Switching to MBA from MBP

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by east1999, Feb 16, 2012.

  1. east1999 macrumors member

    Apr 1, 2011
    Hey guys,

    I bought the 2011" MBP back when it was launched and I've been considering switching to the MBA ever since. I'm happier with my MBP than I've ever been with any laptop, but I've been wondering if the grass is greener on the other side.

    Since I got the MBP I've been using a messenger bag instead of lugging a backpack, but even so I feel my back hurting every now and then and I'd like to carry a bit less weight than I carry now. I will also be travelling a bit more for work reasons and I've been switching work station more often, so the MBP is not only a little too heavy, but also a pain to work in brighter settings, as everyone knows.

    The display of the MBP is very colorful and a bliss for movie watching, which is great since I no longer own a TV. However, the resolution coupled with the intense color/brightness of the display sometimes hurts my eyes, and I'd like to reduce that strain.

    Though I need to decide this ASAP because the MBP will lose in resale value once the new version is out, I have a few nitpicks with the Air and I'd like to know what you think.

    1) What do you think of the display vs. the MBP? Less gamut, etc?
    2) How do you manage with only 128gb? Do you have Photoshop and heavy games installed or not? How much free space do you usually have? (I'm not really interested in the 256gb model).
    3) Do you feel you have long battery life? I read the "deep sleep" of the MBA actually more efficient battery life, is this true?

  2. Boe11 macrumors 6502a

    Sep 12, 2010
    1. Assuming we're talking 13" vs 13", I prefer the air's screen. There are certainly arguments against it but with the combination of higher resolution and -marginally- better resistance to reflections, I feel that it's the better option. Once you get to the larger MBP screens, they start to run away with it, but in the 13" arena, I think the MBA is better.

    2. Getting an external drive to store some files on is usually the cheapest work around. Personally, I stream most of my media and don't really need all that many extra programs, so I'd probably be fine with 128.

    3. The MBP has marginally better battery performance. How else would they justify that extra junk in the trunk :D

    Personally (again, at least for 13" vs 13") I think the MBA is a great way to go. The things you sacrifice are far outweighed by the things that you gain.

    Best of luck,
  3. abz1981 macrumors 65816

    Jan 3, 2011
    i made the switch from a base model 2010 MBP 13" to a 2011 MBA 13" base model, and I am loving it :)

    It all depends on your needs tho, i certainly don't miss the cd/dvd drive tho.
  4. lamboman macrumors 6502

    Aug 13, 2011
    While I don't have a MBA, I spent the last couple of weeks looking before deciding on the MBP, mainly for the reasons that you are switching to the MBA, oddly!

    The lower colour gamut of the MBA meant that, under heavier lighting, I found text extremely difficult and uncomfortable to read, whereas the MBP was extremely easy. The Apple Store uses what I'd classify as heavy lighting, and makes the MBA far more difficult to look at than the MBP. If your eyes are less sensitive, that might be different for you.
  5. Warhawk15 macrumors regular


    Feb 1, 2012
    I can only answer #2.
    2. I manage pretty well. I try not to buy tons of games, or download free ones on the internet(I'm bad at that sometimes). Right now I've got about 45gb of games on my 128gb ssd, 10gb of music, 11gb of pictures, 20gb for bootcamp(mainly just for school), and about 15gb free. The rest are random apps and system files, the sleep file alone is 4.2gb.

    I have apps in mind and certain files to delete if I get crimped on space, so space is never really a problem. Plus the fact I have all my big video files and other stuff/backup on my 1tb hdd.
  6. Bear macrumors G3

    Jul 23, 2002
    Sol III - Terra
    I find it odd that you're asking this question. The disk space used on the Air would be the same as the Pro for everything you currently have installed. Therefore you should know how much you need. For Games, it's how many games you want to keep installed at the same time and how big they are. For Photoshop, it's how much space you need for the photos you're working on.

    However "heavy games" brings up another issue with the Air. Will 4GB of ram be enough?

    Also, when you consider the weight of the Air, will you need to carry the external optical drive with you?

    As for your display issues on the Pro, it sounds like you would prefer the antiglare screen option that some of the Pro models have.
  7. Scepticalscribe Contributor


    Jul 29, 2008
    The Far Horizon
    I had a 15" MBP (2008) and switched to a 13" MBA in 2010 and never regretted it. I travel a lot, so weight is an issue.

    Plusses: weight, (which is a dream - you do notice the difference), blazingly fast with the SSD, and - to my mind - a better screen with sharper definition.

    Minuses: yes, the battery is better on the MBP, - but I'll still get three and a half hours or so out of the MBA; my solution is to bring the charger and electrics/plug in my briefcase and - if I'm working for hours on end - to use the mains. Overall, the BP is probably more powerful. However, I'm not a gamer, so that aspect doesn't bother me.

    Re 128GB, when I bought it, I assumed this would be enough; however, for a large iTunes library which I am slowly (oh, so slowly) converting to lossless (and so is greedy for space), I am coming to the conclusion that 128 may not be sufficient long term (I'm one of these idiots that likes to have my full music collection on my iTunes library in my computer). So, my next computer will have at least 256GB. But, meanwhile, I'll wait, and make the change later this year. For now, I still have enough space (about 30GBs) if I don't change my entire library over.

    Having said that, the improvement between the SSD and the old HDD is - genuinely - blistering. Once you switch to the SSD - smaller space notwithstanding - there is no going back.

    Good luck with it. ;)
  8. jkim3691 macrumors 6502a

    Oct 8, 2011
    What are some of you talking about when saying the MBP has better battery life ? Apple advertises both as getting up to 7 hours. I've never had a MBP but my Air easily lasts my long Tuesdays. I begin class at 11:00 and use my laptop for an hour from 12:30-1:30 and then have another class at 2. Then I have a long break and use my laptop again from 3:30-5:30 and have class at 6 again until 8:00 and I use my laptop in this class to type notes. This leaves me with about 25% battery life after the day is done without having to charge it at all during the day.
  9. superstarmc macrumors regular

    Jun 13, 2011
    Definently this. You wont regret getting a MBA. Get a 500 gig external hard drive if you've got a lot of movies or uncompressed files. I love it so much because it can go anywhere and it's fast as heck even though it's only 4 gigs. I carry my Mac, iPad amoung other school stuff in one bag.
  10. kettybear macrumors member

    Mar 30, 2011
    1) What do you think of the display vs. the MBP? Less gamut, etc?

    I have many friends that have the 13" MBP and I love the higher resolution of the display of my MBA! I also like how the screen does not have a glare like the regular glass MBP screens. My screen gets lots of finger prints for some reason but you can't see them once the screen is on unlike on the glass screens on the MBP. I have no idea what gamut means, sorry.

    2) How do you manage with only 128gb? Do you have Photoshop and heavy games installed or not? How much free space do you usually have? (I'm not really interested in the 256gb model).

    I got the 256GB model because I wanted to dual boot but I have 170GB partitioned for my Mac side. I still have about 90GB free space left. I have microsoft office installed, portal 2, and some small utility apps. I do not keep many files on my Macbook because I use dropbox and just sync them onto my desktop where all my files are backed up. I do not store songs or movies on my mac and if I do get them, they're transferred off to my desktop.

    3) Do you feel you have long battery life? I read the "deep sleep" of the MBA actually more efficient battery life, is this true?

    It's funny you asked this because my MBA has HORRIBLE battery life. I like to use my screen at around 80% brightness and with that the battery lasts max 4 hours. This is with internet browsing, facetime, and watching Youtube videos.
    As for deep sleep I have no idea what you're talking about because I see no such thing with my macbook. I never shut down my macbook, just close the cover and let it sleep. There have been multiple times when I've closed my laptop with about 1 hour left in battery life and come back the next day to find the laptop completely dead. Maybe I have a dud but my battery life is horrible. However, my friend who has a MBP reports bad battery life, too. It can happen with any apple laptop.

    Overall I recommend the MBA just because it's DARN light and portable. I can't imaging myself lugging around a MBP like my friends in their incase bags. Also, I have no use for the CD drive. I haven't installed programs from disks in AGES and I don't watch DVDs. The only thing I wish the MBA has though is a ethernet jack or an ethernet adapter for the thunderbolt port. I have gige internet at school and transferring files over WIFI/USB can be a pain without ethernet.
  11. joshuaginter macrumors regular

    May 19, 2011
    Great to hear that the battery life of the Air is working out for you. But if you go over to Anandtech's techblog, there is pretty substantial proof showing the 13" MacBook Pro has a longer battery life. Yes, they both advertise 7 hours, but the Pro gets better life.
  12. jkim3691 macrumors 6502a

    Oct 8, 2011
    Cool. 7 hours is plenty for me.
  13. thekev macrumors 604


    Aug 5, 2010
    For games it uses Intel's integrated graphics, and the OSX drivers are not very good. You are unlikely to play any game at high settings, but the same would be true with the 13" mbp. If you want to try, try under Windows as you can find better drivers there.

    Regarding photoshop and gamut and all of that, the laptop displays don't make that stuff very easy. I don't know if it's more difficult on the Air, but I don't consider any of the laptop displays ideal for this. The imac isn't much better either. You're getting a ballpark estimate either way, so if it doesn't look noticeably bad you're probably okay. I doubt buying a colorimeter would give you enough of an improvement to justify the price, and they can give some wacky results if not used correctly. Many do a very poor job with LED backlighting.

    Regarding space, how big are your photos? My files go into gigabytes each. At that point, 4GB of ram would suck. If you're talking about dslr photos with a few layers, that computer won't choke on them.
  14. KohPhiPhi macrumors 6502a

    Feb 9, 2011
    If we're talking about MBP 13" vs. MBA 13", you will not notice any performance loss. They're both pretty much in line (probably because the MBP 13" is not really any "pro" at all).

    I prefer the MBA screen actually: sure, it's less vibrant, but it has a higher screen resolution and it's 100% matte which helps outdoors.

    Regarding storage capacity, I have the 256gb SSD which is more than enough for OSX and applications. I simply have all my videos, music, pictures and films (which is what actually take up storage space) in a compact USB 1Tb external hard-drive.

    And finally, as far as battery, you get around 6 hours of real world usage, which is enough for me.

    I totally recommend you the MBA 13". It's a very mobile-yet-powerful machine. Best laptop I've ever owned.
  15. Bear macrumors G3

    Jul 23, 2002
    Sol III - Terra
    Ahh, but some games suck up a lot of memory even on low settings. They made my iMac page badly when it was only 4GB. (Which admittedly was only a few days.) For some people 4 GB might be enough, but it's something they need to think about.

    I understand for some people the Air makes perfect sense.

    However for others? So now a person is carrying an Air, an optical drive and an external HD? Instead of a Pro? The weight difference becomes very little at that point if not inverted. And an air with DVD and HD having off it gets messy.

    My point is that people need to make sure that if the get an Air, they won't wind up carrying the same weight (or more) anyway. And possibly in a bulkier form.

    The sticking point for an Air for me is I'm not sure I'd be able to live within the 256 GB SSD. 4GB of ram would be fine if it's not my only Mac.
  16. KohPhiPhi, Feb 17, 2012
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2012

    KohPhiPhi macrumors 6502a

    Feb 9, 2011
    Who says anything about carrying an optical drive and an external HD?!? Jesus why would you troll a valid thread like that?

    The optical drive and the external HD sit in my desk at home which is where I need full desktop-replacement capacity. When I'm on the road (or go to an internet cafe) I simply take the MBA which makes the perfect travel companion (the MBP doesnt).

    Think about it for a second: what does actually eat up your hard drive? films, music, pictures, videos and that kind of multimedia stuff, right? Well, just store all that in a USB external drive (which I do), and leave the 256gb SSD for OSX, applications and work files.

    Do you want to watch a few films while on the road? You don't need an DVD or an external hard drive at all: Simply load your films+music in a 32gb pen drive which costs peanuts and weights less than 30 grams. I do that all the time whenever I have a flight or a business weekend trip... and it works WONDERS.

    The MBA is an incredible, powerful and versatile machine. Unless you're a gamer, a video encoder or a pro CAD designer, the MBA can do pretty much EVERYTHING the MBP can.
  17. DFTU101 macrumors member

    May 16, 2008
    I switched from carrying a 15 inch MBP to a 13 inch MBA. It's a lot lighter and portable. That said, just make sure you don't need the power of a MBP (don't do anything video/RAM intensive/high end games). If you don't have a lot of music or video files and don't use bootcamp/parallels/fusion (need Windows), you'll probably be OK with the 128 GB (I have the 256 GB drive) Just know some of the updates for OS X and Microsoft Office for Mac can hugh (0.5-1.0 GB) sometimes.
  18. Bear macrumors G3

    Jul 23, 2002
    Sol III - Terra
    I think you missed my point, I said for some people and Air is fine, and for others, that is what it would become. It all depends on what a person needs.

    I've seen too many people go lightweight on their laptop and all of a sudden have more junk in their bags that used to be internal to their old laptop. And that's all I was reminding people of.
  19. ajohnson253 macrumors 68000


    Jun 16, 2008
    Went from an i7 MBP 13" to an 1.8ghz i7 256Gb mba 13". Couldn't have been happier. The SSD makes all the difference when the computer is asleep and it wakes up do quick. Opening of the applications in an instant. Give it a go you won't regret it!

    Of course the lightweight is also needed, makes a big difference.
  20. Boyd01 macrumors 68040


    Feb 21, 2012
    New Jersey Pine Barrens
    I just upgraded from a dying 2008 15" MBP to a 13" 1.7Ghz/4GB/256GB MBA and am really happy so far. Plugged in my Time Machine backup drive and took a walk while the setup program imported everything. So far, all my old software seems to work fine - Photoshop CS3, VectorWorks 2008, FileMaker Pro 11 and Final Cut Pro 6.

    Did a couple quick benchmarks and the Air easily beats the old MBP - exporting a short HD video clip took 72 seconds on the 2008 MBP but only 42 sec on the MBA. Applying a Photoshop filter took 104 sec on the 2008 MBP but only 26 sec on the MBA.

    I don't know, these numbers might be a little better with the 13" MBP which I was considering. And the firewire port would have been nice, but I can deal with that. IN the end the thin, light form factor, higher resolution screen and mainly the FAST flash drive won me over. If I get back to doing any heavy duty video or 3d work again, I'll want something faster than either of these machines anyway.

    Very happy with my new Air and this has been the most painless transition to a new computer I've experienced yet. Everything was properly imported from Time Machine - programs, files, e-mail, preferences - even the arrangement of desktop icons and dock on both the built-in screen and external monitor.

    I'd say to go for the MacBook Air unless you absolutely need the extra ports, more than 4GB RAM or a big internal hard drive.
  21. shelhed217 macrumors member

    Mar 4, 2010
    I switched from the 15 inch early 2011 MBP to the 13 inch 2011 MBA. I fly every week and the decreased weight has been AWESOME! It does everything I need for work. I also have bootcamp and play SWTOR on the windows side, all on low settings but it gets my by until i get home. I couldn't be happier :D
  22. CWallace macrumors 603


    Aug 17, 2007
    Seattle, WA
    I've had an 2011 MBP 13" since June and just unboxed my 11" MBA. I wanted the MBA, but back in June when I had to make a decision the MBA was still on Core2 and that was a no-go, so went with the MBP. Served me well, but it's overkill for what I need (I have a 27" iMac for the "heavy lifting") and I also have a Thunderbolt Display so I can give the Air access to all my ports and FW drives.
  23. pgiguere1 macrumors 68020


    May 28, 2009
    Montreal, Canada
    The only thing I've noticed about the MBA's color gamut in real world usage is that things that should be slightly red are too red. For example, a sepia photo looks like it has a red tint while it should be brownish. Not a big deal though, the higher resolution is a bigger advantage.
  24. east1999 thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 1, 2011
    Thanks, guys! I got a bit sad because I didn't get any replies, and then I noticed I had the email notifications turned off.

    Like I said, this is really between two laptops because I don't have any money to go for other options, like antiglare screens or 256 SSD.

    Right now I only have 25gb free (320gb HD). I have the Adobe, Office, and iWork kits, and two or three 4gb+ games. My personal folders are small in size, except for video -- I have like 160gb of video, between US shows, foreign anime, and hd movies. This is temporary because I just borrowed a few files from a friend, and I usually have 50gb or something. I can also do without Bootcamp because I've only used it once.

    I have a 3.5" external disk with 500gb and I use it for backups, music I no longer listen to, movies I don't want to watch right now, and old photos I don't look at anymore. I only plug it in like once a week, as I dislike having too much stuff on my desk. I've tried using cloud backups for a few essential files, but still, there's no service offering more than 5 free gb right now, right?

    I'm not really afraid of having less storage space per se, but I like having access to all my files all the time and wouldn't like to have to delete stuff so I can download a TV show or a game. I don't live in the US so I don't have access to stuff like Netflix or Hulu.

    As for the screen, I looked at the MBA at the store today and it didn't look calibrated at all, as if the gamma was lowered, or the blacks weren't deep enough. One of you said that the lower gamut actually hampered reading because (my interpretation) it also messed with contrast. I have read a few reviews that compared the MBP and the MBA screens and some said the MBA felt a little "washed out".

    This is my biggest concern, because I have to do a lot of reading and crossreferencing and I get serious eye strain after a few hours. The MBP screen is really bright and I would appreciate the "distance" using a higher resolution, but only if I don't have to squint all the time. I'd rather get an iPad to read papers.

    Lastly, it looks like everyone has a different experience with the MBA battery, and I get conflicting reports on the "deep sleep" mode. My MBP still goes up to 7h after a year, as long as you keep up with the fine print (50% brightness, keep away from flash or other CPU-intensive uses, etc.). I don't really care for a 1h difference or so, but those of you who've had it longer can say how the MBA battery evolved.
  25. Risasi macrumors 6502

    Sep 16, 2011
    I didn't see what size MBP you currently have...

    I have an early 2011 MBP and also the summer 2011 13" MBA, which my wife uses. I prefer the res on the Air but the actual screen on the Pro. Either one can give me eye strain though, but I notice it faster on the Air. I found by using a stand called the Aviator it raises the screen and brings it close enough I don't get the eye strain and headaches any more. But I keep long hours, usually 10-12 hour workdays. It is enough of a problem I'm considering upgrading to the 15" MBP next refresh.

    Judging from your reaction to he Air you looked at, if you have a 15" Pro I would recommend keeping it. If a 13" Pro, I would consider the Air, the only caveat being wait until the new models are out and see how those screens look.

    P.S. The battery is better on the Pro vs. the Air.

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