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Last week I finally retired my 2008 MacBook and replaced it with a nice 11“ MacBook Air. I debated long and hard about the replacement for the old laptop. My laptop needs are minimal. I don’t travel for work, like some of my friends, so I don’t need heavy duty power. Photo and video editing are done on my faithful iMac. The heaviest work I do with my laptop involves spreadsheets and taking notes, for the most part, and occasionally a website update. I did know that, because of two bad rotator cuffs, I really wanted something lighter than my old 5 pound MacBook. The new 13” MacBook Pro has a lot of great features, but did I really need them? Not really. Between the 11” & 13” MacBook Airs, the SD slot on the 13” is handy and the extra battery power is nice, but were they worth the extra weight? The more I thought about it, the less I needed those things, so the 11” was the logical choice.

Finally, it came down to new vs refurbed. Practicality won out, and I ordered a 2011 1.8 GHz Intel Core i7 with 4 GB RAM and a 256 GB drive from Apple’s online store. It’s faster than the low-end current model, and better yet, I saved about $300. Not hard to take. It’s a great little machine, and I’m totally in love with it. The size is perfect. I’ve never been known for carrying tiny handbags, but always big shoulder bags. The Air is so light that I barely know that it’s in there. It’s fast. The screen is great. The battery life seems to be better than the projected 4 hours. I am a happy camper.

I’ve had a bunch of laptops since I bought my PowerBook 100 in 1992, some better than others. So far, this one is my favorite, although I still have a soft spot for the first Firewire iBook. It took a lot of flack for its rounded case with built-in carrying handle, but there was no denying what it was, and it did have personality.

The next time you start thinking about a new computer, think about what you actually need. I still believe in getting the most memory and biggest drive you can afford, but the actual machine? If all you do is web browsing and light word processing or spreadsheets, if you don’t work with processor intensive things like video editing, you might be happier with one of the smaller, lighter laptops. When Apple first introduced the Air, I had my doubts. It seemed so hobbled without an optical drive, but the more I thought about it and played with a friend’s Air, the more I realized that I really didn’t need it. Remote disk sharing from my iMac to my Air is a breeze. AirDrop beats sneakernet by a mile for transferring files from one computer to another. And eliminating that optical drive saves bigtime on space and weight. The SD slot? I have an SD reader that’s not much bigger than a match box, and it works great. Don’t buy a specific model because it has the “best” ratings or so-and-so says its the best. Buy because it fits your needs. You’ll have it for a while, and you’ll be the one using it. Be happy. I am.

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One Response to What’s Right for Your Needs?

  1. Mike Perry says:

    I’m sure you’ll love it. Everyone I’ve talked with who has bought a MBA is delighted by it.

    I’m still content with my 2007 MacBook though. I carry so much with me that the added two pounds matter little and the 4.5 hour battery life I get since I added a SSD isn’t much less than the 11″ MBA. Given my writer’s budget, I can’t see spending $1000+ for perhaps a 20% improvement.

    I’m a patient guy. I’m still waiting for Apple to fix a few inadequacies with the current MBA.

    1. A too-short battery life, particularly with the 11″ model. The 10+ hours of my iPad has me spoiled. I won’t settle for a laptop with much less. And Apple could easily give us an EL (for extended life) model that’s a bit thicker to hold a larger battery. Thin makes little sense when most of up carry our laptops about in padded bags several inches thick.

    2. Getting enough RAM to be future-proof costs too much. I have little problem with Apple charging highway robbery prices for extra RAM when I can add my own from third-parties. But when you can’t add more RAM, as with the MBA, they should sell that RAM at market prices. $100 is way too much for another 4 GB of RAM

    3. I made sure when I got my current MacBook and my iMac that they supported ‘n’ spec WiFi and I’m glad I did. My next purchases, a MBA and a Mac mini, will need to support the new ‘x’ spec. I hate buying something that’s out of date only months after I get it.

    4. Being a radio amateur, I’m no fan of those who lock up radio gear inside metal cases, however pretty. It makes coverage spotty. I’d love to see Apple’s new carbon fiber patent applied to a MBA.

    I suspect that what I really want is a 11-12″ MacBook Pro with easily upgraded SSD/RAM and the space for the DVD replaced with a larger battery.