Over the past week or so I have been getting a bunch of questions from readers asking how I am liking the MacBook Air now that I have been using it for a lot longer.1 It has been over a month now that I have used the MacBook Air as my primary machine, and one thing is for sure: it is the best upgrade over the MacBook Pro that I could have made. Yes, I consider it an upgrade.
With the way I use the MacBook Air the speed is a wash with my old MacBook Pro, but the hardware is immensely lighter and smaller. I use the MacBook Air more than I ever used the MacBook Pro outside of work. I like to think of the MacBook Air as everything I needed in the MacBook Pro, just in a smaller, lighter, cooler package.2 It hasn’t failed me yet.
Here are my thoughts about the MacBook Air to date
- It is hands down the best Mac I have ever owned. Before this I had owned two Macs that I loved dearly my 12” Powerbook and my 1st generation Mac Pro. I loved both of those machines immensely, but this Air is something else. The Powerbook never felt fast, it felt quick, but not fast – but the size was very nice. The Mac Pro felt massively fast, but was just about the biggest, heaviest computer I have ever owned. The MacBook Air feels like their love child.
- See this post from MG Siegler – I agree with him.
- I love typing on this machine more than I did on my old 12” PowerBook which is really saying a lot. I talked about this in my review of the Air, but this is the best typing experience I have ever had on a laptop. The taper is very, very nice.
- I have missed having a 15-inch screen exactly 0 times. Screen size was one of my biggest concerns in switching to the Air, I have been using a screen size of 15-inches or greater for the past 2.5 years, so I worried that moving down to a 13-inch screen would be far too restricting to be productive. I have found though that the high resolution of the Air’s 13-inch screen has yet to make me miss the 15-inch screen I used to have. There are a few apps that feel cramped, mostly apps in Adobe’s creative suite with all the dialogs that need to be on screen. This of course can all be mitigated if you have an external monitor.
- I have yet to run into any speed or RAM limitations, actually this machine feels faster in some respects. Let’s face it, most of us don’t spend our days using all the processing power of our Macs. No,most of us I suspect spend most of our time on the Web and in Email programs. I have a MacBook Pro that I can use if I need it (my wife’s), but guess what, I have yet to even consider wanting to use it. This machine is snappy thanks to the SSD, I can’t say this machine ever feels slow.
- Another big concern was photo editing, and aside from a touch slower exports those concerns are unfounded in both Aperture and Lightroom. Lightroom feels much faster doing adjustments, while Aperture seems to export much faster. Honestly if exporting is the only thing that I noticed to be slow, then this machine really is not slow at all. Exporting is always slow, and thankfully something that can be done while you make a cocktail.3
- I still am amazed at how light this computer is, it doesn’t seem possible. If you have ever picked up the Kindle then you know the sensation I am talking about, it just doesn’t seem possible that it is that light. Same goes for the Air and it certainly is not a bad thing.
- The battery is perfect – I might like another hour, but that is just being greedy. I don’t even pack the charger in my laptop bag when I go away for the weekend, instead I leave it in my suitcase, because I only will need to charge the Air once while I am away (usually). In fact between the iPhone, iPad and Air I only charged my Air twice while I was away during Thanksgiving (from Wed – Sunday).
- The speakers, well, they leave something to be desired. Really, Apple had to skimp on some aspect so they had something to improve upon the next time around right? The speakers are just fine for watching web videos, but they really suck for music. I have been looking into getting some speakers for my desk for the first time in a few years, though probably I will end up with some nice headphones instead.
- The one USB port on each side confuses me every time and really messes with how my desk is setup. It is a little annoying to have to stretch cables around the computer just to be able to plug things in. I doubt there is a real solution for this, and there is no way that just one USB port would suffice.
- I don’t think I will ever get used to how thin the machine is, especially on the front edge of it. Next time you see one in the store (Apple or otherwise) take a second to close the lid and pick it up. The weight and thinness of the machine will blow you away. When you open back up the lid feel how thin the top lid is, that will really blow you away, still amazes me.
- I needed the optical drive the other day to install Office 2008. I used remote disc over Wi-Fi and the install speed seemed just fine to me, in fact I rather like doing the remote disc deal so I don’t have to hear the drive in my MacBook Air. That actually was the only time that I needed an optical drive and I doubt that I will need it again for quite a while.
In case you missed it you can read my full review here.