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User Review: MacBook Air Computer
Side View of Sleek MacBook Air
Why is MacBook Air so Popular?
It's powerful and lightweight. If you've been lugging a traditional laptop through airport security, or balancing it like a load of bricks on your lap while working at home, you're in for a treat the first time you hold a MacBook Air in your hands. Actually, you can hold it in just one hand - it's that light.
The MacBook Air comes in 11" and 13" models, and you can now get as much storage and power as many desktop models, which means it can probably blast your old PC out of the water in terms of speed and space.
The feature that draws most owners to it, though, is its thin and lightweight design. It's several pounds lighter than most traditional laptops (although many other makers have jumped onto the 'less is more' bandwagon in recent years).
Because of its size, it can be slipped into a roll-on bag without hogging up a ton of space, and can easily be retrieved when you need to put it into those grey bins at the airport as you go through screening.
Your arms won't ache from hauling the much-heavier laptop you used to own (if you're a convert to Mac), and you'll be amazed at the speed the Air offers; its solid-state construction allows an almost instant-on element similar to the iPad or iPhone.
I switched to Mac a few years ago, and I am never going back. Read on to find out why.
Rating of MacBook Air
Classic Video: Steve Jobs Introduces the Mac
Thin, lightweight MacBook Air
How to Switch from a Windows Laptop to a MacBook Air
As a convert to Mac (in just the past few years), there were a few adjustments to make when I bought the MacBook Air. Because I'd owned an iPhone for a while, though, the transition wasn't painful at all.
Possibly the biggest learning curve to Mac computers is the keyboard. Although you do get used to the delete button going backwards rather than forwards if you've come from a Windows environment, you may adjust a bit grudgingly. Maybe one day Mac will merge the user-interface a bit with the keyboard set-ups we use almost everywhere else and develop a delete button that works the same way the rest of the world does. However, after using the Mac keyboard for the last several years, I do not notice it at all - it's second nature.
Otherwise, the keyboard on the MacBook Air is a dream in every way. The keys are almost flush with the surface, which means there's very little noise as you type, and absolutely no sticking keys or wide crevices to collect dust or cookie crumbs (you do eat at your computer, don't you?).
The touchpad on the MacBook Air is pressure-sensitive, so rather than responding to the 'feel' of your fingers, you have to press it lightly to activate it. For me, this is a huge help - I am cursed with an electrical field around my hands and wrists that made my other laptop go crazy, so I had to use a mouse. Not so with the Air - the touchpad is easy to use, and only works when you actually touch it, not when your wrist hovers over it.
After several years of loving my original 13" version (although I'd coveted the tiny 11" model from the start - so small!), as you'll see below, I added the 11" version to my virtual family. I chose the 13" for the first purchase because I often need to be on multiple screens and toggle back and forth. I also got the 8-gig processor and the 256gb storage, because I tend to keep things for several years, and I wanted this investment to last for the long haul. Also, I have an iPad, and at the time, it seemed redundant to get almost the same size in a computer.
MacBook Air 11.6"
Since my career demands escalated further, I bought a second MacBook Air recently (and kept my beloved 13" as well) and I chose the 11.6" version for that purchase. Even though my 13" version is lighter than other laptops I'd owned, the 11.6" is significantly lighter still. It is now my travel computer, and is a joy to take through airport security or to haul in and out of hotels or conference rooms. I recently spent more than two weeks in Europe, in a total of four hotels, and I was very happy to have the lighter Air on that trip.
Why do I have two laptops? I am on the computer almost during all waking hours. This allows me to work in tandem, or to let one unit charge while the other one is being used. It also gives me an important backup computer in case one of them needs repairs. This was hugely helpful when my 13" needed a new battery after several years of faithful service. I love them both - they're keepers!
The MacBook Air keyboard is easy to use.
The 11-inch MacBook Air is the Lightest Model
Features of MacBook Air
The 13" MacBook Air has two USB-3 Ports, which move date with a lightning speed. The comparison to USB-2 is amazing! If you start converting to USB-3 thumbdrives, be sure to check the label carefully to make sure it's the right version.
The Air also has an SD slot, so you won't have to search for your card reader when you download photos. And it has a Thunderbolt Port, which many people will never use, but those who do will love the speed it offers.
As of 2012, the Air has an improved design to the charger cord; rather than putting the hot end at a 90-degree angle (which made it awkward to use ports on that side while it was charging), the hot connection is at the very end of the cord and plugs directly into the computer (as with an iPhone or iPad). However, it is magnetic rather than pressure-driven, which is a different feel from the way you insert chargers into iPhones or iPads.
The charger for the Air is considerably smaller and lighter in weight than the brick-sized chargers for many Windows laptops. The combined savings in the weight of the laptop and charger is around 3-4 pounds, in my case - that's a lot of sore-shoulder pain I can now avoid.
One problem with some earlier Airs has been a failure to accept a charge. I had to take my Air to the Genius Bar after a few weeks, but the Apple store was excellent to work with and actually offered to replace it. Who can complain, with that sort of great service?
After many years of Windows frustration over slow boots, operating systems that made me crazy (notably the Vista fiasco), and other issues with PC-based computers, I am happy to be with Mac, and the Air is easily worth a five-star rating. The Air is reliable, it boots within a minute or so from the 'off' position and more or less instantly from the sleep mode. And, as with most Mac products, its green engineering saves energy by turning off the charger once the battery is full.
Retina Display is a huge buzzword for Mac in recent months, so you'll want to check out that feature to see whether you need it or want it. Personally, and for the work I do (no brain surgery, watch repair, or intricate design work), the regular display is great, and super-sharp enough.
I highly recommend the MacBook Air for anyone looking for their next portable computer!
© 2012 Marcy Goodfleisch