Macbook Air 2017 - what kind of buyers?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by lillefot, Jul 7, 2017.

  1. lillefot macrumors newbie

    lillefot

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    #1
    A friend is considering buying a Mac for e-mail, word processing and Internet. She travels in her job, so she wants something light and small.

    I have been checking out the smaller models of notebook Macs. The rMB is smaller. The rMBP is more powerful. Both have a better screen. But she is on a limited budget.

    So for her use, I'm thinking the cheapest MBA will do fine.

    Those of you who have a newer MBA, do you agree?

    What kind of buyers would you recommend the MBA for?

    Do you think that the upgrade to 1.8MHz will be possible to notice, given her use?

    Sorry if this topic has been discussed over and over, but I didn't find any recent threads on this, since all the June upgrades of the notebooks.

    TIA!

    PS! She is sure she wants a Mac, and is reluctant to hit the second hand market...
     
  2. dwfaust macrumors 68040

    dwfaust

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    #2
    If her use will be simply for "e-mail, word processing and internet", then the MBA would be perfect...

    MBA v MB
    • The MBA is less expensive, and has a better processor, better battery life is comparable. The MBA has more ports and an SDXC card slot.
    • The MB has a slightly smaller, but retina screen. The MB has the new keyboard that seems to be a lightning rod issue - some love it, some hate it.
    Compare the specs on the Apple website:
    https://www.apple.com/mac/compare/results/?product1=macbook&product2=macbook-air-13
     
  3. canuckRus macrumors 6502

    canuckRus

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    #3
    How about an iPad plus detachable keyboard as a consideration?
     
  4. Stefan johansson macrumors 65816

    Stefan johansson

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    #4
    Yeah,if it's just for light use like email or such,an iPad Air 2 will do that,and a lot more,and the price is about 1/3 of a MacBook.
     
  5. lillefot thread starter macrumors newbie

    lillefot

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    #5
    Thanks for the input, guys.

    Her word processing and e-mailing is work-related.

    I have an iPad Air 2, but I tend to use my MBP for anything other than internet, a few games and some useful apps. I guess it has to do with having a comfortable keyboard with short cuts, track pad and the file/document handling.

    This is perhaps for another thread in another forum, but is the iPad suitable as a notebook replacement for work purposes? I would think the MBA is the better tool?
     
  6. sracer macrumors 603

    sracer

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    #6
    Generally speaking, no. The iPad is not a suitable notebook replacement for work purposes.

    Web browser. There are times when you might need to use a 3rd party website during the course of work. Mobile OS browsers don't always have the capability to handles those sites.

    Office suite. While it is possible to view and perform light modifications to MS Office docs with the iOS version of Office, a vast majority of functionality is missing.

    Printing. Depending upon your work printing needs, you might not be able to print from the iPad... especially if they are networked printers that require sign in or custom drivers.

    Networked drives. Access to these is highly dependent upon how your IT team set it up.

    These are just a few things to consider.
     
  7. Stefan johansson macrumors 65816

    Stefan johansson

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    #7
    Depends on work type,you can get a bluetooth keyboard stand for the ipad,but IF its much typning and filé handling the MBA is a bit better. My choice would probably be a refurb rMBP or an iPad,depending on what type of work it is.
     
  8. sracer macrumors 603

    sracer

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    #8
    IMO the Macbook Air 13" is the only macbook worth buying these days. Retail stores have regular sales on them. Best buy just had them for $200 off. $799 for the entry-level Air is really a good deal... even with the "ancient" hardware specs.

    My 2014 11" MBA is still going as strong as the day I bought it, but if I had to replace it, it would be the 13" MBA.
     
  9. Boyd01 macrumors 68040

    Boyd01

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    #9
    Just read a story about iOS 11 in the Wall Street Journal, the author focused on whether it will finally make an iPad a laptop replacement. They ended up really missing having a mouse, and found it awkward to keep reaching up from the keyboard to tap things on the screen. Ipads have just never interested me, although I have bought a couple for family members.

    An 11" MacBook Air is still my primary computer, although I have a 2012 quad mini server that I use for video and audio editing and a Windows desktop PC for some specialized software. Used to have a 13" MacBook Air, and it was also a great computer but I really prefer the 11" model. There is just something cool about having all that power in such a tiny package with good performance, a great keyboard, plenty of ports and all-day battery life.

    Personally I can't get very excited about the 13" MacBook Air anymore. It's bigger and heavier than the 11" MBA (having owned both, that difference is greater than you might think based on the specs). If I was buying a laptop today I would be looking at the MacBook Pro (for its power) or MacBook (for its portability). But that's just me - if the 13" MacBook Air fits your needs then by all means go for it. Since your friend is on a limited budget, the MBA is a good choice if the 128gb SSD is big enough (would not be for me).

    BTW, according to EveryMac, there's no such thing as a "2017 MacBook Air". They call it a 2015 1.8ghz MacBook Air, since the only change was the CPU. I seriously doubt that anyone could notice the additional speed of the new model - especially someone who only does "e-mail, word processing and Internet". You might want to save a few bucks and get an Apple refurb of the previous model.

    http://www.everymac.com/systems/app...book-air-core-i5-1.8-13-early-2015-specs.html

    "On June 5, 2017, Apple quietly updated the MacBook Air "Core i5" 1.6 13" (Early 2015) with a modestly faster 14-nm "Broadwell ULT" 1.8 GHz Intel "Core i5" processor (5350U). This model otherwise is identical to late configurations of its predecessor apart from some identifiers."

     
  10. Kekinash macrumors member

    Kekinash

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    #10
    I bought the 256GB version at Best Buy for $999, after a month using only the ipad pro 9.7 as my mine computer and fiding that for my needs I needed a computer, the ipad wasn't enough for several tasks. Runs perfectly fine, didn't felt it slow, and the "low" screen resolution doesn't bother me at all.
     
  11. dwfaust macrumors 68040

    dwfaust

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    #11
    I have a 27" 5K iMac for home and use a 13" MBA When traveling. It's the perfect combination FOR ME. YMMV.
     
  12. organic bond macrumors regular

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  13. lillefot thread starter macrumors newbie

    lillefot

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    #13
    Thanks, guys.

    A follow-up question: When googling, it seems like the MBA 2015 have a fan.

    I assume that is the case also for the models with SSD (if there ever were a MBA with HDD)? If yes, is it noisy? Does it cause any trouble when in a dirty dry environment?
     
  14. niteflyr macrumors 6502a

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    #14
    Good selection of both 11" and 13" MBA's in the Apple refurb store now. Save a few $$

    Still loving my 11" MBA.
     
  15. dwfaust, Jul 8, 2017
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2017

    dwfaust macrumors 68040

    dwfaust

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    #15
    There is no current MBA configuration with a spinning disk... but they do have cooling fans. I can honestly say that I have never heard the fan in mine. Apple has done some great work with the design of the fans, and in the MBA they are, in my experience, extremely quiet. I have never opened my MBA to see how dirty the fan is, but I do spray the vents with compressed air from time to time, just to be safe.
     
  16. Boyd01 macrumors 68040

    Boyd01

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    #16
    You clearly don't use a computer the way I do. :D If you do anything processor intensive, you will hear the fans kick in and they can be quite loud when doing something like ripping a DVD in Handbrake. I think this is actually a big advantage to the MacBook Air, it is able to handle heavy processing loads because of the cooling system where the MacBook with no fans just slows way down to prevent overheating.

    However, if you are really only doing "e-mail, wordprocessing and internet" it certainly is possible that you won't ever notice the fan. But that depends on what kind of websites you are visiting, how many browser tabs are open and how many other apps are running. It is also sensitive to room temperature. In a room at 85 degrees F it takes less cpu load to start the fans than a 60 F room.

    BTW, the original 2008 MacBook Air had a 4200 RPM 80gb hard drive, apparently that was the only device small enough to fit. But it was also available built-to-order with a 64gb ssd, which was an expensive upgrade.
     
  17. Isamilis macrumors 6502

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    #17
    I do like MBA 13" screen size ratio than 11". Also, 13" provides better battery life and larger keyboard (which feels very natural for me).

     
  18. dwfaust macrumors 68040

    dwfaust

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    #18
    As I stated above, I use my 5K iMac for the "heavy lifting" at home... and use the MBA while traveling or away from the house... so, yes, it's typically just email, some light graphics work with Photoshop Elements or web browsing. BTW, those were the tasks delineated in the OP, and upon which this entire thread is presupposed.

    I do agree with you, that if you were to deploy the MBA for DVD ripping or do 4K video rendering that the fan would, no doubt, be activated... and might even generate a fair amount of fan noise... but again, since I don't use my MBA for those purposes, I have not ever heard the fans in mine.

    As always, YMMV.
     
  19. Boyd01 macrumors 68040

    Boyd01

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    #19
    If you read my post above, you'll see that I acknowledged this. But I wanted to provide some insight about the fan, since that question was asked. Again, I think the fan is a good thing because it allows the MBA to run faster under load or in a hot environment.

    The MacBook would be worth considering if you are the kind of user who never hears the fan on the MBA. Of course, there are many other reasons why you might prefer the MBA, as we have already discussed.

    The question about the fan in a "dirty dry environment" is an interesting one. I live out in the woods where there is a lot of dirt, dust and pollen (although it is not dry). No problems with my 4 year old MacBook Air yet. However I do vacuum out my desktop computers periodically and there is a lot of crud on the vents. Had to take apart an old Dell PC a few years ago because there was so much dust inside the processors were overheating.

    There has been discussion in this forum of how to open the MBA and clean it out but not sure I would want to take that risk personally, and as long as it works I don't plan to "fix it if it ain't broke". ;)
     
  20. Bart Kela, Jul 8, 2017
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2017

    Bart Kela macrumors 6502a

    Bart Kela

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    #20
    The newest MBA will be fine for her tasks. Actually, any notebook computer in the past ten years would be able to handle e-mail, word processing, and the Internet.

    Heck, a desktop PC from twenty years ago could do all of this, with an eighth of the resources of my iPhone SE. Or the iPhone 5S that preceded it. And the iPhone 4S that preceded that. That's right, a single-core 32-bit Pentium II running at 400 MHz with 64 MB RAM in 1997 was able to send e-mails, do word processing, and surf the Internet.

    There is nothing your friend needs to do that requires any current vintage notebook computer.

    What do you think people have been doing with the smartphones for the past ten years and their personal computers for the past twenty years?

    The main advantage is that a recent vintage notebook computer will be lighter than models from years back and the battery will last longer. (Also, it will have later generation versions of wireless networking, but that's about all). She could do all she needs swimmingly fine with my four-year old MBA.

    For people who won't be using processor intensive tasks, like frequent 4K video editing, 3D modeling, scientific analysis, heavy gaming. This includes primary and secondary school classrooms which is where I bet most of the current MacBook Airs end up.

    NO

    One thing that has been beaten to death but is probably worth covering since you don't acknowledge it is the vast differences between the keyboard user experience within the three model families: Air, MacBook, Pro.

    Her primary tasks require heavy keyboard use. As has been repeated advised in all sorts of notebook purchase discussion threads, the end user (your friend) is highly advised to walk into a store (Apple Store or other retailer) and try the keyboards of all three systems. I loathe the keyboard of the MacBook. The newest MacBook Pros seem to have included a seemingly improved version of this crummy keyboard, but of the three families, I find that the MacBook Air's keyboard is vastly superior to the MB and the Pro.

    If you are required to type a lot on your notebook computer and you hate the keyboard, you will soon find yourself hating your computer.

    It doesn't matter how noisy the CPU fan is when you are ripping DVDs or editing videos, et cetera ad nauseam because that's not her primary usage. SHE WILL BE TYPING, SHE NEEDS TO LIKE THE KEYBOARD.

    Again, this is a point that has been beaten like a dead horse, but you don't seem to be aware of this very important purchase criteria, which is why it makes sense to repeat this.

    Anyhow, make sure your friend tries out the three systems on her own. You aren't buying for yourself, and you're not an Apple retailer/salesperson, so you need to be very careful about what you suggest to your friend.

    Based on what she is trying to accomplish and how my four-year old MacBook Air is currently performing, I would say that a refurbished MacBook Air from last year or the prior year would still be a valid candidate for your friend's proposed usage case.

    There is absolutely nothing in her usage case that requires a 2017 Mac notebook.

    Heck, my white MacBook 2007 could still do all of this (e-mail, word process, surf Internet), but I recycled it three years ago because the backlight was fading, it was not longer supported on the latest macOS (which wouldn't be an issue for the usage case here), and because I had replaced it with a newer notebook that was sufficient for my use.
     
  21. pika2000 macrumors 68030

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    #21
    Keyword: travel.

    My vote is for the MacBook Air, mainly due to its amazing battery life. The retina MacBook has not matched that yet. If it did, I would then recommend the retina MacBook since it's lighter. But for travel imo battery life is quite critical.
    If you want to buy refurbished one, anything Haswell and newer are great.
     
  22. ignatius345 macrumors 6502a

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    #22
    Yes. Seriously. The 1st generation Retina MacBook keyboard is absolute garbage and the newer one is only marginally better. I bought one, gave myself a solid month to get used to it. I did get used to it... and still hated using it and then got rid of it and went back to my MacBook Air, which I fortunately still had. The keys barely move when you type on them, so there's basically zero tactile feedback. I found myself always slowing down to make sure I was actually hitting all the keys, so typing never became the auto-pilot thing it's supposed to be. They also saw fit to screw up the age-old "inverted T" arrangement of arrow keys so it became impossible to orient your fingers to these keys without looking. Idiots.

    All in all, ruining a keyboard is a shocking thing to get wrong in a device where typing is a primary means of input.

    Other things my old MBA still did better than the Retina MacBook: battery life was still better, it felt faster, Magsafe is a wonderful thing you miss sorely when it's gone, and it's useful to be able to use a USB port while you charge your computer.

    I liked the screen and the portability of the Retina MacBook, but there were so many compromises everywhere else, I couldn't get rid of it fast enough.
    --- Post Merged, Jul 9, 2017 ---
    Exactly my setup. I think it's a perfect combo.
     
  23. AFEPPL macrumors 68030

    AFEPPL

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    #23
    I would avoid the MBA like a swarm of mosquito infested with dengue or chikungunya, its just too hideous to work on with that screen. With or for the workflows you listed' rMB would be where my money went - you wouldnt be able to tell the difference between any of the models (other than visuals).

    Best option - goto the store and try for yourself.
     
  24. Retsiem macrumors newbie

    Retsiem

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    #24
    The mba can do significantly more than just word and browsing.

     
  25. ZapNZs, Jul 9, 2017
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2017

    ZapNZs macrumors 68000

    ZapNZs

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    #25
    Yes. The MBA would be a great match, and especially the older 2015 revision because of its tendency to be on huge sales. For her work, she would not see any major difference between the 2015 MBA and the 2017 (AKA 2015 revision 2) MBA. Consequently, if it were me, I would hunt around for the original 2015 MBA release given sales have gone lower than $700 in some cases and prices in the $750 range are not all that hard to find in the US. In many cases, I feel the MBA is in fact a better match for an individual's needs than the MacBook or MacBook Pro!! We still sell them like crazy. Virtually everyone who buys one loves it.

    I own a MBA, Uni MBP, 2014 retina MBP, and 2016 retina nTB MBP - so I use all of the different screens. For general productivity using standard business-use software in a work environment, I do NOT think there is a significant difference between the MBA's screen and the rMBP's screen (with one exception being the rMBP in a naturally-lit very bright room or outside is far more legible than the MBA.) The rMBP is certainly much nicer and a brilliantly bright and crisp display, but both show colors and both get work done. For someone on a budget looking for a business-capable laptop, the MacBook Air may in fact be a better match than the rMB and rMBP because it is stupidly cheaper, uses a keyboard that many may prefer and arguably is more durable, gets outstanding battery life, and uses portage that is still more common within the enterprise community. The new MBP is great, but the MBA is a proven, capable, solid, and affordable option.

    The cheapest MBA with the 1.6 GHz i5, 8GB of RAM, and 128 SSD will be fine unless she needs more storage. If she does, the Transcend JetDrive Lite is a great way to add 256 GB internal storage for a small fraction of the pricing of buying the larger SSD from Apple.

    Much like the Air Force with the A-10, there's a good reason Apple couldn't kill off the MacBook Air...
     

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