The 'MBA as Anti-Desktop' concept [Long]

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by Scartissue, Oct 28, 2010.

  1. Scartissue macrumors member

    Dec 23, 2004
    [This comes from me considering selling a MBP for a MBA, and how that could affect the way I use my technology. As someone who stopped gaming, doesn't photoshop, doesn't edit videos etc, I've been doing some thinking. I'm getting thoughts in order, and thought I'd open the notes up to the floor - if you've got any feedback or responses, hit me!]

    Anti-Desktop? As in, a desktop that isn't a desktop. The idea of a 'computer' that functions as a comfortable desktop, but is totally portable.

    Target user is someone who consumes vast quantities of media (movies, photos, books), uses an office suite (iWork or MS Office etc), organizes media (photos, videos, music, podcasts, documents), and has a social life so entertains frequently, where he needs to provide music, video, etc, for various purpose like movies or slideshows. Not necessarily a non-power-user, but just someone for whom there's actually, absolutely, no need for more power than required to run OSX and perform these basic tasks.


    So, basic ingredients.

    iPhone - Because we all need a smartphone. This could work with android, but assuming someone has nothing like this, and given that this is a mac orientated set-up, I'll stick with this. I don't see a need to specify model, but feel free to correct this.

    iPad - I think the wi-fi 16GB version should be fine.

    MBA 11" - 64GB, 1.4ghz, judging by reports of how it handles the software I'll be considering.

    Apple TV - For connecting to...

    Pico Portable Projector - Requirements for models will vary on user preference and budget, but this line is effectively a pretty well-reviewed series of portable projectors that are about the size of a large cell-phone. They can be battery-powered or plugged in. They project images, from sources including an iPhone, iPad, Mac and Apple TV

    Desktop Speakers - Whatever works for you. For connecting to...

    Apple Airport Express - Because where you keep your speakers for entertaining isn't necessarily going to be anywhere near your laptop, and there's flexibility in being able to move both of these around.

    Airport Extreme - A wireless hub that can handle connections from...

    External HDD's - As many as you want and can hook up via USB hubs (which I think works on the Express, or so some MRoogling tells me.)

    Keyboard, Mouse - as preferred and if required.

    Printer - have you heard of these things? It's rare that one of these won't come with a rebate on the Apple store making it free when you purchase a mac.


    Task performance

    Writing - full-size keyboard on the MBA, excellent (in my experience, preferable to my MBP) iPad keyboard, serviceable keyboard on iPhone. A combination of the notes function/Evernote would keep documents created across all of these machines in sync between each other. Print wire

    Music - Stored on the hard-drives, accessible wirelessly through iTunes on the MBA, controllable from the iPhone and iPad, streamed to speakers wherever they might be.

    Videos - Stored on the hard-drives, accessible wirelessly through iTunes on the MBA, streamed from HDD -> MBA -> AppleTV -> Pico Projector, controllable via iOS

    Calendar, Mail, Addresses - Google Services will sync these across devices for free.

    Media Organizing - iLife '11 seems to be getting strong reports about its performance on the new MBA 11"'s. All media stored wirelessly on HDD connected to Airport Extreme, browsable and sync-able from devices.

    Web - Any of the 3 main devices are at your disposal. Bookmarks synced across devices. Likewise articles like Instapaper and Evernote can improve this experience.


    Some benefits and reasons for this

    It's modular - Rather than a huge investment for all of these devices at once (which, incidentally, comes to around £2000 British, depending on how pro-active you are at scavenging 2nd hand speakers etc, or iPads and iPhones if you're lucky), you start small, with small investments, and add to it. Which is tempting for some. You'd start with an MBA and an iDevice, and work up from there. I'm not sure of the limitations, but you can create a wireless network from a Macbook, which could be useful depending on what you needed first.

    It's portable - take out printer and keyboard if you don't want them and you could pretty much fit this in a shoebox. And if there's anything you need with you somewhere, even a screen, you can take it with you. Which means you know it works, you know how it works, and you never have to panic about moving difficulties again. I mean, none of these devices weighs more than 2.3lb. Cmon!

    Obviously power is a big thing you get with a desktop you don't get here. Which is why it's important we limit ourselves to a user who just doesn't have a need for that power. And the question we're exploring here is if you don't need the expensive power of a desktop, what can you achieve instead that would be more difficult for someone who needs to invest more substantially in a central machine?

    Also, it looks cool. Like, Tony Stark cool.

    The main con I can think of stems around how comfortable this would be to use. As someone who does most of their work on an iPad right now, I can't see it being too much of a stretch...

    Anyway, too much writing, thoughts anyone? I've missed plenty of points, figure I might as just respond to gaping holes in my logic...

  2. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    I more or less stopped reading here as your post was quite long.

    Given that you are not needing processing power for PS, videos or games. The MBA will in fact make an excellent computer for your needs. Both models depending on your portability wishes could easily fill the void.
  3. talkingfuture macrumors 65816


    Dec 4, 2008
    The back of beyond.
    I've been looking at it almost the exact opposite direction to you. I think Apple are using their latest innovations to move people towards ultraportability - the iPad, iPhone, iPod and MacBook Air and a desktop Mac as a home base / server type device.

    I think we may all head towards having a permanently on desktop machine with a massive hard drive to store all our media and then we stream it to an iPad or Apple TV in the room that we want to be in. It can sit there plugged into the mains without a battery running down streaming all your content to your ultra mobile devices but it can also be used via its mouse, keyboard and display to do serious work with no comfort compromises like you may have with a MacBook pro.
  4. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    That seems counter to where the market is heading. There's less and less desktops being sold and more portable machines. Apple is more interested in streaming media now then allowing you to keep it, at least in terms of apple-tv.
  5. godslabrat macrumors 6502

    Aug 19, 2007
    Possibly, but I'll tell you what... I have no interest in a pure "cloud" model. I do, however, like what talkingfuture is describing.
  6. Sanderr macrumors regular

    Jun 14, 2007
    I don't want my personal data to be cloud-based, external HDD's fulfill that job also though.

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