MBA for programming

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by SuperMiguel, Sep 1, 2011.

  1. SuperMiguel macrumors 6502

    Jan 6, 2010
    So im an EE student been using a MBP 13" but its just a bit to heavy and bulky for me to carry around all the time. I mainly use my computer for Matlab, a circuit drawing program, a txt editor for programming and the terminal to connect to micro controllers. I know any new MBA will be able to do this.. But will i be real hurt by the screen and keyboard size if i went to the 11" model? i went to apple store and tested the keyboard and it didn't seem that bad but using it for 5 min its way different than 8-24hours :eek: any programmers/students have any input in this?
  2. Littleodie914 macrumors 68000


    Jun 9, 2004
    Rochester, NY
    The 11" MacBook Air actually has more screen space (1366x768) than the 13" MacBook Pro (1280x800) that you've been using. (Horizontally, that is. It's a bit "shorter" in the vertical dimension.)

    I think you'd probably feel a bit cramped after a while. Matlab can take up a fair amount of screen space with the separate panels/windows.

    Personally, I think you'd be better off with the 13" MacBook Air, which has a higher resolution of 1440x900. A 27% improvement in terms of available screen space, while still weighing a good 1.5 pounds less than your current machine.
  3. bill-p macrumors 68000

    Jul 23, 2011
    Definitely go for the 13" with the higher resolution. More vertical pixels is more important than you may think. Especially since there is practically no usual way to hide that menu bar on top in OSX.

    That aside, bigger screen is better for viewing texts. The iPhone 4 can have a 1920 x 1080 screen and it still won't be more legible than a 13" screen.
  4. rookpsu macrumors member

    Jul 10, 2008
    I'm a developer currently using my 11'' MBA as a primary machine. My primary IDE is Eclipse, although I'm regularly in Photoshop and Dreamweaver as well, and I've had no issues so far considering - as previously noted - you actually gain some pixels moving from the MBP 13'' to the MBA 11'' (which I did).

    I can't stress the portability enough though, I'm a mobile warrior mostly working remotely, coffee shops, airline coach, etc.. and from a practical standpoint, the MBA 11'' is a blessing as the size/mass to productivity ratio is through the charts.
  5. jpl6 macrumors member

    Aug 1, 2011
    For school, I'd recommend the 13-inch.

    Sure, the 11-inch is usable and more portable, but as a student, I don't think you'll need the portability gain the 11-inch has on the 13-inch. The 13-inch is already really light & really portable.

    An 11-inch's portability gain would be useful in the case rookpsu made, but as a student, you'll probably only be mainly moving around a small number of fixed locations.
  6. Brandon0448 macrumors 6502


    Aug 2, 2011
    Anchorage, Alaska
    That would be one crisp screen though. Would need a microscope to see a pixel.

    But I would recommend getting the 13". The extra screen size makes it a little easier to use and the 2 hours of extra battery is very nice. That is the one main reason I went with the 13", Im a student and needed the extra battery life for my long days.
  7. SuperMiguel thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jan 6, 2010
    ok ok ill get the 13" now is it worth it to go to the i7 cpu? i mean the i7 its only available on the $1599 model so it will be $1636 (student dc) for the i7 compared with the $1249 i5 model (don't really need extra SSD space) u guys think it is worth the extra $500?
  8. CheesePuff macrumors 6502

    Sep 3, 2008
    Southwest Florida, USA
    I'm using the base 13-inch 2011 model for Xcode development (Mac OS X and iOS). No issues with speed. My main machine is a 3.4 GHz Quad-core iMac (2011 model as well) and honestly with most basic functions the Air is just as fast, mostly because of the flash hard drive vs the traditional in the iMac.
  9. DieterRams macrumors regular

    Aug 3, 2010
    I had been specifically looking to hear experience such as yours. You have no issue at all using Photoshop on the 11" MBA? Don't the palettes take up more space, leaving you with even less space for the content you're working on? How do you view multiple files/windows at once in something like Photoshop with that limited space and is it still good to use?

    What about typing on it and using the trackpad? Do you find that the smaller/shorter palm rest area forces you to curl your fingers in a bit while typing so that the edge of the laptop doesn't cut into your wrists/palms? And does the shorter trackpad make it less comfortable for you at all compared to a larger one?
  10. richpjr macrumors 68030


    May 9, 2006
    It's a preference thing. I thought the 11" was too small and if you compare the size and weight, the 13" is really not a huge amount bigger - it's plenty portable. But you need to decide on that...
  11. VMMan macrumors 6502a

    Mar 29, 2009
    I wanted a mobile computer and not just a very portable one, so I went with the MBA 11". I expected it to be my mobile solution.

    What's surprising, is that it's now become my primary development machine (Xcode 4) even when I'm not on the road. I've been using my 2011 MBP 17" less and less.

    Although I thought CS5 would be a pain, I've actually been fine using it as well on the MBA 11".

    Truthfully, I think my MBA 11" is a little too big for what I wanted in a mobile computer. For my use, an MBA 11" is "big" and the 13" is "bigger".

    If the MBA would have been as mobile as possible, there's no way it could have become my main computer. I could have probably tolerated an even smaller 8" or 9" display as a mobile computer. This size would have been acceptable for mobile use, but I would never choose an 8" display over my MBP 17" display.

    The fact that the MBA 11" has become my primary computer means it could have compromised screen size further to aid mobility.
  12. DieterRams macrumors regular

    Aug 3, 2010
    I've heard the iPad simulator suffers on the 11" display - is that true? What config do you have? Do you find the issues with the keyboard palm rest and trackpad that I described?

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