After about 5 years, the time has come to change my MacBook Aluminum (first aluminum unibody macbook series). My new machine is a mid-2012 MacBook Air with 8gigs of RAM. My old machine keeps working fine -only thing I upgraded through all these years is RAM (I bought it with 2GB and doubled it to 4GB two years ago)- but it feels a bit slow and the fan has been noisy lately although I’ve cleaned the inside quite few times.
The decision on which notebook I should buy was not easy, but I was sure I should go for flash storage. As I am a mac fan, the options I had were the new MacBook 13″ with Retina display and the MacBook Air 13″. I thought a while for the non-Retina MacBook Pro 13″ but it lacks flash storage (in default configurations) and has a screen with the same resolution as my old machine -although the screen has much better color saturation than the first unibody MacBook-. I finally bought the 13″ inch MacBook Air as this will be a laptop for personal use (I use a different notebook for my job) which means that my main usage will be internet, email, movie watching, photo organizing and a bit of photoshop use as well as spending some time coding in Xcode or coda.
The MacBook Air is an amazing machine. Compared to HDD notebooks I’ve been using up to now, it boots in less than 30 secs, and it seems very fast, thanks to flash storage. Applications launch fast as well. I think that everyone should go on flash storage. You compromise capacity, but you get rid of loading times. I transferred my files via a time machine backup, so the migration was painless. My old machine run also OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion, so I didn’t come up with program incompatibilities etc.
Display on the MacBook Air is the only aspect that has some drawbacks. Although the resolution is higher than the non-retina MacBook Pro, the display has worse color saturation. Personally I prefer the real estate -especially when it comes to personal use- than the absolute quality a professional designer should look for. That does not mean that the display in the Air is back, it is still much much better than many other laptops in this category, but it is not as color accurate as the Pro’s display is. Regarding the real estate, its like working with a 15″ laptop although it is still 13″. Fonts render small, but this is not a problem, they are readable, sharp and clear. Viewing angles are also amazing and what I like most is that the Air’s display seems much less glossier than the Pro’s display.
Processing power in the Air is not screaming (my processor is i5 at 1.8Ghz), but it does not seem slow (thanks again to flash storage) especially for everyday tasks. It is not dedicated for processing and rendering full hd video in Final Cut Pro, but it is very fast and smooth in compiling a -very- large project in Xcode, launching the ios simulator and running it. Bigger screen resolution also makes the developers happier.
The biggest hit in the MacBook Air are portability and battery life. This machine is very light and thin, making carrying it unnoticeable. Battery life is great too. From my personal experience, battery life lasts for 5-6 hours with -quite heavy- everyday use (coding, surfing while listening to music). Of course it lasts less when watching full hd video, but even with medium-power processor, it handles that task as well.
Summing up, if you are seeking an ultraportable notebook, with a high-res screen, capable processor and fast boot-sleep times, the MacBook Air definitely worths a look.