Wednesday, October 27, 2010

New MacBook Air

I've decided to trade in my old MacBook Pro for an Air. I used to think that a big screen was what I wanted, but I've had a change of heart and now light weight is key, since I'm taking it with me on the train most mornings.

For a little while I had appropriated Scarlet's (original model) Air, and it was nice, though that machine only had 2 GB of RAM and was a little sluggish. It also was a little awkward only having a single USB port that was recessed inside that little door gizmo. Basically, it didn't work with anything except a cable, for the most part.

The new Air is a worthy successor. Not only can you get it with 4 GB of RAM, but they addressed just about all of the issues the original Air had (2 USB ports, and both them and the magsafe connector are mounted on a vertical, rather than a canted surface).

As we speak, I'm writing this post on CalTrain with the new Air. With the MiFi for connectivity, it's an excellent experience. Time will tell how the battery stacks up, but I may be able to leave the power adapter at home from now on if Apple's claims are justified. And leaving that behind makes my load about a third lighter, it turns out (the power adapter weighs almost as much as the Air. The rest is my tote).

Most remarkable is that the restore media for the Air is in the form of a USB ROM drive. It's slightly longer and narrower than a postage stamp, yet it contains all of the pre-loaded software and is bootable. The first announcements of third-party replacement flash drives for the Air have come out today, so this would be how you'd get your machine back up and running after swapping the drive out. Of course, that presumes you can find one of those pesky pentacle security Torx screwdrivers to get the bottom case off (really, Apple? What's the purpose of keeping me out of my own machine?).

I haven't tried the USB SuperDrive we bought for the old Air, though I assume it works just the same way with the new one. Of course, with USB ports on both sides of the machine, you no longer are forced to keep the drive on the right, if that's not what you like.

Once again, I was struck with how easy the transition to a new mac is with the migration tool. But at the same time, I was also struck with how bloody long the process takes. And I had to do it twice, since I was migrating two machines down into one. The second time, however, I used a USB Ethernet interface and connected the Air directly to the target machine, which improved the speed (instead of using WiFi) markedly.

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