Posted on Wed 27 October 2010

Since Steve Jobs blessed my MacBook Air and I received it two day early, I've had almost a week to investigate the 11" MacBook Air. I opted to max it out, so it has 4GB of RAM, 128GB Solid State Drive (SSD) and the 1.6GHz Intel Core 2 ...

Since Steve Jobs blessed my MacBook Air and I received it two day early, I've had almost a week to investigate the 11" MacBook Air. I opted to max it out, so it has 4GB of RAM, 128GB Solid State Drive (SSD) and the 1.6GHz Intel Core 2 Duo CPU. The educational price was \$1,329, which was almost more than I was willing to spend, but so far, it's been worth it. The MBA is replacing an original 1.83GHz Intel Core Duo MacBook, which had been upgraded to 2GB of RAM and a 7,200 RPM 200GB hard drive. Before I ordered the MBA I did some quick calculations, and CPU wise, the MBA should be as fast as my old MacBook (the Intel Core 2 Duo is 10-15% faster than the Intel Core Duo, and the MBA has a front bus of 800MHz compared to my MacBook's 667MHz). Adding more memory and the faster drive, it is faster than the MacBook that replaced it.

Why the 11"?

Choosing the 11" over the 13" Air models was an easy decision. My goal was portability. Screen size doesn't really play into it, since at work I have a 24" LCD and at home I have a 23" LCD. I was never very impressed with the older 13" Air model. It was still the same size as my MacBook, only thinner. If screen size does matter to you, I would think long and hard before I would buy the 13" Air over a MacBook Pro.

Quick!

Using the machine, the quickness is very surprising. Of course, the SSD gets most of the credit. When discussing the speed of the machine versus other Macintosh models, a good analogy is in cars, electric cars versus gas. Car motor power is measured by two different factors, horsepower and torque. Horsepower is where you get your speed, and torque is how fast you can get to your horsepower. Now an interesting thing happens with electric cars versus gas. In a drag race, the electric car has the advantage at the start since an electric motor has 100% of its torque available at 0 RPMs, whereas a gasoline engine requires the motor to hit a certain number of RPMs before torque is available. Depending on the length of the race, an electric car can win every time against a more powerful gasoline powered car. This is the same feeling with the MacBook Air. With the SSD, the computer is faster than more powerful computers for a wide range of tasks a user may do during the day. While a core i7 MacBook Pro is going to beat the MacBook Air at rendering video, if the race is shorter, say launching Safari and browsing the web, the MacBook Air is going to win. Can this machine be my main machine? It already is!

Overall size

Size wise, it is about as thick as my iPad (in the Apple Case) is, and weight wise it's pretty much a tie with the iPad. In fact, I handed my MBA and iPad to my sister-in-law and asked her which was heavier, and she said the iPad! Although the MBA has about the same depth and thickness as the iPad, it is around 1.5" longer. Not as portable as the iPad, but pretty close.

The screen size at first took a little getting used to. I wasn't too worried about the smaller screen, but the first couple of days of using it I kept wanting to bump up the font sizes when browsing. This need went away, and I've now gotten used to the size of the fonts on the screen. (By the way, when is a browser going to give me the ability to double-click on an article and have it zoom into that text, like my iPad and iPod Touch does?)

Odds and ends

Build quality is excellent, the full size keyboard is great, and the touchpad is amazing. My extra MacBook charger works with it too! I ordered mini-display port adapters for \$30 from monoprice.com for VGA, DVI, and HDMI. Compare that to the \$29 Apple wants for just the VGA adapter! 

The ugly

I actually don't really have any cons against the MacBook Air 11". Twice I've woken it up and the backlight didn't come on, but it hasn't happened enough for me to worry about it yet (and I've got 11 more months to decide whether to buy AppleCare for it :-). It's almost a perfect travel companion, and if Apple could shave another inch or so from the width it would be perfect!

Have the MacBook Airs gotten you interested in a Mac? Would you buy an Air and run Windows 7 or Linux on it?


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