Practically speaking, how much less of a train wreck is the new Air?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by Sesshi, Nov 6, 2008.

  1. Sesshi macrumors G3

    Sesshi

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    #1
    Sadly, just after I thought I'd got rid of all of my Apple notebooks I had to get a new Macbook Pro. And equally sadly, just as I've rid myself my the last of my utterly crud Airs I find that I'm going to have to lug the MBP around much more often that I thought - which means that if at all possible, I will need something considerably more portable.

    So it was with a sense of resignation that I found myself hovering over the 'buy' button on a 1.8/SSD Gen 2. But then I thought "**** it, I've got far better machines than anything Apple can crank out, why can't I hackintosh these instead?" - namely my Sony Z's, forthcoming TT's, existing TZ's and SZ's as well as the Voodoo Envy133 that I finally caved on and ordered. And I'd love to hear of anyone installing a rock solid Hackintosh install with no functional issues on any of those machines - because from what I've read, there seem to be problems.

    So once again, I found myself hovering over the 'buy' button with an even more pronounced sense of resignation. But then I thought "What if it's just as crap?" and I feel compelled to ask these questions. If the new Air is 'more of the same' in terms of core system stability, overheating issues, limited battery life, crazy charging times from empty (regularly encountered due to the battery life), etc - I can't deal with it, so I'd rather not buy it and get even more enraged that I've wasted so much money on substandard Apple junk in the last ~3 years, and I'd rather just lug the MBP and curse Apple(more).

    I'd be grateful therefore if a new Air owner can answer these questions. Your experience will be particularly appreciated if you were one of those who had problems with their 1st Gen Airs.

    Question 1: Are the constant overheating in the mid-20C's ambients, Mobileme syncing and other stutters definitively solved?

    Question 2: What is the REAL LIFE runtime with display at dimmest visible and Wifi or BT on (and in use) with applications for the most part not GPU heavy? i.e. none of this 5-7 hour nonsense with the liars when the issue of the battery life of the 1st Gen Air was raised seven months ago, but the actual - that means you own one and you actually use it - runtime with power saving enabled, but using the laptop normally otherwise for messaging and web.

    Question 3: Recharge time from fully discharged?

    I'd appreciate any informed comments anyone may have on the above.
     
  2. wordmunger macrumors 603

    wordmunger

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    #2
    I'm happy with my gen 1, but I never tax it that much. I'd be interested to hear the answers to the questions either way.
     
  3. Cynicalone macrumors 68040

    Cynicalone

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    #3
    Question 1: I have not been able to overheat mine yet. At normal room temperatures streaming HD Video I was able to get the temps into the mid 60º Celsius range. I need more time to test it. NC MacGuy has a very good thread about his stress test's.

    Question 2: I have not had enough time to really find out for sure, but early test's so far seem comparable to the 1st Generation.

    Question 3: Same as the 1st Generation, but again not enough time to know for sure.
     
  4. ksmith80209 macrumors 6502a

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    #4
    I don't have specific answers to those questions, but as someone who is used to a mid-2008 MBP (2.6GHz) I'm impressed with the new Rev. B Air with the SSD. I've tried to see what people are talking about with regard to stutters by running Boxee, Hulu, YouTube, etc - but it has been flawless for me. In fact, some of the apps like VMWare Fusion (Win XP) actually load much faster for me due to the SSD. I was worried that, as a "power user," I'd be disappointed with the new Air but at this point, I have absolutely no qualms about using the Air as my primary travel machine, reserving the MBP for working at home.
     
  5. Sesshi thread starter macrumors G3

    Sesshi

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    #5
    I didn't tax my MBA in terms of CPU and GPU either in absolutes, but I did tax it in terms of availability and stability because I do move around a lot and use the machine in bursts of activity - something that my Vista'd ultraportables managed fine, while the Air fell very short in that regard. Every day I walked out with the Air, I came back with it fully discharged after half a working day - and I had to carry a Sony TZ/UX regardless of whether I had the Air with me or not to do real work, and reserve the Air for when I had to use the OS X apps.

    In terms of the specifics I'm wondering whether it has crossed the threshold into 'somewhat usable' from 'borderline unusable' for someone who works like I do - especially as anything else still involves lots of headaching over workarounds.

    If the Air actually offered 5 genuine hours of "wireless productivity" as opposed to 3.5 hours or less, I could live with that. If it didn't become unstable at the drop of a hat in Mediterranean temperatures or while doing fairly mundane things such as Entourage through a VPN with automatic Mobileme syncing, I could live with that. If it charged in ~5 hours from flat (since with anything less than a 6-real-hour runtime, I'd run it flat in any case) and as fast as most other leading ultraportables for a partial charge I could live with that - and I'd call that 'somewhat usable'. Given the general specifications and manufacturer claims I don't think it's entirely unwarranted to expect the above (or maybe it really isn't with Apple, and I'm the idiot), and I'm wondering whether Rev.2 delivers.
     
  6. Cynicalone macrumors 68040

    Cynicalone

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    #6
    I just don't think it can give you 5 hours of any type of activity. 3.5 is fairly honest even with the new Macbook Air. Give me a couple of weeks of everyday use and I'll be able to give you a better opinion. But right now if the battery is a main concern, then my early (3 days of use) opinion is you won't be happy with it.
     
  7. plumbingandtech macrumors 68000

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    Jun 20, 2007
    #7
    Way to paint all the rev 1s as a "train wreck".

    I love mine.
    Some people are just complainers. Some people are just never satisfied.

    Some people just like to whine.

    Something tells me you won't be satisfied no matter what you do.
     
  8. akm3 macrumors 68020

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    Nov 15, 2007
    #8
    Apple hardware and software are inextricably linked; if you hate one, you should covet neither.

    Perhaps you should consider a base Macbook instead of the Air?

    I don't characterize all the first gen Air's as a train wreck, but that said, I believe that the new ones are significant improvements.
     
  9. Mr. Zarniwoop macrumors demi-god

    Mr. Zarniwoop

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    Jun 9, 2005
    #9
    I really, really love my first generation MacBook Air.

    Without CoolBook, yeah, it's can be a bit of a train wreck when playing video if it is allowed to overheat after about ten minutes.

    Using CoolBook, it's the greatest laptop I've ever used. No resemblance to a train wreck at all.
     
  10. Sesshi thread starter macrumors G3

    Sesshi

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    #11
    Yes I am thinking about it, and it is an option still. Given the diet the MB's have gone through it may be a better compromise than the Air - but really, I hate carrying anything heavier than 1.5Kg's. But if as I said, the Rev 2 Air's should be as much of a train wreck as the Rev 1's then bearing in mind that I need to be mobile with an OS X machine, tolerating the 2.3Kg's-ish total weight (with an additional battery for a 7-ish hour real-life run time, assuming the 5 hour wireless productivity claim is just as overoptimistic as the MBA) + a substandard Vista install (all Apples I've Boot Camped are the least stable Vista machines I've had) on a Macbook may be my only way to having one machine.

    However if there is a borderline chance that the Rev 2 will go some way towards rectifying the problems of the Rev 1, I have to consider it due to the significant weight difference, even if I were to have to occasionally carry a 600-gram UX to have a reliable Vista machine with a >5 hour battery life as well.

    As for the train wreck comment, I think it depends to an extent on your prior experiences. The base Air for example was at a pretty low price point in terms of a premium-image ultraportable and I suspect many who bought the Air, especially long-time Mac users, have zero experience of what a properly working current ultraportable is like - and they have nothing to compare it with. I do - in spades. That may be the difference.

    There is certainly evidence I've been reading that media playback is better on the Rev.2 and this is I suspect as much of a factor with the IGP as well as the CPU. And as I commented early on in the Air's introduction, I believed that inadequate heat dissipation from the IGP was one of the contributing factors to system instability (regardless of how hard the IGP was being worked, although obviously the harder it worked or the higher the ambient, the worse the problem became).

    The thing is, I hit up Youtube about once a week at most and I can't remember the last time I played back anything like high-res H.264 on the Air. As written above, my problems with the Air came from everyday applications in the Office suite, as well as our custom apps and things - as I've also said before - as mundane as Mobileme syncing. Simply put I'm more about the P word in the "5 hours of Wireless Productivity" than interested in media playback, so how well it plays back movies of cats playing the piano is not really an issue for me, although I do appreciate for many Apple users it may be a key part of the experience.
     
  11. gotzero macrumors 68040

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    #12
    I have a first gen MBA, and I am happy with mine (never experienced core shutdowns, overheating, etc), but if I was using it for a business, I can easily understand the complaint. Like the iphone, I regularly run the battery down over a day of normal activity. I think Apple messed up in this regard, I would have bought an additional battery for both the phone and the computer at almost any price.

    The biggest issue to me is the battery life, which is not fixed it the gen 2 air (at least not by a stronger battery or a removable one.

    Thankfully the power adaptors were ~$15 at Best Buy. I bought half a dozen of them, and now have several for the home, one for the office, one for the car, one for traveling, etc.

    I really wish someone would come out with an external battery that can give juice through the macsafe port to address Apple's oversight.
     
  12. funkyc macrumors regular

    funkyc

    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2008
    #13
    u seem to have plenty of money to buy laptops etc
    so why don't u buy one of the laptops u mentioned above (i suggest the sony TT or the voodoo envy as they sound like amazing machines) and one of these things click here or here for more info and tell us if they work :cool:
    cheers
     
  13. Sesshi thread starter macrumors G3

    Sesshi

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    #14
    You know, I've thought about it often since the positive reviews for EFI-X came out. However I've put my tech support guy (who used to do all the hackintosh experiments) on part-time these days and he's busy with our other 'legitimate' IT work.

    I don't mind trying EFI-X, it's intrigued me for a while but given the fact I'll have to do it I'm only interested in doing it if there's a good chance of success, and currently from what I've seen EFI-X seems to be limited to very specific mobo's.

    The TT's should be with me in a couple of weeks, and I have to go and pick up my Envy133 from the US in a few weeks time so the hackintoshable machines which fit into this category that I'll have are the Envy133 and the Sony Z, TZ, SZ and the TT.

    As I mentioned, if some hackintosher can clear up questions of compatibility with EFI-X and those machines it would spur me to try it myself. Failing that, if a hackintosher can point me to another premium non-Apple ultraportable from the likes of Toshiba, Lenovo, etc that exceeds the runtime of the Air for starters and is fully EFI-Xable, then I'd consider buying one of those as well.

    Edit: Actually, I might drop into the EFIX forum and ask myself.
     
  14. chocolaterabbit macrumors regular

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    Nov 2, 2008
    #15
    The TT has an x4500, so it won't work with OS X. The Z's graphics cards are also likely incompatible
     
  15. dal20402 macrumors 6502

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    Apr 24, 2006
    #16
    What issues have you had? I don't have an Air but I have two MBPs running Vista -- one x86 and one x64 -- and both work flawlessly, except that the trackpad is a bit rougher than it is in OS X.

    So you've identified two problems: battery life and the heat-related issues which, by all accounts, are solved on the Rev B.

    What else is the difference between an Air and a "properly working" ultraportable?

    Why do you bother with OS X if it makes you feel like a loser?
     
  16. Cynicalone macrumors 68040

    Cynicalone

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    #17
    I agree the overheating has been helped on the new MBA but I don't think the battery has changed much at all. I'm seeing nearly identical battery times as my old MBA.
     
  17. GoCubsGo macrumors Nehalem

    GoCubsGo

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    Feb 19, 2005
    #18
    This was actually presented in that sticky where NC Macguy took the Air apart. He said that the battery appeared to be the same as well as charge time was the same.

    If the OP wants an Air then he'll have to realize that the charge times weren't improved because the battery & charger appear to have remained the same from Rev A. As far as overheating, I would say if video playback is improved to the extent that the heat is not so much of an issue, then Office isn't going to be an issue either. At least I'd assume as much.
     
  18. Sesshi thread starter macrumors G3

    Sesshi

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    #19
    Thanks for the various replies. I've read more, done a bit of research elsewhere and really, it seems like the new Macbook + spare battery is my only anywhere near viable option at the moment. Barring any other improvements it seems like this is how I'll go.
     
  19. jdwingnut macrumors regular

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    #20
    I was about to suggest this very scenario to you. My only reservation, which seems to be tied to these new MB's and MBP's is the lengthy charge time from empty.

    I have read from others where the batteries will charge to full in about 2.5 hours, but have also read where others are taking as long as 4.5. Sadly I am on the longer end of these charge times.

    The batteries seem to charge fairly quick up to about 75-80% and then take FOREVER to finish.

    Aside from the battery thing, these new MB's are quite nice in construction and would think they would travel well. A little heavier and a little bulkier than the Air, but the physical outline is almost the same. As always, a good quality sleeve will help it last considerably longer.
     
  20. funkyc macrumors regular

    funkyc

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    #21
    can i ask you why u own so many different laptops?
    surely one is enough unless u really need one in every single room? :p
     
  21. fyrefly macrumors 6502a

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    Jun 27, 2004
    #22
    I had a Base-Model 2.0Ghz Aluminum MacBook and I am a 1st Gen Air Owner. I thought that the MacBook might be a good happy medium betwwen the Air and the MBP - with more performance and some trade offs in terms of weight.

    The MB screen is not nearly as nice as the MBAir. The MB is also much heavier and bulky than the Air and just doesn't feel as good. Also, the 2.4Ghz Backlit machine is too pricey IMHO - but I guess the Air does cost more. :S

    Needless to say I've stuck with my 1st Gen MBA and returned the MB to the store.
     
  22. MacTheSpoon macrumors 6502a

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    #23
  23. Sesshi thread starter macrumors G3

    Sesshi

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    #24
    Thanks for the link to the battery, MactheSpoon. I'll have to think about it. Having an external battery is quite attractive, especially as I can leave a few lying around various places.

    For all sorts of reasons - lowered structural integrity for the mass due to the similar construction method (and it's not that the Air is any kind of a leader in this respect - even a lighter Sony I had nearly two years back was far better designed in terms of structural integrity), the definitely noticeable weight increase, etc, and apart from the styling the screen was just about the only highlight of an otherwise deeply mediocre ultraportable for me as far as the Gen 1 Air was concerned and I know it's inferior on the MB - I was set pretty much against the new Macbook, although it was looking inevitable given my problems. The external battery pack might go some way towards making the Air usable for my needs. I'll have to mull over it a little more now, and I have to say this option is more attractive at the moment.


    Well - simply put, because I can and because it works for me.

    It's a bit like mobile phones. I have a more or less complete set at each of the countries I work in, and sometimes I like to mix it up. I've tried working with fewer machines as of late and it's not working - so I'm going back to my regular schedule of replacing each notebook in every category I have (ultraportable, lightweight, mainstream, heavyweight) in about a 9 ~ 12 month timeframe, maintaining all of those categories in three locations.

    On a related note, it does make me laugh as to how often I'm being called out as the troll when I actually have everything - and in many cases more than one - I'm saying is substandard, as well as everything else which competes with it, when all too often the person I'm exchanging with in posts doesn't even have what they're strangely defending or denigrating. Of such weird fanboyism are forums composed.
     
  24. gotzero macrumors 68040

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    #25
    Thanks, you just cost me $375... ;)
     

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