Thursday, May 17, 2012

First Month with a MacBook Air

When the MacBook Pro was announced I preordered and could not wait for it to get to me.  I ended up having to wait a couple months before it was finally shipped to me, but it was well worth the wait.  I kept it for three fantastic years before finally upgrading to a newer MacBook Pro.  Then about three months ago I was looking to upgrade again and started thinking about whether I should get the 17" instead of the 15" or go with a Mac Mini.  I actually got a Mac Mini only to find that it was not for me.  That is a story for another day, but after having the Mini I realized that portability was something that I valued a lot and the processing power of the Mini was plenty for most of my needs.  So why not try a MacBook Air I thought, and here I am writing this post on my MacBook Air.

Reasons the MacBook Air is Great

The MacBook Air is unmistakably small and light.  This is the main reason that I decided to give it a try.  I went with the 13" since I had my doubts I could transition to such a smaller screen as the 11" would have been coming from the MacBook Pro 15".  It is still incredibly thin and light at least as compared to the pro I had.  Having a smaller laptop really makes a difference when carrying around and using in bed.  The screen is still excellent as compared to my work laptop (its a dell), and the built in camera which is standard on all Apple laptops is perfect for video chat.  The instant on feature when you just let it sleep is great, but not a lot faster than my MacBook pro was from sleep.  The big difference is in booting which is much faster due to the SSD instead of HDD.  The SSD is also much zippier when opening programs or files.  If you open a lot of programs frequently or boot every time you use your computer then the SSD is a definite advantage.  You can get an SSD for a pro however and it could be an even faster model since the one in the Air is not user replaceable and therefore you do not get any choice aside from size.

Reasons the MacBook Air is Not so Great

So not everything is all that great.  First and most obvious is the lack of a physical disc drive.  Although I thought I could do without it has actually been annoying and I have found myself really wanting a disc drive again.  However, it did give me a good excuse to get an external blu-ray drive which it seems Apple will never carry in their laptops so at least there is that.  Ripping blu-ray movies in order to get them on other devices though is not that fun due to the size of the file, so really the blu-ray is not that big of an advantage unless you just really need to use blu-rays versus DVDs or you are planning to play blu-rays on your computer and output to your TV.  Another large complaint I have is the lack of user replaceable components.  The 4GB of RAM and the 250GB SSD are good and plenty for my current needs with the exception of those blu-ray rips, but if down the road I need to upgrade I will be forced to get a new computer entirely rather than just refreshing.  The last point to make on the disappointments list is the super loud fan which seems to kick on at the slightest load to the processor which happens frequently with the 1.7 Ghz i5 in there.


At this point, the tradeoffs are worth it.  I love the size and weight of this MacBook Air and it matches or exceeds the performance of my previous laptop in almost every way.  I still don't think I am entirely ready to rid myself of the disc drive as I still rent from Blockbuster and use my computer to watch the movies often, but the quick SSD and excellent portability are great.  If you find yourself looking for a very portable computer that still has good specs then the MacBook Air is a very difficult computer to beat.