Thursday, March 31, 2011

MacBook Air 13" -- lockup in iTunes, fixed?

My new MacBook Air 13" froze twice last week. (full lockup, requiring reboot), both times as I was launching a fresh install of iTunes. There is an update out this morning to fix that, w00t. Those lock-ups were my only complaint about my new Air. Let's hope this fixes it.

"This update addresses an issue that makes the system unresponsive when using iTunes. It is recommended for all 13" MacBook Air (Late 2010) users running Mac OS X v10.6.7."
-- Mac OS X 10.6.7 Supplemental Update for 13" MacBook Air

In other news, yes, I bought a MacBook Air 13" last Friday. My previous Mac purchase was an 68000 MacSE running 8.6, purchased 20 years ago. Fully pimped out, this was a big impulse buy on Ebay (after a week of watching ebay and craigslist, it still felt like a impulse to start and finish bidding last friday morning). It did run my 3x as much $$ as the Acer (4x retail). What will I do with two tiny laptops?

It is both bigger and smaller than my lovely Acer 1810T. The 13" Air has a hugely larger footprint to the acer, at 13 vs 11. The whole body is slightly lighter and much thinner. Having gotten used to the size of the 11", this feels really big. How do people carry around 17" monsters? The screen is larger and has more pixels at 1400x900 vs 1366x768, albeit at a lower DPI of 130 vs 135 dots per diagonal inch. It also has more pixels than the 13" macbook pro, why are they still using a lower res screen on those?

The 13" Air has a larger battery spec and seems to have considerably larger real-world battery usage. The battery lasts a full workday, though I get nervous when it says an hour or two left. Wake from sleep is wicked fast, and sleep seems to be a very low power situation. I put my acer to hibernate and it takes about 20 seconds to boot with the SSD -- ~8 of that is just the bios time to get to the bootloader. I haven't been able to compare wake from hibernate on the Air since I can't force hibernation -- it happens automatically if it is in sleep mode "long enough."

I'm still trying to get used to the change in keyboards -- the wrist rest area is ginormous on the Air. The large wrist area makes it sit in my lap differently than the Acer, and typing is more awkward. It does rest more softly in the lap -- similar weight over a larger surface area.

I found myself trawling ebay looking for an 11" as a companion to this one. The 11" air is a very close alternative to the 1810T. If you can live without a second mouse button and page-up/page-down dedicated buttons. The larger trackpad really is nicer than the Acer, though I was quite used to that smaller trackpad. The 11" has roughly the same specs, a slightly faster chip, similar quoted battery life, same footprint, much thinner and a tad lighter. Counting the big SSD I put into the 1810T the prices are comparable.

Note, if you are looking to buy an Air, know that the RAM is hard soldered at the factory, so there is a large difference between the 2G and 4G versions. Do the resellers (bestbuy, frys, etc) even get 4G models to sell? It is possible to replace the SSD, it is non-standard but they are available. The ram you won't get to change.

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