For the first time in almost exactly 2 years, I’m replacing my primary computing device — the original 13″ unibody MacBook is being retired in favor of a new 13″ MacBook Air. The screen may sound small but, given my various travels and mobile blogging activities, it’s the right size for me… most of the time.
Choosing to upgrade now is a bit of splurge considering this MacBook Air actually sports a less powerful processor than the one housed in the laptop it replaces. However, as I rarely render video on my laptop I expect a minimal real world performance hit. In fact, given SSD storage over spinning platters, the MBA should provide a more sprightly experience in many tasks. Additionally, in relation to performance, several publications (like Macworld) show these new systems perform admirably despite their small stature.
I find the 11″ MacBook Air very appealing — so sexy, so small, yet pretty capable, But there are too many compromises required for me to use it as a full-time laptop. So I went with the 13″ for the larger screen, larger battery, more powerful processor, and SD slot. Compared to my previous laptop, I expect to at least double battery life and the higher resolution display will be appreciated for certain tasks. Also, the SD slot is a very nice upgrade that I’m already enjoying – one less cable or adapter to travel with (or lose).
Two positive surprises so far… The display appears less glossy than my previous laptop. Not sure if this is truly the case, perhaps the silver metal bezel versus black glass and higher resolution contribute to some sort of optical illusion. Regardless, I’m unexpectedly pleased. Also, on the hardware front the keyboard feels a bit different. Not sure if the keys travel less or they’re just a bit softer, but the feeling is slightly different. In a good way. Otherwise, there’s not much to say about the hardware — as you’d expect, the build quality is outstanding.
On the software front, as I migrate stuff over it’s interesting to note what I’m choosing to leave behind. At some point over the last two years, I’ve replaced Microsoft Office and OpenOffice with Google Docs. Also, I have much less need for VMWare Fusion and Parallels these days. Whereas I relied on Windows virtualization as a crutch when first going Mac laptop (in ’07/’08). Plus, there’s much more OS X-compatible software these days (Mac is back) and I’ve got Windows-based computers available when/as needed. With all this Adobe hateraide going ’round, instead of loading up the new Adobe Photoshop Elements, I’m running exclusively with the lighter-weight Acorn for a few weeks. We’ll see how it goes. (Dropping Flash is out of the question. For now.)
In terms of specs, I stuck with the standard 128GB SSD for storage (although upgraded to 4GB for memory). And I’m already regretting that decision to save a few bucks given my iTunes and iPhoto libraries. iTunes is mostly expendable at this point, as I get most of my music needs met via Slacker and XM these days. However, I do like having most of my photos with me at all times. So I’m going to have to upgrade this SSD one day or figure out how to access and maintain multiple iPhoto libraries – one local, one on a NAS. Hm.