To Macbook Air is Human… (part 2)

Putting On An Air

Can a desktop power-user find true love with a svelte little Macbook Air? (Part 1 is right here in case you missed it)

KIJIJI is wonderful! Ebay’s foray into online classifieds has taken off big time in Canada in addition to several other cities worldwide (though oddly, not so much in the United States). After quickly selling my iPad 2 (64gb, WiFi – sold in under 2 hours) I setup a Kijiji search and email alert for MacBook Air, hoping to get an older 11” model as I was going for portability over power. The only key parameter was price – I wanted to pay fair market value so I could re-sell the Air easily if it didn’t work out.

[DIGRESSION ALERT] By the way, most people are delusional when it comes to selling used Mac gear and price it way too expensively. While it’s true that Apple products tend to hold their value far better than competing products, the combination of rapid tech advances and Apple’s own refurb store (a great place to buy lightly used gear with warranty) should keep used prices in check. A great place to start when buying or selling used Mac gear is the Mac2Sell website where the current market valuation of any Apple product can be quickly determined. Likewise, when buying new or used Apple kit, the buyers guide on the MacRumors website will show you which products are due for refresh.

So, as mentioned in the last post I was able to buy a 13” Macbook Air (Oct 2010, 1.86ghz Core2Duo, 4gb RAM, 128gb SDD) at fair market value. Of course I tried it before buying and was impressed by how snappy the Air performed, waking up from sleep and ready to work in seconds so I paid the man and left. While walking away from the seller my initial thoughts were that while attractive, the Air was underpowered and very temporary – just an interim step. When I arrived back at my office and powered up the AIR my mind was blown… the Air was fast, booting and ready to work in well under a minute!

The amazing speed is largely due to the 128gb SSD (Solid State Drive). With no moving parts, the SSD is essentially a bunch of memory (like RAM) configured to act as a single hard disk. The access speed is amazing, as there are no moving parts such as read/write heads or platters to contend with. I should have known that would make a difference, but I had no idea it would impact system/application booting and performance so profoundly. Within minutes I was sold on SSD technology and had an entirely new perspective on portable computing.

When working with the 13” Air, I rarely noticed the fact that my processor was a few generations older than my iMac and (on paper at least) had much slower specs. Everything felt snappy, including Creative Suite CS6, Office, Mail and Safari. Even large audio files (800mb) would open instantly in Adobe Audition thanks to the incredibly fast SSD. Initially I assumed that it might just be new machine honeymoon that made everything seem to run faster but after a few weeks I found the old Macbook Air more than adequate for most of my work. I began to use my iMac less and less…

Now, if I could only do something about the size! While slim and light, the 13” Macbook Air still had the desktop footprint of a standard laptop. I wanted something that was powerful, yet small enough to comfortably fit on an airplane tray table (even with the seat in front of me reclined). With downsizing in mind I started watching the Apple Store’s “Special Deals” section for a refurbished 11” Macbook Air with the help of email alerts from refurb-tracker.com. Before long my dream machine materialized and I pulled the trigger!

Stay tuned for To Macbook Air is Human (part 3) – Big Things come in Little Packages

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