People Are Still Flipping Out Over the MacBook Air

Illustration for article titled People Are Still Flipping Out Over the MacBook Air

Yesterday I hiked eight miles with my 11-inch MacBook Air in my bag. Didn't even notice it was there. These MacBook Air owners sound sycophantic, but discount this praise at your own peril—especially if you're a laptop manufacturer.


Rob Beschizza, Managing Editor, Boing Boing

The 11" model is like a netbook without any of the netbook compromises.

The amazing perceived performance is actually pissing me off. When it comes to a lot of basic stuff—booting, opening and saving files and apps—the fast SSD makes such a difference that I get angry at my desktop computer, which is ostensibly much more powerful. I didn't even have trouble with light video editing, though yeah, let's not get carried away. "Perceived performance" definitely deserves the scare quotes, because of stuff that needs real grunt that MBAs don't have.

The funny thing was seeing Windows fanboys (haha, I know!) dismiss it as an overpriced netbook, and then, when it was benchmarked against actual netbooks, complain that the comparison was unfair. I'm really not at all an Apple macolyte type, but it's like supporting the Yankees or the Steelers: it guarantees an endless supply of rival fans' misfortune and disappointment to take smug pleasure in.

Andre Torrez, co-founder of image sharing startup MLKSHK

When I left my job to start a new company I decided the first thing I had to do was buy a completely, utterly maxed out iMac 27" Quad Core i7. The thing was a monster. As a way to maintain discipline and focus on work I decided to ditch my newish 13" MBP and only work when I was at my office.

When the new MacBook Airs came out I thought it'd be nice to have a "little" computer at home to check servers, send email, maybe do some light programming.

I first realized what a killer little computer this was when I ran our platform's test suite. When we deploy we run the entire test suite to ensure nothing was broken between releases. Right now there are over 147 tests that take anywhere from 200 to 230 seconds to finish on the iMac. This can feel like an eternity when you're trying to push a small change out.

On the Macbook Air the entire suite takes 50 seconds. In less than a minute I can know if we're ready to deploy. As a developer at a startup this is just stupid awesome to be able to do since we're constantly pushing versions of our site out. That extra 2 minutes we blow waiting on our tests to pass (or not) can feel like a major waste of time.

The Air is the best Macintosh computer I've ever owned. The keyboard feels absolutely normal. The battery life is phenomenal (the battery icon turns red when I still have 40 minutes left). The display is gorgeous. The only bad thing about this computer is nobody ever believes me when I tell them how great it is. They'll say "Oh, I tried a hackintosh netbook and it was too small" or "I wouldn't do serious work on such a tiny processor" which is hilarious to me because paired with the SSD it absolutely spanks this iMac on my desk.

Anil Dash of Expert Labs

One of the revelatory things about the MBA is the startup time. I know it's ascribable to the use of an SSD by default, but even if it's technically something that any laptop could be modified to have, this one has it out of the box.

The amusing thing to me is that my wife and I both have iPads and MacBook Airs (I know, we're horrible people) and in both our cases, the Air has primarily displaced the iPad. It is so close in form factor, but fully capable as a machine, so if I'm throwing something into the bag, it'll take its place.

I'm not a hardcore developer or designer; More Photoshop Elements than Photoshop, and more text editor than Xcode. But that 80% of the time I'm using my regular tools, it feels faster than even recent MacBook Pros, and in the 20% of the time I'm using the power tools, everything feels perfectly responsive.

And yeah, not worrying about battery life is kind of awesome. I say all this as someone who's only ever had 2 MacBooks before; I was all-Windows for almost 20 years before that.


R. Stevens, creator of robot webcomic Diesel Sweeties

USB on both sides is a feature not even the Pro can duplicate. Less glossy screen is just about right.


Sean Bonner, founder of Technomads

I've had a love/hate relationship for years with my laptop. Because I travel quite a bit and need to be online much of the time, but also occasionally need grown up computer sized processing power for a design project, I've dragging around what now seems like a suitcase of a computer for years. Plus extra batteries, or power cables, and then the worrying about not being able to plug in somewhere, etc. It's been kind of a pain. I tried to move to a netbook for a while, and while that *sort of* did the trick, typing more than an e-mail or two was painful and forget doing any real work with photoshop or something. So back to the MacBook Pro as my main unit. And along with that comes the concern of carrying around a $4K piece of machinery.

Anyway, the new MacBook Air (I got the 13") is about as ideal as I can imagine. It's light and small enough that I don't need a giant bag to lug it around, and hardly notice it in a small shoulder bag. The battery lasts all day - I don't even take a power cord with me when I leave. The SSD is lightning fast and I haven't had a hickup with the processor yet - and I've thrown a lot at it just to try and cause problems. I don't have any hard specs, but I've had photoshop and illustrator running with giant files open in each, and been able to play web video at the same time without the slightest glitch. It's easily the best laptop I've ever owned, without question.


Jessamyn West, Community Manager at Metafilter

Better port placement, no constant fan, extra USB port, better hinge, otherwise, just the same.


Adam Lisagor, the Loneliest Sandwich

My new 11" Air supersedes my iPad in almost every category but video viewing, cements its place as possibly my favorite Mac I've ever owned and is second only to the iPhone as my favorite Apple product. It's as small and light as the iPad, has virtually no lag with the SSD, and lets me do things with data not in the new and hobbled touch language, but in a language (the Mac OS) that I've known and relied on for decades. And when they tell you at the Apple Store that it's not meaty enough to run Final Cut Pro, don't believe them.



Evil Boss Mojoman

Am I alone in thinking 11 inches is just to damn small?

I have a 13 inch macbook pro that I use if i just need to do light work while traveling and that even seems to damn small. I usually end up carting around my 17" desktop replacement laptop instead just for the screen real-estate.

(And really, if you think a 5-8 pound laptop is to heavy to carry around you seriously need to freaking lift some weights or something - sorry the "oh a full sized laptop is SOOOOOO heavy" crowd seriously bugs the hell out of me.)