I’ve spent the last few weeks annoying the hell out of friends and family, staying up late doing forum research, and giving myself headaches. That can really only mean one thing: I’m looking into getting a new computer. A MacBook Air, to be precise.
And I do very much aim to be precise. I’ve reached the conclusion that the iPad mini as a “carry everywhere” device just isn’t doing it for me. It’s not really the speed or the lack of retina…but the RAM and the little power user details that Apple just isn’t embracing yet.
The iPad does 90% of what I need to do while I’m out and about, but it can also be frustratingly limiting because of how much control I’m forced to give up. I love the beautiful apps on iOS, but as I’ve grown more accustomed to using well-designed apps, I’m finding that itch to automate tasks and customize settings is returning…and all of that stuff is still very hard to do on iOS.
Then there’s the frustrating lack of keyboard shortcuts in iOS in general. iOS 7 adds a few more of them, but not nearly enough to make the experience more ergonomic. It’s frustrating to have to reach up to reply to an email, when a quick Cmd+R would accomplish the task so much faster.
It’s for these reasons that I’m trying something different, and will be leaving my iPad mini at home (or I may just sell it, depending on how iOS 7 performs on it).
However, one thing I really don’t want to give up is having a machine so thin and light that it can basically go anywhere with me. This means that even the 3.6 lbs. 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro is out of the question, as I like to carry my convertible 2Unfold bag as a messenger most of the time, so I need to keep my load as light as possible (or my pansy shoulder tends to tighten up).
So the machine I’ve chosen, after a sickening amount of deliberation, is a built-to-order 2013 11-inch MacBook Air.
- I went with 11-inch over 13-inch because I want a device that I can take out and use at a moment’s notice, and I was delighted to learn that there are no differences between the two sizes when it comes to power (CPU options are the same across the 11-inch and 13-inch models); I also have a 24″ monitor at home, so the screens make virtually no difference when I’m at my desk
- I went with an i7 processor to make video editing just that much faster, and to provide the extra muscle when I’m using the MBA like I would a desktop computer
- I opted for 8 GB of RAM because my current 2009 13-inch MacBook Pro has that amount, and there was no way I was dropping down to 4 GB again
- I paid extra for the 256 GB SSD right out the door because I know that 128 GB is too little once I account for video files, my music library, and photos; I’ll likely need more storage down the road, but 256 GB is plenty for right now
My MacBook Air is making it way to Ontario as I type this. The two big tests I have for the laptop are 1) whether the text size and 16:10 ratio will prove workable in the long term and 2) whether 2.4 lbs. really does feel light enough to take virtually everywhere in my messenger bag. I’m acknowledging that the 11-inch Air is a somewhat riskier choice. The 13-inch is a perfectly comfortable size, and it’s really only 0.6 lbs. heavier than the 11-inch…but something about the 11-inch size just feels right.
The iPad has not lived up to my expectations thus far, and that’s because I need it to be a lot more of a powerful, malleable computer system than Apple wants it to be at present. I’m hoping that starting from the other end – using a Haswell laptop with tablet-like weight and battery life – will yield far more satisfying results and bigger, geekier grins.