Alain Fontaine’s Jabberbox

The Apple MacBook Air

by on Nov.15, 2010, under Technology

Whoa.

So today I got myself the MacBook Air 11.6 inch with 4 GB of RAM, the 1.6 Ghz CPU, and the 128 GB SSD. It’s a fabulous little gem and it really does create this “Whoa, this is small!” effect.

I got this machine as a replacement for my ASUS 1008 netbook that I sold a couple of days ago because it was a tad too small and slow for the work I typically do on this type of computer. I agree that it might sound wrong to call the Air a “netbook”, but then again, the use I make of it pretty much fits in the “netbook usage” category : surfing the web, reading and writing my E-mail, and using general productivity tools like DropBox and some basic document editing.

Speed

The MacBook Air in my current configuration is very fast. Applications start and switch instantly, and the bootup time, even from a complete power off, is blazing, in the range of a couple of seconds from 0 to fully operational. Waking it up from sleep mode is instant. I opted for the fully loaded version of the Air after reading some reviews about speed impact related to the higher clocked CPU and the 4 gigs of RAM, and especially because there’s no way to upgrade your Air if for some reason – mainly money – you’d have chosen to get one of the smaller specc’ed versions.

Productivity

I rely a lot on web based and cloud based solutions for my work, like DropBox, Google Apps for Enterprise, Delicious, etc. so getting all of my work data on the Air was a snap, as these services are all well supported on the Mac. The keyboard is excellent in touch and size for my needs. The screen size is OK for E-mail, web browsing, and blogging, although I need to get used to it. It’s a pity Apple removed the backlit keyboard from the new series of Air’s though; probably a step towards the very good battery life of around 5 hours I seem to get with my normal workload.

Something very nice is that the Mail application now supports native Exchange 2007, getting all of my E-mails, calendar, and contacts into the respective apps. Configuration was a complete no-brainer, as all it took was to provide Mail with my E-mail address and password, and it auto-magically detected all parameters from my corporate Exchange account and started downloading content right away. Something that is weird is that it seems to take a very long time to download the several thousand E-mails I keep in my Exchange account, but fortunately that’s something it needs to do only once.

First conclusion

The price of the Air is not what you’d call cheap, but the value you get for the money is great in my eyes. The lightness, speed, and ease of use is fantastic, and I’ll make my new Air a permanent accessory for my meetings and evening blogging.

Disclaimer: I’m absolutely no Apple Fanboy and own a PC with Windows 7 at home plus a Lenovo X301 laptop for daily business use at the office. That makes three computers for three different types of usage. One day, who knows, they’ll invent a Transformers’ style WinMac that is small and light and that can transform into a complete over-powered machine with two 30 inch displays with the push of a button. Until then, I’ll keep my three work tools :) .

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  • Anonymous

    Update : It seems that Mail.app on Snow Leopard has some problems with fetching all of the E-mails from an Exchange 2007 account that has many E-mails. I’m currently suffering this problem and trying to work out a solution. Will keep you posted.

  • Anonymous

    It’s not getting any better. I recreated the Exchange account, Mail.app started downloading several thousand E-mails, and now it’s just “stuck”. Yes, it hangs! More feedback later on …

  • Anonymous

    Aha! This now seems to work. I had to move some older E-mails from my main Inbox folder to some subfolders, and now Mail.app has synced properly. I also checked iCal and Contacts and both stores seem to be up-to-date. I came accross a couple of posts on the Apple support forums from people complaining about the same issues. Probably something that Apple needs to look into!

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