Well, I documented the craziness of my 11″ MacBook Air experience a few days ago. I tried a base model and the upgraded version. I had both units lock up, freeze, and flicker whenever connected to an external monitor (a 24″ Acer widescreen). I have no explanation. It would seem like a monitor cable issue, however, my MacBook Pro worked just wonderful with it, as did Emily’s MacBook.
I switched to a 13″ MacBook Air, the base model (I really can’t afford the upgraded 11 or an upgrade 13″ right now), and I’m happy to report: no monitor crashes!
So, could it have been the 11″ MacBook Airs were lemons? Maybe. On the other hand, I really suspect it’s a confluence of less shielding in the 11″ combined with possibly a bad adaptor? Or picking up interference in my office somehow? However the fact that they would hard freeze really made me suspect lemon.
Either way, the problem seems non-existent with the 13″ MacBook Air, so I’m now reinstalling all my programs and have moved all my data over, and I’m back to madly catching up on work I owe.
Impressions of the 13″ MacBook Air:
It’s slightly heavier, of course, but barely noticeable. What is noticeable is that although insanely thin, it feels on handling like it’s flat but larger, like holding a similarly thin and light envelope that’s one size up. I had to set it on top of the old MacBook Pro that’s been sold and is getting packed up to ship to its new owner to convince myself that it really was, in length, the same size as the MBP, because of the thinness it actually feels thinner but wider. It’s not. It’s just the 11″ to 13″ comparison kicking in.
One of my shocks was discovering that the 11″ had more pixels in the screen (1366 by 768 pixels) than my 13″ MacBook Pro. Rather than having less screen space to work with, I had more! The 13″ Air has 1440*900 pixels, which is, if I recall, what my wide screen external monitor two years ago was.
This makes the 13″ Air very usable for two page side-by-side editing. Something I normally hook up a laptop to an external monitor to do. It also makes some other work I usually prefer to do on a monitor doable on the laptop, which means I feel a bit more untethered than before.
Speaking of untethered, the 13″ Air has a 7 hour battery. Again, that untethered feeling has increased. The keyboard on the 13″ Air (something important to a writer) has a more solid feel than the 11″.
Oh, but the 11″ is so compact and tiny. It’s purse-sized. It’s a second thought to toss it in a bag, any bag, a briefcase. And go. That was the size factor that had my attention!
So, settling with the 13″ is a slight compromise. But it’s a good one because I think it lets me take more of my work on the go to more places than I felt I could before. And it works with my monitor.
Since my MacBook Pro was only a year and a half old, it sounds a bit crazy to upgrade (well, semi-sidegrade, the Air has a slower processor, less RAM, and so forth, and I can’t afford the faster and souped up Air), but Pro held its value well and sold for a good price. The cost for to upgrade was $299. Maybe less depending on what I can get for selling the flash hard drive that I had been using.
2 GB Ram is a bit low for me, considering the way I work and the tools I use, but on the SSD hard drive, virtual memory swapping is hard to even spot (I noticed it more thanks to iStat than because it really bugged me). For ultimate performance, I’d recommend the 4 GB. I think, if I were to have a blank checkbook, I’d recommend waiting on the 11″ if you are at all a demanding user until the processor speed and battery life get bumped, and settle with the 13″ maxed out. It’s truly an amazing machine.