Tag Archives: MBA

New Gear : MacBook Air

I’ve been thinking recently about a move to lighter weight laptop. My 15″ MacBook Pro has been a solid machine, but it was getting long in the tooth (a late 2008 model), and seemed to be gaining weight as it got older. Don’t we all. 🙂

The question was MacBook Air or MacBook Pro. The first-gen MacBook Air was released a while back. The rub on that machine was that it was pretty dang slow, and I never really was interested in it. You’d think that’d point me toward the MacBook Pro.

However, as I started looking to get a bit more current on my road machine, I started looking at the recently upgraded MacBook Air. The new models had better graphics cards installed, and were all SSD-based. This flash-based drive really made a convenient, “no moving parts” laptop, and consequently, made it really, really light. And, it’s simply beautiful, with typically well-thought out Apple esthetics.

Apple introduced two screen sizes, 11.6″ and 13.3″. For folks that loved the ancient 12″ iBook, that 11.6″ screen was attractive. The memory sizes were fixed at either 2GB or 4GB, and weren’t user upgradable, with the RAM being soldered to the motherboard.

In the past, Apple had delivered recovery DVDs with their laptops and desktops. With the new MacBook Air machines, they supplied the recovery code on a teency USB thumbdrive. What a stroke of genius! And, of course, without there being an optical drive in the MacBook Air, it just makes a whole more sense when trying to recover the machine while on the road. Hopefully, this is a hint of what’s to come in the future.

With all that new coolness, neither of these machines weighed more that three pounds. Three pounds?! Yep, and it still ran regular ol’ Snow Leopard, not iOS. That means that anything you use on your “big machine” at home, you can — in theory — run on the MacBook Air.

That’s assuming there was enough umph to run “real” code, and that’s what I’ve spent most of the last two weeks trying to understand.

Everything I’ve read has led me to believe that the slower processors in the 11.6″ model will run Aperture, Lightroom or Photoshop, assuming you weren’t trying to conquer the world with big editing projects, nor cataloging tens of thousands of photos. It appears that the SSD drive is helping enhance the throughput, somewhat offsetting the slower processor architecture.

As you’ve probably figured out by both the headline, and this lead-up, I bought a MacBook Air on Friday. I opted for the 2.3 pound, 11.6″ model, upgraded the processor to a 1.6GHz C2D, upgraded the SSD drive to 128GB, and got the upgraded 4GB memory option.

This was a hard call for me, as while I was doing my research, I discovered that the new generation of MacBook Pro laptops had enough power that could even replace my iMac if I wanted. After a lot of soul-searching, I opted for portability, leaving the heavy lifting to be done at the house. Very tough call for me.

So how’s the machine?

Well, so far, pretty dang good. I haven’t really tried doing anything crazy with the thing — no big photo imports, or big edits — but it’s done everything I could possibly want to do. Surfing, social networking, and other Mac-centric things I do seem to run well, and I’ve got no reason to believe that it won’t do what I need in the field, and do it with a lightweight footprint.

As part of my purchase, I also bought into Apple’s One-to-One program. I’d picked up Aperture during the App Store launch a month or so ago, but hadn’t really spent much time working with it, being pretty Lightroom-centric in my work. However, I’d really wanted to get started moving to Aperture, and knew this might force me to start moving down that path. I don’t know that I’ve got any great reasons for moving to Aperture, outside of Faces and Places, neither of which Lightroom does natively. If you haven’t looked at those features, take a gander, and you’ll see why I kinda like ’em.

The One-to-One program allows you to attend seminars, set up one-on-one sessions, along with project work with the trained instructors at the local Apple store for a year. And it’s all you can eat during that year, including online training. The cost of all that is $99, which is about the cost of two Aperture books, and I figured I could get more out of face-to-face training rather than reading a couple of books. My first “Intro to Aperture” seminar is Wednesday, and I expect that’ll just be the beginning.

Big changes in the ol’ Deauxmayne, I suppose, but it’s time to shake things up a bit, and get a little more fleet of foot. Watch this space — I’m sure there’ll be other changes to come!