FIrst impressions of the MacBook Air 11″

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.


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 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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