After a whole week of Apple bashing, I shall balance it off with a little love.
Of course this is just another excuse to exercise my "Air fondling" as my friend would jealously claim. He unfortunately has not much time to do so. (Don't deny, given time you would too. Pot. Kettle.)
There are two aspects of the Macbook Air that I like. The hard and the soft. (Go on, run that dirty movie in your head).
Of course I am referring to the 11 inch. Not 13 inch Air. The 13 inch is just too large and budget blowing. (Mind totally in the gutter yet?)
The Hard part is the physical dimension. It is portable, feels lighter than the iPad while physically larger. Other than e-book reading on a public transport, there is little advantage of the iPad over the Air. The full size keyboard is way more natural than the virtual version.
Incidentally, the chicklet keyboard is not has good as the older keyboard on the Titanium Macbook Pros. The previous version is more like firm sponge, with a nice supportive rebound. The current ones reflect the energy back to your wrist, I can feel the tension while typing. (Engadget's Nilay Patel called the Thunderbolted MB Pros "the still-best-in-class keyboard", really? Watch the Ambrosia please.)
Back to love. Back to stats baby. The Air has holes that I can..er...sorry ports that I can connect and expand the love, including the post PC iPod Touch. Transferring photos from a camera is easier and in multiple choice, less restrictive than the iOS design. I can bypass iTunes and iPhoto altogether.
The CPU is actually quite powerful and I can do even video conversion, though it would not be my first choice. Want to hear the Air mimic a jet engine? I ran the free App Miro Video converter to down scale a 30 minute AVI file to an iPod compatible mp4 recently. A fan near the ESC key I wasn't aware of started whining away when it was near 90% to completion. Took another 20 minutes before it stopped complaining. It is also capable of playing 720p MKV files and HD QuickTime trailers. I didn't notice any heating problems as yet, but cuts the battery life a little.
Battery life is fairly decent. If you are just surfing, being a You-Tuber, it gives you enough time to loiter at Starbucks and be a nuisance to people waiting for a table. Some times the Air reports it has 8 hours of battery life when woken up from deep sleep, but I sure it is just a little groggy, mostly it's about 5 hours. After a month of usage, however I think the battery life is a little shorter than originally. An almost imperceptible reduction or just my imagination.
The trackpad, down where I do most of the fondling, is nice to use. The multi-touch, multi finger gestures are quite easy to use with a bit of practice and nice real estate for people with larger appendages.
(Oh stop blushing, you do your fingering in public on your iDevices too.). Something I noticed, if you stick on a trackpad protective cover, (mine is a Moshi) it becomes noticeably less sensitive. Response is not as good naked, but I feel safer.
Let's get to the Soft part.
My main use of this machine is to surf the internet, minor photo management and iWorks. Other than iWorks, I could have used any Windows based machines, but so far very few fit the physical aspect. With iWorks mainly Pages, that limits my choice to OSX. Tried running OSX on a MSI netbook, but it could not handle transferring photos nor You-Tube well and iWorks was a pain to use.
What seems impressive for now is that Lightroom 3 runs a little better than on my Windows desktop which is decked out with 6 GB Ram. Although that could be it is not optimised and the Ram are a mixed lot. Still the Air ran smooth, with 4 GB Ram. The screen is however a huge compromise, you simply cannot compare it to a 24 inch screen. The flash based drive is another concern, will working with multiple huge files wear it down faster?
The other advantage as I mentioned before is the fast sleep and fast wake modes. You really don't have to wait much. It is quite fast even from a cold start. So it feels like a iOS device, every ready. With the flash disk, I have less worry if it drops. Not that I would ever want it to drop. One negative about such beautiful sleek machines is a tiny dink looks horrible, it brings out the vain monster.
In the never ending argument about Mac vs Windows et al, there is no true winner, I believe it's all down to personal preference. Mac OS has certain advantage like less complicated program installation process, made even easier with Mac App store. It talks to users in a simpler language, although I have found it stubborn and dismissive at times. Plugging in external storage devices is a fast transparent process, Windows sometimes muck about and refuse to let you eject the device. Printers however are another story, there are just so many USB printer that the Mac refuses to recognise or at least be very condescending too. Of course the manufacturer is also to be blamed for not releasing the drivers, but is it them or Apple's walled garden policy. Unfortunately, there are also a few indie programs out there that do not work on anything but Windows. Not quite ready to subject the Air to virtualisation as yet.
Before this love of mine, I had considered the Alienware 11x as it can run Lightroom and my Windows games. But it is way heavier and 3 times thicker. So very few 11 inch options, and worst if I put iWorks into consideration.
Why iWorks? Well it's because I was put into a position where I had show off my fake desktop publishing credentials. I had used CorelDraw and fiddled around with other similar programs, so it was like riding a bike, Pages is really easy to use as page formatting. Unfortunately now I am officially stuck with the position, so Pages is stuck. Can I do it on an iPad? Probably not considering the amount of typing I have to do.
The last thing I love about my Air. It really looks good. No denying how sleek it looks. Currently I can carry it around and pretend I have the new iPad, clamshell version.
So that is my love, the true iPad Pro, my MacBook Air.