Finally Macbook Air done right. The 2010 model rocks

I've been a long time Macbook Air fan. I've had the first generation 64GB SSD model (1.8 GHz) and later third generation 128GB SSD (2,13 GHz) model. My first blog post about how it rocks still generates lots of traffic to this blog and I even recorded a geeky unboxing video of my second Macbook Air. Before the Air I was a PC. Macbook Air convinced me to switch to the Mac. One month ago, after lots of hesitation I decided to give it a shot and bought the new 2010 13" Macbook Air and I believe it's the best laptop on the planet at this point for a mobile businessman. Here's my one-month review:
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Why it's the first Macbook Air done right? It's not underpowered. Has no heat issues. It's light and fast. Finally.

My previous-generation Macbook Air and the one before that were "underpowered". I didn't mind all that much since I mostly have been using my computer for web-related stuff. However when I started recording my Productive! Show in HD, my Air started choking when I was producing video clips in iMovie.

I also had to use two apps: Coolbook and SMCfanControl to lower the voltage on the processor and lower the speed of the fans to make sure I could work on a silent computer most of the time.

None of these issues with the new Macbook Air 2010.

The new Macbook Air's fan is silent at 2000 RPMs most of the time and makes the laptop a joy to use. The bigger fan helps get rid of the heat efficiently and thus the processor is no longer underpowered. I don't have to tweak it anymore to use it well... it just works. Without issues and problems. The Apple way.

It's fast. Really fast. Thanks to SSD drive mostly.

When you look at my Macbook Air history, you can see that I dig SSD drives. They are plenty fast, especially for launching things. Let me give you an example: When I bought my first Macbook Air, a more powerful Macbook PRO launched OpenOffice in around 20 seconds... and my Air, in about 10. My later Macbook Air model with SATA SSD launched OpenOffice in around 6 seconds and it was really fast. The newest Air does it in 2-3 seconds. I blink... and it's there.

Same goes to booting (although I hardly boot with the newest sleeping mode and instant-on) which takes 14 seconds and still no one knows why it's so fast (PROs with SSD boot in 30 sec). This new Macbook Air is a screamer and I love the fact that everything I do on it happens in an instant.

More RAM and bigger drive. Finally room to breathe.

I wrote about how the limit of 2 GIGs of RAM helps me single-task... but 4 GIGs of RAM helps me not think about RAM anymore. My Air is no longer choking at all. The same applies to hard disk space. I managed to work with my first Air and 64G SSD, but 128GB SSD was already OK, but now with 256GB SSD I have enough space for most of my stuff. And I put bigger videos on the 1TB MyPassport WD hard drive which is small, stylish, matches the looks of my Air... and was on sale in Best Buy for just $129. Just look at the picture above.

Battery life is no longer a problem. 7+ hours is what I get out of it.

For the first time in history the battery life that the manufacturer quotes is an "underestimate". Steve Jobs said I'd get 7 hours with my new Macbook Air. I get at least that... and most of the time I get a lot more than that. When I was on a conference with Wifi on and note-taking in Evernote and browsing the web and Tweetin' now an then... and with the screen dimmed at almost minimum (the lighting was strong there)... after 6 hours of working I still had 40% of my juice left. Sweet! This is definitely a great improvement over my last Air.

Bigger screen estate, sturdier hinge, 2 USB ports and other improvements just make the deal sweeter.

The new Air comes with a screen that is not as glossy as the PROs and comes with a great resolution of 1440 x 900 pixels. It's a significant improvement over the last Air and I do appreciate the screen estate. The screen uses the same hinge as the PROs which make is less shake'y than with my old Airs. This one has finally 2 USB ports which is more than enough and an SD card reader which helps if you transfer files from your camera. The instant-on feature is also fantastic. No longer does hibernation last that long. Now it's really close to the iPad's instant on.

What am I missing in the new Air?

Backlit keyboard. I loved it in my old Air and although I (as a touch-typist) don't need it all that much, it was an elegant and a very Apple-like feature. The second thing is the infra-red port which worked so great with my Apple remote. Now I need to use my iPhone to browse my presentations. Other than that... there is really hardly anything to complain about.

And it's still an Air

Why I switched to the Mac? Because of the Macbook Air... and because it's a light, thin and sexy laptop which is beautiful, ultra- portable and light... and makes me want to take it everywhere with me. The new Macbook Air is even better... as it's a supermodel among laptops without any apparent flaws or issues. I work on my computer 10+ hours a day and it's vital that my laptop (being my main and only computer) is a joy to use. I love my job and the work I do running Nozbe and love doing it on my Macbook Air. My tool is just great for this job.

And it's really light and thin. The difference between 4.5 lbs Macbook PRO and 2.9 lbs Air sounds trival, but when you grab these two at the same time you'll see it's a big one. And when you travel a lot or move between offices, the weight (or lack thereof) of the Air helps a lot. And now with such a great battery I hardly take the power cord with me anyway.

MichaelNozbe's buying advice?

If you're in a market for a 13" or 15" Macbook PRO, get the 13" Air instead. And if you can, get the full-blown version with 4GB RAM and 256GB HDD. It's lighter than the PROs and it's faster than them in most of the cases. Steve was right about this one. It is the future of Notebooks.

I'm Michael Sliwinski and I'm an entrepreneur who's also the...
.. Founder of Nozbe.com - a time and project management web application
.. Editor of Productive! Magazine - a global PDF publication on productivity
.. and a blogger as well as a producer of a weekly 2-minute Productive! show.

Posted on Tuesday, December 21, 2010 (apple,computer,macbook)

TesTeq
Dec 21, 2010 07:53
You wrote: "Same goes to booting (although I hardly boot with the newest sleeping mode and instant-on) which takes 14 seconds and still no one knows why it's so fast (PROs with SSD boot in 30 sec)."

Some people know. It's because it has much faster non-ATA/SATA direct flash memory interface.

Michael Sliwinski
Dec 21, 2010 09:21
The SSD on my Air really feels like it's mounted to motherboard directly without any ATA/SATA connection as it's really fast. I love that all apps start with a blink of an eye. Thanks TesTeq for clarifying this one for me :-) And Merry Chirstmas! (just got back to Poland)
Mike St. Pierre
Dec 24, 2010 17:37
Can't wait to buy this for my wife- with life in the cloud, the MBA makes a lot of sense.
Michael Sliwinski
Dec 28, 2010 12:33
This new Macbook Air is a real powerhouse and I don't notice any prev-gen issues with it. It's speedy for iMovie HD and other stuff, too. Thanks for your comment Mike and hope you're getting the MBA for your wife :-)