21 October 2010

Object Of My Affection: 11" MacBook Air

If anyone would look at my netbook history (or maybe just gadget history in general) to deduce from thence the kind of partner in life I'd make I'd probably be pronounced terrible; an adulteress of a wife even. Somehow, with the exception perhaps of the MSI Wind, no netbook has lasted me more than a year. Not that I adore the MSI Wind, but it's no longer the mobile computer that I take with my person wherever I go - you all know it's long been made to renounce its true nature as a netbook to assume nettop-hood.

Though the people in the HP Mini 311 Darwin Project team are as incredibly brilliant as they come, a netbook can only be hacked so much and yet it never is and never will be quite same as the real thing. In my opinion, no other 11" netbook has reached the heights that the HP/Compaq Mini 311 has in terms of OSx86 hackability (if ever such a word existed) but a lot still remains wanting.

Or more accurately, I am still wanting.

The unfaithful wife has been caught pining for another guy that the 311, dashing as could be (for a netbook, that is), could never be a match for: a 13" MacBook Pro with the latest NVidia 320M graphics. In fact, after putting up quite a show in Facebook - never in my wildest dreams did I think my cyber friends would actually care - I resolved that I was gonna spend the next year(s) or so saving up for a real Mac (finally!).

And so, LeMaurien19's first Mac would be a 13" MacBook Pro.

But that was until last night or should I say, very very early this morning if I were to take the Philippines' GMT +8 time zone as reference; until Steve Job's notorious "One more thing" segment in his keynotes was shown and my resolve has since then got muddled up.

I am officially lusting for an 11" MacBook Air. Yes.

And that's despite my geek conscience's propensity to shrink from non user serviceable parts - primordial parts such as data storage (the new MBA's flash memory chips are soldered onto the logicboard); battery; and I assume the same case is true for the RAM (I'm stuck with 2GB should I not go with the $100 or in my Filipino version, Php 5,390 upgrade from the get-go when purchased from the online Apple Store).

What's more is that I blame the HP Mini 311 for this lusting. I know how brilliant a machine of this dimension can be for a computer user like me who equates internet surfing to 94% to what comprises "computing" or the term "computer use".

For almost a year now, I've been privy to the sheer freedom of toting a machine that could easily slip inside a manila envelope (yes, original MacBook Air, the 311 can do that too) - one that doesn't drop a consequential burden on my spinal column when I bring it to my fave coffeshop to kill time (when I find myself just too tired to risk going home too early to the flat and discovering my room mate still up requiring me to chat a bit as part of civility).

I know how a 1366 x 768 LCD screen hits the sweet spot in screen real estate in opting for portability nirvana despite the obvious constraints.

The lack of optical drive has ceased to bother me - like a true-anodized aluminum Apple fangirl, I'll be even bold as to label it irrelevant. The external DVD multi-drive the 311 came with hangs out almost exclusively with the confused nettop/netbook MSI Wind nowadays.

Even the Mac OS X Restore USB disk is déjà vu for me: I've been wiping out my 311 and reinstalling OS X for practically as long as I've had the machine using a USB flashdrive.

If there was one specific experience that I expect to blow my mind away because of sheer novelty - it's that gorgeous glass trackpad for I've never owned or used a MacBook long enough to be initiated to the wonders of multi-touch gestures.

I've been told by (cyber) friends that a Mac is an investment. But then we were talking about the MacBook Pro at that time. Would the same assumption hold for this new MacBook Air?


joe_dude said...

Congrats... looks like the 11-inch MBA is the ideal replacement for the Mini 311 Hackintosh.

I'll be waiting until next year for a Sandy Bridge ultraportable instead. :)

LeMaurien19 said...

Thanks. But please do educate me; what's a Sandy Bridge ultraportable?

paaguti said...

Sandy Brdige is the next generation in Atom things. Regarding hackability and despite the smaller screen, I'm quite happy with the Compaq CQ10. I got everything: WIFI, Ethernet, Touchpad, SDHC reader, webcam working on 10.6.4. It was by accident that I killed by previous Compaq Mini 110. I 'transplanted' the hard disk and the RAM and was up & running on 10.5.6. I decided to upgrade when I read that there was hope to get the AR92xx WIFI adapter running on Snow.

Now regarding the new MBA, my main concern is that the disk capacity is soldered Flash. That has, as everything else, I accept, a limited lifetime. But a standard HD or SDD is replaceable, soldered Flash or RAM is NOT. That's a big drawback for me. And of course, the price. I'm somehow disappointed by the new MBA.

But on the other hand, I think they have done us a big compliment... we were the first to show that a netbook format for an Apple would make sense ;-)

joe_dude said...

Yeah, Intel Sandy Bridge is the 2nd generation Core "I" CPUs. Clock for clock, it's suppose to be 20% faster than the original Core "I", which is another 20% faster than Core 2.

The new Core "I" should allow for super-thin designs to be common, like the preview at Computex.

It will be a shame if you're not part of the Hackintosh community anymore, but the MBA is a lot less hassle to run OSX.

LeMaurien19 said...

Oh, so that's what Sandy Bridge is!

I'm really not yet sure if the MBA 11" will be my first Mac...I'm actually still eyeing the 13" MBP. I'm thinking the prices could substantially drop here in the Philippines for MBP's what with the new MBA being coveted by most people as it's the latest.

Plus the soldered RAM is admittedly a turn off. But there's a side of me that responds to the really chic and thin alum casing. Well, I guess I just gotta exorcise this girly part of me :)

joe_dude said...

Just my opinion, but would one really hack/upgrade a MBP? Doesn't it run counter to the Mac philosophy?

To me, anything that replaces the Mini 311 has to either, 1) be lighter and thinner, or 2) be slightly bigger and much better.

The 13-inch MBP has poorer resolution (1280x800), it's heavy (4.5 lbs.) and only slightly faster than the 11-inch MBA. Not a good investment, IMHO.

Anonymous said...

The 11" is soooo expensive. I have my 311 with 3GB of ram and a 64 GB SSD for under $500. Why would I want to double that for something heavier, but admittedly more stylish. Appple, your products are far to expensive.

LeMaurien19 said...

I'm still mulling it over. I've got lots of time to think and think again (Php 51,990 is no joke an amount).

Actually, I've been analyzing this whole netbook craze I have. I think, deep inside, I want a laptop. And that I'm only buying netbooks because their the closest to the real laptop that I want but not with the same taxing price. But that was before, now real laptops (Windows ones) are more affordable - at least that's what I observed here in the Philippines: at least 10 - 15% drop on prices.

And then, as I started to use OS X and iLife, I got hooked to iMovie and found netbooks to be lacking. I think with video editing, it's still the CPU that counts? Because I've tried patching up a couple of vids on my Mini 311 and it still took over night to export and then transfer to iDVD for conversion (video_ts folders and all) and then finally burning.

My computing activities are beginning to change (and Mac OS X and its wonderful iLife suite are to be blamed for this! :D). Do you think the 1.4 GHz 11" MBA w/ 4GB RAM (I'll stick with 64 GB SSD because I'm planning to get 500GB/1Tb ext drive anyway) would cut it for me? If and when I finally decide and have enough money to get a real Mac?

joe_dude said...

Woah... this is getting a bit complicated. ;)

First, how serious are you about video editing? A MBP will cut down the time, but it will still takes hours. Core 2 is fast compared to the Atom, but Sandy Bridge is gonna be quite a bit faster clock-for-clock.

Second, if you want fast video-editing, you need GPU acceleration, and neither iMovie or MBP can handle that.

I think a lot of people try to use a laptop as a desktop replacement, and don't realize how much time/performance is lost.

For the price of a MBP, you can get a very fast quad-core Core i7 system that no laptop could touch.

It's never a straightforward decision, is it?

FYI, I recommend systems for video editing at work, but I'm not a pro at doing actual video editing, so it's just my opinion.

LeMaurien19 said...

Oh yeah, this is getting painful. ;-)

But thanks about the info on vid editing on the MBP. I think I'm game with whichever machine, granted that it's not gonna take as long as the Atom to chug out that vid.

Just so you know, it's just after the holiday season that I need to edit big vids. On normal days, only youtube vids for hackintosh stuff so their very tiny vids compared to footages of my whole family and extended family doing a ton of eating and singing and wacky stuff for Christmas and New Year (or any special occasion)

I've been reading a lot of MBA 11" reviews lately. I've got back problems and I think I'm gonna go for the 11". I do hope I get to save money soon. The 13" is out of the question because the base config is way out of my budget range.

I can't say I'm excited about Sandy Bridge much. If a similarly light machine (not unlike our Mini 311's) AND it can run OS X just as good as our 311's, then I can consider it finally. I don't reckon I'd enjoy playing with media content if not on the iLife suite.

P.S. I find iPhoto '11 less responsive on the 311 than the previous '09 version. Taking a toll on our Ion (GeForce 9400) maybe?

joe_dude said...

Since you're saving money, you can wait and see what potential Hackintoshes are available next year. There should be lots of options. :)

I think you're hitting the "need two computer" problem like I did. I got a big desktop system for "real work", and then bought the Mini 311 to carry with me.

After you get the MBA, perhaps consider getting/building a small desktop machine. That way, you don't feel pressured to buy a heavier/bigger MBP to fill both roles. And desktop parts are easier to pick and choose to make a good Hackintosh machine (and way cheaper too).

Of course, this could become a very expensive "habit". :-O

I haven't had a chance to use iLife '11 yet. Probably try it on a friend's Mac soon, but you'll probably have it all figured out by then. ;)