My comparison of the 13 and 11 inch MBAs (a work in progress)

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by Ubuntu, Jul 29, 2011.

  1. Ubuntu, Jul 29, 2011
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2011

    Ubuntu macrumors 68000

    Ubuntu

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    #1
    Hi all,

    Please post some requests - I'll only have the MBA 13 for a few more days.

    The machines and a netbook for size comparison.

    [​IMG]

    So far I'm preferring the 11 inch overall. It seems like the perfect compromise between a truly portable laptop and a laptop you can use for work. The 13 inch is of course very portable for its size but to me the 11 inch does a better job at being portable while not being as inhibiting as the netbook. As you can see in the shot below it offers an excellent keyboard and trackpad, I've been on this machine for four hours now and I don't have any issues with the keyboard or the trackpad, at all. In someways for an actual laptop (as in, one I'll have on my lap) I prefer the 11 inch as its a bit lighter and just more comfortable for me, personally.

    [​IMG]

    Xcode
    Assistant Editor on 11 inch

    [​IMG]

    Assistant Editor on 13 inch

    [​IMG]

    Assistant Editor with Interface Builder on 11 inch

    [​IMG]

    Assistant Editor with Interface Builder on 13 inch

    [​IMG]


    iPad Project on the MBA 11 inch

    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]

    Uploaded with ImageShack.us

    Microsoft Word

    Microsoft Word on 11 Inch

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    Uploaded with ImageShack.us


    Sound

    Just messing around with the sound now, having a break from the work. I don't really know if there's much interest in this because both sound great. The MBA 13 does sound a bit nicer (and louder, 16/16 bars on the MBA 11 is about 12/16 bars on the 13 inch) but I'm very impressed with both really.

    Keyboard
    Both keyboards are great, with my preference being the 11 inch MBA because its a bit lighter and of course smaller when you have it on your lap. The 13 inch model isn't a problem at all but the 11 inch simply feels more agile and light, without compromising on the keyboard, except for the Function keys.

    They aren't too bad, they're smaller on the MBA 11 but they do wiggle around quite a bit more than the rest of the keys, but for me this isn't an issue. I've written most of my posts in this thread on the MBA11 and I love it. To me there's no real benefit between either model in terms of the keyboard. The beauty of both machines is I just quite enjoy typing on them. They don't cramp my large hands or anything like that and the keys on both models actually feel a bit better than my iMac's keyboard.

    Recovery - how good is it?

    Not very! I'm still in the process of restoring the 13 inch MBA as I'm returning it. In my experience the current restoration process is a bit buggy to a level that I consider unacceptable for what I'm trying to do.
    • OS X Lion from the Mac App Store will not work on the MBA 2011 as it uses a different build. I've tried it, it simply won't let you use the disc/USB stick.

    • I have tried the Recovery HD five times. This is the separate partition on the SSD that can be accessed by holding the Option key down at startup.

    1. ETA 3 hours, disconnected within about 20 minutes, asked me if I wished to try again but then simply quit.
    2. ETA 6 hours, disconnected twice during the download, annoyingly wouldn't resume the second time.
    3. ETA 4hours, worked fine.
    4. No ETA - Tested purely to see if components needed to be downloaded again - they didn't.
    5. ETA 3 hours - wiped SSD completely to remove user data, still pending…



    I don't know how big the additional components are but I imagine they're a few GBs. It seems that every time you wish to wipe the SSD completely (including user data etc, just formatting it) you'll have to re-download the components. But for most users, most of the time, you'll just need to reinstall a new copy of Lion, which does not require you to download the components again in my experience.

    But to me it feels like this is a lot more hassle for its worth. My issue is that Apple won't let me burn the MBA copy to a disk - but the fact that a full format of the main partition requires you to re-download the components obviously proves that the components are downloaded onto the main partition - so its just a question of finding them and putting them on a disk.

    What really annoys me is that Apple took the USB stick away, created this clever-but-cumbersome-and-unreliable process that is still a bit buggy and is then going to charge us $69 for the easy solution of the USB stick that we would have had last year. It is only a matter of time before someone finds the additional components or manages to rip a copy of the MBA version to put on a USB stick, or maybe I'll just use CarbonCloner.
     
  2. ninja2000 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2010
    #2
    I will be really interested to hear your findings on xcode on the 11!
    Will you be running it on the laptops screen or a monitor?

    I have just bought a 13" for mobile xcode work as I figured the 900p screen would be easier to work with (espeically interface builder) but would have prefered the 11 for portability
     
  3. hereyago macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2011
    #3
    I am interested.

    Please tell me that xcode on the 11in isn't ****** compared to xcode in 13in! :eek:

    I want screenshots of a lot of code and how it looks in 11in and 13in.
     
  4. Ubuntu thread starter macrumors 68000

    Ubuntu

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    #4
    Just trying to help out in the forums, not really such a need for so much hostility. I'm not saying "ignore the review sites they're awful" or anything but in some respects they don't cater for everyone. For example I myself didn't find a review that compared the two in terms of suitability for a programmer, so I'd quite like to help people out as much as I can. Bit grumpy?

    I'll give Xcode a try. I am relatively new to Objective C but I'll work on one of my old basic projects with a few screenshots to show you how it is. I'll be running both with their native screens.
     
  5. vijayvasa macrumors member

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    May 28, 2010
    #5
    There is nothing wrong in helping out the users with this post. Because its a point of view from a Developer. Learn and Live well :)

    I am waiting to hear ur experiences for sure as I am in the same dilemma as well with 11 and 13, 128 vs 256.
     
  6. KPOM macrumors G5

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    Oct 23, 2010
    #6
    Seeing as there are a number of 13" vs 11" threads, I think this is worthwhile. What motivated you to get both? Are you going to test both out and then return one within the 2 week return window?
     
  7. Ubuntu thread starter macrumors 68000

    Ubuntu

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    #7
    Pretty much, yes. I purchased the 13 inch one first and liked it but I wondered how much I really needed the screen size etc. I had spent hours on youtube trying to compare the two models to see if the 11 inch was adequate and still couldn't make up my mind, so I called Apple and the rep said I could order the 11 inch and return either one without an issue.

    He then threw in an extra £65 iTunes card which I'm allowed to keep either way, as well as the one for the 13 inch macbook.

    I'm quite happy with the 11 inch, I think I prefer it, and my issue was I purchased a very good primary computer to use as a secondary computer to my iMac, so at the moment I think the 13 inch will be going back, but I'm testing out the battery now.

    And I'm still not sure why the first person to respond was so rude about it. I've not seen a lot of 13v11 inch comparisons and to be honest even if there are a good amount I truly believe its still a subject that requires a lot of input from other people. Ideally I'd tell everyone to get both and just try them out, but second to that I figured "I have both MBAs in front of me, not a lot of people do, I might as well try to compare them a bit in case anyone's lurking in this forum dying for more comparisons between the two" as I was before.

    Thanks for the reply.

    EDIT: I should note to those interested in the Xcode testing, I'm new to this language so don't measure it on the low quality of my work. That said, so far Xcode on the 11 inch has been great. It can be a bit crowded when using the Assistant Editor but not really inhibiting, just a tiny bit uncomfortable. I'll post some screenshots later to give you an idea.
     
  8. Red Warrior macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2011
    #8
    I'm interested

    This is the same thing I am currently pondering. I would really love the 11" for it's portability and wow factor but want to code in Xcode and unity 3d so am really worried that the screen size will not be enough. I love your idea to buy both and really see which one you like before returning one! Genius!

    The 11 will be fine e majority of the time when you are home because you can just hook it up to a full size monitor, mouse and keyboard. Coding away from home though sounds like it would be hard on the small screen so some real life users experience with it will be invaluable to me and making my decision.

    Looking forward to you thoughts.
     
  9. paulkerdot macrumors member

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    Aug 2, 2010
    #9
    I appreciate your work!

    I had an 11" but had to send it back in favour of the 13" as the battery life was so poor. Light use and I was getting 3-4 hrs. Under load I cant imagine. The 13" battery is much better. I really liked the 11 though other than this issue.
     
  10. mortenandersen macrumors 6502

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    Norway
    #10
    How full screen is "full screen" in Word 2011?

    A very interesting project!

    I wonder if you please can check out how the "full screen" view in Word 2011 is? More specifically: Is the area of the screen really fully used, or are there still some vertical columns on each side of the area that is used for writing? (In Windows versions, only the 2003 version makes use of the ENTIRE screen; the later editions have unfortunately vertical columns on the left and right sides of the text.)

    In particular, when the screen size is 11,6 inches, the need for being able to use the WHOLE screen area for writing (and reading) is more important or urgent. I hope that Word 2011 for Mac gives the user the same experience of "full screen view" as Word 2003 for Windows. It would be very interesting if you please can try and find this out.
     
  11. MRU macrumors demi-god

    MRU

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    #11

    Yes you can adjust the page to fill up the entire screen in word 2011 full screen. Just change the page zoom level to suit you.
     
  12. Ubuntu thread starter macrumors 68000

    Ubuntu

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    #12
    I've included a couple of screenshots now, but as MacRumorsUser said, you can zoom in and it works okay.
     
  13. Abstract macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

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    #13
    You really are a piece of work.

    I hope being a dick is working out for you in real life.
     
  14. NutsNGum macrumors 68030

    NutsNGum

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    #14
    Second one here who took back the 11" and kept the 13".

    I had both, battery life was a real issue on the 11", and I found the vertical screen size to be a bit of a problem.

    The 13" is just a bit better for doing work on, I think.
     
  15. Typswif2fingers macrumors 6502

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    #15
    Mate I wouldn't even bother answering people like that...

    Keep up the good work..
     
  16. Abstract macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

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    #16
    Your posts are not of interest to everyone, but they don't need to be. Your post is of interest to a subset of the community, which is good enough.

    Since I haven't received my 11" MBA yet, and I'm only 95% sure I want the 11" instead of the 13", any real experiences are of interest to me.
     
  17. NutsNGum macrumors 68030

    NutsNGum

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    #17
    Hear, hear. Fewer more unpleasant characters have I come across since joining this forum. Almost every post is negative or derisory.
     
  18. mortenandersen macrumors 6502

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    Norway
    #18
    Full screen view Word 2011

    Thanks so much for quick and positive answers, Ubuntu and MacRumorUser!

    BTW, on the basis of the screenshots, it seems that also the "ribbon" on top is gone, that it is possible to remove it. I surely hope so - can you please confirm this, just to be certain?
     
  19. Ubuntu thread starter macrumors 68000

    Ubuntu

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    #19
    In fullscreen it only appears when you hover the mouse over the top part of the screen, as can be seen in the second screenshot - I should have mentioned that.
     
  20. ninja2000 macrumors 6502

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    Dec 16, 2010
    #20
    Thanks for the interface builder screenshots, thats not bad at all, they have certainly improved the layout in V4, in V3 its quite cluttered.

    Any chance you could open an ipad project in IB? I really want to see how difficult it would be compared to the 13"
     
  21. Ubuntu, Jul 29, 2011
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2011

    Ubuntu thread starter macrumors 68000

    Ubuntu

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    #21
    I've added two screenshots, it looks quite tricky because apparently you can't zoom out on the Interface Builder.
     
  22. reputationZed macrumors 65816

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    #22
    Ubuntu - thanks for taking the time to share your review with the forum. As you can see from the majority of the replies so far a good number of us are finding your review useful. I debated the merits of the 11" and 13" as a portable Xcode dev platform and ultimately chose the 13" based on my perception that I would find the vertical resolution of the 11" too confining. I say perception because I didn't physically compare the two as you are doing (I'm much to lazy). I didn't see anything in your post that makes me question my choice of the 13" but its interesting to read the though process that is pushing you towards the 11".


    An interesting observation on miles01110's post is that his signature "Look here first" is a link to Google, the suggestion being that everyone should Google thoughts or questions before posting them on MR forums. Yet if you Google Using Xcode on an 11" MBA this thread comes up third or forth in the ranking, well before any of the respected tech-news sources.

    Hopefully miles will be spending more time on Google and less trolling these forums.
     
  23. ninja2000 macrumors 6502

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    #23
    Brilliant, thanks mate. I really appreciate your efforts.

    I reckon it might be a bit cramped on the 11 even in full screen mode. I currently code on my 17" @ 1200p and its really handy having all that real estate, but its not exactly as portable as an air :)

    Think its the 13" for me then.
     
  24. Ubuntu thread starter macrumors 68000

    Ubuntu

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    #24
    Haha, nice observation! And I can only fault the 13 inch MBA because of its size, but then to me this is replacing an netbook and is a secondary computer so thats why I'm preferring the 11 inch, and its more a look at how much you can get away with on the 11 inch MBA. The iPad project I just tried on the 11 inch did not look too great - I think I'd get quite annoyed with the Interface Builder - but thankfully as a secondary machine I could get around it. There are things I've forgotten to mention such as I'm using a 27 inch iMac as my main computer. I think the 11 inch would be adequate as a primary computer for Xcode but the person would have to make some serious decisions about an external display somewhere along the line. Either way, I'm going to be returning a machine I really like. Both have impressed me incredibly.

    Thanks for your comment.
     
  25. timewarrior macrumors newbie

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    Jul 26, 2011
    #25
    My main reason (also highlighted by Anand and many others) is that 11" is uncomfortable if used in a lap.

     

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