Resolved MBA 11 or 13 - University Student Use

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by Seasought, Oct 28, 2011.

  1. Seasought, Oct 28, 2011
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2011

    Seasought macrumors 65816

    Seasought

    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2005
    #1
    I'm planning on picking up a brand new MBA, specifically for everyday university use. Given the work involved, the bulk of my work will be focused on word processing, web browsing, email, mind mapping, and listening to music throughout (primarily online, di.fm, Soma, Pandora, YouTube, etc).

    I'm leaning toward the 13", 1.7GHz i5, 4GB, 128GB SSD over the 11" variants as I've read here that the 13":
    -Has a slightly longer battery life
    -Has a slightly higher resolution
    -Many have mentioned how the 13" is easier to see than the 11", specifically in regard to word processing over long periods of use.

    So, for a student who is carting it around in a Timbuk2 messenger bag, working primarily in a word processor, web browser and email client while listening to music...is the 13 the better choice? Am I overlooking something elementary that the 11 would be better suited for?

    Any constructive thoughts are welcome.
     
  2. miles01110 macrumors Core

    miles01110

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2006
    Location:
    The Ivory Tower (I'm not coming down)
    #2
    It makes no difference past what screen size you want.
     
  3. Seasought thread starter macrumors 65816

    Seasought

    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2005
    #3
    I haven't had a chance to sit down with the 11" and work on it for hours on end...is it rough on the eyes, or is it pretty subjective depending on the person whose using it?
     
  4. aeboi macrumors 65816

    aeboi

    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2009
    Location:
    Bay Area
    #5
    Battery life is the main reason to get the 13". My 13" barely lasts a typical day of lectures/web surfing and that's with the screen brightness down.
     
  5. Seasought thread starter macrumors 65816

    Seasought

    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2005
    #6
    If you could do it over again, would you buy the 11" instead? No, or indifferent?
     
  6. aeboi macrumors 65816

    aeboi

    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2009
    Location:
    Bay Area
    #7
    No, I would get the 13" again, I couldn't possibly live with less battery life since I'm always mobile. Higher res screen is also nice.
     
  7. nexsta macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2007
    #8
    The 11" is the most sexy device I've ever own. I'm a student and work maybe 7hours+ a day on this machine and I love it. The size makes it the most comfortable computer ever. When I see the 13" in a shop I can't believe how bulky and large it is in comparison to my 11" and it reminds how good my choice was to go with the 11".
     
  8. Seasought thread starter macrumors 65816

    Seasought

    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2005
    #9
    Good to know, thanks for the input.

    ----------

    Do you do a ton of word processing work on your 11"? Just curious.
     
  9. nexsta macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2007
    #10
    Not a tone but I often write something and I have no problems. If you use photoshop and video editing software a lot and use the mba as your main machine I absolutely understand why people choose the 13" because then the more screen estate wins. But when there is one thing the 11" is the perfect machine for it's when you are a writer or just write a lot. The comfort to take this thing everywhere and just to write everywhere is gold, I think you just lose this portability factor when you have the 13".
     
  10. Seasought thread starter macrumors 65816

    Seasought

    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2005
    #11
    Thanks for your thoughts on this, much appreciated.
     
  11. durruti macrumors regular

    durruti

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2004
    Location:
    Jersey
    #12
    I like to write too. I appreciate the lightness and compactness of the 11" MBA when on the move. Next time I bring it out for the day, I am going to leave the charger at home.

    also, to note:
    the 13" has lower DPI than the 11".
    Full Screen-aps with Lion, Safari with zoom, and changing font sizes mitigates the issue of difficulty reading text with high DPI.
     
  12. jdavtz macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2005
    Location:
    Kenya
    #13
    I can't see why at 13" monitor would be better than an 11" monitor for word processing -- the 11" screen is already wider than a sheet of "normal" paper (A4/letter) so unless you want to type at say 150% zoom and still see the whole width of a piece of paper (which probably shouldn't be important for word processing anyway) the 11" should be fine.

    When I type my word processing area only takes up about 2/3 to 3/4 the width of the screen (on the 11").

    The screens are of very similar quality and PPI resolution -- the 13" is obviously larger but the actual quality of the text etc. is almost identical (I can't remember which way round they are, but one screen is 120ish ppi and the other is 130ish ppi).

    The 11" has the advantage of being smaller and more portable, which for me hugely outweighs the speed/battery advantages of the 13".

    If the battery lasts you "a usual day" of being away from power, then whether the surplus is 1h or 2h might not matter too much.
     
  13. Ubuntu macrumors 68000

    Ubuntu

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2005
    Location:
    UK/US
    #14
    The issue is that both models would do a great job. I went with the 11 inch for the extra portability, its wonderful and I have no issue typing on it for long periods of the time. The keyboard is practically the same (I believe the Function keys are a bit smaller, and maybe the arrow keys) so its a delight to use. Either way the MBA (11 or 13) has the best keyboard I've ever used so you can't really lose here. If you need the extra battery life then do go for the 13 inch, but for me I'm never far from a mains socket. The resolution on the 11 inch is fantastic, that's all I can say. For the physical screen size you get plenty of space. I also just prefer the MBA 11 inch's physical size, its much like a netbook in that respect. Take a look at the link in my signature, I've uploaded some photos.
     
  14. Xikum macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2011
    #15
    I was making this decision as well. I had the choice to buy a 2010 13" MBA or a 2011 11" MBA. I picked the 2010 13", and I definitely have no regrets. Im also doing the EXACT same work as you; browsing, music, safari, lots of word processing, etc.

    Don't listen to anybody who even says the 13" is bulky. The thing is unbelievably light, and I genuinely don't realise its weight in my bag. It gets an extra 2 hours battery life (which is alot) over the 11", and has an SD card reader if that makes a difference to you. Word processing on the 13" is also a dream, the screen real estate really does make it easier imo.

    I would pick the 13" time and time again over the 11". My friend has an 11", and I find the screen just too small, and I would pick my 13" over it everyday of the week.

    But hey, thats just me. Go to an Apple store if you can, and don't forget about your student discount!
     
  15. heyloo macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2006
    Location:
    NY
    #16
    I'd say go with the 13". I used to carry around my 13" Black MacBook in college and the size was just perfect, and that was with the weight of that thing (was a brick!) too. 15" MBPs that my friends carried around were too heavy and big, those NetBook types were too small, 13" was just right for me.

    I have the 13" MBA now and it's pretty awesome! :)
     
  16. szolr macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2011
    Location:
    London, UK
    #17
    I had the same sort of decision. But what tipped me towards the Pro over an Air was disk space-I have well over 200 GB of video in iTunes here.

    ----------

    And also consider battery life and disk space. Do they concern you?
     
  17. goodroots macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2011
    #18
    I upgraded to a Macbook Air last weekend. I chose the Macbook Air 13" with 256GB of flash storage. More screen space, better battery life...and the SD card slot didn't hurt, either. I love this machine! My laptop travels with me quite a bit, and it's so light and portable.

    Whether you choose 11" or 13"...you'll be satisfied!
     
  18. Tinmania macrumors 68040

    Tinmania

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2011
    Location:
    Aridzona
    #19
    While the 13" is still thin and light there is still big difference between it and the 11".

    My 2010 11" Air, which was the lowest model as I was not sure I would like it, was the best laptop I had ever owned--and I have owned dozens over the years. The only thing that surpassed it was my 2011 11" Air, this time the stepped up model so I would have a little more breathing room (though amazingly the 2GB RAM on my first one was not really an issue at all--it more the 64GB SSD that was a bit small).

    If you can get to an Apple store use a 11" for a while. Pick it up, feel how it is in your hands. Can you hold it from the corner with just thumb and forefinger? After doing all that then move over to a 13". I think you might be surprised at just how much larger it seems after using the 11".

    IMHO, YMMV, etc.



    Michael
     
  19. Seasought, Oct 29, 2011
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2011

    Seasought thread starter macrumors 65816

    Seasought

    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2005
    #20
    I checked out a 13 and an 11 in person today and I am surprised to say that I actually prefer the 11. Your point about the battery is sound - the likelihood that I'll be out of range of an outlet is going to be rare, so it really isn't an issue at all to be honest.

    I figured the 13 would be my pref, but honestly, I really like the size of the 11, and the screen real estate doesn't bother me at all to my surprise. I appreciate your thoughts on this.

    ----------

    I think you're right on this :). Both are very nice, but I think I prefer the 11 slightly more (which seems so backwards for me). Thanks :).

    ----------

    You are absolutely spot on. I picked up both, experimenting and found I definitely prefer the 11. It's a good thing I decided to check them both out in person for comparison. Otherwise I wouldn't have realized how much I prefer the 11 to the 13. Danke :).

    ----------

    Honestly, battery life isn't going to matter much - I'll be close to outlets most of the time. As far as disk space, I figure 128 gb is about right. I don't plan on hauling a huge music collection with me as I listen to most tunes online. Since most storage will revolve around documents and apps, I should be g2g.

    ----------

    I think I've fallen in love with the 11" (to my surprise). Appreciate the insight on this :).
     
  20. vitzr macrumors 68030

    vitzr

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2011
    Location:
    California
    #21
    This is a very personal decision. Frankly I couldn't decide so I bought them both. Used them concurrently for just over a month, then decided that the 13 was indeed the best for my all around usage when traveling by air.

    The 11" is nice but the two compromises I was unwilling to live with are the small keyboard and small display which requires too much scrolling. If you don't care about those two areas then the decision is a bit easier.
     
  21. Ballis, Oct 29, 2011
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2011

    Ballis macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    May 27, 2008
    Location:
    Oslo, Norway
    #22
    I went with 11"
    much sexier, plenty big enuff for word-processing
    more than sufficient battery.
    plenty fast aswell, i maxed out the specs on mine though.
     
  22. TheJing macrumors 6502a

    TheJing

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2011
    Location:
    Somewhere in Europe
    #23
    I went with the 11" as well.I really like the portability of this thing.
    Also, I already have a Macbook Pro 13" so getting the 13" Air would be pointless.
     
  23. NutsNGum macrumors 68030

    NutsNGum

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2010
    Location:
    Glasgow, Scotland
    #24
    Every time I see one of these threads I start second guessing myself! I bought the 13" and I want to go and play about with the 11" again to make sure I made the right choice.

    First World Problems, eh?!
     
  24. jamesr19 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2009
    #25
    Agreed, the battery life on the 13" will last (and i've managed to get it to) 7hrs of lectures on low brightness, using little bit of internet, preview (for copy of the slide) and evernote/word. When not actually using any software it reads at 9.5
     

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