do a lot because of its fantastic portability) I don't even notice anymore. The MBA 11 keyboard looks great!
  3. OceanView macrumors 65816

    Sep 16, 2005
    Holding out til a new MBA comes with a back lit keyboard option.
  4. st0p. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 23, 2011
    I guess maybe it's one of those things that, once you've had it, you can't live without. Hard for me to understand though: I am typing this in a pitch-black room, with the screen dimmed to 50%, and I can see the keyboard very clearly.
  5. uniforms macrumors regular

    Oct 27, 2008
    South Orange NJ
    Backlit keyboad is an excellent thing to have. I hope to see that in the next upgrade.

    One thing I strongly recommend is exchanging your machine for one that has 4mg of ram. It makes a world of difference. You will see, you will only want to use the mac instead of that PC. If you think this is a remote possibility get the 13" with 4gig of ram. I bought the 13 and the 11. Both with 2 gigs of ram. Then exchanged both for the 4. The extra ram made me feel I had a faster machine than the mbp I had. After working with both I found that the 13" made the most sence.

    Good luck with your mac!
  6. impulse462 macrumors 68000


    Jun 3, 2009
    When you say "skyping" you mean video chatting right? This has happened to me as well. Using the front-facing camera just results in a high CPU-usage which, in turn, jacks up the CPU temperature.
  7. JS77 macrumors regular

    Jun 18, 2008
    Ditto. As soon as Apple update the AIR with a backlit keyboard, I'll be buying.
  8. Patrick946 macrumors regular

    Jun 21, 2009
    Rather than installing Flash, you can use Chrome's Flash plugin.

    via Daring Fireball.

    I have click to flash on my current macbook, but I'm going to use the Chrome plugin when I get my new air.
  9. Rob.G macrumors 6502


    Jan 17, 2010
    While I do miss the backlit keyboard, it's ONLY because it looks sharp. I touch type, so I don't actually NEED it. In fact, I think the MBA11's keyboard has a superior feel to that of my 17" MBP.

    I love this little thing. It actually gets more use than my MBP, because it's so portable. I rarely touch my iPad anymore. The MBP stays at home hooked up to a second monitor and the Air goes with me almost everywhere. For 99% of what I do, the MBA is faster than my MBP. The key is the SSD. I can only imagine how freakin' fast the new Sandy Bridge MBP must be with an SSD in it.

  10. The Catalyst, Mar 8, 2011
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2011

    The Catalyst macrumors 6502

    Dec 4, 2009
    I couldn't agree more. After owning/using a backlit keyboard on my previous MBA models, I couldn't see buying a new laptop without that feature. Do I need a backlit keyboard? Probably not, as I can type without one, but I do like the feature when I'm using a macbook in a dark meeting taking notes. I'll be holding out too.
  11. WesCole macrumors 6502a

    Jul 1, 2010

    I can't believe they left this option out. Hopefully a revision will happen soon because I am starting school again this summer and would love to get one at an education discount. :)

    Also wouldn't mind an i3 with dedicated graphics, either...
  12. Monkey194545 macrumors member

    Jul 30, 2010
    I hope it doesnt happen soon because my 11in 4gb ram just came in today! :cool: :D (but the wife is actually letting me sell it when the sb ones come out!)
    I don't think the new ones will have a back-lit keyboard (battery life and room being the reasons). Also, it will have at least an i5. The SB i3's are just renamed Celerons (crappy). I really can't see a dedicated graphics card. The 320m isn't even dedicated, it's shared.
  13. gglockner macrumors 6502


    Nov 25, 2007
    Bellevue, WA
    It also doesn't come with a pony (or is that an iPony?).

    The MacBook Air is a fantastic little computer. Weighs very little, very powerful, fits practically anywhere. Of course we expect more powerful models in the future. But to say that you won't buy one because it doesn't have a backlit keyboard is just silly.

    My Mac Pro doesn't have a backlit keyboard either. And it's a very powerful machine.
  14. JS77 macrumors regular

    Jun 18, 2008
    Yeah, but I bet you don't ever take your Mac Pro onto a Flight, or place it on your lap while watching TV in the evenings :D

    Before I switched to Mac a few years back, I never understood the excitement about back-lit keyboards. Now, I can honestly say it's a "killer" feature (in my opinion) and I couldn't buy another laptop without it! I'm so surprised more laptop vendors haven't started doing it.

    Anyway, once the Air is updated with it, I'll be buying. Until then, my 2007 MBP is doing fine :)
  15. Bye Bye Baby macrumors 65816

    Bye Bye Baby

    Sep 15, 2004
    i(am in the)cloud
    I want core i7, 4GB RAM and backlit keyboard.
    I will then be a proud owner of a Macbook Air.
  16. macrumors 6502

    Jan 10, 2008
    The Netherlands
    and a 3G internal module !!!

  17. gglockner macrumors 6502


    Nov 25, 2007
    Bellevue, WA
    And a pink pony? Sounds like you guys will never be satisfied.

    I had a Rev C MBA, which I traded for an 11" MBA when it was released. I thought I'd miss the backlit keyboard. I don't. Especially since I'm a touch typist.
  18. The Catalyst, Mar 9, 2011
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2011

    The Catalyst macrumors 6502

    Dec 4, 2009
    Different strokes/different folks I guess. Sounds like you went to a newer model for a smaller footprint and more power, as those were big selling points to you. For me personally, I really didn't need the bump in speed/instant on feature on the new MBA models, so I choose to stick with a 2.13 Rec C for the time being. I think the backlit keyboard was a fantastic feature integrated into the original MBA's (and I think the only reason they took it out of the current line was profit margins).

    The new 11" Air is a glorious little machine, I just wish they would have kept the backlit keyboard feature on it.
  19. gglockner macrumors 6502


    Nov 25, 2007
    Bellevue, WA
    Agreed, I just want the whining to stop. Just one point: the 11" is less powerful than the 13" (even the SSD-equipped Rev C). I was willing to make that sacrifice because I have a powerful desktop Mac.
  20. liquid stereo macrumors regular

    Jan 21, 2005
    Saint Paul
    what's with the focus on backlit keyboard?

    I've used the back-lit keyboards since they were first used in the Aluminum PowerBook G4. (On my last MBPro — 2006 vintage — I've turned it on maybe twice.)

    All this "drama" about the lighting makes me wonder if the "potential buyers" actually (a) work on the machine and/or (b) need the machine.

    Just curious.

  21. iRun26.2 macrumors 68000

    Aug 15, 2010
    It was a very nice feature! I thought it was one of the things that made Apple computers stand out from the crowd.

    I really miss the backlit keyboard. Whenever I use my 11.6" model in bed while my wife is sleeping I am angered that Apple took it out. I wonder if they will bring it back and put it in both models (or just in the 13.3" version). I sure hope it is offered in the 11.6" upgrade. I'd pay $200 for that option! :)
  22. hamean macrumors member

    Dec 16, 2010
    Are you guys 'hunt and peckers'? I don't usually stare at the keyboard while typing; that's why they put the notches on 'j' and 'f'....

    Anyway, I'm glad it doesn't have a backlit keyboard as (1) it's one less thing to draw power and (2) it's one less thing to make the computer bigger and thicker. But to each his own i guess.
  23. treynolds macrumors regular


    Feb 17, 2010
    The track pad experience with the Air is one of the resons why the main input device on my iMac is no longer a mouse, but the 5" x 5" TrackPad. It's a thing of wonder.

    As for the backlit keyboard, would be nice, but having never had a notebook with it, I don't miss it. I'm a hunt and peck guy, never have learned to type...

    Oh yeah, the review by the OP was spot-on. Great job!
  24. RockPortTech macrumors regular

    Mar 10, 2011
    South Texas
    Hi there and congrats on your MBA. How much of the actual SSD was available for your use? I have read that the OSX and paging defaults take up like 20Gb? Is this true?
  25. relachs macrumors newbie

    Mar 12, 2011

    I have the same problem problem with my MacBook 13" late 2006. (I know its way older than yours). I searched for a solution but none worked for me. Last night I tried to fix this myself. I wrote a little java program that does nothing else than x++ every x miliseconds (you can pass x as an argument so you can adjust the cpu load). For me 1 milisecond works great (no fan rotation increasement, cpu whine is nearly gone (it still makes (another) sound but you can only hear it if you listen to it explicitly and its very quiet), while 0 milisecond makes the fans go crazy after a while.

    Source (you can compile it yourself if you dont trust me):
    import java.util.logging.Level;
    import java.util.logging.Logger;
    public class Dontwhine {
         * @param args the command line arguments
        public static void main(String[] args) {
            int x = 0;
            while(true) {
                try {
                } catch (InterruptedException ex) {
                    Logger.getLogger(Dontwhine.class.getName()).log(Level.SEVERE, null, ex);
                if(x > 10) {
                    System.out.print("."); x = 0;
    OR download the attached zip (there you will find the code i posted in a .java file and the compiled java file .class

    After that open up a terminal and navigate where you Dontwhine.class file is located.

    Then type: java Dontwhine 1
    or: java Dontwhine 2
    any positive (including 0) and < 32000 or so will work.


    Attached Files:

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