REQ: Reviews of current MacBook Air
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?
2: Do you use your Air as a kind of satellite machine of your desktop, or is your Air also your primary computer?
3: How do you like video display quality and sound quality of your Air? Its battery life and computing performance?
4: Do you run MacOS 10.6 only, or do you run Windows on your Air?
5: How well does software run on your Air?
6: Compared to other laptops, how silent/noisy is your Air?
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?
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?
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?
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?
11: Do you use an external monitor with your Air?
12: What are your most positive experiences with your Air? What do you feel are the Air's most prominent vulnerabilities/shortcomings?
Photos and video demos also welcome in this thread.
--The Mountain Man
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?