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Thread: Any one around here have a new MBA

  1. #1
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    Any one around here have a new MBA

    and if so, what are your feelings?

    Just this guy you know

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    Re: Any one around here have a new MBA

    Jono,

    My 11.6" (4GB/128/1.6) arrives tomorrow-- I'll let you know after I fiddle a bit. I'm switching from a 13.3" Rev A MBA and looking forward to it.

    Jil

  3. #3
    meilicke
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    Re: Any one around here have a new MBA

    We have both in house now (4G ram, 128G SSD), and a 13" MBP (2.53 ghz, OWC 200G SSD).

    The 11", depth wise, is as wide as the iPad. It is about 1.5 inches longer, and although it is spec'ed at 1 lb heavier, it really does not feel like it. Maybe because they both have that dense, stiff feel.

    The trackpad on the 11" is shorter than on the 13", and the upper and lower row of the keyboard are slightly compressed as well (function keys and control, option, etc.). At first you really notice this if you are used to a MBP, but after a while the feeling sort of fades, and you are just using the thing. Resolution on the 11" is fine, I would not want it higher on that size of a screen. I think of the 11" and iPad equally portable, but obviously do things very differently.

    The 13" feels smack dab between the 13" MBP and the 11" MBA. For "real" work, the extra screen resolution is lovely. The weight delta between the 13 MBA and MBP is very noticeable. The weight between the two MBAs is noticeable, but not like between the 13 MBA and MBP.

    When we ran xbench against all three (11 and 13 MBA, 13 MBP), and practically speaking they were all very similar. Unfortunately we did not save the numbers! The OWC SSD in the 13 MBP is a little faster than the apple "disk", but both are miles ahead of spinning platters. Of course CPU speeds measured differently, as you would expect (1.4, 1.86, and 2.53, respectively). Disk numbers between the 11 and 13 (both 128G) were nearly identical. Graphics were nearly identical, taking into account the CPU speeds. When selecting about 10 apps on the 11", and then opening them all at once, all apps were open within 3-4 seconds. Fast enough for me. For regular work, mail, web, photo sorting and modest editing, all three should feel similar performance wise. If you are doing heavy CPU work, the 11 will naturally be the slowest.

    The choice between the two really comes down to weight, dimensions, screen resolution, and perhaps the SD slot. Performance is very similar (since most activities do not peg the CPUs), and they both feel the nearly the same, both physically and response wise.

    What else can I tell you?

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    Re: Any one around here have a new MBA

    Since they're all in the house and it's so easy to do, it would be great if you could run xBench on of them again and report the numbers --- while it may not be any more relevant than you're realworld impressions about them being close, it does help us geeks calibrate the differences in our heads
    Jack
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  5. #5
    meilicke
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    Re: Any one around here have a new MBA

    Here we go - long post!

    Between yesterday and today, the SSD on the 13" MBP had been swapped out for the original 250G spinning disk.

    11" MBA

    Code:
    Results	143.66	
    	System Info		
    		Xbench Version		1.3
    		System Version		10.6.4 (10F3061)
    		Physical RAM		4096 MB
    		Model		MacBookAir3,1
    		Drive Type		APPLE SSD TS128C
    	CPU Test	111.69	
    		GCD Loop	186.65	9.84 Mops/sec
    		Floating Point Basic	86.62	2.06 Gflop/sec
    		vecLib FFT	74.91	2.47 Gflop/sec
    		Floating Point Library	179.81	31.31 Mops/sec
    	Thread Test	209.24	
    		Computation	268.00	5.43 Mops/sec, 4 threads
    		Lock Contention	171.61	7.38 Mlocks/sec, 4 threads
    	Memory Test	139.86	
    		System	154.34	
    			Allocate	259.38	952.51 Kalloc/sec
    			Fill	118.91	5781.57 MB/sec
    			Copy	139.42	2879.63 MB/sec
    		Stream	127.86	
    			Copy	122.54	2531.03 MB/sec
    			Scale	121.55	2511.18 MB/sec
    			Add	134.76	2870.64 MB/sec
    			Triad	133.77	2861.74 MB/sec
    	Quartz Graphics Test	111.20	
    		Line	101.90	6.78 Klines/sec [50% alpha]
    		Rectangle	112.33	33.54 Krects/sec [50% alpha]
    		Circle	101.07	8.24 Kcircles/sec [50% alpha]
    		Bezier	121.46	3.06 Kbeziers/sec [50% alpha]
    		Text	123.15	7.70 Kchars/sec
    	OpenGL Graphics Test	102.07	
    		Spinning Squares	102.07	129.48 frames/sec
    	User Interface Test	126.43	
    		Elements	126.43	580.25 refresh/sec
    	Disk Test	205.98	
    		Sequential	146.18	
    			Uncached Write	220.00	135.08 MB/sec [4K blocks]
    			Uncached Write	197.03	111.48 MB/sec [256K blocks]
    			Uncached Read	67.30	19.69 MB/sec [4K blocks]
    			Uncached Read	346.83	174.32 MB/sec [256K blocks]
    		Random	348.57	
    			Uncached Write	149.40	15.82 MB/sec [4K blocks]
    			Uncached Write	510.58	163.46 MB/sec [256K blocks]
    			Uncached Read	1183.20	8.38 MB/sec [4K blocks]
    			Uncached Read	505.47	93.79 MB/sec [256K blocks]
    13" MBA

    Code:
    Results	166.74	
    	System Info		
    		Xbench Version		1.3
    		System Version		10.6.4 (10F3061)
    		Physical RAM		4096 MB
    		Model		MacBookAir3,2
    		Drive Type		APPLE SSD TS128C
    	CPU Test	132.98	
    		GCD Loop	218.18	11.50 Mops/sec
    		Floating Point Basic	106.39	2.53 Gflop/sec
    		vecLib FFT	88.39	2.92 Gflop/sec
    		Floating Point Library	209.08	36.41 Mops/sec
    	Thread Test	200.37	
    		Computation	351.76	7.13 Mops/sec, 4 threads
    		Lock Contention	140.08	6.03 Mlocks/sec, 4 threads
    	Memory Test	182.42	
    		System	207.74	
    			Allocate	302.79	1.11 Malloc/sec
    			Fill	161.02	7829.35 MB/sec
    			Copy	202.93	4191.35 MB/sec
    		Stream	162.60	
    			Copy	154.51	3191.40 MB/sec
    			Scale	152.75	3155.76 MB/sec
    			Add	173.68	3699.70 MB/sec
    			Triad	171.71	3673.37 MB/sec
    	Quartz Graphics Test	141.87	
    		Line	125.92	8.38 Klines/sec [50% alpha]
    		Rectangle	168.58	50.33 Krects/sec [50% alpha]
    		Circle	125.66	10.24 Kcircles/sec [50% alpha]
    		Bezier	146.50	3.70 Kbeziers/sec [50% alpha]
    		Text	151.82	9.50 Kchars/sec
    	OpenGL Graphics Test	123.46	
    		Spinning Squares	123.46	156.62 frames/sec
    	User Interface Test	181.34	
    		Elements	181.34	832.26 refresh/sec
    	Disk Test	237.07	
    		Sequential	155.84	
    			Uncached Write	250.05	153.53 MB/sec [4K blocks]
    			Uncached Write	281.54	159.30 MB/sec [256K blocks]
    			Uncached Read	65.95	19.30 MB/sec [4K blocks]
    			Uncached Read	338.52	170.14 MB/sec [256K blocks]
    		Random	495.15	
    			Uncached Write	288.49	30.54 MB/sec [4K blocks]
    			Uncached Write	510.67	163.48 MB/sec [256K blocks]
    			Uncached Read	1426.30	10.11 MB/sec [4K blocks]
    			Uncached Read	512.09	95.02 MB/sec [256K blocks]
    CPU, Memory, and graphics performance between the two MBAs all roughly scale to the processor differences. The processor speed of the 11" is 75% of the 13", and the tests show the 11" has between 75 and 85% the speed of the 13" in these tests.

    The disk tests surprised me, specifically the write tests. When we ran these numbers yesterday, I do not recall there being such a difference. I very quickly grabbed these numbers, and did not do a reboot prior to running the tests, take the average of a bunch of runs, etc. Perhaps something else was going on with these machines. Disk performance really should be very similar, given that they are running the same disk.

    Here is the MBP. Recall the disk is spinning metal, not SSD in this test.

    Code:
    Results	188.87	
    	System Info		
    		Xbench Version		1.3
    		System Version		10.6.4 (10F569)
    		Physical RAM		4096 MB
    		Model		MacBookPro5,5
    		Drive Type		Hitachi HTS545025B9SA02
    	CPU Test	179.27	
    		GCD Loop	296.01	15.60 Mops/sec
    		Floating Point Basic	144.45	3.43 Gflop/sec
    		vecLib FFT	117.84	3.89 Gflop/sec
    		Floating Point Library	283.72	49.40 Mops/sec
    	Thread Test	205.00	
    		Computation	344.35	6.98 Mops/sec, 4 threads
    		Lock Contention	145.94	6.28 Mlocks/sec, 4 threads
    	Memory Test	184.22	
    		System	215.49	
    			Allocate	266.22	977.66 Kalloc/sec
    			Fill	183.81	8937.20 MB/sec
    			Copy	211.65	4371.54 MB/sec
    		Stream	160.87	
    			Copy	154.16	3184.14 MB/sec
    			Scale	150.57	3110.71 MB/sec
    			Add	170.85	3639.38 MB/sec
    			Triad	169.97	3636.09 MB/sec
    	Quartz Graphics Test	187.52	
    		Line	164.14	10.93 Klines/sec [50% alpha]
    		Rectangle	213.03	63.60 Krects/sec [50% alpha]
    		Circle	180.16	14.69 Kcircles/sec [50% alpha]
    		Bezier	191.21	4.82 Kbeziers/sec [50% alpha]
    		Text	196.23	12.28 Kchars/sec
    	OpenGL Graphics Test	151.16	
    		Spinning Squares	151.16	191.75 frames/sec
    	User Interface Test	247.28	
    		Elements	247.28	1.13 Krefresh/sec
    	Disk Test	45.86	
    		Sequential	102.22	
    			Uncached Write	130.37	80.05 MB/sec [4K blocks]
    			Uncached Write	127.23	71.99 MB/sec [256K blocks]
    			Uncached Read	59.35	17.37 MB/sec [4K blocks]
    			Uncached Read	148.11	74.44 MB/sec [256K blocks]
    		Random	29.56	
    			Uncached Write	10.25	1.09 MB/sec [4K blocks]
    			Uncached Write	79.55	25.47 MB/sec [256K blocks]
    			Uncached Read	61.57	0.44 MB/sec [4K blocks]
    			Uncached Read	111.41	20.67 MB/sec [256K blocks]
    Predictably, disk performance is horrible relative to the SSD MBAs. If I recall from the tests we did yesterday when the 13" MBP had an OWC SSD, the OWC was a little faster than the SSDs in the MBAs, probably in the 15-25% range. One of the read tests was actually faster on the MBA SSDs, but not by much. These are decent SSDs I think, although I wonder how they will do as they fill up (a common problem is performance drops when SSDs fill up). My test macs were pretty empty (office and a few other apps were installed, but no VMs, large files, etc).

    For day to day work, and even modest photo work, you will not see much of a difference between the three machines (assuming an SSD in the 13" MBP). Only when doing batch processing that is CPU intensive will you notice it. I say this because most everything you do with a machine touches the disk (opening apps, accessing photos, playing music, etc.). When an SSD is (roughly) ten times faster, the machine feels completely different. CPU on the other hand is rarely pegged during routine use, and even then it is only for a second or two. Of course batch processing, video, etc., is the exception, and likely you will not be considering any of these three machines for those purposes anyway, opting for the faster i5 and i7 chips in the bigger MBPs (or iMac/Mac Pros).

  6. #6
    meilicke
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    Re: Any one around here have a new MBA

    Jono, maybe I will answer a little differently this time. I think of the MBAs like I think of my iPad. While I have not used them for any length of time, they seem to lend themselves to being picked up any old way (so light), using them whenever (fast wake up), and not worrying about power. Those are some of the major selling points of the iPad for me. Add the app store and I'm good!

    With my MBP 15", I seem to always pick it up carefully, wrap it underneath my arm, and then get under way. And I am nearly always looking for a place to plug in the power.

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    Re: Any one around here have a new MBA

    Quote Originally Posted by meilicke View Post
    Add the app store and I'm good!
    I would say add the App Store AND embed a 3G chip with a plan like the iPad and then I would be good.

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    Re: Any one around here have a new MBA

    HI Scott
    Thanks so much for all the information. It's been really helpful.

    I ordered mine (13" 4Gb 256Gb) on line, it said '3 days to shipping', today it said 'shipped', with estimated delivery 17th November, so I guess they must be making them on Mars!

    In the end, the SD card slot was the deciding factor - not so much because of the slot itself, although of course it's useful, but so that I have two USB ports free rather than needing one for a card reader.

    My 13" MBP had already found a good new home!

    Terry - although I hear what you say about the 3G, it's not really so relevant in Europe, generally speaking one is using a machine like this when in a different country, where the rates for 3g data are so outrageous (currently around $5 per Mb) that one doesn't want to use it for anything but email (and the ipad's good for that). Personally at least, I'd always have an ipad with me anyway, and I can't imagine when that wouldn't be enough for the sort of stuff one would use a 3G connection.

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    Sr. Administrator Jack's Avatar
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    Re: Any one around here have a new MBA

    Quote Originally Posted by meilicke View Post
    Here we go - long post!

    Between yesterday and today, the SSD on the 13" MBP had been swapped out for the original 250G spinning disk.
    Thanks for posting this! Even with a spinner, the MBP is scoring better than the Airs... My MBP with 8G RAM and SSD scores in the 260's with xBench, so I would say that's a non-trivial difference. For email, web browsing, word processing, sharing images or watching a movie, sure the Air will do just fine. (But to watch a movie you need to either copy it to the flash first or carry the external DVD drive which further eats power.) But start up any imaging program and you will definitely notice the performance hit compared to a MBP...

    Color me "Not Sold" for my needs -- and yes Jono, that means no Air love here . IMHO the Air should have more like a 20 hour battery -- then it at least gives me a real reason to consider it over a MBP. I realize it would weigh a bit more, but the extended time would be worth it to me.
    Jack
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  10. #10
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    Re: Any one around here have a new MBA

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Flesher View Post
    Thanks for posting this! Even with a spinner, the MBP is scoring better than the Airs... My MBP with 8G RAM and SSD scores in the 260's with xBench, so I would say that's a non-trivial difference. For email, web browsing, word processing, sharing images or watching a movie, sure the Air will do just fine. (But to watch a movie you need to either copy it to the flash first or carry the external DVD drive which further eats power.) But start up any imaging program and you will definitely notice the performance hit compared to a MBP...
    Well - of course, however, playing around with one in the store (11" 2Gb 128) it certainly felt a lot faster than my 13" MBP with a spinner.
    To be honest though - I'm not expecting to see a great deal of difference between the 13" MBA and MBP - but I'll enjoy the extra screen real-estate for programming.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Flesher View Post
    Color me "Not Sold" for my needs -- and yes Jono, that means no Air love here . IMHO the Air should have more like a 20 hour battery -- then it at least gives me a real reason to consider it over a MBP. I realize it would weigh a bit more, but the extended time would be worth it to me.
    Of course - we have different needs - when I'm on a work trip, it's the 17"MBP with 8Gb and a 256Gb SSD - I need both the screen real estate and the speed, and this does a sterling job.

    When I'm on a pleasure trip, then the weight does really matter (hand luggage weight is often controlled in European airlines), and it's mostly there for emergency rather than action - I may use it for a little light Aperture use, but I think it should manage that okay.

    Movies? iPAD

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  11. #11
    meilicke
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    Re: Any one around here have a new MBA

    Quote Originally Posted by jonoslack View Post
    ...but I'll enjoy the extra screen real-estate for programming.
    I hear you! It is good to see Apple finally putting higher pitch displays out (well, I guess the 27 was the first). When yours comes in, please let us know how Aperture fares on it.

    Jack, I think you are right, in that the MBP will be faster when doing serious crunching. During most of my laptop compute time, despite my IT ego, I am not doing serious crunching.

  12. #12
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    Re: Any one around here have a new MBA

    Quote Originally Posted by meilicke View Post
    I hear you! It is good to see Apple finally putting higher pitch displays out (well, I guess the 27 was the first). When yours comes in, please let us know how Aperture fares on it.

    Jack, I think you are right, in that the MBP will be faster when doing serious crunching. During most of my laptop compute time, despite my IT ego, I am not doing serious crunching.
    No - I'm not either - certainly programming ain't that. . . . . except for sometimes

    (Windows XP Windows 7 and Aperture all running at once is the way to test a machine )

    Only trouble is that according to Apple, despite the fact that it's already shipped, I won't see it for a fortnight

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    Re: Any one around here have a new MBA

    Quote Originally Posted by jonoslack View Post

    When I'm on a pleasure trip, then the weight does really matter (hand luggage weight is often controlled in European airlines), and it's mostly there for emergency rather than action - I may use it for a little light Aperture use, but I think it should manage that okay.

    Movies? iPAD
    So on a pleasure trip where weight is a criteria, you carry an MB Air, iPad and iPhone??? Seems the iPad is a redundant waste of space and weight...
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    Re: Any one around here have a new MBA

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Flesher View Post
    So on a pleasure trip where weight is a criteria, you carry an MB Air, iPad and iPhone??? Seems the iPad is a redundant waste of space and weight...
    Oh no - The ipad
    does email -
    has books to read on the beach / evening etc.
    does videos on flights
    backup for the camera cards (I'll usually do selections / culling on ipad)
    it's also acceptable to use in bars (see previous item)
    has omnifocus (from which my life is run)

    . . .. would you like me to carry on?

    The iphone is . . . well, a phone and email when away from hotel

    The MBx is just in case a client has a crisis and I need to do something significant - or indeed go visit a client on the fly (it's happened). If the weather is ghastly and there's nothing good to do, then I might use it for Aperture etc.
    The other time it gets used (mba or mbp 13") is at home in the evenings updating clients over RDP, again, a little light programming.

    the 13" air has two significant advantages over the MBP:
    1. the higher screen resolution - for programming where necessary
    2. it's considerably lighter

    Basically I can't travel without a computer which can be used for 'serious' work - even if I'm not planning to do it (if I AM planning to do it, then it's the 17")

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    Re: Any one around here have a new MBA

    Thanks for the performance comparison--very interesting. I'm still in the camp of the 100,000's who will/or have bought one of these. It is a tool that works great for certain types of users--including photographers. Of course, a tower on wheels with a honda generator would offer the best performance, but in my case pulling one around an NFL field to transmit images would be silly (but interesting!).

    I do agree that Apple should have considered a 3G chip--if the air is designed as the ultimate portable machine for business/student types, you'd think internet everywhere would be a priority. Probably more an issue of what carrier--so a removable sim chip would have to be shoe-horned in. But the Windows guys have figured it out (i.e., the small Sony portables)

    For the folks here that want adequate performance to handle large files, the Air is a non-starter. For us who shoot cameras that spit out moderate files for web posting or magazines, the Air works as a super portable machine. The Air can be strapped into a small back pack carrier and whipped out to do real time processing--it sure beat the netbooks class machines. In my case, this means having the computing power with me during shooting versus having to secure a MacBook Pro somewhere and go back and forth to it.

    Movies in iPads and Airs: sure takes a lot of time to download those suckers--but at least the air can store more than one.
    Last edited by fultonpics; 3rd November 2010 at 10:33.

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    Re: Any one around here have a new MBA

    Quote Originally Posted by fultonpics View Post

    Movies in iPads and Airs: sure takes a lot of time to download those suckers--but at least the air can store more than one.
    Just takes a little thought to download them before you go anywhere and you can get enough movies on a 64Gb ipad to last me a while! - again, imperative in Europe where you're crossing borders all the time.

    My son left his email on for an afternoon on his phone in France . . . a friend sent him an email of photographs . . . it cost over $1000 in one afternoon - no escape. Currently the only way to make it cheaper is to have a sim card for each country you go to.

    . . . . Guess who had to pay

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    Re: Any one around here have a new MBA

    I'm actually one of those folks who travels with an iPhone/iPad/MBA -- and all of them fit it my work briefcase.

    The iPhone is, well, my phone and I use the 3G for email when I'm running around.

    The iPad I use mostly for fun -- especially on trips to Asia and Europe as I really don't have to worry about battery life on long flights. I always have a movie or two to relax with and some sort of game. Since I purchased my m4/3 gear I always travel with a good digital camera now, even on pure business trips. Of late, I've been downloading my SD cards to the iPad (and putting them aside for secondary backup), using the screen to cull the obvious duds and emailing or posting picks from the road. When I get home I hook it up to my desktop machine and import directly into LR3 (both RAW & JPEG). This has worked out wonderfully -- the iPad is a great companion to my GH1/GF1.

    I have the original Rev A MBA (added a Runcore 64GB SSD earlier this year) -- it is my pure work machine. No music, no movies, maybe a couple of pics of the kids. I have PS5 and Illustrator loaded to adjust figures for when I use it to give talks (it's main use besides Internet on the road). I adore this thing -- barely takes up any room in my bag, doesn't require a separate laptop bag (the bane of my existence) and with the SSD is perfectly fast. I am now thoroughly addicted to the portability and tomorrow, after nearly 3 years of daily use I will be replacing it with an 11.6" Air -- couldn't convince myself that the new 13" would be different enough to warrant the change, so now I'm going ultra portable. Going to buy a new (smaller) work bag to celebrate. OK, I admit it, I don't need an excuse to buy a new bag

    Now, when I travel where shooting is a big component (e.g. meaning that I take the D700) -- I bring the 15" MBP (one of the last ones with the matte screens). Quite frankly, with my eyesight I don't do any serious graphic work on anything smaller.

    So I guess my uses are very well-defined. And I think that is the key to using a machine like the Air to it's full potential -- will I be able to adjust a figure or blot on the 11.6" using PS5? Sure, no problem and it will run my keynote talks without a hitch, movies and all. It will be great for writing on an airplane -- can't wait to ditch the tray table paranoia when someone tilts back. Will I use it to do serious manipulation of 20MB D700 files? No, but I wouldn't do that on anything but a 15" anyway...

    My $0.02.

  18. #18
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    Re: Any one around here have a new MBA

    When you get your MacBook Air you may not want to install Flash if you like to run on batteries!!!!!

    From the Ars Technica review:

    http://arstechnica.com/apple/reviews...book-air.ars/3



    "We did find (quite by accident) that Apple may have more reasons behind not installing Flash by default other than the stated reason of ensuring that users always have the most up-to-date version. Having Flash installed can cut battery runtime considerably—as much as 33 percent in our testing. With a handful of websites loaded in Safari, Flash-based ads kept the CPU running far more than seemed necessary, and the best time I recorded with Flash installed was just 4 hours. After deleting Flash, however, the MacBook Air ran for 6:02—with the exact same set of websites reloaded in Safari, and with static ads replacing the CPU-sucking Flash versions."

  19. #19
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    Re: Any one around here have a new MBA

    Quote Originally Posted by JCT View Post

    My $0.02.
    Swap 11 for 13 and 15 for 17 and it sounds almost exactly the same as my 0.02pence!

    Just this guy you know

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    Re: Any one around here have a new MBA

    Quote Originally Posted by jonoslack View Post
    Swap 11 for 13 and 15 for 17 and it sounds almost exactly the same as my 0.02pence!
    Hah-- and I am willing to bet a component of that proportional size disparity is perhaps driven by the fact that I am a rather small female...

    I'm very compulsive about using the "right" tool for the right job, if that requires a bit more of an outlay -- so be it. Besides, I buy my gear for the long haul.

    And I'm typing this on the 11.6" -- took about a day to get used to the screen size, now I'm in love with it. It just flies -- something just *fun* about having such a small notebook running full-scale OSX with such alacrity. I have one of the pay-as-you go Virgin MyFi's always in my bag, a great combo. Caught my 16-yr-old son hefting it last night, looks like it is time to hide it away!

    For those of you with new (or old) MBAs, John Gruber of DaringFireball had a real nice approach to using Flash, worth checking into as I found it better than dealing with ClickToFlash.

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    Re: Any one around here have a new MBA

    still using my 13" (switched it to the top end model), and it is working great. did a couple events this weekend and no problems at all. stanford has an amazing wireless network and my files just flew out of there at halftime. did an nfl game on sunday and same deal. so far so good--and VERY light.

  22. #22
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    Re: Any one around here have a new MBA

    I use a new 13" MBA as my main work computer. It runs fairly heavy numerical computations. I am just thrilled with it. I have NOT done any photo or video work with it, as I try to keep that on the home desktop monster (and the MBA has no FW, so getting very large files on and off it is problematic).

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