Traveling around the world.... With a Macbook Air?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by DoNoHarm, Jul 17, 2009.

  1. DoNoHarm macrumors 65816

    DoNoHarm

    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2008
    Location:
    Maine
    #1
    Hello Everyone,

    I plan on traveling quite extensively over the next few years to rural parts of developing countries and volunteering with healthcare providers and blogging about my experiences. The primary purpose of my computer will be creating blog posts that have photo and video components.

    I've been thinking of getting an SSD MBA and selling my MBP 2.4ghz. Is this a wise choice? HD space is no issue since I use an external drive as my scratch disk already.

    In addition to the travel, another thing pushing me towards a MBA is that in my life here in the US, I use my bicycle daily instead of my car. Transporting the MBP is no big deal, but since I'm powering the transport myself, I think I would notice the lightness of the MBA more than others.

    Thanks for your advice!!!
     
  2. gan6660 macrumors 65816

    gan6660

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2008
    #2
    I would recommend the 13inch MBP instead. Even though the air is very light the MBP isnt much heavier. It will have more power and since your going to 3rd world countries you get 7 hour battery life and it is stronger if you drop it.
     
  3. Mactagonist macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2008
    Location:
    NYC - Manhattan
    #3
    How about a beat up Dell mini9 with OSX installed?

    It doesnt sound like your projected usage will require much computing muscle. Recording video and audio, typing, uploading files etc. A less 'flashy' machine could easily get the job done. Personally, I would have second thoughts about carrying around a machine that costs more then an entire extended family makes in a year in much of the world. Even if you are perfectly safe doing it, is that really the impression you want to make on the people you meet?

    Spend some money on a waterproof, dustproof method of storage for the laptop, extra batteries and a way to charge multiple batteries at once from 'lower tech' equipment like a generator.
     
  4. jmoore5196 macrumors 6502a

    jmoore5196

    Joined:
    May 19, 2009
    Location:
    Midwest US
    #4
    I'd respectfully disagree with the advice to opt for an MBP instead.

    I travel around the world, and I can tell you that extra 1 1/2 pounds weighs in - pardon the pun - after awhile on the road.

    The MBA is perfect for the kind of travel you anticipate. The thing I really love about this computer is that the thin profile allows it to fit into my AmeriBag shoulder bag without difficulty. I keep mine in an Incipio sleeve; after security checks, I pop the MBA (still in the sleeve) into my shoulder bag and go.

    I've travelled with both a 15" MBP and my MBA; suffice it to say I'll never travel with an MBP again. In fact, I came back home and sold mine after my last trip with it.

    And, IMHO, the screen quality of the MBA beats the washed-out appearance of the screens on the new MBPs.
     
  5. caonimadebi macrumors regular

    Joined:
    May 7, 2009
    #5
    what you need is an inexpensive netbook, preferably one that runs os x (such as mini 9). Macbook Air is a attention-catching, yet very fragile machine. Abroad in a foreign country (3rd world , 2nd world or otherwise), it's gonna get damaged, or stolen or both. In addition, it may be desirable to have a battery that's replaceable on the field, when you don't always have access to AC power. MBA's battery is really inadequate (3-4 hours), if you plan to use it in the field.
    Dell Mini 9's may be your best bet.
     
  6. magbarn macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2008
    #6
    Honestly I'd keep the MB and just get a 2nd battery for those times you're away from power. Or if the extra weight of the battery is too much, I'd still keep the MB for simple reason: the optical drive. Most countries have DVD/CD drives and you'll be able to burn your work or read discs that others may have into your computer. The air air can do that too, but then you'd have to lug a extra peripheral.

    EDIT:
    Acutally agree with the others recommending a cheap <$400 netbook for your travels. Much less likely to be stolen and less of a loss if it does. Besides for basic word processing, it's all you need.
     
  7. MacModMachine macrumors 68020

    MacModMachine

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    Apr 3, 2009
    Location:
    Canada
    #7
    really?

    have you owned a macbook air?

    there far from fragile and would for a joke outlast any netbook.

    mba for travel...nothing else, the air is as fast as the 15" mbp people that say otherwise have never owned one.

    the mini 9 with osx is illegal and SLOW....
     
  8. Mactagonist macrumors 6502a

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    Location:
    NYC - Manhattan
    #8
    Just wait until your hinge breaks. :) Then you will understand what those of us who have owned Airs are talking about when we say it is more fragile then a MBP or many netbooks.

    Violation of Apples EULA for OSX is a civil issue, not a criminal one. And its validity in a court of law is far from certain.

    The mini9 would be more then fast enough for the uses the OP describes.


    The MBA can be a great machine for someone who demands light weight and portability. But that doesnt make it perfect for every situation. Automatically recommending it simply because you like it and it works for you is doing the OP a great disservice.
     
  9. Scottsdale macrumors 601

    Scottsdale

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    Sep 19, 2008
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    #9
    I highly recommend the MBA. They are a thing of beauty. However, they are fast (with SSD), solid, and have a full sized keyboard. It runs OS X without problems or legality issues. The MBA was made for the type of use you have in mind.

    Good luck and safe travels...
     
  10. MacModMachine macrumors 68020

    MacModMachine

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    Apr 3, 2009
    Location:
    Canada
    #10

    installing software thats retail and you have not paid for is stealing , modifying source code without the authors permission is also criminally illegal.



    both of those are done when you install osx on the mini 9.
     
  11. DoNoHarm thread starter macrumors 65816

    DoNoHarm

    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2008
    Location:
    Maine
    #11
    The sad reality is that families in places I go to won't make enough to afford a MBA even in two years. That's how it is. That being said, I don't think the reaction towards my MBP, potential MBA, or Dell Mini will have significant differences. So I don't want to endure a Dell Mini just to "fit in". And in the event that it gets stolen, big deal, I'm covered by renters insurance.

    People have raised concerns of durability. While this is of importance, I'll have applecare so if there are hinge problems, i can get it addressed for the first three years. after that the machine may be obsolete anyways.

    Battery length is an issue I didn't think about.... That is a big advantage for the MBP.

    In terms of computational power, i think 2ghz is my minimum, which rules out the dell mini.

    The fact that the ram isn't upgradable is also a big minus for the MBA. 2gb will seem pretty paltry in a couple of years.....

    Thanks for the advice, everyone! I'm still on the fence, however...
     
  12. queshy macrumors 68040

    queshy

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2005
    #12
    Really? I never read about any "durability" trials between the MBP and MBA.

    To the OP, the MBA is incredible for travel. It's really nice having such a thin and light machine that does everything you need it to. Moreover, the last thing I would call the MBA is fragile. It would "physically" outlast any $300 netbook. If you're worried about getting it stolen/damaged, then you can get a netbook instead. However, that doesn't seem to be a concern to you since you have traveler's insurance.

    Have a safe trip!
     
  13. duky macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2007
    Location:
    North Carolina
    #13
    I think the idea here is that Apple refuses to cover it in certain cases --even if you have Applecare as it's considered "physical damage" rather than "poor construction". Had it happen to a friend and he had to pay $600 he said to have it fixed.

    Nonetheless, I'd recommend getting the Air for what you do. Though, if you're going to tropical climates I don't know how the Air will like all that heat :eek:
     
  14. bossxii macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2008
    Location:
    Kansas City
    #14
    The MBP covers all bases and then some for you. I've spent enough time with a Rev B MBA to know the hinge is the weak link it it's design. Aside from the fact a new MBP's batter will last 2x that of the MBA, if you should need the CD drive, USB ports etc... why not have them with you at all times vs carrying yet more gear. Yes the MBP is 1lb more but it's at least all connected in my opinion a much more rigid MBP.

    It seems since your going to rural area's where battery life may be important going for the best/longest battery life would be a concern.

    There is always the "list" haha, put down what you need the laptop to do then list the pro's and con's for each.

    Battery, weight, drives, connections etc...

    Good Luck as I have been thru that choice twice in the recent months, first time went with the MBA Rev B as I was just taken in by the "cool" factor, after using it daily for close to 6 months, realized the MBP was the one for me by far. While I didn't have any technical break downs with the MBA, the hinge had become loose in only about 90 days where it moved way more then I thought it would and frankly felt kinda cheap considering the money Apple charges for them at the time.

    Good Luck with your trip and decision, hope all goes well.
     
  15. duky macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2007
    Location:
    North Carolina
    #15
    2.5lbs more rather; I think that's a significant weight reduction. But you're right about having all the peripherals inside, assuming he's going to be needing to use CDs/DVDs on his trip, which I don't think he did,
     
  16. maroulis macrumors member

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2006
    #16
    much heavier? we're talking 3 vs 4.5lbs.. This is my issue why I'm with MBA, the 15 MBP is 5.5lbs so it's better functionality/weight ratio compared to 13" MBP

    I had a rev A MBA w/80GB HDD and recently switched to rev C MBA w/128GB SSD and I'm loving every minute of it :)
     
  17. bossxii macrumors 68000

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    Nov 9, 2008
    Location:
    Kansas City
    #17
    If were splitting hairs at least get the facts right :D 13" MBA is 3.0 LBS, 13" MBP according to Apple's site is 4.5, so it is a 1.5 LB diff, not 2.5. We were both wrong, I should have checked myself ;)

    And yes he didn't mention needing a CD/DVD, another thought I took into account was if I'm traveling the world, I'm probably taking video and pictures, maybe he will upload everything, if not the MBP can provide up to 500 gigs of storage vs 128gig cap on the MBA. He may not but was also something I thought about/considered when responding.
     
  18. DoNoHarm thread starter macrumors 65816

    DoNoHarm

    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2008
    Location:
    Maine
    #18
    actually I don't think it's a big deal. Even in Kathmandu, Nepal, i remember that almost every photo shop has a service where they take stuff off your computer with a usb stick and burn a cd for you.

    With recording video, I'll need an external storage drive regardless of which computer I end up using.
     
  19. caonimadebi macrumors regular

    Joined:
    May 7, 2009
    #19
    Yes I own a MBA and it's by far my favorite computer. However i wouldn't even take it to gym (like I did with the rugged thinkpad x61) let alone out in the field, given how fragile it is.
    There's nothing illegal about installing a program I paid for on a computer I like
     
  20. lixuelai macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2008
    #20
    You buy the retail copy of OSX so you did pay for it. You do not modify any source code when you install it...

    edit: *points to your sig* You have a Mini9 with OSX?

    Anyway as a MBA owner I agree that you probably won't want to use it in the field. You are more than welcome to try however, might give me more confidence about my MBA. But from my experience a MSI Wind will take more abuse than the MBA.
     
  21. IgnatiusTheKing macrumors 68040

    IgnatiusTheKing

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    Location:
    das Fort
    #21
    I think the MBA would be ideal for your uses EXCEPT for the fact that the battery life is less than ideal. If you're sure that you will never need to use it for more than four hours or so between charges, go for it!
     
  22. mac jones macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2006
    #22
    I would take a decent Netbook. You could replace it is there was a problem.

    They are becoming the tool of choice for globe trotters (like pilots,etc.)

    makes sense.

    Don't get fancy. ;)
     
  23. bossxii macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2008
    Location:
    Kansas City
    #23
    That's great, I hope you have a shop close to do that, I would however take your own USB drives if you buy the Air because not all USB drives will even fit in the USB port if they are not in a slim case (yet something else to deal with). So the AIR means you need to figure out which USB drive will fit due to the MBA's case design, then pay someone to copy your media to a CD, which if you need access to that CD you will need to carry the external CD drive as well (so much for saving weight).

    MBP = take some DVD's with you burn em yourself. Prior to leaving the states put a 500 gig HDD which will hold 40+ hours of HD video, thousands of pics and download to DVD whenever you wish and have full access to all of your media anytime, anywhere.

    One last thought considering you will have external HDD for video as you stated, MBP has Firewire 800 for fast transfers vs the MBA with USB only. MBP with a internal 500 gig drive + 2.5" external at 500 gig in a FW 800 case is pretty mobile setup with 1TB of storage. While I've not traveled outside the states on my motorcycle, I've traveled thousands of miles packing everything for 2 people on into 3 bags and a few storage compartments. I loved having my original 07 Macbook and it only had a 250gig drive. Since we were always in the states I didn't worry to much about finding DVD's or parts should I need another external drive, but even now I just prefer the "all in one" features the MBP now offers.

    Cost not being a factor I assume, the MBP may not be as "sexy" it's just more practical, but hey your the one that has to be happy with it, so hope you decide and and everything works out great :)
     
  24. Psychmike macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2008
    #24
    I'm sure you understand your needs better than I do but let me weigh in with the following:

    1) Power. Depending on where you are going, access to electricity may be a significant issue. The new Macbook Pros have phenomenal battery life. Getting a net book (which can use a lot less power with a smaller screen and SDD drive) and a couple of extra batteries may work as well. In my opinion, the Macbook Air seems like the least diserable option with a non-replaceable smallish battery. Also, some places sell solar trickle chargers.

    2) Data security. Depending on where you are going, access to the internet for uploading may be an issue. My sister traveled for 6 months in South America and regularly mailed back canisters of film so in case her bag was lost or stolen, she'd only lose her most recent photographs. In any case, I would buy a few cheap USB keys or burn some CDs and regularly mail them back home with your photos / blogs.

    Good luck and safe travels.

    You didn't ask, but my humble advice regarding travel aborad to help others is that you can do far, far more working closer to home. There is great value in directly connecting and communicating and sharing your travel experiences with the world but the income you can earn here and the cost of travel often greatly exceeds the value of labour that you can do there. Just my 2 cents but I definitely, definitely understand that seeing people's stories and sharing them helps us all to open our hearts as well.

    Looking forward to seeing your trip photos! Give us the web address of your blog!

    Best,
    Michael
     
  25. caonimadebi macrumors regular

    Joined:
    May 7, 2009
    #25
    One important thing that I forgot to mention about the MBA...it takes a LONG time (3-4 hours) to fully charge up the battery. This is a big handicap you may get if you go with the MBA. The new battery in MBP is years ahead of the one in MBA, in terms of the technology it uses
     

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