27 January 2008

MacBook Air

It took me several days to decide, but I did order my MacBook Air, and am waiting for it to arrive.

Lots of people have been claiming that it’s not a good first machine (as opposed to being a secondary portable). I’m not sure I agree — in part because it probably will be my first machine.

It’s true that it’s not going to be faster than my MacBook Pro, like a new MacBookPro would be. On the other hand, my MBP was of the first generation. The MBA clearly doesn’t beat its specs, but it does have as much RAM (since I upgraded the MBP). The hard disk is a little smaller, and certainly fewer RPM. The CPU runs at a slower clock speed.

But it’s a Core 2 Duo as opposed to a Core Duo — that’s a small improvement. And it has a faster bus (800 MHz as opposed to 667 MHz) and a bigger L2 cache (4 MB as opposed to 2 MB).

I’ll know for sure once the machine arrives and I do some real world tests (as well as standard benchmarks), but I suspect it will be about the same speed.

To lose over 1 kg (3.0 lbs/1.36 kg vs 5.4 lbs/2.45 kg) is probably worth the small speed penalty — I commute with the machine, and plan on taking at least two trips to Europe this year. And the smaller screen will make it more usable on the bus, and make little difference when I can plug either machine into a larger external display.

The one real drawback is the smaller disk size. To deal with this, I copied my 31 GB of music (it’s legally downloaded) to an external drive. I don’t really need to travel with that, since I load up my iPhone with almost 2 days worth of music.

Oh, and the lack of a security slot. That omission seems odd. Hopefully it won’t become an issue!

Networking will probably be the same — for some reason, I don’t get more than 100 Mb/s from my Ethernet at home, and that’s as fast as the switch at work. And 802.1n is actually faster than that…

I’m looking forward to wireless backup at reasonable speeds — I’ve ordered a Time Capsule to make use of Apple’s excellent Time Machine.

Perhaps I should be waiting, but Apple tends to keep prices the same for the life of a product, so buying early in the product cycle makes more sense. And I have a developer discount expiring soon — I could wait for the next MacBook Pro, but that probably won’t be a huge improvement (other than RAM capacity).

It could be that the new machine will be slower than what I’ve been using, and I’ll be sorry. On the other hand, this seems like a good way to change things up a bit, and get a lot more wireless. I’ll soon find out.