on May 13, 2014
If you're looking to buy a macbook to use as a desktop replacement, or to use as your primary computer, then the Macbook Pro may be a better choice due to it's faster CPU, slightly stronger GPU, and retina display.
If you are looking for a laptop that you will be using primarily for traveling, or on the go (library, coffee shop, flights), then look no further than the Macbook Air.
It's what you'd expect in this model. It's very sleek, light, and portable. It runs very quiet. The price is significantly lower than the Pro, and the battery life is excellent. Considering the tasks that most people will be running on the Air, it's performance will be more than plenty for most people. The Core i5 and the HD5000 GPU can handle gaming surprisingly well. And normal tasks like web browsing, iLife applications, and movies, music, and web, will run very quickly and smooth.
The 11" is a nice choice as it gives you better mobility, and fits better into small spaces, like the food tray on a coach seat. However, battery life is shorter. But unless you intend to use it non stop on a 12 hour flight, the 9 hour battery will last you for most any situation. The 11" model also puts the laptop in a price range that gives it a great value that macs are typically not associated with.
Startup and shutdown time is very snappy as you'd expect with the mac. The keyboard is very brisk, and I find that my typing is the most fast and accurate than on PC laptop keyboards. The trackpad is very large, has a glass surface, and it has lots of gestures (all useful and practical), and it is a joy to use, unlike the small, plastic, unresponsive trackpads that other laptops have.
Apples standard 1 year warranty is the best in the industry. Especially when its augmented with your local Apple store and genius bar, and especially if you decide to purchase AppleCare. Unlike other brands where you only have a 15 day store warranty, and any issues for the next 11.5 months require an RMA claim, and shipping your system to the manufacturer which can take a month. Or for less serious issues, long calls to indian call centers where you are transferred a dozen times, put on hold for long periods of time, and are put through lengthy warranty validation processes.
For this latest iteration, the hardware has been bumped up, and the price has been reduced $100 which makes it a great value. This helps to offset the non retina display.
However, not all is perfect. I have to deduct one star because of one major caveat. The macbook's RAM is soldered to the motherboard. This means that you cannot upgrade the RAM in the future. RAM upgrades are simple, easy to do, and play a major part in extending the lifespan of your computer. RAM requirements go up faster than CPU and Disk Space needs, because richer content requires more RAM. I have an iMac from 2008 that I still use today thanks to the fact that I was able to double the RAM. If it was not possible, I would have had to sell it on eBay several years ago.My advice is to spring for the extra RAM now if you plan to own this laptop for more than 4 years.
What I enjoy about the macbook is they are good to go as soon as you take it out of its box. You don't have to spend hours uninstalling two dozen junkware programs that came installed on your system that are taking up valuable space. You don't have to run registry utilities to clean up after that. Nor do you have to install anti virus scanners and malware and adware removers. You don't need to download and install 96 critical updates in order to patch all the security holes in the operating system, just to keep it safe and afloat.
There's no bios to worry about, no blue screens of death, no driver conflicts, and freezing and crashing is extremely rare, instead of a common occurrence it is with PC's. Macs tend to retain their optimal performance, and you won't find the need to defrag your drive every 6 months, and format and reinstall the OS every year to combat performance degradation as I always had to do with my PC desktops and laptops.
OSX is Unix based, which is very solid and stable. It's the same platform that mission critical enterprise servers use in corporate data centers. Windows is based on DOS, which is less stable and robust, and more prone to security issues. I have also become frustrated by the design choices in Windows 10, like the removal of the start menu, and the way it is designed to be used with a touch screen as if it's an operating system for a tablet. Even with high end touch screen laptops, I did not use these touch screen features.
Another perk is that the whole iLife suit is included for free. And much like iOS, the OSX App Store has great new software that is either free or low cost, coming out every week, giving more incentive to use this platform.
So basically, if you want a macbook that is the best for traveling, and has the best value, this should be your first choice.