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Thread: New MacBook Air computers - my take

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    Senior Member bradhusick's Avatar
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    New MacBook Air computers - my take

    As a former Apple employee and avid Apple equipment enthusiast, I thought I'd take a moment to tell you what I think of Apple's recent announcement of new MacBook Air computers.

    I think the original MacBook Air was a real breakthrough, providing a real computer in a tiny package, along with a completely solid-state option. No moving parts, long battery life, silent operation (except when the noisy fan kicked in when taxing the processor, especially playing video.) It was expensive, but elegant. I use one today.

    The new MacBook Air computers now come in 2 sizes and are solid-state, but really offer nothing new - to users that is. They offer something really wonderful to Apple - much lower cost of manufacturing. They pass along some of that savings to users. You can buy one for just under $1000, but the loaded one is still $1800. Apple's margin on these is significantly better than before.

    If Apple had offered an option for 3G inside, we'd have a game-changer. Connectivity everywhere. Sort of like my iPad but with a keyboard.

    If you're in the market for a subnotebook then these represent a really good user experience. Just don't expect that they're head and shoulders above the models they replace.

    -Brad
    Last edited by bradhusick; 22nd October 2010 at 16:09.

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    Senior Member mathomas's Avatar
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    Re: New MacBook Air computers - my take

    I'm with you, and happy about it. I'd like to get an iPad but would only do so if I sold my air. I was afraid the new air would crush the price I could get for my air, but I'm not so sure now.

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    Re: New MacBook Air computers - my take

    I would like to use this new Air on trips with:

    - CS5 (likely ok)
    - LR 3 (likely ok too)
    - FCP (no idea)
    - I miss either USB 3 or Firewire

    Also I would like to have an 11" with 256GB flash and monitor miniport

    I have a hard time not to buy one.
    Uwe Steinmueller
    -------------------

    Editor&Owner of Digital Outback Photo
    http://www.outbackphoto.com

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    Re: New MacBook Air computers - my take

    Quote Originally Posted by ustein View Post

    Also I would like to have an 11" with 256GB flash and monitor miniport

    I have a hard time not to buy one.
    Just my thought as well. I would love to throw away my little AcerSomething that I use for travel, but I need small, light. 128GB is easily filled up with software and stash, and a few 16GB cards will fill the rest very fast. That means I would need two separate HDD (including backup), which kind of negates the advantage of the small size/weight.

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    Re: New MacBook Air computers - my take

    Brad, I completely agree with your 3G comment. I'm away on the workshop and haven't had a chance to follow the news that closely but it was exactly my reaction. If they had included a 3G chip that you could activate just like the AT&T iPad plan, it would have been a home run for people who need the full OS (not iOS). I know you can get a 3G dongle from the carriers but the experience is not the same as integrated service.

    For me, with my rather constant airport travel, the iPad is still awesome as:
    1) can leave in your bag through security
    2) 3G when waiting for flights (even with more airports giving free wifi sometimes 3G is just easier than getting the terms and conditions pages that always pop up on the wifi networks.
    3) iPad is great for cramped airplanes/tray tables

    Quote Originally Posted by bradhusick View Post
    As a former Apple employee and avid Apple equipment enthusiast, I thought I'd take a moment to tell you what I think of Apple's recent announcement of new MacBook Air computers.

    I think the original MacBook Air was a real breakthrough, providing a real computer in a tiny package, along with a completely solid-state option. No moving parts, long battery life, silent operation (except when the noisy fan kicked in when taxing the processor, especially playing video.) It was expensive, but elegant. I use one today.

    The new MacBook Air computers now come in 2 sizes and are solid-state, but really offer nothing new - to users that is. They offer something really wonderful to Apple - much lower cost of manufacturing. They pass along some of that savings to users. You can buy one for just under $1000, but the loaded one is still $1800. Apple's margin on these is significantly better than before.

    If Apple had offered an option for 3G inside, we'd have a game-changer. Connectivity everywhere. Sort of like my iPad but with a keyboard.

    If you're in the market for a subnotebook then these represent a really good user experience. Just don't expect that they're head and shoulders above the models they replace.

    -Brad

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    Re: New MacBook Air computers - my take

    I confess that what I'd really like is a MacBook Pro in a MacBook Air package. The one thing that Apple have done that is a significant improvement over the old model is the option for 4GB RAM as a CTO. I just wish they'd put a faster processor in there too. The 256GB flash storage is also a big attraction too, although neither of these options is going to be part of a $999 package! (figure on $1800 for 2.13GHz cpu/4GB ram/13.3in MBA).

    I have the previous generation MBA with 128GB SSD and I'd have a hard time justifying an upgrade at the moment. However, had they included a 3G option I'd have jumped on it immediately. Maybe next time ...

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    Re: New MacBook Air computers - my take

    Quote Originally Posted by bradhusick View Post
    The new MacBook Air computers now come in 2 sizes and are solid-state, but really offer nothing new - to users that is.
    HI Brad
    Actually, I rather disagree - I bought a first version macbook air, and I loved it but for two issues:
    1. it wouldn't run either of the heaviweights I need (Aperture and VMFusion)
    2. 1 USB port really wasn't enough - at the very least one needed one for an external drive and one for ethernet connectivity.

    I used to pick it up every month or so and think 'This is fab - why aren't I using it'. Then I'd put it down in frustration after a couple of hours work.

    For the purposes where the original Air worked, an iPad seems to me to be a much better option - i.e. for entertainment / email / organisation etc.

    I think the 11" has some of the same issues, but a loaded 13" would work for me as a great replacement for my 13"MBP . . . . I can live with 2 ports and I can live with the lack of FW800 (with regret).

    I'm sure that it'll run Aperture (specially with the new update) and Fusion, and the higher res screen will be good for photography.

    Added to which I think it's a pretty good deal - for a 13" with 256Gb flash memory and 4Gb I think you'd find it hard to do better - especially for something with that battery life, that light and that pretty.

    I agree with you and Terry about the 3G though - especially with the nice deals they have for iPad 3g in the UK.

    However, for me, the original Air showed what it could be - and the new one makes it useable.

    Just this guy you know

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    Re: New MacBook Air computers - my take

    As another former Apple employee... and one who got his choice of toys to play with over the years - I am finding the new smaller Macbook Air as the one that attracts me.

    When I was working I usually used a 17" MBP - fully loaded because I had to carry around all the apps, demo files and stuff. I also had a Mac Pro for the heavy lifting work and demo development - the multiple drive bays were a blessing.

    however times and priorities change... and as my various ex apple laptops seem to be dying one by one, I had budgeted this year to buy a new MBP - probably a 15 inch. In the interim I had started to use my original Macbook Air as my day to day browsing machine. Last week the system on that went haywire and I had to do a reinstall at which point I realised that what i needed for day to day work was actually very little. My photo and other 'work' is done on the desktop machine - which has the power and the storage. My mail and other documents is mostly mobile me based..

    The ipad just doesn't seem to work for me - its the wrong size - too big - for that casual browsing experience and the single window aspect bothers me. Think I will wait for the version 2 of that device before going that route.

    so my thoughts are to get the 11 inch model with just the 64G drive and 4G of memory, plus a nice slim external drive to store photos when travelling - they will be transferred to the desktop on return home. The idea is that I don't need to store lots of my data on the Air - its not a filing cabinet. I could probably get away with just the ilife apps for my on-the-road capture and sort needs.

    I am also thinking that maybe a 27 inch iMac might be on the cards as a compliment to the Air, and finally get round to rationalising the large amounts of data I have spread across umpteen drives, much of which are haphazard back ups and legacy/redundant work related stuff.

    so going back to Brads original assertion - i think the new Air is a major change - I think it is the essence of a laptop experience in a light and robust package. It is an interesting move on Apples part - because to me I am struggling to see why I should spend 2000 bucks on a top of the range MBP for features that I now seldom use

    we will see

    K

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    Re: New MacBook Air computers - my take

    Great discussion. Apple is really smart - they're giving us choices at every point in the spectrum, from iTouch to MacPro. Most of us own multiple Apple products for different scenarios and they like that all the way to the bank.

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    Re: New MacBook Air computers - my take

    I think Kevin is hitting the point nicely.....it really depends upon what one really needs and uses. If one is looking for a single machine to do all things, the MBA might come up a bit short. If one needs to travel a lot, and is only doing light processing work afield, and heavy lifting back at the office, the MBA seems to be an excellent option....when coupled with a Mac Pro or iMac at the office. Not sure just how much power work folks really need to do on it while away from the office/desktop. If you are doing a lot of video work, and doing a lot of photo manipulation with PS and other tools, the MBA may come up a bit short compared to a beefed up MBP on the road. I do think the CPU issue may be moot, and the newer GPU arrangement may help the MBA a lot for some things. The 4GB RAM option is a big plus, I think. As for amount of internal storage, again, it really depends upon what you have to have and use. One slim external drive may work fine for many things, but planning to carry everything onboard just seems challenging.

    As I think about it, if one has the ability to plan things, and maybe create access to extra stuff, using MobileMe or some other online storage, one could use the MBA very effectively, and enjoy its size and weight. If you have to do lots of work and some serious processing, I still think the MBP is the way to go, and/or having a good desktop system back at the office.

    The onboard 3G part may be nice and very useful for some, and though the external dongle may be a bit of a pain, it is still very doable, so incorporating it like the iPad does seems unneeded. Maybe when everything goes to LTE (4G), and more carriers use the same technology, a more universal access device built in may be the ticket.

    Apple has figured a very nice way to segment the market and create very attractive offerings for use in the segments across many different use groups. This new MBA looks like it could satisfy folks, but asking it to perform like a fire breathing Mac Pro or something seems out of place. To me, bottom line, figure out what you need and how you really need to work with stuff and use things. At that point, I do think one could be more than very happy with the MBA and maybe the iMac at the office. Personally, I keep working on ways to pare things down. I seldom need to have 100,000 images in a library with me, and I also seldom need to be doing lots of processing away from the office. The MBA and a beefed up iMac or Mac Pro could work very nicely. Just depends upon how long you are out and how much stuff you need to store. My one gripe is the lack of ports for decent external storage. It would be really nice to be able to download several cards per day, and be able to easily back them up while on the road. One can do that with the present offering of the MBA, but not easily, meaning doing it in fewer configuration steps.

    Good to separate real needs from imagined needs for this device, and planning your work and storage. I will stick with my MBP because I am doing processing and video stuff on it, and the MBA just seems a bit anemic for that.

    LJ

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    Re: New MacBook Air computers - my take

    Quote Originally Posted by LJL View Post
    Good to separate real needs from imagined needs for this device, and planning your work and storage. I will stick with my MBP because I am doing processing and video stuff on it, and the MBA just seems a bit anemic for that.

    LJ
    Lots of interesting points, and I think you've hit the nail on the head.
    If I'm on a trip and I want to do picks and deletes and view shots, together with a backup, then the iPAD does a grand job - processing on the road isn't something I usually want to do. For instance, we just went to Venice for a long weekend - I used the iPad for backup and looking at the shots in the bar in the evening. On the flight home I zapped all the no-hopers and got to grips with what was good. When I got home, processing the goodies and putting up the web pages took much less time than it would otherwise have done. Of course, I could have done that with an MBA as well, but probably not as easily (an iPad is a fine thing on a plane).

    On the other hand, if I'm going to do some real work on the road, then I like to have a bit of grunt . . . . and I've grown to like keeping much of my data on an encrypted external firewire 800 portable drive (including my Aperture library and the current year's images).

    Interestingly, the announcement of the MBA, rather than pushing me into buying one (believe me, I would like one), has pushed me into increasing the RAM on my 13"MBP to 8Gb and buying a 256GB SSD - I'll just have to live with the extra 1lb weight and the shorter battery life

    But my iPad gets more and more use every month.

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    Re: New MacBook Air computers - my take

    A comparison of new MBA v. older models and the 13" MBP, plus the iPad with respect to computer performance. As noted in this article, it does not take into account things like the newer GPU, etc., but just looks at the processor performance.

    http://www.macrumors.com/2010/10/25/...h-macbook-air/

    LJ

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    Re: New MacBook Air computers - my take

    interesting, LJ...

    i, for one, have the earliest MBA and have successfully used and processed images with C1 and CS3 whilst on holiday. is it fun? no. but it's doable, something that can't be done on an iPad.

    i still like my Air a lot, but have been lugging around my 17" because the Air (on which i'm typing) has a broken "mouse." after the last holiday, having to carry it myself, i decided that's it's last trip the 17" is going on...

    my choice now will be fixing this mouse or getting the tiny 11". so there isn't a lot of processing power, who cares? with 4gb RAM i should still be able to play a bit with images if the fancy takes me.

    besides, i'm much more likely to use it for email and web-surfing, as well as backing up images (i put it both on an external and keep it on the hard drive so i have some redundancy on the road)... no offense to iPad lovers, but i need a keyboard!

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    Re: New MacBook Air computers - my take

    That was mostly the point of the other posts.....once one defines the real needs for use under different conditions or travel, any of the tools can do a good job. As Jono notes, the iPad is a great tool for parts of the overall workflow and for convenience and travel use, but may not be best for the more serious work, if needed.

    I am one of those guys that likes to get as much versatility from stuff as possible, so that means overkill for simple stuff most of the time, or maybe sacrificing some convenience, like just doing the selects. But the thought of working on one machine for part of the workflow, then swapping to another to finish things is less attractive for me, but may be very practical for some. So taking a small, very light notebook along for non-process intensive use, like emails and stuff, plus some storage, is very attractive, but being able to actually do more serious work when needed makes that solution less capable. This is all by design.....build things that are really attractive and encourage people to buy ALL of them ;-)

    LJ

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    Re: New MacBook Air computers - my take

    unfortunately, since there is photographic gear calling my name, i think i may just be fixing my mouse on the old guy... this double-tap stuff is most annoying!

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    Re: New MacBook Air computers - my take

    Quote Originally Posted by LJL View Post
    This is all by design.....build things that are really attractive and encourage people to buy ALL of them ;-)

    LJ
    LOL - Of course!
    I shall be interested to see how my 2010 13"MBP performs with an extra 4gb RAM (maxxed out at 8) and with a 256Gb SSD - I have high hopes!

    Apart from being terribly attraactive the 11" is of no interest to me (it doesn't do anything that I want that I can't do on the iPad).
    But I'm still a bit haunted by a fully loaded 13" . . . .

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    Re: New MacBook Air computers - my take

    ...and some updated performance specs on the newer models compared with previous versions and the 13" MBP. Starts making that 13" MBA look pretty good ;-)

    http://www.macrumors.com/2010/10/26/...o-counterpart/

    LJ

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    Re: New MacBook Air computers - my take



    it's nice to know that any of these would be an improvement over what i've got

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    Re: New MacBook Air computers - my take

    Quote Originally Posted by cam View Post


    it's nice to know that any of these would be an improvement over what i've got
    HI Cam
    I'm surprised you haven't got one yet!

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    Re: New MacBook Air computers - my take

    Quote Originally Posted by jonoslack View Post
    HI Cam
    I'm surprised you haven't got one yet!
    considering i desperately need a proper desktop machine and monitor, a printer, oh and an M9 (did i say that?), a new MBA is kind of low on my list... then again, it's the one thing that is actually affordable

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    Re: New MacBook Air computers - my take

    Quote Originally Posted by cam View Post
    considering i desperately need a proper desktop machine and monitor, a printer, oh and an M9 (did i say that?), a new MBA is kind of low on my list... then again, it's the one thing that is actually affordable
    paf - you don't need a proper desktop machine . . . I've just been doing a wedding book on a humble MPB with an external screen, with Aperture, inDesign CS5 running flat out - waiting time really isn't relevant - Have you rung that nice Liz yet?

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