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Thread: Macbook Air - long term reviews

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    Macbook Air - long term reviews

    I was curious to hear how people that have used the Macbook Airs, over the last year or so, feel about them now, as far as post processing use goes.

    My old MBP died on me a few weeks ago and I've been waiting for the new ones to come out, but also, I'm considering a new 11" Air, with extra ram and larger processor, as a substitute.

    I got a new iMac last summer, which was pretty much bone stock and it runs PS CS5 just fine, so I'm starting to think that maybe we don't need to spend three grand on a lap top anymore, just to run PS adequately, since the new SS drives supposedly really speed things up. Anyway, thanks for any insights.

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    Subscriber Member Jorgen Udvang's Avatar
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    Re: Macbook Air - long term reviews

    I've been using the MBA 13" for 6 months now. I chose the larger version for it's monitor size, larger max SSD (I have 256 GB) and the fact that it has an SD slot (one less item to remember when I'm travelling). The size and weight difference down to the 11" wasn't much in real life. The corresponding differences up to a similarly priced 13" MBP were a lot more, but the MBP would have been much better specified for the price.

    I've been running Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign on a daily basis, often simultaneously, and it works like a charm. It's faster than any other computer I've owned and more than fast enough for me.

    The size and the wedge shape makes it small enough to bring along on more or less any occasion, which was one of the reasons for buying it. Whenever I'm on extended travel, I also carry along a 2.5" 1TB HD that contains all my design work from the last 10 years and photos from the last 6 months. My entire working life in less than 2 kilograms. That's sensational
    Last edited by Jorgen Udvang; 12th June 2012 at 18:44.

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    Re: Macbook Air - long term reviews

    I also got the 13" for screen real estate and SD slot. By a very wide margin my favorite laptop ever. No issues on photo editing. I just traded it for the new 15" retina. Not sure if it was the right move but I still have a slightly older 13" that is still fine and in fact I just updated LR and have CS6 on it for a trip I'm leaving on very shortly.

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    Re: Macbook Air - long term reviews

    Thanks Jorgen and Terry sounds like I can't go wrong. I have really looked forward to a sub four pound laptop, after lugging around Powerbooks and MBP's for the past ten years.

    Although the Retina display, sounds intriguing, I don't know how it will compare to the matt screens I've used in the past, so I'm sort of leaning toward the Air and not even worrying about it. I've been using the glossy screen on the iMac for the past year and I seem to get along, as long as I don't have too much light behind me and even then I seem to cope.

    Did you both get added Ram and larger processors on yours? I'm just wondering if a plain Jane stock one, would run PS fast enough, or if I would regret not getting more Ram and the 2ghz processor. Thanks

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    Re: Macbook Air - long term reviews

    Mine was not the very top of the line processor but I did max the RAM.

    If I were buying today, I would do 8GB RAM, 256gb was fine as long as I had a long term plan for taking images off the laptop. If you are lazy get the 512.






    .
    Last edited by Terry; 12th June 2012 at 23:40.

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    Re: Macbook Air - long term reviews

    Thanks Terry, that makes sense, on the Ram, since it's only a hundred bucks, to double it. I wish I knew more about processors, as I don't know if I will notice the difference from the i5 and i7 and the 1.7 or 1.8 and the 2.0 ghz stuff.

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    Re: Macbook Air - long term reviews

    Seems I have the same specs as Terry, and I'm happy with that. I thought the 256GB could become a limitation, but it hasn't been so far. When I travel, I'm carrying the little HDD for backup anyway, which means there's always space for offloading data if necessary. I can also recommend one of these:



    Available from LaCie with up to 32GB. I have one on my keyring, which means that it's always available and nobody will "borrow" it.

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    Re: Macbook Air - long term reviews

    Everything that Jorgen and Terry said....I have had all three generations of the 13" MBA. The first gen was a real disappointment. The second gen was fine, but they took away the backlit keyboard, a real bummer for me.
    The third gen, 2011 version, is really sweet. I have the same config as Terry had and it is very fast for everything I need it to be. Also, OWC has a retrofit 480G flash HD if you ever want faster access times and more space.

    SSD for MacBook Air 2010 or 2011 - OWC Mercury Pro Aura Express Sandforce Driven

    You can't go wrong.

    R

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    Re: Macbook Air - long term reviews

    That's a pretty sweet looking storage device, Jorgen, I'll have to get me one of them.

    Thanks Rich, I'm going to hit the buy button any minute now.

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    Re: Macbook Air - long term reviews

    I also bought the MBA 13" / 256G SSD about six months ago. Back then they only offered 4GB of memory ;-(

    This MBA is plenty fast enough for my normal work, but I keep going back to my iMac27 for photo editing because of it's larger screen & more memory.

    If I were to buy a new laptop today... I would;

    - I would NOT buy the new thin retina display 15" !! NOTHING is upgradable on that particular machine (memory & HD)

    - I would buy the higher end 13" MBP
    - It has dual core i7
    - 13" screen is more portable
    - I can upgrade it to 16GB of memory for less than $200
    - I can add add a 256GB FAST SSD for less than $300 (but may not need to with 16GB of mem)
    - It has USB 3 for cheap and fast external HD upgrade
    - MBP-13 has a longer lasting battery than the MBA-13
    - With all that it would still be cheaper than MBA13 and the Retina15

    The only downfall of the MBP-13 is the limited range of color gamma. Maybe they've improved it with the new model. We'll see.
    .Sam.
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    Re: Macbook Air - long term reviews

    Quote Originally Posted by Rich M View Post
    The third gen, 2011 version, is really sweet. I have the same config as Terry had and it is very fast for everything I need it to be. Also, OWC has a retrofit 480G flash HD if you ever want faster access times and more space.

    SSD for MacBook Air 2010 or 2011 - OWC Mercury Pro Aura Express Sandforce Driven
    Can't go wrong? it's an $800 upgrade!! You'd be better off selling it and buying a new one with the bigger drive.
    .Sam.
    Panasonic GF1 & Olympus E-P5
    Photos: http://www.flickr.com/shadzee/

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    Re: Macbook Air - long term reviews

    Quote Originally Posted by shadzee View Post

    - I would NOT buy the new thin retina display 15" !! NOTHING is upgradable on that particular machine (memory & HD)
    You may order it with 16GB RAM and 768GB SSD. That's at least as much as the 13" can be upgraded to under any circumstances and the retina model has a quad processor and the superior monitor.

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    Re: Macbook Air - long term reviews

    Quote Originally Posted by shadzee View Post

    - I would NOT buy the new thin retina display 15" !! NOTHING is upgradable on that particular machine (memory & HD)

    - I would buy the higher end 13" MBP
    - It has dual core i7
    - 13" screen is more portable
    - I can upgrade it to 16GB of memory for less than $200
    - I can add add a 256GB FAST SSD for less than $300 (but may not need to with 16GB of mem)
    - It has USB 3 for cheap and fast external HD upgrade
    - MBP-13 has a longer lasting battery than the MBA-13
    - With all that it would still be cheaper than MBA13 and the Retina15

    The only downfall of the MBP-13 is the limited range of color gamma. Maybe they've improved it with the new model. We'll see.
    So, what would you actually want to upgrade on the retina machine. Everything you put on your list and more is already on the 15"?

    Go back and check the Apple site for prices....I don't think your comparison of the 13" models has the right prices....RAM not shown as 16GB on the 13"

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    Re: Macbook Air - long term reviews

    i go back and forth between a 15" pro and the 13" air. I have 256 SSD's in both which is plenty of room for me since I also carry 1 or even 2 thin back up drives. the air is great for field work and I really don't notice the weight. However, with my aging eyes, the high res 15" pro is wonderful for editing large batches. both plug in nicely to my 27" monitor.

    I just ordered a retina 15" and really look forward to it. I don't get the argument about not being able to upgrade--the new pro's come in a variety of configs and for most portable work they should be more than adequate. 16 GB of ram is plenty for just about any combo of apps I can think of--in fact 8 GB rarely slows me down. but to each there own. the new processors should also help.

    But to the original question, the 13" air is pretty good for editing in the field and sure is a joy to travel with.

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    Re: Macbook Air - long term reviews

    Quote Originally Posted by Terry View Post
    So, what would you actually want to upgrade on the retina machine. Everything you put on your list and more is already on the 15"?

    Go back and check the Apple site for prices....I don't think your comparison of the 13" models has the right prices....RAM not shown as 16GB on the 13"
    From Apple: MBP15-Retina with 256GB SSD & 16GB memory = $2,400

    The 13" MBP:
    - MBP 13 2core i7 $1,500
    - 16GB memory upgrade (OWC) $160
    - 256GB SSD (OWC) $250 (twice as fast as Apple's drive) (512GB for $600)
    - A Free 750GB external drive (the one that comes w/MBP)
    - Free internal DVD ($80 for the retina model)
    - Built-in Gigabit Ethernet port
    - $100 less for Apple care ($250 vs $350)

    That is a minimum of $600 saving if you choose the MBP13 over the Retina model.

    AND MOST IMPORTANTLY:
    If your hard drive or memory fails, you can change it yourself, and would not have to send it in to Apple.
    Last edited by shadzee; 13th June 2012 at 00:46.
    .Sam.
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    Re: Macbook Air - long term reviews

    Quote Originally Posted by Jorgen Udvang View Post
    You may order it with 16GB RAM and 768GB SSD. That's at least as much as the 13" can be upgraded to under any circumstances and the retina model has a quad processor and the superior monitor.
    Yes, that would make it a $3,000 laptop.

    Yes, the monitor seems to be the BIG difference. Of course, we will have to wait for tests to see how accurate the colors are. (if it's anything like the iPad3, it would be fantastic).
    .Sam.
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    Re: Macbook Air - long term reviews

    Does anyone know if you can calibrate the MBP with the new Retina display? For that matter do any of you calibrate your current MBP or MBA?

    Paul

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    Re: Macbook Air - long term reviews

    Quote Originally Posted by shadzee View Post
    ...

    - I would buy the higher end 13" MBP

    ...
    For photography, the MBP 13" is the last machine on earth I would buy. A 1280x800 display in 2012? Either the 13" MBA or the Retina MBP would be far better. The Retina MBP is no "less" upgradable than the MBA.

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    Re: Macbook Air - long term reviews

    For people who own MBAs--are you doing your photo editing on your laptop screen or an external monitor? I mainly ask because, even though they have pretty nice screens, their color gamut does not cover sRGB let alone Adobe RGB.

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    Re: Macbook Air - long term reviews

    I've been planning to buy an external monitor for mine, but editing on the laptop screen has been surprisingly satisfactory so far. I also edit while travelling, and editing on the same monitor at home obviously has its advantages when it comes to consistency.

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    Re: Macbook Air - long term reviews

    Quote Originally Posted by shadzee View Post
    Can't go wrong? it's an $800 upgrade!! You'd be better off selling it and buying a new one with the bigger drive.
    Can't go wrong with the 13" MBA......retrofits are an end-user choice.

    There are some out there that like to soup up their machines. I tend to go stock.

    R

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