MacBook Air


My wife’s 15-inch MacBook Pro was a good hand-me-down; I don’t buy shitty computers, and that one was no exception. But it was the first MacBook Pro made, and even as a built-to-order model, it was past its prime. Not only that, but it’s seen hard combat duty on her lap with the kid going from 0-2 years old, and the abuse it’s sustained would radically shorten the life on any computer. The keyboard had been replaced after the baby decided that it would be better with fewer keys. (That’s not a replacement for the faint-of-heart, by the way.) It’s been spilled on, hit, thrown, and generally beaten down. Since it was on its last legs, we went to the Apple Store to see what the best fit was for her replacement.

She knows I love my iPad more than is reasonable, and since she’s a typical home user–email, web, Facebook–she thought that an iPad might be best for her. I convinced her that wasn’t a good idea, mostly because she’s a big Facebook chat user and a pretty sophisticated Google Maps user, and those aren’t the best on the iPad. She doesn’t need or want anything big, so we looked at the 13" MacBook and MacBook Pro and the newly released MacBook Air family.

Stacking Up

The new Airs are dead sexy. While the 11" model is interesting, the sweet spot for her seemed to be the 13": it’s a bit more powerful and has more screen real estate for the price. After comparing them, she liked the Air over the Pro, and we ended up taking home the 13", 2GB RAM, 256GB Air. We have my 17" MacBook Pro and her old machine laying around, so we weren’t worried about the lack of optical drive. It didn’t end up being a problem anyway, since we simply had Time Machine, which backed up her old machine, migrate her data and apps to the new machine. It took awhile, but it went flawlessly. New machine, same setup.

The form factor is great. It’s more on the scale of the iPad than it is my 17-inch MacBook Pro. The screen is unbelievably thin; the LCD is acceptably bright, but less so than my Pro. The pixel density is nice, cramming in more pixels than my original 13" MacBook Pro was a few years back. It has the standard-sized keyboard from the current generation MacBooks, albeit not backlit. The trackpad is also MacBook standard-issue, which is to say it’s great. Two things that are marked improvements over the Pro line, other than size, are the noise and heat. Rather, the lack of noise and heat. The Air is dead silent without the spinning platters of the hard drive, and since it runs cool to the touch, even under strain, the fans don’t kick up either. When was the last time I could say that a MacBook was cool to the touch? I’m not sure I’ve ever had one that was. The whole thing is a wonderful package.

17" MBP, 13" MBA, iPad

The machine is faster than it has any right to be, given its specs, which must be due to the solid state storage. It boots in a jiffy (about 15 seconds from powered off), wakes nearly instantly from sleep, and the battery life is incredible (not iPad incredible, but awesome nonetheless). Every app she has installed launches in one bounce on the Dock. Everything I’ve done has been met with instant, fluid response.

There’s no way I could live with the 2GB RAM with some of the apps I use, but I have to admit being jealous of the sexiness of this machine. This is her first all-new machine in years, mostly because I upgrade every couple of years and give her my previous model. This is the first time she’s got a newer Mac than me and I think she’s happy to have something that is all hers.