Wednesday, November 17, 2010

More on Living With the MacBook Air 11.6" - Day 8

One Cool Laptop
    One of the things I hate most about laptops is how hot they run. If you don't put some kind of pad under them, they'll cook your legs. Or you can use it on a desk, but then that sort of defeats the purpose, doesn't it? On cold days, I used to slip my fingers under the laptop to warm them up.

    Well, the MacBook Air 11.6" is incredibly cool, most of the time running close to body temp. Not much use as a hand warmer. It will get warmer if you're watching videos since the processor has to work harder, but it's still not bad.

Too small? Nah.
MBA and 1/4" hardboard pad
    Under all my laptops I've used a piece of hardboard to insulate myself from the heat. I don't need it for this purpose with the MBA, but I'm trying one out to see if it will keep the laptop steady. The MBA is so small that it tends to rock a bit on your legs when you're typing. The board isn't a necessity and I'm not even sure I'll keep using it, but might be something you want to consider. Hardboard is like pegboard material but without the holes. It's available at home improvement stores.

    I wouldn't bother taking the board on trips. After all, the whole point of getting the small MBA is for its lightweight design.

Carrying Cases
11.6" on hardboard
    Right now, you're out of luck on finding much of a choice for cases for the 11.6". Even the Apple Store doesn't have them. Some manufacturers are doing advance orders, such as SF Bags, and I'm sure Incase and others are scrambling to get something to market. I've read on forums that other netbook or laptop bags aren't a perfect fit. The MBA is wider than the norm due to its wide screen format. We'll just have to wait a bit.

No CD/DVD Drive
    Nope, you can't watch DVDs on this laptop, at least not without buying the optional external MacBook Air SuperDrive for $79. I haven't missed it so far. You can "borrow" a CD/DVD drive from another Mac or PC using Apple's Remote Disk feature. I used it to install some software, but couldn't get an older version of Quicken to work, nor does Windows install by remote disk. Not a deal breaker for me since there are usually other ways now that so much is online. And if not having the optical drive helps chop a couple of pounds off this unit, I'm willing to make the trade.

Daily Use Report
    My main worry was about the smaller screen size compared to my 13" MacBook. I did notice it initially, but after a week of daily writing (some days for several hours) I don't notice it at all. It's like this is normal. Part of this is due to the higher screen resolution, which provides more info onscreen. Of course it's all a bit smaller, but it doesn't bother me.

    I write with MS Word 2011, iTunes (gotta have tunes!), a browser, NoteBook (by Circus Ponies), and Pages (iWork by Apple), all open at the same time. Usually I also have Mail, Evernote, maybe another browser, and perhaps Excel (timeline for my book). Honestly, I can launch just about every application I have and the machine still keeps humming along just as fast as ever. I think it's using the fast Solid State Drive as backup RAM, but the SSD is so incredibly fast that I don't even notice it.

    I did pay to get the upgraded model: 128 GB SSD drive (up from 64 GB), 4 GB RAM (2 is standard), and the 1.6 GHz processor (up from 1.4 GHz). These upgrades were $100 a pop. But I tried the lower end model in the stores and launched everything I could, then copy/pasted a Word doc until it reached over 1,000 pages and tried a few Saves, disk copies, etc. It still screamed. I was duly impressed.

    My primary reasons for getting the upgrades were, 1. I'm using this as my main machine, not just a travel notebook, and 2. Apple has the new OS coming out next year, Lion, and it's possible it might benefit from more RAM and a faster processor. You can't upgrade either on these machines. And 3. I have a pretty large iTunes library and 64 GB SSD didn't give me enough headroom. Right now with everything installed, I'm using 75 gigabytes, so I definitely needed the larger drive.

    I'll be glad to answer any questions about the MacBook Air. Just leave a comment or drop me an email.


Alexander Field said...

I dig my Macbook, but its not a Macbook Air....Hmmm. Tempted. Good for writing and traveling, that's for sure. : )

Rich Bullock said...

Thanks for the comment. My wife has the 13" MacBook Pro. Feels like a ten-pound sack of potatoes to me after using the Air. New Airs rumored in the next couple of weeks (with the new Lion OSX). Might be your time!

Unknown said...


This notebook features the latest Intel processors, faster graphics, faster flash storage, and a 720p FaceTime HD camera. All these packed into this notebook that iss incredibly thin and light. Thanks a lot.

Mac Notebook