Pierre R. Mai's Miscellany

The personal pages of Pierre R. Mai

The MacBook Air and Me


Ok, so I succumbed to the temptation of getting a MacBook Air, seeing as MacBook Pro updates are likely some way off, and/or are marginal improvements at best (especially on the 4GB front), and having a developer hardware discount expiring.

Having ranted about even MacBook Pros being RAM starved for my uses, and barely living within the constraints of my self-upgraded 160GB HD, why-oh-why would I want a MacBook Air? Well, for one because it’s sexy and like any self-respecting tech junkie, why wouldn’t I want one?

The main other reason is that my work-pattern has changed for the better in recent years, with less time spent at customer premises, and more time spent in-office, with a certain amount of traveling all over the country/continent/world for shortish durations thrown in. So the idea of having a heavy-duty laptop as main machine for ease of permanent relocation is getting somewhat less important to me, and the idea of going back to a non-portable main machine with a travel-friendly laptop is actually something that might become palatable.

Of course, there are still a number of open questions, especially when it comes to keeping stuff in-sync, especially to the point of being able to leave at fairly short notice without missing stuff on the road. A lot of stuff, like e-mail, address books, base-line source code, etc., is already stored and synced through centralized servers, but there is still lots of things that are not so synced, so I will have to see about that.

The next couple of weeks I’m going to try to live within the confines of the MacBook Air as a sort-of main machine, with only non-essential stuff living somewhere else.

The first impressions of the MBA to me are quite favorable: It is indeed very thin and stylish, very well made, and reasonably light, while remaining stiff and somewhat robust.

The new touch-pad gestures are very, very likable, making me miss a mouse much less than normally. The optical-drive borrowing works reliably (though a directly connected drive is really preferable for largish installations, especially over 802.11g and lower networks).

Performance is nothing to be ashamed of, though of course once you enter swapping-territory, having a 1.8” HD does not really help (D’oh)!

All in all, living within the MBA in the last couple of days proved surprisingly unrestrictive, and I can really see this being the one and only computer for quite a lot of folks. The only thing that I’m really missing is a Firewire 400/800 connector, since I really dislike USB 2.0 for mass-storage (especially on Apple platforms), and have standardized on firewire for all external storage. That said, most people will likely be just as happy with the USB 2.0 port.

We will see how things progress from here, once the mundane cruft accrues on the HD and sychronization issues crop up…