Well, that was predictable... This weekend I ordered my new MacBook Air. If you’ve been following me on twitter or reading my blog, you’ll know that this is something I’ve been considering ever since the Airs were announced. However, I had reservations about whether a MacBook Air could replace the MacBook Pro as my primary machine or whether I would have to go out and buy an iMac as a desktop machine thus making this venture even more costly. As the reviews came out, all overwhelmingly positive, and as more of my friends bought MacBook Airs, I found the temptation too hard to resist. After going back and fourth on the decision of whether to buy an Air I had all but decided just to upgrade the hard drive in my MacBook Pro and wait a year when the new Airs come out. But, this weekend, a number of things came together that made my purchase irresistible. For one, a friend of a friend approached me about my MacBook Pro who was willing to pay a premium price in exchange for assistance with setup and training and an unexpected consulting job came my way when combined made the cost to switch to the MacBook Air minimal.
I decided to go with the “ultimate configuration” of a 13” MacBook Air with 2.13 GHz Core 2 Duo processor, 256GB hard drive and 4GB RAM. I also bought the external SuperDrive. To keep costs down for now (still gotta buy Christmas gifts for my family) I held off buying AppleCare, but I will buy it before my one year is up.
I’ve had several questions about why I would choose to trade in a MacBook Pro for a MacBook Air with lower specs and a higher price tag. At first glance, that seems to make no sense. It all goes back to how your use your Mac and what’s important.
I crave speed - and for my usage most of my bottlenecks are in my traditional hard drive. I hate restarting my Mac, waking it from sleep and waiting for applications to launch. With the built-in flash-storage the MacBook Air is wickedly fast for hard-drive accessing tasks. Sure, I could have put an SSD in my MacBook Pro, but that would have cost about $600 for a 256GB drive that isn’t as fast as the Air’s. I decided it didn’t make sense to put a $600 upgrade in a machine I was going to sell in a year, especially with the dropping price of SSDs.
Another important feature is portability - I use my iPad everywhere now because it’s so easy to throw in a bag and go. In fact, I use my iPad so much, that I’ve been neglecting my Mac. Sure, my current 13” MacBook Pro is no giant, but I miss my Mac and I know that I would use my Mac more if it was smaller and more convenient to carry around. Portability has always been important to me, such that I’ve always preferred the 13” computers over the 15” models. There’s nothing more portable and full featured than the 13” MacBook Air. I would have considered the 11” Air if I could have upgraded the hard drive and processor to match the high end 13” model, but I wasn’t willing to compromise that much on power. For my usage, the extra portability was worth sacrificing the power.
I would love it if the MacBook Air would work for me as my primary machine, but I do have concerns whether it has the raw power to meet my needs. After reading every review I can get my hands on, I think it has a shot. I’ve been monitoring my MacBook Pro 2.53 GHz’s usage with MenuMeters and I rarely use more than 70% of the processing power or the entire 4GB of memory. I’ve also read that in real-world speed tests the MacBook Air performs similarly to my current MacBook Pro. So I really don’t see this as a downgrade, I see it as an upgrade for my everyday use.
I’m going to run with the MacBook Air as my only machine for the next couple of months and see how things go. I already have my 24” Apple Cinema display and keyboard and mouse hooked up so the MacBook Air will fit perfectly into my current setup.
While I may end up having to buy an iMac for more power or maybe a Mac Mini to use as a home server next year, I think the MacBook Air will fit my needs nicely. Of course, I’ll let you know how it goes.