My next desktop system may be a MacBook Air

My next desktop system may be a MacBook Air

Summary: My current 'desktop' system is getting long in the tooth, and I am starting to look around to consider my options for upgrading. I am leaning toward an unusual desktop system, the MacBook Air.

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TOPICS: Apple, Hardware
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My current 'desktop' system is getting long in the tooth, and I am starting to look around to consider my options for upgrading. While I am a fairly mobile guy and I have a tendency to work all over the place, most of my work time is spent at the desk in my home office (Mobile News Manor). I've only just begun my process of seeing what might work for the next iteration of my work system, and I am leaning toward the most unlikely desktop system of all, the MacBook Air.

The ultraportable MacBook Air is not that big a stretch for my desktop system when you look at what I have been using for the past three years. The system that has served me well is a unibody MacBook, not a Pro, that is connected to an Apple Cinema Display for multiple screen goodness. The Cinema Display connects to the MacBook via both a DisplayPort and USB connection, which makes for a solid desktop system. I have plenty of screen real estate, yet I can unplug the two connectors and take the 13-inch MacBook along when I go mobile.

The MacBook is getting pretty old in laptop years, with its relatively slow processor and heavy weight that impacts the mobile usage. That's why I am seriously considering a 13-inch MacBook Air to get the best of both worlds: mobile and desktop. I could plug the MBA into the Cinema Display as I am doing now with the MacBook, and have a faster system than I currently use due to the SSD in the MBA. I would almost certainly wait until the expected refresh of the MBA later this year to get updated processors.

When I consider my work methods currently, it strikes me that if I am honest about things I'm not taking the MacBook with me very often. I have Windows laptops all over the Manor, and I usually just grab one of these when I travel or go mobile. I am truly platform agnostic due largely to the cloud, so I can switch back and forth between OS X and Windows 7 without missing a beat. This keeps the MacBook sitting on my desk most of the time, so perhaps it's time to get an iMac instead?

The new iMacs are very powerful all-in-one systems that would fit right in to my office. I still have the Windows laptops when needed, yet would have a screamer on the desk all of the time. That would sure handle video editing better than my current setup. Of course the iMac would be more expensive than the MacBook Air, based on current pricing. Decisions, decisions.

Why am I not considering a Windows all-in-one system for my desktop replacement? Two reasons: I like using both OS X and Windows to keep up with both platforms for my work, plus I find OS X to be so much easier than Windows on a full-time system. That may not sit well with the Windows faithful, but my own experience bears that out quite clearly. I spend far more time maintaining my Windows systems than I do the Mac, and that is madly liberating on a daily basis.

Topics: Apple, Hardware

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  • RE: My next desktop system may be a MacBook Air

    I have a 27in iMac and a MBA and if it wasn't for the fact that a Cinema Display isn't far off the 2nd hand price of the iMac I already have (which I can use as a Cinema Display anyway!) I'd consider selling the iMac and just using the MBA.

    The only time the MBA is significantly slower is when I'm doing some image editing (especially video) but that is infrequent for me so there is little difference in daily use between the two, despite the iMac having a processor with a clock rate of more than 2x the MBA.

    If you're doing a lot of image and video processing then the MBA will show its limitations in its CPU/GPU power.
    thking
    • RE: My next desktop system may be a MacBook Air

      @thking I do video editing but have been told the Elgato USB device can do it on the MBA faster than a quad-core i7 iMac. Near real-time and for $100. That might be a good angle too.
      JamesKendrick
      • Besides, MBA is going to be updated soon, so it will deal with video ...

        @JamesKendrick: ... editing much faster than current model.
        DDERSSS
      • RE: My next desktop system may be a MacBook Air

        @JamesKendrick - Why not UBUNTU (unix base), the BEST of both Mac's (unix base), and Windows (lets not even go there) PLUS faster, lower CPU/RAM requirements and low to no maintenance (auto update, which I do not use as I like to drive)...We have all three OS's and find UBUNTU equal to (better in most cases) and $$$ less costs (open source). Can run all business requirements too, games/a few other items are a little more effort and that is the only downside. I have it on the netbook (I got from you), laptops, workstations and phone (Android). The 11.04 version with UNITY almost made me leave for a different unix, however, after I found I could change the unity interface all is good in the family.
        heredavid
      • Why not ubuntu

        @heredavid<br>Because he will then spend waaaaay more time maintaining the system than a Windows one.
        cym104
      • RE: My next desktop system may be a MacBook Air

        [i]Because he will then spend waaaaay more time maintaining the system than a Windows one.[/i]

        How do you know this?
        ScorpioBlue
      • RE: My next desktop system may be a MacBook Air

        @ScorpioBlue

        I agree with cym104. Ubuntu is the nicest consumer market Linux distro out there, but it's still far from simply plug and play for ALL daily uses. I tried Ubuntu on one of my machine's a few years back, and it was good. But, over time I found myself research work arounds due to HW/SW incompatibilities or alternative applications. Eventually I just went back to Windows.

        Now, I have an MBA, and have been really pleased so far. It's my first experience with a Mac, but I like it. Mac feels like the middle ground between Linux and Windows.
        Caffeinated85
      • A few years back?

        @Caffeinated85
        Linux has changed somewhat from "a few years" back. I use Linux Mint which has all the codecs and most of the drivers I need available at my fingertips. The only workaround I still deal with is wireless and that's because the ideal driver (by Intel) hasn't been reversed engineered yet.

        Other than that, no significant problems. I suggest you revisit that again. Maybe install it on a USB stick and go for a test spin.

        http://www.linuxmint.com/
        ScorpioBlue
      • RE: My next desktop system may be a MacBook Air

        @JamesKendrick

        Hi James,

        I have a quad-core iMac at work and a 13" macbook air at home. I use Final Cut at work and iMovie at home, and Photoshop on both the iMac and Air. Ask yourself these questions:

        How mobile do you need to be everyday?
        How much screen resolution do you need everyday?
        How large or complex are the files you work with everyday?
        How often do you transfer files?
        Is Thunderbolt important to you or are you ok with firewire and usb?

        I travel occasionally, but I can tell you that I really like the iMac and find that it's really all I need. The screen real estate at 2560x1440 is a big plus over 1440x900 on my MBA for any application (I hate scrolling), the more information I see can see on my screen when I'm working without scrolling, the more efficient I am. The performance and convenience of the Air is fantastic even with the current generation because I only doing quick clips in iMovie and rely on the SSD speed convenience more often than the processor. I have Windows on both machines for added convenience. If I were you, I would get a 27" iMac (the best computer you can buy for your money) and the new 13" Macbook Air with Thunderbolt if it's on its way in a few weeks. If you use these computers to make you money and to make your life easier, then spend the money to get what you need. They will pay you back in the long run. Hope this helps!
        technodork
  • RE: My next desktop system may be a MacBook Air

    MacBook Air will probably work if you use it for things like writings e-mails and browsing web.
    It will be inadequate for code development, photo/video editing or gaming. If you don't do any of that' you'll be fine.
    Scrabbler
    • RE: My next desktop system may be a MacBook Air

      @Scrabbler Do you have a MBA? I've been told by several who do own one that it handles all of those things pretty well.
      JamesKendrick
      • RE: My next desktop system may be a MacBook Air

        @JamesKendrick
        Depends on your definition of "pretty well". More like "good enough" in my view.
        Frankly, I find IDE performance sluggish on MacBook pro as well (it is the same on a bunch of other laptops I tried too).
        But on MacBook Air I found even text editor to be less responsive to scrolling on large text files etc.
        I do not have a MacBook Air and only played with one I borrowed from a coworker for a while.
        Scrabbler
      • RE: My next desktop system may be a MacBook Air

        @JamesKendrick I own a 1.4Ghz 2GB 11" Macbook Air. My gut feeling is that at least some of the claims that people do much too substantial work to do it on a macbook air are ego-based. It's a surprisingly capable machine, I think the SSD helps a lot and, at the end of the day, it's a 64-bit dual core laptop even if it's not the fastest one on the market.<br><br>The things that the MBA doesn't do well are sit down and chug away actions -- a Core 2 Duo isn't useless but it's clearly not a portable supercomputer. If you're using an MBA to build large programs (but be honest about how large your program really is) or do lots of video encoding you're likely going to sit around for a while.
        steviesteveo190
  • Message has been deleted.

    X41
    • RE: My next desktop system may be a MacBook Air

      @X41

      Nah, pen and paper is such a waste of time. I'd go with a hammer, nail, and a slate of rock.
      The one and only, Cylon Centurion
  • RE: My next desktop system may be a MacBook Air

    Well if you go with an MBA, you can always install Windows in boot camp, should you need it. Just curious, what is it you are doing to "maintain" your Windows boxes? All of that should be automatic, no? (I haven't had to actively "maintain" my systems for a while now, using XP, Vista, or 7 aside from emptying the trash.)<br><br>At any rate, MBAs are nice, I just wish I didn't have to drain my bank account and give up a first born for one. I'd love to have a Mac to start digging around with.
    The one and only, Cylon Centurion
    • RE: My next desktop system may be a MacBook Air

      @Cylon Centurion I always think it is so funny how people say they are going to Mac, bu they end up putting Windows in boot camp to get any real work done - why not save some money, get a decent Windows machine - an you will have a machine that inherently more secure and that the company is serious about security - rather than paying for looks and security is an after thought and is becoming more of an issue every day - you cannot rely on security through obscurity any more - plus you can use the extra cash to do fun things
      stevejg61
      • So, basically, what you are saying is that because some

        random piece of software doesn't work on your preferred OS, you should just ditch the whole thing and go with something you like less.
        fr_gough
      • RE: My next desktop system may be a MacBook Air

        @stevejg61 <b>- you cannot rely on security through obscurity any more -</b>

        Like how Microsoft relies on security thru obscurity to this day?
        His_Shadow
    • RE: My next desktop system may be a MacBook Air

      @Cylon Centurion

      If you have to "drain your bank account and give up a first born" to afford an MBA, you are not doing very well in whatever activity you pursue. Perhaps you should switch to another OS than Windows and you would have more time to make some money.
      jorjitop