Some thoughts on my MBA 11" experience

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by yuanmoons, Apr 13, 2011.

  1. yuanmoons, Apr 13, 2011
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2011

    yuanmoons macrumors 6502

    Aug 7, 2008
    Ive been using a MBA 11 Ultimate for the last few days and i really like (love) it. My thoughts so far;

    1, I dont have any specific needs. Im a regular home user. I dont really care for photos or videos beyond occasional general home stuff so its browsing, reading, writing, watching and listening. However, I do want my laptop with me all the time to do all of these things when the mood arises. I thought the iPad could do this for me, and it did until i tried the MBA... the MBA 11” is an iPad killer for me. I like it but there is no point keeping it, Its going to be sold this week. I can do everything much better & quicker on the MBA.

    2, There is something about this size thats makes the MBA 11” a bit special. I went to the Apple store a few weeks ago and decided against buying one because i thought the screen would be too small in the long run, but having taken the decision to try it at home i think the opposite, its pretty good. Once id move the Dock to the left and auto hidden it, so having the full screen for all apps, it feels just right. And Lion will have true full screen options for all apps!

    3, My MacBook Pro 15 Mid 2009 is the device being displaced and for speed there is no competition, the MBA wins. And now when i go back to 15" to check some setting preference or something i feel the 15" is too big! - the screen is too big for my general usage. The white space i liked having before has now become a distraction. I might change my mind but right now i have a feeling the MBA 11 is helping to me to narrow my focus to what im actually doing instead of a big glossy picture. Im hoping next week the reverse doesnt happen and start longing for blank space around the screen.

    4, I'm still getting used the keyboard in terms of the lower keys - it just feels different, but getting used to the short feedback. Would love backit but i can live without it i suppose. I few times using it in bed with no lights the screen is just about adequate to get my bearings, and most of the time there will be some sort of dim light.

    5, I went to Apple store today to see the 13 & 11 side by side again to make sure the 13" isnt a better option -- and even though the 13" has the advantage of a longer battery, sd slot and screen size it feels alittle like a 15" Pro ..... At the moment i prefer the unique size of the 11”.... feels odd to say that because it could be said the 13" is the better all rounder.

    6, Although in real terms the 13” & 11” arent a great deal different - just acouple of inches - meaning they are both very portable, the 11" has that X factor appeal. In my mind i feels ‘tidy’ & compact, it satisfies my minimalist perferences.

    7, It would be main computer. I can now start writing everyday in full screen with WriteRoom or something - it feels right.

    Ive quickly come to the decision that i want a MBA 11, so now its just a matter of

    a, keeping this one (still in 2 week return window) and having alittle bit extra under the hood for Lion, or
    b, get a lower spec or same off ebay or refurb and save £100-300, and put this towards a future MBA release (whenever) that has backlit keyboard & 7+ hr battery - the two things i would like now (and maybe 3G), or
    b, wait 2-6 months until the next refresh and see what comes….

    My iPad will be on eBay before the end of the week....... and probably the MBP as i dont think ill be able to wait for a refresh - the money should more or less cover the cost of the MBA, with some to spare if i get good deal on ebay. So the most likely choice is (a) as i dont think i can be bothered to setup another MBA or wait for the refresh.... :eek:

    I will be taking the 11" everywhere everyday regardless. No more thinking about syncing or uni-tasking like with the iPad or feeling the size or weight of the 15" all day + alot more space in my messenger bag.

    It feels right having just two small devices, MBA 11" & iPhone. I hope now can resist changing anything for 3 years...:rolleyes:

    Anybody else feel the screen helps focus & concentration?

    Loads has been written on 13 or 11 but any more views based on what ive said are welcome!
  2. Retops macrumors regular

    Feb 10, 2008
    You won't regret going with the 11 incher. I take mine everywhere and find that the battery will usually run all day without the need for a recharge. I do a lot of writing on mine and running financial spreadsheets and find it excellent. Of course, I did carry a 12 inch powerbook for years, so it is obvious that I like the smaller form factor.
  3. Lateraleye macrumors newbie

    Apr 13, 2011
    Good thoughts all around.

    I'm also a 15" Macbook Pro user thinking about downsizing to the 11". I was stuck on the idea of the 13" MBA for a while but I think I could get used to the smaller screen when out and about (hooked up to a monitor at home), plus price is a big deal for me. The lack of weight really sells it to me though. I expect to take it to work with me every day in something less than the mega bag I currently use.

    Waiting on the next refresh though. I really hope there will be a 256GB hard drive option available for the 11" because I need OS X and Windows 7 and a few Linux VMs on there and don't want to have to worry about conserving space all the time. The Intel GPU shouldn't be too bad since I really only play simplistic looking games like those by Telltale.
  4. Satori macrumors 6502a


    Jun 22, 2006
    Thanks for sharing your experience. You may have just made up my mind to get an 11" MBA.

    I hope you continue to have a great experience with yours.
  5. jlblodgett macrumors 6502a

    Apr 18, 2008
    That was a good read, thank you for sharing your experiences.

    Similar to you, I have a 27" i7 iMac which is my primary workhorse machine. I did have an iPad - but was very dissatisfied with it at the end of the day. Just too difficult to use the machine for creation -- very good for consumption.

    I am looking at an 11" MacBook Air to be my quick and very portable computer for email, browsing, calendar, etc.
  6. richard371 macrumors 68020

    Feb 1, 2008
    I have the air 11 and the ipad 2. The ipad 2 is cool, fun, great piece of tech but I would take my air any day over it if I had a choice. The air is a full fledged computer. It may not be as popular, people don't stand in line for hours or days to get one so they can send it to asia, but it does everything I need. When I want 3G, I tether to my Ip4 and the speed is great. Sometimes I work remote and like to head out for lunch or away from my pc for a couple of hours. If something major happens and all I had was the iPad, I would probably have to rush back home to do what I need to do. With the air I can do 100% of my job from anywhere.

    Picked up the 15" quad core pro this weekend and returned it 2 days later. It was blazing fast, although the non SDD drive was the bottle neck. It was a tank. Not something I would want to lug around everywhere.

    Today my boss gave me the 2.7 I7 128GB SSD Macbook pro 13" but still it is a tank compared to the 11.

    I am looking forward to the Sandy Bridge versions of the 11 air. Although the current speed is not to bad I think the air 11 with sandy bridge and thunderbolt could be interesting albiet stuck with Intel graphics.

    Long story short the 11 air is the perfect portable device for me. It bridges the gap between notebook PCs and tablets but yet its not a netbook :)
  7. BENJMNS macrumors 6502


    Dec 28, 2005
    after you use either air, it's really really tough to go back to anything else on the mac line. they all feel/look like a ton of bricks. stone age. no thanky.

    ipad2 is cute, but not practical.
  8. richard371 macrumors 68020

    Feb 1, 2008
    Agreed. I have the 24" 2008 Imac for my photo work and when I work remote at home. May upgrade to the sandy bridge imac 27 when released but the 11 air is my fav machine.

  9. SeanU macrumors member

    Feb 2, 2009
    Another 11" fan here

    I own a 1st gen iPad, and also had a 13" Rev A Air. I commute by train to NYC every day. My hobby is photography, and I tried using the iPad to edit photos and post to my blog. The iPad is an ok tool for editing, but my preference is for Adobe Lightroom.

    When the 11" Air came out, I couldn't see spending $1000 bucks for a C2Duo machine. Along came the MacMall Ebay deal, and I managed to grab one for $769. I sold my 13" Air for $450, so it worked out ok price wise. Now the end result is that I carry my 11" Air every day, along with my GF1, a book or 2, plus some misc photo gear. The Air weighs approximately the same as my iPad did when using it with the inCase Book Jacket.

    Using Lightroom on the 11" air is great. In full screen mode, there is plenty of room to work, and the LCD is very nice (IPS would be nicer but whatever). It's a much nicer experience working with the Air than the iPad. I've got Windows 7 and Ubuntu running in VMWare when I need them for work, which is an added bonus. The only thing I miss is the battery life of the iPad.

    I purchased a new Tenba Mini Messenger which is a combo photo/laptop bag, and it's a great fit for my gear.
  10. YMark macrumors 6502a


    Nov 7, 2008
    Here is what I love about my 11.6" MBA.....

    - great for air travel
    - great for couch surfing, email
    - takes up very little room, great for hotel desks and fits into safes
    - powerful and fast enough for spreadsheets, large docs, and most photoshop chores
  11. ReallyBigFeet macrumors 68030


    Apr 15, 2010
    The 11" is a great netbook. You won't be sorry as long as your minimalist style matches minimalist needs.
  12. BENJMNS macrumors 6502


    Dec 28, 2005
    damn i just loaded up my itunes library from my 13 (external hard drive transfer) and my pics... down to 18gb free on my 120gb on my 11 ulti.

    i don't expect to load many more files but definitely much diff space story than my 13 utli with 256
  13. yuanmoons, Apr 14, 2011
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2011

    yuanmoons thread starter macrumors 6502

    Aug 7, 2008

    A quick update.

    Its coming up to the end of 1 week (of 2 week trial) with my MBA 11" Ultimate and ive been using it 99% of the time. Both my laptops are setup identically and all my files sync across devices using Dropbox so i can move from one device to another no problem.

    Today was the first day since i got the MBA 11" that i used my MBP 15", i just felt like using it for the big screen - its the first time ive felt that urge for screen space. And i have to say that it felt good to have it. I had a feeling this could happen...... :( It could be a temporary feeling....

    I still love the MBA 11", and its better than the iPad for me, but today was maybe the first indication that it might be worthwhile getting a MBA 13" and use both side by side at home for a week to see how that feels - it is the middle ground. I dont really want to at all as its hassle and i dont really want to buy & return stuff (even if apple make massive premiums on their products).

    I could keep the MBP as a home laptop for the times when i want that big screen use and buying a cheap low end MBA as the mobile everyday everywhere device. The MBA would still be the main device / most used. However, im reluctant to keep 2 devices now so probably not going to happen. I dont have unlimited funds, something has to give.

    Maybe selling the MBP and just having the MBA 11" would solve this issue as there would be no alternative to switch too? Maybe, i dont know.... i still think i can use the MBA 11 as a main and only device. Ill see how i feel after the weekend.

    What i do know is i want to decide soon as i have other stuff i want to focus on.... damn you Apple! :rolleyes:

    Ill update again soon....
  14. SeanU macrumors member

    Feb 2, 2009
    I agree... if you plan on editing video or running AutoCad or playing the latest 3D games... you should get something with a 17" screen and a Core I7 quad core.
  15. KPOM macrumors G5

    Oct 23, 2010
    I had the 13" Rev A and B MacBook Airs, and also the "Ultimate 13" Rev D. I recently switched to an 11" Ultimate and won't look back. The extra screen room on the 13" was nice, but the 11" has a much better form factor.

    I'd suggest keeping your current configuration and selling the 15"MBP. That way, you'll have "something extra under the hood" for Lion, as well as some money that you could use on accessories or an external monitor if you really want the real estate. Or you could sell the 15" and then save the proceeds for when an upgraded 11" comes out. Judging from the 13" MacBook Pro, the 2011 Sandy Bridge 11" MacBook Air ought to be a significant CPU update, provided you don't need advanced graphics. The 2012 "Ivy Bridge" revision should have graphics at least as fast as the NVIDIA 320m, with the benefit of the faster CPU, so that might be the version to hold out for (1.5-2 years down the road).
  16. yuanmoons thread starter macrumors 6502

    Aug 7, 2008
    Despite what i said in my last post i think im going to do this. Keep MBA 11 and sell others and go with my original feelings. I think its just being used to a big screen so the familiarity draws you back despite not actually needing it. If in the future i truly need a bigger screen ill prob have the funds to do something and by then MBA's will prob have the backlit etc - but i dont want an external monitor + keyboard etc, i want to stick to all in one devices / portables. Im also probably going to do alittle (or alot) travel this year - which is what initiated the MBA desire - so MBA 11 will be perfect for that. Ill update next week. Thanks for all your posts.
  17. Demosthenes X macrumors 68000

    Demosthenes X

    Oct 21, 2008
    Sell the Pro and buy a nice external monitor for at home. Best of both worlds. :)
  18. jegbook macrumors regular

    Dec 2, 2007
    It seems like the obvious(ish) answer is to sell the MBP and get an external screen to use with the 11" Air for those times you are feeling the need for some extra screen real estate.

    Though the 11" seems like it has a small screen, and physically it is, the 1366x768 resolution actually has more pixels than the 1280x800 screen of the 13" MBP. Many lower end Windows laptops have 15" (or bigger) screens with only 1366x768 resolution.
    I guess my point is that 1366x768 is really a quite useable resolution, so it's not surprising to me that you find it adequate.

  19. jegbook macrumors regular

    Dec 2, 2007
    Keep in mind that if you use an external screen you don't need an external keyboard/mouse setup.
    Though, craning one's next to the side for a while can lead to a sore neck. This is where the MacBook line's inability to open the screens farther annoys me. If you could, you could just flatten the MBA screen with the external directly behind the MBA.

    Always with the tradeoffs!!
  20. French macrumors regular

    Jan 13, 2011
    Great thread with lots of thoughtful real life feedback. You almost had me wishing I had gone with the 11" instead of the 13". my case the 13" is a better fit. I do like the longer battery life and it's my daily driver, but my primary use is in my bedroom sitting in the bed with the air on my lap. And while I do have a desk that I could use and put a monitor on, I know me and I won't. So the 13" for me is a great fit.

    To the OP...I think the suggestion of an external monitor is fabulous. And I saw someone post somewhere that you can plug your monitor it with the lid closed, then move the bluetooth mouse which "wakes up" the computer, and then you can open the lid of the computer and the screen will stay off. I don't know this for a fact...just repeating what I read. But if you wanted to use your air's keyboard without having the screen on maybe that will work.
  21. darrellishere macrumors 6502

    Jul 13, 2007
    I love my 11" but was shocked by the speed and screen real-estate of the 13" when I went to the apple store.

    Wow it felt like a 15" pro! Why didn't I see it before, its taken me 5 months of use to figure it out.

    Now I realise I need a bigger screen for aperture, more power to play my blu-ray rips Which the 11" dose not!!! :(

    and an upgrade in performance that I didn't get coming from a 2 year old revision B with an amazing Runcore SSD. Otherwise its perfect for a large demography of average people. :D
  22. Bakari45 macrumors regular

    Jun 17, 2010
    As I've said before, I like the 13" screen on the MBA, but I don't like carrying around a computer that size. The 11" is just the right size. While the screen is a little small, the computer itself is just the right fit for me. I get jazzed when I take and use my 11" in meetings, or when I'm pecking out some writing while sitting in bed. The Air is not my main computer, but it's most valued one. That's why I visit this forum so often. I like reading and discussing the Air i
  23. robertneville77 macrumors member


    Dec 22, 2010
    Balmora, Vvardenfell
    I have almost the same setup as you. I have the Macbook Air 11" with 4GB ram and 128GB storage. I used to have a Macbook Pro 13" but it got stolen, so I got the Air. Thus the only devices I have now are a Macbook Air 11" and an iPhone 4, and these 2 items get the job done! I'm a college student, so my computer needs are mostly just office stuff and web browsing, with occasional messing around in Garageband, iPhoto and iMovie.

    As for screen real estate, I connect to my 22" external monitor, along with a bluetooth Apple keyboard and Magic Trackpad, and it's similar to working with an iMac (just talking about screen room, not horsepower). Again, that's just me, I read what you said before and realize this is not what you're looking for.

    Amazingly, the Macbook Air can even somewhat game. I've been playing Oblivion with resource demanding mods, and it handles them pretty well. Again, it's not a high-end gaming rig, but you'd be surprised by what it can do.
  24. yuanmoons thread starter macrumors 6502

    Aug 7, 2008
    Back to full MBA 11" love :D ..... been using it all morning without a single thought for screen size ... i think the 1-2 hours yesterday was 15" withdrawal symptoms ...... report more thoughts at some point after weekend ....
  25. Promethe macrumors newbie

    May 25, 2005
    I disagree with saying that 11" MBA is for "average demographic of average people".

    As an software developer that spends over 40 hours per week Xcoding for iOS, I cannot find of a better device for all the developer needs. It's very fast (compilation of hundreds of small files is often not about the processor, but about the disk access), it's super portable (for working anywhere, anytime), and it's just extremely handy when traveling through the TSA checkpoints (if you do four flights every two weeks, getting it in and out of bag becomes a hassle very quickly). With the high resolution screen (135dpi!) the code is very clear even at low font sizes. And when I come home, plugging it into 27" Apple LED Cinema Display just solves the screen estate problems for design. (XIB or OmniGraffle)

    HD movies? I never had anything stutter if it came from iTunes, or was played in VLC. That includes 1080p on the Cinema Display. When watching movies on the go, iPad is even better though.

    And heck, when connected to a couple of collocated Mac minis working as a distributed build farm, this thing is incredibly fast. With i5/i7 and Thunderbolt this thing is going to be an absolute rocker. And hey, with iPhone 4 it even gets live Core Location GPS coordinates and 3G internet.

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