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Thread: MacBook Air 11-inch discussion thread

  1. #1
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    MacBook Air 11-inch discussion thread

    I recently started another thread in this forum because my parents will eventually be in the market for a replacement for their aging white MacBook.

    I decided to split off that thread with this new one focusing on the 11-inch MacBook Air. While it is not clear my family will want one, I may want an ultra-ultra compact MacBook somewhere down the road. ( I currently use a 21-inch Fall, 2012-vintage iMac desktop machine, 2.9 GHz Core i5 processor, 8 GB RAM, 1 TB int. HDD, Apple external USB SuperDrive as my primary machine. Having an MBA around might help me do things on the road.)

    I would like to solicit the experiences of late-model 11-inch MacBook Air (MBA) users.

    What brought you to the 11-inch model, as opposed to the 13-inch MBA? How much of your decision was based on size? How much was based on cost?

    What applications do you run on your 11-inch MBA? Do you use Microsoft Office? Do you use iPhoto? Do you use iWork (Pages, Keynote, Numbers)?

    Do you run Microsoft Windows on your MBA?

    Do you watch movies, while traveling, on your MBA?

    Do you think the omission of an SD card slot on the 11-inch MBA is an issue or a non-issue? Do you carry an external camera card reader with you?

    What is your impression of the performance and usability of your MBA?

    Do you also use a desktop computer as a companion to your MBA?

    What vintage is your 11-inch MBA? What processor does it have? How much RAM does it have? How much SSD internal storage does it have?

    What Tom Bihn gear do you use with your 11-inch MBA?

    Thanks for your feedback!

    --The Mountain Man
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    Wow, OK, lots of questions! Amongst friends and colleagues, model of Macbook is a nearly-religious dispute. I'm a big fan of the 11" MBA, though I understand why others prefer afferent models. See my answers below.

    Quote Originally Posted by MtnMan View Post
    What brought you to the 11-inch model, as opposed to the 13-inch MBA? How much of your decision was based on size? How much was based on cost?
    For me, it was all about size. I wanted the most portable computer possible that would meet all my needs. Although the 13" isn't much bigger, it's enough that it feels significantly heavier, and there's a large moment arm if you hold it by a corner.

    What applications do you run on your 11-inch MBA? Do you use Microsoft Office? Do you use iPhoto? Do you use iWork (Pages, Keynote, Numbers)?
    More Word and PowerPoint (and web) than anything else, but it runs Mathematica and Excel just fine. It's a surprisingly powerful machine. I don't really do the iWork thing; I don't see a real advantage.

    Do you run Microsoft Windows on your MBA?
    I made the change to Mac expecting to run Windows, but never found a good reason to install it. So no, not really.

    Do you watch movies, while traveling, on your MBA?
    Yes, Netflix is perfectly good on the MBA. I don't watch anything else.

    Do you think the omission of an SD card slot on the 11-inch MBA is an issue or a non-issue? Do you carry an external camera card reader with you?
    In my mind, this is a minor inconvenience at worst. I occasionally carry an external card reader, but I usually don't bother uploading pictures until I get home. I wish it had it, but not at the expense of the portability. There's just not a lot of spare room on the 11" MBA.

    What is your impression of the performance and usability of your MBA?
    It's plenty usable, and reasonably good performance. The screen isn't huge, but otherwise, performance is good. One thing to note is that battery life is significantly shorter than the 13" MBA. This is the only major trade-off in my mind. (The others are minor)

    Do you also use a desktop computer as a companion to your MBA?
    No, but I do use a Thunderbolt display (27") and an additional 24" external monitor in my office, along with an external keyboard and trackpad. This is the thing that makes the small screen ok; most of the time, I'm working at my desk with lots of real-estate.

    What vintage is your 11-inch MBA? What processor does it have? How much RAM does it have? How much SSD internal storage does it have?
    Mine's a mid-2012. I have a 2GHz Core i7 processor, 8GB ram, and the 256GB SSD.

    What Tom Bihn gear do you use with your 11-inch MBA?
    The horizontal cache is excellent in my Tri-Star. I'm hoping (see recent threads) that TB will create something like a packing cube shoulder bag that's slightly larger and will accommodate the MBA in its cache. For now, I have a Timbuk2 Hidden Messenger (just arrived today) that packs up small and should work out well with the TS.
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    What brought you to the 11-inch model, as opposed to the 13-inch MBA? How much of your decision was based on size? How much was based on cost?

    For me it was all based on size. Most trips I can do everything l need on an iPad, but on those that I can't I still take an iPad Mini along, which kind of defeats the light packing thing. I had a 13 inch MBA that I loved but I needed a touch more power so I ended up swapping up to a MBP13. When I went back for a light travel computer I knew I wanted as small as possible with a full size keyboard.

    What applications do you run on your 11-inch MBA? Do you use Microsoft Office? Do you use iPhoto? Do you use iWork (Pages, Keynote, Numbers)?

    I run iWork except for Numbers, which I can't get accustomed to. I run Open Office and Excel, iPhoto, Chrome, Mail and Messages.

    Do you run Microsoft Windows on your MBA?

    I don't run Windows but I do run Crossover for a couple of Windows apps that I can't find a good Mac substitute for.

    Do you watch movies, while traveling, on your MBA?

    I do some but this is not a big driver for me. Video performance is good.

    Do you think the omission of an SD card slot on the 11-inch MBA is an issue or a non-issue? Do you carry an external camera card reader with you?

    This is occasionally an annoyance for me. I carry one of these Kingston Wi-Drive Wireless Hard Drive - Kingston that will allow me to access a USB or SD card on the iPad wirelessly or on the computer via USB cable

    What is your impression of the performance and usability of your MBA?

    I am pretty impressed. I even have a pared down version of Apple's MainStage installed so I can use the MBA for live keyboard performance if I need to. jmoz is spot on in regards to the battery issues and battery life is my only complaint on the MBA11.

    Do you also use a desktop computer as a companion to your MBA?

    I do not own a desktop and have not for years but I do still use the MBP13 for heavier duty tasks.

    What vintage is your 11-inch MBA? What processor does it have? How much RAM does it have? How much SSD internal storage does it have?

    Early 2013 - 2 Gig i7 with 8 Gig of RAM and 250 Gig SSD

    What Tom Bihn gear do you use with your 11-inch MBA?

    I use a Cache with rails that goes in my 15 inch cadet or a CoPilot. I will also occasionally put it in the center of a TriStar if I am truly one bagging it.

    Hope that helps...
    Last edited by jeffmac; 11-26-2013 at 07:45 PM.
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    There is currently a nice selection of refurbished 11-inch MBAs on Apple's web-site, including the following...

    Refurbished 11.6-inch MacBook Air 1.7GHz dual-core Intel Core i7
    • Originally released June 2013
    • 11.6-inch (diagonal) LED-backlit glossy widescreen display, 1366-by-768 resolution
    • 8GB memory
    • 512GB flash storage
    • 720p FaceTime HD camera
    • Intel HD Graphics 5000

    $1,489 US

    What do you think of that for a deal?
    Owner of: Super Ego briefcase (Black / Indigo / Steel) with Reflective Strip, Brain Cell (Steel), Horizontal Freudian Slip, various Organizer Pouches and Key Straps, and a Side Effect (Black / Wassabi) worn as a belt-style hip-pack.

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    According to Apple's "tech specs" page for the MBA, the 11-inch is capable of multiple video resolutions:


    1366 by 768 (native), 1344 by 756, and 1280 by 720 pixels at 16:9 aspect ratio; 1152 by 720 and 1024 by 640 pixels at 16:10 aspect ratio; 1024 by 768 and 800 by 600 pixels at 4:3 aspect ratio

    I am a little concerned that a laptop display of that size would be a bit hard to read at the standard resolution of 1,366 x 768 pixels. Has anyone dialed the MBA's resolution back to lesser levels, like 1,280 x 720? Does anyone leave it at these lower resolutions?
    Owner of: Super Ego briefcase (Black / Indigo / Steel) with Reflective Strip, Brain Cell (Steel), Horizontal Freudian Slip, various Organizer Pouches and Key Straps, and a Side Effect (Black / Wassabi) worn as a belt-style hip-pack.

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    I've never found it hard to read. Also, it's possible to zoom in most apps. I did just try and lower resolution, and it works, but everything looks less good/crisp. Again, though, the screen doesn't feel as small as the numbers would suggest, and the suggested resolution is quite readable for anyone with even remotely decent (or corrected) vision.

    I hope that helps!

    Quote Originally Posted by MtnMan View Post
    According to Apple's "tech specs" page for the MBA, the 11-inch is capable of multiple video resolutions:


    1366 by 768 (native), 1344 by 756, and 1280 by 720 pixels at 16:9 aspect ratio; 1152 by 720 and 1024 by 640 pixels at 16:10 aspect ratio; 1024 by 768 and 800 by 600 pixels at 4:3 aspect ratio

    I am a little concerned that a laptop display of that size would be a bit hard to read at the standard resolution of 1,366 x 768 pixels. Has anyone dialed the MBA's resolution back to lesser levels, like 1,280 x 720? Does anyone leave it at these lower resolutions?

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    BTW: for information purposes, here's a YouTube video comparison of the 13- and 11-inch 2013 MacBook Air models.
    Owner of: Super Ego briefcase (Black / Indigo / Steel) with Reflective Strip, Brain Cell (Steel), Horizontal Freudian Slip, various Organizer Pouches and Key Straps, and a Side Effect (Black / Wassabi) worn as a belt-style hip-pack.

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    I have a new question for late-model 11-inch MBA users. Earlier in this thread, jmoz mentioned not needing a desktop computer because an MBA owner can always plug an MBA into an external desktop monitor such as Apple's Thunderbolt Display. I am very curious about this. Does anyone know if the new MacOS 10.9 "Mavericks" allows an MBA user to adjust the resolution of an external display to a lower resolution, allowing the text to be larger on the display, while leaving the MBA's built-in display to still run at its regular resolution? This would be very useful to me if I were to use an MBA and plug it into such an external display.
    Owner of: Super Ego briefcase (Black / Indigo / Steel) with Reflective Strip, Brain Cell (Steel), Horizontal Freudian Slip, various Organizer Pouches and Key Straps, and a Side Effect (Black / Wassabi) worn as a belt-style hip-pack.

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    You CAN lower the resolution of one without the other, but there's no real need to. You're almost always better off using the native resolution of a display and zooming within, say, a browser or word processor. If you have other questions, let me know.

    Quote Originally Posted by MtnMan View Post
    I have a new question for late-model 11-inch MBA users. Earlier in this thread, jmoz mentioned not needing a desktop computer because an MBA owner can always plug an MBA into an external desktop monitor such as Apple's Thunderbolt Display. I am very curious about this. Does anyone know if the new MacOS 10.9 "Mavericks" allows an MBA user to adjust the resolution of an external display to a lower resolution, allowing the text to be larger on the display, while leaving the MBA's built-in display to still run at its regular resolution? This would be very useful to me if I were to use an MBA and plug it into such an external display.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MtnMan View Post
    I have a new question for late-model 11-inch MBA users. Earlier in this thread, jmoz mentioned not needing a desktop computer because an MBA owner can always plug an MBA into an external desktop monitor such as Apple's Thunderbolt Display. I am very curious about this. Does anyone know if the new MacOS 10.9 "Mavericks" allows an MBA user to adjust the resolution of an external display to a lower resolution, allowing the text to be larger on the display, while leaving the MBA's built-in display to still run at its regular resolution? This would be very useful to me if I were to use an MBA and plug it into such an external display.
    Like said above,you get a different Control Panel interface for each panel,the second part of that answer is of course what I have been warning about all along.

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    Does anyone here use a Synapse 19 or 25 and a "Cache with rails" to everyday-carry (EDC) their MBA?
    Owner of: Super Ego briefcase (Black / Indigo / Steel) with Reflective Strip, Brain Cell (Steel), Horizontal Freudian Slip, various Organizer Pouches and Key Straps, and a Side Effect (Black / Wassabi) worn as a belt-style hip-pack.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MtnMan View Post
    Does anyone here use a Synapse 19 or 25 and a "Cache with rails" to everyday-carry (EDC) their MBA?
    I just bought an 11" MBA earlier this month and I love it. I have it stored in the TB Cache with rails but I do not have it stored in my Synapse 25 (but the clips are in the bag). There are so many things to learn/do with the machine and I am learning slowly since my forte is PCs/Microsoft. I decided to buy the 11" because I wanted portability. I do not own a tablet/ipad becuase to me they are useless and only good for entertainment purposes. If you have a tablet you absolutely need a real computer and I just decided to get a real computer. I have so many photos and videos that are precious to me and I needed a decent place to store them (my external hard drive).
    Pilot, Co-Pilot, Synapse 25, Side Effect,small shop bag, large shop bag, travel tray, 3D Organizer Cube

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    Even though I have a 15 inch MBP and not an Air, I do have one perspective on this. The SD slot was actually one of the reasons I went with the MBP over the Air, but in all honestly, I think I've used it once since I got it. Unless you're a photographer who uses SD cards a lot, I don't think that's much of an issue anymore.

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    I do take alot of photos with an SLR, so count me as one that considers an SD-card slot as a significant issue. I might feel differently if I were using something like a smarthpone or an iPod Touch, but that's not an issue for me now.
    Owner of: Super Ego briefcase (Black / Indigo / Steel) with Reflective Strip, Brain Cell (Steel), Horizontal Freudian Slip, various Organizer Pouches and Key Straps, and a Side Effect (Black / Wassabi) worn as a belt-style hip-pack.

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    I shoot a lot too and the lack of a card reader is just not part of the issue for me and never has been?
    There are USB card readers now that will easily fit in a pocket and not be noticed and I forget I am carrying one a lot usually when looking for it before I realize I already have it!?!

    And I use CF crds mostly too.

    I have grown to love my 11" more the longer I use it and to repeat again.....mine is a first gen. model with 2g of ram.

    Also worth saying again I think is that regardless of what Jmoz says or seems to think I can not use the screen in its native resolution with or without glasses period. I either need to be 2 inches from the screen or zoom before it is readable for text for me and I know I am not the only one.

    Further the higher the res. of a screen no matter the size of the display or machine and this gets worse for me and others.

    This is simply a real byproduct of age and experience and not to be dismissed lightly and without trying for yourself. This is not anecdotal reporting,it is real.

    I don't appreciate the debate about this as though it is some odd random occurrence either,some of us just have a tougher time with higher resolutions,I sell high res. displays and am not just speaking out of school.

    A lot of people wear glasses and function day to day but still need reading glasses to see close-in and this is exactly what I am talking about.
    A lot of people wear contact lens' and still need reading glasses for close-in,same problem there.

    So again with that caveat the machine is brilliant in every way to me but I need to not try to use it while doing anything I need to be wearing glasses for too.

    Ed
    Last edited by AVService; 02-04-2014 at 05:15 AM.

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