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11- and 13-inch MacBook Air (Late 2010)

#15 User is offline   AshwinDollar 

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Posted 26 October 2010 - 09:57 AM

I can say I am seriously considering replacing my older 15" MacBook Pro with this model. I do however think that if you can wait until next year, it would really be worth it. With USB 3 and a Core i7 Sandy Bridge it would be a lot better than the current model (I really hope Intel gets over this dispute with nVidia which hasn't been good for the value proposition of any of the 13" models).
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#16 User is offline   panny 

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Posted 26 October 2010 - 09:59 AM

Great review and great to see the speed tests - amazing that the 13"Air is actually faster than the 13"Pro! I can definitely see the appeal of the brand new 11" Air as a '2nd computer' to travel with. However, if there wasn't already a 13" Air, I think maybe it would have also got 4.5 stars.

Here's my point... the 13" Air pimped out (more ram and faster processor) could actually REPLACE a 15" MacBook Pro... maybe? In other words, the value of having a 13" Air that replaces a Pro as an all-in-one solution is a valid option for a lot of people. As the screen resolution is exactly the same as the 15" yet has the portability factor. That's at least worth rating it just as much as the smaller brother. In other words, comparing both as 2nd computers, of course the 11" deserves the extra half star, but seeing the 13" as a replacement easily gains that back (I know it still depends on users demands, etc.).

This is of course self indulgent.. I have a late 2008 15" Pro and doing my best to justify upgrading to the 13" Air :) The 2 biggest draws is the sheer portability - meaning I'm much more likely to bring it with me rather than the heavy 15", and the battery life (I'm lucky to get 3 hours - be nice to get 7!). I do have an expresscard 48gb SSD, so I get the super speed and 'instant on' thanks to the great article in Macworld advising that. (http://www.macworld....mbpssdcard.html)

Thanks again for the review Jason - would love to hear your opinion on replacing a 15" pro.

This post has been edited by panny: 26 October 2010 - 10:10 AM

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#17 User is offline   jdb8167 

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Posted 26 October 2010 - 10:10 AM

It's interesting on how your priorities change the value for an individual. I would rate the 13" higher than the 11" because of the limitations of the smaller size. No SD card slot. Much shorter battery life. Much smaller screen. And essentially the same price as the 13" for a practical configuration (I don't consider 1.4 GHz and 64 GB practical.)

But I need a laptop for more than just email, web browsing and typing. Even if that was what I use a laptop for, the lesser battery life on the 11" would probably still lead me to the 13".

Maybe Jason can explain why he dinged the 13" rating by half a point? I don't think I saw the reasoning in the actual article.

This post has been edited by jdb8167: 26 October 2010 - 10:15 AM

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#18 User is offline   artistry 

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Posted 26 October 2010 - 10:11 AM

Argh I can't decide! My current MBP is starting to feel really slow, especially comapred with my friend's new one. I'm thinking of going from 15" to 13" MBP as I only really use it for presentations, writing and surfing. The iPad is my main device at home for "stuff" and my iMac for the heavy stuff.
So the Air is intriguing, but expensive. The fact it compared well with the 13" Pro is interesting.
I need to hold one. Shame I live so far from an apple store!
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#19 User is offline   Dan 

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Posted 26 October 2010 - 10:18 AM

View Postjdb8167, on 26 October 2010 - 10:10 AM, said:

It's interesting on how your priorities change the value for an individual. I would rate the 13" higher than the 11" because of the limitations of the smaller size. No SD card slot. Much shorter battery life. Much smaller screen. And essentially the same price as the 13" for a practical configuration (I don't consider 1.4 GHz and 64 GB practical.)

But I need a laptop for more than just email, web browsing and typing. Even that was what I use a laptop for, the lesser battery life on the 11" would probably still lead me to the 13".

Maybe Jason can explain why he dinged the 13" rating by half a point? I don't think I saw the reasoning in the actual article.

Actually, this is a pretty strong point.
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#20 User is offline   Yammi 

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Posted 26 October 2010 - 10:29 AM

View PostAshwinDollar, on 26 October 2010 - 09:57 AM, said:

I can say I am seriously considering replacing my older 15" MacBook Pro with this model. I do however think that if you can wait until next year, it would really be worth it. With USB 3 and a Core i7 Sandy Bridge it would be a lot better than the current model (I really hope Intel gets over this dispute with nVidia which hasn't been good for the value proposition of any of the 13" models).


There is always 'next year' though!
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#21 User is offline   Yammi 

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Posted 26 October 2010 - 10:31 AM

View Postleejoramo, on 26 October 2010 - 09:52 AM, said:

Does an SD card sit in the slot flush with the case? Or does it protrude enough to make carrying the MacBook Air with a card installed inconvenient? 64GB SD cards could be a good way to supplement the internal SSD capacity. One for music, one for VMware drive images.


That's a pretty good idea, the only thing holding me back was an iTunes library of around 60GB that I didn't want overtaking the whole system. If I could keep that on an SD card then just use it as and when I need it then that would be perfect. Shame about the backlit keyboard for flights though.
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#22 User is offline   TeaEarleGreyHot 

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Posted 26 October 2010 - 10:34 AM

View Postkabj06, on 26 October 2010 - 09:47 AM, said:

View PostTeaEarleGreyHot, on 26 October 2010 - 09:06 AM, said:

I believe that many household cable modems offer internet via USB....

But gigabit ethernet is sooooooooooo much faster than USB.

Yea, but I don't think most household cable internet providers offer gigabit ethernet either. Heck, you can't even pin them down on a speed, all they will promise is "up to such-and-such a speed" and then deliver a fraction of that. This is one reason I dropped the Cable Pig all together. But for many people, I think they may have a suitable connection option with similar performance to their existing household etherweb.
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#23 User is offline   Jason Snell 

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Posted 26 October 2010 - 10:41 AM

View Postmac2009, on 26 October 2010 - 09:50 AM, said:

I realize it's an old pre-OS X system, but you're acting like the PowerBook 2400 never existed.


Well, it was such a rare system (we did have one in the MacUser lab) that it didn't gain the wide following that the 12" PowerBook did.

Funny when you think of it though: that 2400 was a super tiny system for its time, but look at it now. 2 inches thick (1.3-1.9 more than 11" MBA), 10.5 inches wide (1.3 inches narrower than 11" MBA), 10.5 inches deep (3 inches deeper than MBA). Or in other words, 209 cubic inches versus about 40 cubic inches for the 11" MBA. And the 2400 weighed 4.4 pounds, versus 2.3 for the MBA. Kind of crazy.

#24 User is offline   frederickbastiat 

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Posted 26 October 2010 - 10:41 AM

Will you be testing one of these again after a few months use to see how the flash drive speed holds up? If the drive slows to a crawl over time the speed tests you're publishing now won't be valid for a used Macbook Air.
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#25 User is offline   gklinger 

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Posted 26 October 2010 - 10:42 AM

View Postkabj06, on 26 October 2010 - 09:47 AM, said:

View PostTeaEarleGreyHot, on 26 October 2010 - 09:06 AM, said:

I believe that many household cable modems offer internet via USB, and I think recent Macs can use this, so perhaps in many instances people already have what they need, and might have just forgotten about it.

But gigabit ethernet is sooooooooooo much faster than USB.

While that's true, the Apple USB Ethernet Adapter only supports 10/100BASE-T so the point is moot.
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#26 User is offline   Jason Snell 

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Posted 26 October 2010 - 10:43 AM

View Postpanny, on 26 October 2010 - 09:59 AM, said:

Here's my point... the 13" Air pimped out (more ram and faster processor) could actually REPLACE a 15" MacBook Pro... maybe? In other words, the value of having a 13" Air that replaces a Pro as an all-in-one solution is a valid option for a lot of people.


Depends on how you're using the 15" Pro. It's a fast machine. If you're doing heavy-duty stuff, you won't want to replace it. That said, lots of people _don't_ do heavy-duty stuff, like editing gigantic photos or editing lots of HD video or multitrack audio files. If you're one of those people and you don't mind losing some of that screen real estate, yes, the 13" Air is a valid option.

We've got the higher-end BTO 13" Air in our lab now -- stay tuned for more specific speed tests.

#27 User is offline   Jason Snell 

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Posted 26 October 2010 - 10:49 AM

View Postjdb8167, on 26 October 2010 - 10:10 AM, said:

Maybe Jason can explain why he dinged the 13" rating by half a point? I don't think I saw the reasoning in the actual article.


For me the 13" has a lot of competition at that size. It's smaller than the MB and MBP, yes, but the gap's not gigantic. By the way, 4 mice is an upgrade from my rating of the last 13" Air models, which was 3.5. http://www.macworld...._air_mid09.html -- And if they find a way to put a more modern processor in there, that rating will go even higher.

The 11" has no competition for what it's doing. It's a perfectly executed tiny Mac laptop, and despite its smallness and thinness it's also at the bottom of the price range for Apple laptops. In my mind that was worth 4.5 (I flirted with giving it 5, but was talked out of it.)

Of course, my review is one man's opinion, as I am but one man. :-) Definitely depending on your priorities you will see the products quite differently, and I tried to mention that in the course of the review.

#28 User is offline   Maxer 

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Posted 26 October 2010 - 10:49 AM

Thanks for the graph. A picture is worth a thousands words (or numbers)!
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