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REQ: Reviews of current MacBook Air

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  • misterN
    replied
    Well.. I know this is a bit of an old thread, but I was just sold on the 11 inch macbook air. I had been going between the 11 and 13 inch airs. I have a friend who works at apple, and his apple discount can be applied to their refurbed computers. So it looks like I'll be able to get a maxed out 11 inch air for around 1075!

    Thanks for the insight!

    Leave a comment:


  • MtnMan
    replied
    The Slate article makes a legitimate point about the "fad" nature of wired connections from a consumer/TV standpoint.

    From a computer / I.T. standpoint, Thunderbolt has the potential to blow away USB and FireWire. In the case of a MacBook Air and other sub-notebooks, Thunderbolt can replace the Air's display port and open new doors by using an adaptor to hook USB and FireWire peripherals to a Thunderbolt cable as well as an external monitor through daisy-chaining. This could really expand the functionality of sub-notebooks by leaps and bounds.

    Leave a comment:


  • JohnDel
    replied
    ThunderBolt Pros and Cons

    Interesting article with ThunderBolt pros and cons.

    http://www.slate.com/id/2286406/

    Leave a comment:


  • MtnMan
    replied
    The two major holdouts for me acquiring a MacBook Air for my parents right now are (1: money, which is currently in short supply, and (2: the recent introduction of MacBook Pro line of computers, which now come with even faster processors, and, more importantly, the new "ThunderBolt" (aka LightPeak) technology.

    I don't think I need to explain what it means when money is tight, so we'll skip the whole Recession / Depression thing. When money comes available, we'll probably replace my parents' aging white MacBook with a newer Apple laptop. It will most likely be an Air.

    The thing that makes me glad I don't have the money right now is that this new Thunderbolt bus technology (MacRumors article with embedded Engadget video; MACWORLD magazine web-article about Thunderbolt; Another MacRumors article with embedded video, this time a promo from Intel) really promises to help current computer connection technology take a significant leap forward. This is what FireWire was supposed to become. I'm thinking that maybe I should wait until Thunderbolt makes its way to the Air, so there's no hurry.

    Leave a comment:


  • marbenais
    replied
    Originally posted by holoholo View Post
    For me, I already have a 13" Macbook Al, so the form factor and weight between the 13" MBA was not significant, the 11" was.

    I also forgot to mention, that a previous favorite of mine was the 12" powerbook, which I used to lug everywhere with me. The 11" model seemed more closely related to that old friend.



    Agreed, forgot about that.
    My current laptop is STILL the 12" PowerBook. I've been using it for many years now, and I'm tempted to not continue to upgrade it (I keep getting the biggest ATA hard drive as they make them bigger, and getting new batteries -- I'm on the 4th one!) and save money for the 11" MBA. I've been using my iPhone 4 for everything I can't do on my laptop (Netflix!) but it would be nice to watch things on a bigger, better screen.

    However, my 12" PB has been my only computer for . . . erm . . . five? years now, and I haven't heard of anyone using the 11" MBA as their main/only computer. In an ideal world, I would get an iMac and the little MBA (well, okay, if it were REALLY ideal, I would get one of the 20" G4 iMacs -- I had the first set of the "desk lamp" ones as soon as it was released in 2002 -- and put a Mac Mini in the dome!), but I'm not in a place to be able to afford TWO computers. Besides, the 11" MBA is wider than the 12" PB due to the widescreen format, and I really like having my laptop be the same dimensions as a paper notebook.

    I love my 12" PB dearly, but it's not going to last forever. I just need to be able to have only one computer, and no one has been able to say the 11" MBA can do that.

    Leave a comment:


  • MtnMan
    replied
    For those Ristretto owners who are interested: I posted a thread in the "Pictures & Video" forum on this site to solicit photos from Ristretto owners. I would like to see current-generation Ristretto-for-Air photos to see what an Air and a Ristretto look like together. Also: if any of you own a MacBook Pro or an iMac, I'd like to see what an Air looks like next to these larger machines. You can post in the same thread.

    Leave a comment:


  • MtnMan
    replied
    ^ No. That decision is still a ways off. As of today, money is way too tight.

    I am mostly looking at this discussion to help me down the road if/when my parents decide to replace their aging white first-generation MacBook. I am currently on a 2.33 GHz MacBook Pro (pre-Unibody). For me to retool my situation for using an Air as my laptop, I'd probably have to replace my current desktop (G4 iMac) with a newer, much more powerful desktop (I do lots of video editing, photo editing, and DTP work, among other things) before I could address my laptop solution. I use Final Cut Studio and I have edited many hours of video (DV and HDV) on my MBP. I would prefer to have a better desktop solution for editing before I could buy an Air for myself.

    Leave a comment:


  • ncb4
    replied
    11 inch versus 13 inch Macbook Air

    I think everyone else has said everything that needs to be said about the Late 2010 Macbook Air(s). I love mine: the only con I can think of is the small storage size of the SSD, but by keeping my photos on a portable hard drive the size of a deck of cards, that's not a big issue either. I bought the 128GB 11-inch air, and I was able to install all the apps and docs and data I normally use, as well as my entire iTunes library, with more than 60GB of free space leftover. So when I travel, I'll have plenty of room to download photos off my camera; I just have too many photos from prior years to keep them all on the Air.

    I went with the stock 2GB of RAM and 1.4 gHz processor, a little nervously. But I've been blown away with how well and how fast the Air performs regardless. I also have a 2.53 gHz 15-inch Macbook Pro with 4GB of RAM, and for most tasks, I can't tell a speed difference between them. The Air is remarkably fast and powerful; I don't feel any compromise in performance at all. (Though I don't do things like video or music editing which might tax the Air, and I use iPhoto, not Aperture.)

    I was also concerned about the small size of the 11-inch Air's display, and about pixel density, but the clarity of the screen is astoundingly good, so it hasn't been a problem even for my post-LASIK monovision eyes. The viewing angle is excellent; much better than on the 13-inch Macbook Aluminum Unibody that I sold in order to purchase the Air.

    MtnMan asked why we chose the 11 inch over the 13, and the answer is simple: size size size. The 13-inch Air weighs more than the 11 inch, and perhaps more importantly, its footprint is much larger as well. (Important when you're trying to fit your laptop and your tea on one of those tiny tables in Starbucks etc.) For years I've been looking for a lightweight portable laptop that I could carry around in my purse if I chose (OK, so I carry large purses!), and my shoulders wouldn't start to ache in ten minutes. The 11-inch is finally the answer to that search. When I saw it sitting next to the 13-inch Macbook Air at PeachMac, I didn't even have to think about it. I fell in love with the 11-inch, and in the month I've owned it, I haven't regretted that for a moment. This is the perfect laptop for me. Its works so well that I could use it as my primary machine, and its so lightweight that I don't even remember I have it when I carry it around with me.

    I had considered the iPad, but ultimately rejected it because the apps I depend on every day, both for work and play, are crippled in their iPad versions, and I couldn't do everything I needed to do on the iPad. Plus I'm a keyboard person. Yes, I could carry a Bluetooth wireless keyboard around with the iPad, but that would be one more thing to carry. Why do that when I can have a keyboard integrated into a sleek machine?

    I'm still experimenting with how to carry it. I use a LittleSwift as my daily purse, and there's already so much stuff in it that there's no room to spare for my Air. (Though I can tuck it in there; it will stick out over the top of the Little Swift, but it does fit. I wouldn't want to do that on a regular basis, however.) I also have a full-size Swift, and the Air in its slipcase will easily fit in that, but that's too big for everyday. So like Goldilocks, I've been looking for something in between. I own both an Imago and a 1st-generation Ristretto. Both will readily accommodate the 11 Air, but the Imago has ended up becoming my dedicated camera bag. Maybe it's time to buy another Imago, but my budget is still recovering from the purchase of the Air. (Still waiting for that Tom Bihn camera insert; I bought a small one from another company and I've got that in there along with several lenses and other camera accessories.)

    So for now at least, the 1st-generation Ristretto is it. I sewed my own envelope-style slipcase for the Air after seeing some great designs on Etsy.com. I wanted something that would preserve the slim profile of the Air, but give it some protection from bumps, scratches, and water. By using 3mm industrial felt, I was able to do all that. (I may post photos later.) I had to use Velcro to close the flap, which isn't ideal, but it works. And I sewed an Ultrasuede "grip" on the bottom, to add visual interest, but also as a soft cushy place to hold the case. When the Air is in its slipcase, it adds a little length, so when I place it in the laptop portion of the Ristretto, it does stick up a tiny bit. I'm still easily able to fold and tuck the flap over it, however, and there's no problem closing and latching the outer flap, so it works pretty well.

    Oh, and I didn't purchase the Superdrive. The Air comes with a tiny USB flash drive that has the restore software on it. To move everything from my Unibody to my Air, I first made a bootable clone of the Unibody to an external USB drive, then connected that to the Air and used Migration Assistant. I can do something similar to install new software if it comes on CDs or DVDs, so I don't see the need of a SuperDrive. However, should I ever want one, Samsung makes a small portable DVD drive that sells for around $45 on Amazon.

    That's about it. Hope this helps, MtnMan. Have you decided what you want to do yet?

    Leave a comment:


  • wennefer
    replied
    I bought the 13 in Air (2.13 GHz CPU, 4 GB RAM, and 256 GB SSD). I wanted the Air as a travel machine because of the weight, thinness (makes it easy to pack), and battery life (which is great as long as you avoid Flash). I wanted a machine that I could program on (mostly dynamic languages like Python and Ruby), create XML/OWL, and use Tinderbox (a "personal content assistant" for writing, analyzing, managing, and visualizing notes). I also remotely connect to work via Citrix (there's a great Citrix client app in the MAS). I felt that the screen size of the 11 in Air was too limiting. The 13 in Air has the resolution of my 15 in MacBook Pro, and to a large extent it has replaced the MBP.

    At home we have an iMac which houses our documents and iTunes library, has our scanner attached, and serves as the print server for our iOS devices. Usually my partner uses it, and I had been using the MBP. Now I find myself using the Air. It is light and doesn't get hot, so it's a perfect laptop machine (perhaps the first!). I can carry it from room to room. It wakes up instantly from sleep. And the performance is amazing (probably because of the SSD storage). I don't run Photoshop or Lightroom on it (they're on the iMac and MBP), but everything else, from databases to web browsing to Tinderbox, is fine.

    I don't mind it being only USB, but that's because the iMac and MBP have FireWire (I download raw files from my Nikon over FireWire). Although at some point I might miss not being able to put the Air in FireWire target mode, or mount another computer on the air.

    I have the USB -> Ethernet connector for the places I go to without WiFi. I also bought the SuperDrive; I've checked it out by installing some software but got mainly to be able to play DVDs when not at home (haven't actually done that yet). And I have a USB hard drive for making cloned backups with SuperDuper!

    And to bring things back to Tom Bihn... I carry the Air in a cache which is either in my Imago or Swift (usually with my iPad, in its cache).

    Leave a comment:


  • holoholo
    replied
    Originally posted by MtnMan View Post
    I noticed one obvious pattern immediately upon reviewing the comments upthread: Every one of you chose the 11-inch model.

    What was it about the 11 inch that made you choose it over the 13-inch?
    For me, I already have a 13" Macbook Al, so the form factor and weight between the 13" MBA was not significant, the 11" was.

    I also forgot to mention, that a previous favorite of mine was the 12" powerbook, which I used to lug everywhere with me. The 11" model seemed more closely related to that old friend.

    Originally posted by Foggy Morn View Post
    I echo what the others have said, though I do miss the lighted keyboard (I also have a first gen MBA).
    Agreed, forgot about that.

    Leave a comment:


  • bchaplin
    replied
    Originally posted by MtnMan View Post
    I would appreciate it very much if participants in this forum who own and use the newest (Fall, 2010) generation of Apple's MacBook Air would post their reviews of this product line.

    Some things I would like to know from Air owners:

    1: What kind of tasks do you perform with your Air, and how do you like it compared to your previous laptop machine?
    I use it for downloading photos on trips, and as a traveling companion to my larger laptop. Ironically, I bought my 13inch MBP before this came out as a 'travel laptop', but this is so much better. So yes, I have two laptops.

    2: Do you use your Air as a kind of satellite machine of your desktop, or is your Air also your primary computer?
    satellite - There's not enough space on the hard drive for it to be my primary computer.

    4: Do you run MacOS 10.6 only, or do you run Windows on your Air?
    I bet it would run Windows OK but haven't yet bothered to install it.

    5: How well does software run on your Air?
    Lightroom is OK, sometimes it is slow. But for my purposes it is fine. Other software (my database program, iTunes, genealogy programs) are fine.

    6: Compared to other laptops, how silent/noisy is your Air?
    The MBA is quieter.

    7: What configuration is your Air in terms of overall size, CPU speed, RAM, and storage? (Note that I did not say "hard drive size") How much did you pay for your Air? Also: did you purchase Apple's ultra-portable SuperDrive with your Air, and what do you think of it?
    11inch, maxed out

    9: How do you carry your Air? How often do you carry your Air? What do you pack with your Air when you travel/commute with it? What is your preferred packing solution for your Air?
    In a Waterfield sleeve, which is very protective but probably overkill, and too heavy and bulky. That goes in either my Imago or another similar bag I have.

    10: What do you think about your Air's connectivity? Do you like going all-USB? What kind of USB accessories do you carry with your Air and how do you use them? Have you ever plugged a USB hard drive and some other USB accessory into your Air at the same time and been less-than-enthusiastic with the results?
    I use portable hard drives with USB connections; no issues. I carry an SD card reader that plugs in to the USB port. The no-optical-drive thing is a pain, but since I have a second computer and a strong wireless connection in my house, software installs fine by using the optical drive on the 2nd computer.

    11: Do you use an external monitor with your Air?
    Yes, when I am home and need the extra screenspace.

    Leave a comment:


  • Foggy Morn
    replied
    I echo what the others have said, though I do miss the lighted keyboard (I also have a first gen MBA).

    I'm a writer and that's what I use my MBA11 for with Scrivener, Dropbox... a few other apps (Evernote is a must, and MacJournal), nothing processor intensive since I keep this gem for writing only. I have an iMac (with a 1TB hard drive) so have plenty of room there for other stuff.

    Let's see, my MBA11 is the same as most of the other ones mentioned: 1.6, 4GB, 128GB SSD. I adore the SSD! I've been around tech far too long and come from a tradition of fragile hard drives, so it's wonderful to not have to worry about it.

    Mostly I carry it in a TB Cache, tucked into either a Synapse or another bag. (Note that I have one of the first Ristrettos for my first gen MBA (13") but I find it's too small for all the stuff I like to carry with me. The newer Ristrettos look much bigger (at least deeper (front to back)).)

    I carry the MBA11 to my office (where I have an old HP 1220 laserjet set up with an Airport Express) and carry it home and carry it around the house. I also have a portable Canon i80 (a model older than the one mjb mentioned) with bluetooth and a battery, so I'll take that with me if I think I'll be needing to print in color (usually I only do that with research photos and pics, so rarely need it) or am going somewhere other than my office and will feel the need to print.

    When at home, I use print sharing on my iMac so I don't need to hook it up to anything to print. I still have my SuperDrive from when I bought one for my first gen MBA and it works fine though I think I've only used it once. The two USB ports are nice (the first gen MBA has only one), especially when I need to plug in my cell modem or mifi.

    I usually keep it on in sleep mode, so I just open the lid and I'm ready to go. Love it. I have far too many electronic gadgets (which is probably clear from all the gear I have mentioned... I won't list all the stuff, but will add that I also have a current-but-soon-not-if-rumors-prove-true MBP 13" and the iPad) and the MBA11 is definitely at the top of the list.

    I can't speak for others, but imo there's not that much of a difference between the MBA 13" and the MBP 13". Some weight, of course, but the big difference comes in with the MBA11. It's just a jewel of a computer.

    Leave a comment:


  • mjb
    replied
    Originally posted by holoholo View Post
    12. It's what I've been looking for, as I wanted a lighter weight travel computer, and just didn't see using the ipad for what I wanted it to do.
    Same here. I bought an iPad last summer and while I loved it, there are certain things I need to do all the time (making PDFs, printing/editing Excel and Word docs with proper formatting) that were just too much of a pain w/ the iPad (at the time).

    As I was mostly interested in losing weight/footprint, the Air is perfect for me.

    Leave a comment:


  • MtnMan
    replied
    I noticed one obvious pattern immediately upon reviewing the comments upthread: Every one of you chose the 11-inch model.

    What was it about the 11 inch that made you choose it over the 13-inch?

    Leave a comment:


  • mjb
    replied
    Originally posted by MtnMan View Post
    1: What kind of tasks do you perform with your Air, and how do you like it compared to your previous laptop machine?
    I'm a (rock band) tour manager and sound engineer, and I bought the 11" to reduce my load while on tour. The weight and size are perfect for touring.

    I do Excel/Word, Quickbooks, other office-y apps, and some light audio work (Reaper, Cubase, Pro Tools).

    2: Do you use your Air as a kind of satellite machine of your desktop, or is your Air also your primary computer?
    My home iMac has my iTunes library and personal finance files. I also do any heavier Photoshop or audio work on the iMac. All my other files are either in Google Docs or Dropbox, so I don't really have/need a "primary" computer -- I can get at anything from pretty much anywhere, including my iPhone.

    3: How do you like video display quality and sound quality of your Air? Its battery life and computing performance?
    Video display is great. Speakers are a bit of a let-down (too quiet, compared to my MacBook), headphone jack is fine, of course. Battery life is excellent so far.

    Processor-intensive stuff (rendering audio files) is noticably slower, but for regular office stuff/web browsing, it's perfectly fine.

    4: Do you run MacOS 10.6 only, or do you run Windows on your Air?
    Just Mac OS.

    5: How well does software run on your Air?
    Haven't had any compatibility problems yet.

    6: Compared to other laptops, how silent/noisy is your Air?
    Dead silent. I do not miss the sound of hard drives and DVD drives spinning up.

    7: What configuration is your Air in terms of overall size, CPU speed, RAM, and storage? (Note that I did not say "hard drive size") How much did you pay for your Air? Also: did you purchase Apple's ultra-portable SuperDrive with your Air, and what do you think of it?
    2 GB RAM, 64 GB SSD, 11".

    Paid $956 or something at MacMall including shipping (via the aadvantageeshopping.com shopping portal, so I earned triple AA miles.)

    I don't have a SuperDrive, and don't want one.

    8: What is your appraisal of the Air in terms of its portability? How do you like its relatively light weight and small size compared to other laptops?
    I love it. Wouldn't trade it for anything else on the market right now.

    9: How do you carry your Air? How often do you carry your Air? What do you pack with your Air when you travel/commute with it? What is your preferred packing solution for your Air?
    In a TB Cache, inside my Empire Builder.

    In "tour manager" mode, I carry a Canon ip90 printer, a stock of blank paper, money bags, documents, lots of receipts, etc. In "sound engineer" mode, I carry a bunch of microphones, headphones, and other stuff.

    10: What do you think about your Air's connectivity? Do you like going all-USB? What kind of USB accessories do you carry with your Air and how do you use them? Have you ever plugged a USB hard drive and some other USB accessory into your Air at the same time and been less-than-enthusiastic with the results?
    I kinda wish it had a FireWire port, only because I have some FireWire-only audio interfaces I'd like to use. I also wish it had a line input. Otherwise, I use external USB hard drives and have no problems.

    11: Do you use an external monitor with your Air?
    No.

    Good luck!

    Leave a comment:

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