The real difference in 11" vs 13": PALM real estate

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by .exe, Aug 23, 2012.

  1. .exe macrumors newbie

    Aug 23, 2012
    Hello all,
    I am a computer science student about to graduate, and at present, I commute between school and two jobs. After some serious evaluation, I have come to the conclusion that a MBA would be a sound financial investment.

    I spent some time with both the 11" and 13" systems today, and here's what I've found: the screen difference - especially vertically - isn't as significant as I had imaged it would be. I opened up one of my Python projects in Eclipse (with the dock hidden + window maximized), and the 11" managed to fit 41 lines of code, while the 13" fit 51.

    What really made the difference was the size of the palm rest areas. When I placed my hand in proper typing position on both systems, my palms rested on the edge of the 11", while on the 13", I could comfortably fit the entirety of my palms + a little room to spare. This made for a more comfortable experience on the 13".

    Overall, the 13" seems to be a better value because of the larger screen size and resolution, improved battery life, and improved comfort, among other benefits. However - and this could just be me being stubborn - I have fond memories of the 12" iBook that was loaned to me through a school program many moons ago, so I my heart is leaning towards the smaller size, while my head is leaning towards the larger size.

    Is there any product that can extend the size of the palm rest, or otherwise lead to a more comfortable experience on the 11, or should I just shut up and get the 13?

    Thanks for any input/feedback.
  2. MR1324 macrumors 6502

    Nov 22, 2010
    In standard typing position, you should have enough area to rest your palms on the 11". it starts to become a problem when you are using the track pad though.
  3. Bauer24, Aug 24, 2012
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2012

    Bauer24 macrumors regular

    May 18, 2009
    Vancouver, BC
  4. .exe thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 23, 2012
    Doesn't happen too often, but people have exclaimed at the lankiness of my fingers. Can't say they seem disproportionally long to me, but maybe there is some truth to it.
  5. doubletap macrumors regular

    Jan 2, 2009
    Ashburn, VA
    Proper typing technique would have your palms not resting anywhere. ;)

    Once of the reasons I went with the 13 MBA was for the increased palm area. If the edges of the unibodies were rounded, I might have gone with the 11".

  6. GBlansten macrumors regular


    Jun 13, 2012
    Thick Ascending Limb
    For people with acromegaly I really suggest going with the 15" rMBP.
  7. Mike in Kansas macrumors 6502a

    Mike in Kansas

    Sep 2, 2008
    Metro Kansas City
    Maybe 40 lines is the "magic number" when it comes to looking at code, but to me an increase from 41 lines to 51 lines sounds substantial (24%). But I'm not a developer and don't look at code all day! ;)

    I know that the additional ~10,000 pixels helps when looking at photos and videos, which I DO do a lot of.
  8. .exe thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 23, 2012
    That made me smile. I certainly don't have acromegaly ( I learned a new word today). Nor do I have retina display money.
  9. GBlansten macrumors regular


    Jun 13, 2012
    Thick Ascending Limb
  10. 725032 Guest


    Aug 5, 2012
    Easy... Just get the 13"

    There are countless threads already posted containing this same subject.

    Please search before posting
  11. .exe thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 23, 2012
    I may have ended with a question, but this was more so intended to inform than to inquire. I've read many reviews and forum posts, and none that I have encountered mentioned that palm rest is significantly diminished in size. That, to me, may be the deciding factor in what has otherwise been a tied race.

    Sorry if you don't see any merit in that. Hopefully someone else will.
  12. Ibamac macrumors member

    Aug 5, 2012
    I had the same impression and also wondered what I could do. The edge of the computer digging into my wrist was very uncomfortable. I'm hoping I can try the 11" seated at a desk or table so that I'm not bending over to type to see if that's better, as the 11" would suit my needs better than the 13". Thank you for posting your similar experience.
  13. Boomhowler macrumors 6502

    Feb 23, 2008
    Good to hear, I was looking forward to buying an 11" but I haven't really used it outside a store. Have to try that the next time I get my hands on one. Hopefully one can remove the laptop from the table it's standing on so one can test the palmrests in a "real" situation.

    OT: If you get tired of booting up eclipse for python stuff, try Sublime Text 2 or smultron. Wonderful editors :)
  14. plucky duck macrumors 6502a

    Jan 5, 2012
    It did bother me a little bit, until I have it inside a Sena Folio case. Now it's no longer an issue. Regarding palm rest area on the 11" air it's not an issue for me at all, and I rest my fingers on the middle row with my index fingers on F/J. I have average sized hands/palms.

    When I do use the trackpad my palm end up being on the table or in the air.

    I've used the 13" and 11", but the sharp edges on the 11" was never a deal breaker.
  15. orfeas0 macrumors 6502a

    Aug 21, 2010
    Athens, Greece
    It depends on your hand size too, but my hands are actually on the edge of my 11" when typing.
  16. Booji, Aug 24, 2012
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2012

    Booji macrumors 6502a


    Nov 17, 2011
    It really depends on your use - the 270g less weight and smaller form factor can mean a lot of you are always carrying it around. Otherwise, the 13" is a lot more useable.
  17. Miat macrumors 6502a

    Jul 13, 2012
    Get the 13"

    More screen area, more usable screen ratio (more vertical space), better battery. Also has an SD card slot, which may or may not matter to you.

    Though there is certainly something appealing about the 11" form, I give you that.
  18. Ricanlegend macrumors 6502a

    Apr 21, 2009
    The real difference 11" vs 13 " is the palm real estate ? Umm no the big difference is 2 hours more of battery life and a better looking screen
  19. gibbo132 macrumors regular

    Jan 8, 2010
    I have just go the 13" machine and it is truly a fantastically comfortable machine to use, its so light I can use it anywhere and yes there is plenty of space for my wrists on the palm rests.

    I do think that the 11" would be also be a fantastic computer to use, the only downsides with it being no SD card slot. I can't comment on the palm rests though!

    If your using as a primary machine then I would say go for the 13"!
  20. Blackberryroid macrumors 6502a


    Aug 8, 2012
    I totally agree with this. I have owned a 17 Inch, 13 Inch and an 11 Inch. You'll eventually adapt to the screen size. Nothing is too big or too small.
  21. .exe thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 23, 2012
    Confirmation of my "acromegaly" - my hands are longer than my friend's, even though he is taller by 2 inches.

    We both used the 11 today, and I he has no idea what I'm complaining about. I also tried it with a Speck soft case. It helped slightly, but did not solve the problem.
  22. Gopiballava macrumors newbie

    Aug 25, 2012
    I used an 11" as my primary computer for about two years. The narrower palm rest did take a bit of time to get used to, but not that long. The 11" is so much smaller than the 13" if you have a small backpack. I really appreciated the size and weight difference. I rarely if ever felt the 5 hour battery life was a limit for me.

    I spent some time with the 13" air, borrowing one for a week. I didn't feel like the increased screen real estate was worth it. It depends what you do. I ran most apps in Lion's full screen mode.

    I recently got a retina 15". Beautiful screen, fits so much more. But it's so much harder to carry. The 11" can be used in more places, carried in more bags, etc.

    I think the original poster brought up an important point that is ignored.

    I should also add that I eventually bought and travelled with a BT trackpad for my Air. I really found it handy. I haven't wanted to use it on my rMBP.
  23. .exe thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 23, 2012
    Glad to hear that I am not crazy. Has anyone tried these or something similar:
  24. Miat macrumors 6502a

    Jul 13, 2012
    Forgot to mention that I have big hands too, with palms over 5" lengthwise.

    So the extra palm space on the 13" is a significant feature for me.
  25. .exe thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 23, 2012
    Thanks for the recommendations. That is one of the first things I am going to need.

    I have ultimately decided to go with the 13. I will be using the system far too often to sacrifice usability and comfort for a sexy form factor. I went back and used the 11" several times, and I would have to consciously reposition my hands to avoid discomfort. Its definitely something that I could get used to - but with the larger model, it just works. I think that is important - a premium piece of hardware should not have to come with a learning curve.

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