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You are here: MacNN Forums > Hardware - Troubleshooting and Discussion > Mac Notebooks > Going from 15" MBP to 11" MBA?

Going from 15" MBP to 11" MBA?
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icruise
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May 23, 2011, 11:54 AM
 
First, a little background. I have an old 17" iMac (1.83 GHz Core Duo, 2GB RAM) that I use with a 23" Cinema Display as my desktop. It's definitely getting on in years, and many people here would no doubt consider it ancient. But to be honest, performance is not really an issue for what I use it for (Office, web browsing, emails, iPhoto, iTunes). My portable is a 15" MBP (2.2 GHz Core Duo, 4GM RAM). It's one of the ones that predate the current unibody design. I use the MBP mostly for Office, web browsing, and email. The only real issues I have with it are that the battery no longer holds more than an hour of charge, and it's heavier than I would like. I have no real issues with performance.

So to be totally honest, I probably don't need a new computer. And if I were going to get one, I should probably get a new iMac rather than a new portable. But I find that I use my portable more than the desktop, since I like to work at cafes and the like. I find myself really attracted to the new Macbook Airs (although I would wait for the next iteration before buying). I've wanted a Mac subnotebook for years. I would've killed for something like the 11" MBP when I was in college or (especially) when I was living in Japan.

Has anyone made this kind of switch? How do the Airs compare to my current MBP? Would the 11" model in particular feel slower than my MBP? Would it be difficult to go to an 11" screen coming from the 15" MBP? I am attracted by the small size of the 11" model but maybe I should consider the 13" since it has the same 1440 x 900 resolution as my current MBP. Anyway, I'd appreciate any advice you can give. I used to be a moderator here, but no longer have the time to really keep up with Mac-related news, etc.
     
aepple
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May 23, 2011, 03:46 PM
 
I have a 17 inch Powebook that's Approx 10 years old that works fine after needing a new battery, it would loose its charge in less than an hour, now it works fine. i just purchased a MBA 13' a month ago for a more updated OS system since my G4 reached it's limit and i'll tell you, my MBA is FAST.

Will it fit your needs, well only you will know that, i would recommend 11' MBA over an iPad if i had to choose one or another. The key here is AIR, its mobile, i carry it in my back-pack effortlessly, and when i go to use it... it has no limitations.

I purchased the Ethernet Adapter and external drive.

GOOD LUCK in your decision
     
Mojo
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May 23, 2011, 04:24 PM
 
I have the same 2.4GHz 15" MBP model, which is mainly used by my wife.

When the MBA is updated to Sandy Bridge we plan on selling the MBP and buying an 11" for me and a 13" MBA for my wife. I don't expect to miss the 15" MBP; at times it has been too large and heavy to take traveling (we travel with minimal baggage, only carry-on bags). The 11" will fit in the tiny messenger bag that I use around town and when I am on the road.

We also own a 16GB iPad and while it is useful at times, we prefer the Mac OS and the ease of working on portable Macs. My wife was particularly keen on trying out the iPad since she is less computer-oriented than me, but she is starting to appreciate the MBP and use it a lot more. Its size is the only downside.
( Last edited by Mojo; May 24, 2011 at 06:13 PM. )
     
icruise  (op)
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May 23, 2011, 10:49 PM
 
I think my main concerns are related to the screen of the 11" model. My current MBP has been fine in that regard, and I guess I'm just not sure what the combination of a drop in resolution combined with a major drop in screen size will do with regard to usability. I have yet to see either of the newer MBAs in person, so obviously that would be a good first step.

Do either of the MBA models have much of a problem with heat during normal use (web browsing, Office, etc.)?
     
Andy8
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May 24, 2011, 03:09 AM
 
Originally Posted by icruise View Post
Do either of the MBA models have much of a problem with heat during normal use (web browsing, Office, etc.)?
No I haven't had my 11" MBA get hot, let alone warm, even using it on the sofa cushions under normal usage as you describe above.

Have not heard the internal cooling fan either for that matter.
     
ajprice
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May 25, 2011, 06:05 AM
 
Are you keeping the iMac? You could plug the MBA into your 23" while at home, that's what i do with my white Macbook and Dell 24". My Macbook is Intel GMA 950 graphics, so whatever the integrated graphics on an MBA is should handle a big resolution external screen just fine.

It'll be much easier if you just comply.
     
icruise  (op)
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May 25, 2011, 09:53 AM
 
Yeah, I'm definitely keeping a dedicated desktop. I found that when I used a portable with external peripherals, I tended to not use it as a portable because it was too much work to connect and disconnect everything. And I need a computer that's always available as a print server, iTunes syncing machine, etc.
     
Atheist
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May 25, 2011, 11:47 AM
 
I'm very happy with my 13" MBA. It's surprisingly snappy (I've got the 1.86 GHz w/ 4GB RAM and 128GB Storage). I use it as my primary work computer when I'm traveling and run VMWare Fusion with Windows 7.

I would recommend it to anyone needing a general purpose portable device. If you can deal with the tiny screen on the 11" I say go for it. However, the 13" really isn't that much bigger.

If you decide to make the purchase there are great prices on refurbs. The only reason I bought my MBA new is because they didn't have refurbs available yet. They have my model available for $1189. That's over $200 off. You can get the 11" base model for $849.

Good luck and let us know what you decide.
     
SierraDragon
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May 25, 2011, 01:08 PM
 
Wait. For your apps (Office, web browsing, emails, iPhoto, iTunes) and described needs any new 2011 Mac should perform fine, but you will see a significant improvement from any box with an SSD - like the MBAs. So wait to see new Sandy Bridge MBAs and pricing, physically handle the available sizes, then decide.

HTH

-Allen Wicks
     
icruise  (op)
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May 25, 2011, 02:16 PM
 
Oh, I'm definitely waiting for the next versions. I expect them within a couple of months, and it's not like I have an urgent need.
     
amazing
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May 25, 2011, 03:01 PM
 
Originally Posted by icruise View Post
I have yet to see either of the newer MBAs in person, so obviously that would be a good first step.
In the meantime, since you're waiting for the new models, be sure to actually go see the MBA models in person. Buying a laptop, sight unseen, doesn't seem the wisest course...
     
icruise  (op)
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May 25, 2011, 03:04 PM
 
You're absolutely right, of course. It's little inconvenient for me to actually go and see them, but I plan to do so before making any decisions. But I find that you can't always tell how something will perform in actual use just by trying it out in a store, so I wanted some input based on people's usage experiences.
     
amazing
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May 25, 2011, 04:25 PM
 
I figured you'd get around to handling the MBA eventually...

Meantime, as an owner of an older 15" MBP that I deliberately chose because that model was the last regular production matte screen, the biggest hurdle towards upgrading is having to pay way more for another matte screen. Plus, my 2.4 GHz model was on close-out when the new glossy-screens-only models came out (the upgrade pricing for matte screen came only much later...)

And yes, I know that the glossy/matte debate has been beat to death, but I personally can't stand glossy screens...they give me lots of eye fatigue. It's a very strong personal preference.

How do you feel about glossy in a laptop?
     
icruise  (op)
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May 25, 2011, 04:59 PM
 
As luck would have it, I had a couple of free hours this afternoon, so I made the trek over to the nearest Apple retailer (not a real Apple Store, but rather the one at the local university). Both the 11" and 13" models look like amazing machines. Mac laptops have come a long way since my first one (the Lombard Powerbook G3). The fit and finish is incredible, not to mention the size and weight.

I do think I'm going to go with the 13" version when I do get one. The 11" model looks great and I'm sure it would be very usable as well, but after seeing (and holding) the two machines, the difference in weight and size didn't seem big enough to warrant losing 2" in screen size (and the resolution). The 13" model is the same res as my current MacBook Pro, so I think I would feel comfortable with it.

It's interesting that you mention screen glossiness, Amazing. I don't like it either. I did actually take out my MBP and compare it to the MBA as well as the latest model MBPs, and while the MBAs were a little more glossy than my current computer's screen, they seemed a lot less glossy than the other portables in the store. I think I could certainly live with it.

I kind of wish that they would make a 15" Air.
     
Atheist
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May 25, 2011, 05:29 PM
 
Originally Posted by icruise View Post
I kind of wish that they would make a 15" Air.
Or a 17" for that matter! I suspect eventually the entire MacBook line will become ultra-thin and all solid-state. No more Pro or Air.
     
SierraDragon
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May 28, 2011, 09:56 PM
 
Originally Posted by Atheist View Post
Or a 17" for that matter! I suspect eventually the entire MacBook line will become ultra-thin and all solid-state. No more Pro or Air.
I do not really see ultra-thin in large sizes coming soon because of the need for rigidity. My 2011 17" MBP is much nicer to handle than my 2006 17" MBP is because of the much improved rigidity of the solid aluminum. The MBAs are pretty flexy even in the 11/13 sizes.

-Allen
     
seanc
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May 29, 2011, 08:27 AM
 
Originally Posted by icruise View Post
The 13" model is the same res as my current MacBook Pro, so I think I would feel comfortable with it.
The Apple store says they're still 1280x800.
You need to try one with that resolution before you buy, it's a significant drop in usable screen area.
     
icruise  (op)
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May 29, 2011, 12:08 PM
 
Originally Posted by seanc View Post
The Apple store says they're still 1280x800.
You need to try one with that resolution before you buy, it's a significant drop in usable screen area.
I'm not sure where you're getting your info, but I just checked the Apple website again and it says:

Supported resolutions: 1440 by 900 (native), 1280 by 800, 1152 by 720, 1024 by 640, and 800 by 500 pixels at 16:10 aspect ratio; 1024 by 768, 800 by 600, and 640 by 480 pixels at 4:3 aspect ratio; 720 by 480 pixels at 3:2 aspect ratio
     
seanc
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May 29, 2011, 01:00 PM
 
The UK Apple Store!

13.3"


15.4"
     
SierraDragon
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May 29, 2011, 02:52 PM
 
US Apple Store Website for the 13" MBP:

Supported resolutions: 1280 by 800 (native)
     
icruise  (op)
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May 29, 2011, 03:56 PM
 
We're talking about MacBook Airs, not MacBook Pros...
     
seanc
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May 29, 2011, 04:51 PM
 
Oh



When 1440x900 makes it into the 13.3" MBP, I'll buy one
     
rambo47
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May 29, 2011, 08:59 PM
 
I think the stuff you do on your laptops makes you a perfect candidate for the 13" MBA, but I'd have some reservations about the 11" model. It's ideal for traveling, but for a day to day laptop running the apps you mentioned I think you might feel a bit cramped.
     
skyheng
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Jun 1, 2011, 03:11 AM
 
My favorite apple laptop,macbook air 11-inch,I finally got it in last month!
     
Young Spade
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Jun 27, 2011, 05:14 AM
 
If you have the money, i'd go with the new 13 inch model when that came out sometime next month. Longer battery life (the 13 inches now have longer life than the 11), higher processing power, and the screen won't be that much of a hit.

IMO with any laptop, unless it's strictly for business or of some specific need, I think 13 inches should be the minimum. I have a blackbook currently at 13.3 inches and love it; perfect size between transportation and functionality. I also have a 10 inch netbook; putting performance differences aside, the screen is somewhat cramped and although it has a high pixel density (1366 by 768), I always feel like I'm squinting, scrolling, or adjusting to the screen.
     
   
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