I’ll never forget the day the iPad came out last Spring. As I was reading the string of tweets talking about how great it was, all I could think about was how I wanted one. As the months wore on I became more and more convinced I wanted one. By the fall I was planning on getting iPad 2 sometime in 2011. Then in late October Apple announced the new MacBook Air models, include the new 11.6 inch model and my thoughts on the iPad changed.
Desire for an Ultra Portable
I had long wanted a smaller computer, mostly for use around the house and also for taking places. I have a 13 inch MacBook Pro that I basically use like a desktop. It’s docked with a Henge Dock at my desk and hooked up to my 24 inch monitor in clamshell mode all the time. It’s not such a huge machine that I couldn’t move it around my house or take it with me places, but I just don’t do that. Instead I would use my 4+ year old white, 1st gen MacBook on the couch or when I went places.
I considered a netbook, possible a hackintosh, but the smaller keyboard was always a dealbreaker for me. Every time I tried netbook keyboards in stores it drove me nuts, and I realized that I couldn’t use it for extended periods of time without getting frustrated. When the 11.6 inch MacBook Air was released, it seemed like the ultimate solution. Basically an Apple netbook, with Solid State storage and more importantly a full-size keyboard.
I ordered the low-end 11.6 inch model1 but upgraded to 4 GB of RAM. That decision was mostly based on the fact that the RAM is not user-replaceable. 4 GB of RAM is almost the standard these days and I wouldn’t recommend anyone buying a computer without it.
Three months later it’s basically my primary computer. The full-size keyboard has made it completely usable for blogging and some light web development. It’s extremely portable. So much so that I can put it in my bag with my work laptop and it doesn’t feel any heavier. The fact that there is no logical drive has not been an issue whatsoever.
It’s amazingly fast too. I installed an SSD in my 13 inch MacBook Pro last year, so I am aware of the performance improvement it brings, but the restarts on the MacBook Air are so ridiculous it’s scary. At one point I hit restart and walked across the room and back, and the computer was ready for use. I wasn’t even sure if the computer had actually restarted so I restarted it again and saw how fast it was.
Some Minor Gripes
Because the screen is just 11.6 inches and the resolution is 1366 x 768, the text can be a bit small at times. My eyes are pretty good, but it can make doing any sort of web design tough, since things look at a lot smaller than they will to people on other computers. Therefore you have to make sure not to make text too big because it will look bigger on most people’s machines.
The battery life is good, but nothing special. It’s not as good as current generation MacBook Pros, although it’s pretty good when you consider how small this machine is.
The hard drive is an interesting situation. I opted to stick with the stock 64 GB of storage that comes standard on the low-end model. I am only using about half of that at the moment, but I really don’t have much data on the machine. I have installed about 25 applications and have my Dropbox folder syncing up, but there is no music or pictures or movies or anything like that. If I fully committed to using this as my only machine I would need to have an external drive for most of my media.
Favorite Computer Ever
The bottom line is that the 11 inch MacBook Air is my favorite computer I have ever owned. It’s surprisingly fast, it feels sturdy and obviously it’s an amazing looking machine. I don’t think anyone would be disappointed with either of the new MacBook Airs.
- 1.4 GHz with 64 GB of storage [↩]