I weighed my iPad productivity setup last week, and it came in at a depressing 4.8 pounds. The new MacBook Air weighs 2.3 pounds. Needless to say, I sold my iPad, and I am loving my new 11.6 MacBook Air; I don’t think I am going to miss it. My productivity will never be the same.
The iPad itself only weighed 1.5 pounds, but it was too fragile to go around naked. I added an OtterBox Defender to it so that it wouldn’t shatter, and the Defender added another 1.3 pounds. To do serious writing, I needed a keyboard, and the keyboard dock added another two pounds. So much for an ultra-portable, work anywhere, productivity tool. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed the iPad; as a content consumption computer it cannot be beat. Unfortunately, as an author, teacher and presenter I do more creation than consumption. A 5 pound portable computer that can’t truly multi-task and doesn’t have a full operating system was just not working for me. The new 11.6 inch MacBook Air, on the other hand, is the perfect size and weight to get the job done. Additionally, having the full blown OS X at my disposal has been fantastic.
The 11.6 Inch MacBook Air Specifications
By now, you have most likely heard the hype. The New MacBook Air revision is staggeringly thin. The device, at its thickest point is only .68 inches thick, and it is only .11 inches thin in the front. The 13 inch version weighs in at 2.9 pounds, and the 11.6 inch version only weighs 2.3 pounds. Yes, that is less than my iPad weighed in its OtterBox Case. The new MacBooks have the sleek and sturdy aluminum unibody construction that allows the ultra-thin computers to resist flexing, bending, and cracking. My new MacBook feels and looks strong; I have no temptation to wrap it in a protective case like I did my iPad.
Inside the case, there is no spinning hard drive or optical drive – both the 11.6 inch and 13 inch feature fast and furious solid state architecture. Having a solid state hard drive adds to the speed and reduces the heat and weight of the new MacBooks. Like the iPad, the new Airs turn on and respond almost instantly to most daily tasks. Yes it is true, the processors in the new MacBooks are not speed demons. Both sizes include ultra-low voltage versions of the Intel Core 2 Duo processors. The 11.6 Inch MBA has a 1.4GHz processor (a 1.6GHz upgrade is available), and the 13 Inch model offers either a 1.86Ghz or a 2.13GHz processor. Both sizes can be configured with either 2GB or 4GB of RAM. Both models have standard ports included 2 USB 2.0 Ports. Prices for the 11.6 inch model range from $999 to $1199 depending on options, and the 13 inch model starts at $1299 and goes to $1599.
My 11.6 Inch MacBook Air’s Performance
Because I am budget conscious, I opted for the entry level device for $999 which has 2GB of RAM, a 64GB solid state drive, and a 1.4GHz processor. It is plenty fast and has more than enough storage capacity. You see, I am migrating from an iPad with a keyboard dock. Over the past months, I have fully adapted to cloud computing for storage. My 16GB iPad was barely half-full, and I had over 12GB of data stored on my iDisk and DropBox. As far as I can see, the reality of cloud storage and network storage has radically changed the idea of how much hard drive space is necessary. The iPad’s processor was fast, but my MacBook is faster; it runs every app, or its flash-based online equivalent much faster than my iPad. In nearly every aspect, the MacBook Air is faster, zippier, and lighter. With Microsoft Word running, Excel calculating, a 720p video playing in YouTube, and iTunes playing a song, my RAM usage is at 70%, my CPU usage is at 52%, and my temp is at 99 degrees. For a lightweight productivity machine, the 11.6 inch MacBook is a beast.
Many people will argue that the 11.6 inch MacBook air is just an overpriced Netbook; it is anything but. Granted, the $999 price tag for an older processor and meager RAM seems steep, but you cannot toss out the SSD technology, the beautiful LCD, full-sized keyboard, and nearly 6 hours of battery life. My iPad setup was over $650, and was not nearly as competent (thankfully, Apple products retain their value so well, that I sold the entire setup for $625). I have worked on and owned several netbooks, and they all pale in comparison to the MacBook Air. My old Asus T101Mt and T91MT were failures compared to the MBA, and the HP Mini 110-1020 my wife had was a dog compared to this machine. I think when people see the specifications of this device, they cannot imagine Windows 7 running on it successfully. Thankfully, OS X is not Windows 7. The machine is hyped as having “instant on” capabilities, and it does. The Air is touted for being very sexy, and it is. Steve Jobs said the MBA is the future of computing, and I think he just might be right.
Typing lesson plans, editing videos, or writing reviews on the 11.6 inch MacBook Air is a joy. They keyboard is nearly identical to the keyboard found on the MacBook Pro or other MacBooks. The Air sits comfortably on your lap without cooking anything, and the screen is crisp and responsive with fantastic viewing angles. I actually keep the computer in a pocket in my leather binder instead of a case. It is no thicker or heaver than a few manilla folders and documents. There isn’t a netbook around that costs so little, can do so much, and be so convenient.
My wife didn’t want me to make the switch to the MacBook Air because she was afraid that I would miss my iPad too much and regret my decision. In a way, she was right; I do miss my iPad a bit, but I have no regrets. There is something very nice about sitting down on the couch with an iPad and reading the web. Unfortunately, that is essentially where the romance of the iPad ends. Lugging around the iPad, keyboard, and case while trying to type out a meager essay was not romantic at all. The 11.6 MacBook Air nearly captures everything the iPad brought to the table, but offers so much more. I will not be going back anytime soon.