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Should I get a MacBook Air?

Old 16th May 2020, 17:55
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Should I get a MacBook Air?

First a plea - can we not turn this into an Apple versus Microsoft debate, please?

Background: I'm a long time Windows user, but my ancient laptop (a Asus Zenbook UX31E, that's ~8 years old) has been running Linux Mint for years. Linux does all I need, as this laptop gets used mainly for surfing the web and email stuff. Having a pretty quiet keyboard has been useful, as I can get away with typing on it, on my lap, whilst my wife's watching TV. I don't need anything particularly fast, but I do like a nice display. My wife's a long-term Apple user, on her third iPad and now also an iMac. We both use iPhones, but I rarely use mine. My main desktop PC gets the most use, and that's still running Windows 7, but that may get replaced by an iMac, if I can make the transition to MacOS.

Given my modest laptop needs, the base model 2020 MacBook Air looks to be a good bet. It seems to have roughly double the processing power of my old i7 Zenbook, and about half the power consumption, with no cooling fan noise (handy). I considered getting an iPad Pro and keyboard (can't get on with touch screen typing), but I don't think it would work well, as we've yet to be able to get any of my wife's iPads to print to our (non-Airprint) network colour [email protected] printer, or file share with our home Linux file server. The iMac is fine with both.

I've watched a few YouTube reviews of the MacBook Air, and it seems pretty good for what I need, but it's really hard to tell (often from someone who's being paid to review something) whether it's really as good as it seems. My main concerns are whether the keyboard is relatively quiet, how hot the thing gets and how comfortable the hand rest area is. Might sound daft, but the Zenbook gets uncomfortably hot after a short time, and when the thing is resting on your legs anything longer than about 30 minutes of use is just too much. Also, the Zenbook has sharp edges where your palms rest, and that also tends to make it uncomfortable to use for any length of time.

If anyone here is a MacBook Air user and can give their honest opinion I'd very much appreciate it.
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Old 16th May 2020, 18:12
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Not directly relating to your questions, but a couple of observations:
My main desktop PC gets the most use, and that's still running Windows 7, but that may get replaced by an iMac
If, as you say, you are already running Linux Mint, why not install that on your desktop instead of replacing it with an iMac? Also, a Thunderbolt docking station for a Macbook would kill 2 birds with one stone, so you would replace your Zenbook and your desktop with the Macbook, together with a docking station and screen of your choosing (doesn't have to be Apple). We use a few Macbook Pros at work (6 of those, 950 Windows laptops) connected to Benq monitors, and the combination is better than the iMacs they replaced (I'm told).
SD
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Old 16th May 2020, 18:29
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I had a Macbook Air for several years and loved it. Easily the most reliable and best made computer I've ever owned. Replaced it with a MacBook Pro which is not nearly as good. The Air isn't quite up there with the best of the best in terms of power, memory etc but I really loved it's simple, light design and it's very easy to pop in your flight case without really noticing it. I can't say the same for my MacBook Pro which seems significantly more weighty and bulky.

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Old 16th May 2020, 18:31
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Many thanks, Saab Dastard , those suggestions are one step beyond what I've been thinking of right now, but are certainly interesting. My current desktop PC (which I'm using right now) is a Chinese fanless i7-8550U box, with 16Gb and a 2TB SSD, running Win 7 Ultimate (hacked to allow it to run on an 8th gen processor). I have a decent Cherry keyboard and a 24" 1920x1200 monitor that are only about a year or so old, so not really up for replacement just yet. This PC works pretty well, and I'll probably keep using it for at least a year or so, not least because I use AutoCad a fair bit. I can see a time when it's just going to be easier if we switch entirely to Apple stuff, though, just because this machine is our only remaining Windows machine.

The i7-8550U is roughly twice as capable as the base model MacBook Air, too, and AutoCad is really snappy on it. That's probably the most demanding app I use, although some of the 3D rendering apps I use from time to time may well stress things a bit.

I had thought of switching the desktop to Mint, but AutoCad objects to running in a Windows VM for some reason, yet runs fine natively on Win 7.

Not 100% sure if I'll make the switch to an iMac as a desktop yet, my plan was to dip my toe in the Apple water with a MacBook, and then make a decision as to what to do with the desktop machine at a later date.

Thanks very much for your experience, anson harris , they pretty much align with the views I've had from reading reviews, but it's massively more reassuring to get a trusted opinion.
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Old 16th May 2020, 19:02
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My current MacBook Air is the 2012 version and Iíve had it since 2012, logged lots of hard miles in my backpack, fallen off TSA conveyor more than once, lots of coffee spills, dandruff, girlfriend giving it the evil eye, and still going strong...so I will at least vouch for its ruggedness. And Iím generally not a fan of Apple ruggedness as all the prematurely nonfunctional iPods, AirPods, and power cables gathering dust in my bedroom will attest.
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Old 16th May 2020, 21:05
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I bought a MacBook Air back in 2012 and it's still going strong, even the battery life is still good.
It's survived years of abuse being thrown around as hand baggage, been dropped many times and has even been run over by the hangar floor cleaning machine.
It's now slightly banana shaped but keeps working.
The only problem I've had is the changing cable started to fray where it exits from the charger, this has been bodged with a length of heat shrink and hasn't been a problem.
It's now been relegated to the role of office computer (to save me having to drag a computer though airport security) as I've now replaced it with a MacBook Pro. In many respects, especially the keyboard and choice of ports (USB, SD Card etc.) the MacBook Air is a better computer than the Pro.
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Old 16th May 2020, 21:30
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the charging cable started to fray where it exits from the charger
A common problem, I believe - it certainly happened to my brother's Macbook. To be fair, it was about 14 years old at the time...
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Old 16th May 2020, 21:31
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Very contented MacBook Pro user for the last three years, namely a 15 inch 2.8 GHz Intel Core i7, which succeeded a chain of Windows based PCs to complement the acquisition of a series of iPhone and iPads. Absolutely faultless throughout, and I could not be more pleased with its performance and, whilst I accept the point Anson Harris makes about ease of portability, that's not a problem unless that's a deal breaker in terms of your personal usage.

Jack

PS I intended to add, for a less personal comparison between the two Apple products, have a look at https://www.macworld.co.uk/review/ma...s-pro-3481192/

Last edited by Union Jack; 17th May 2020 at 10:33.
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Old 16th May 2020, 21:43
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Originally Posted by VP959 View Post
as this laptop gets used mainly for surfing the web and email stuff.
Don't wish to muddy the water, but why not get a Chomebook like Pixelbook Go? Has a pretty quiet keyboard and can also run Linux.
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Old 16th May 2020, 23:15
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I'm also using a 2012 MacBook Air that still runs as well as it did on day 1. I have an additional monitor, magic mouse and keyboard that makes it as usable as a desktop computer when home. Clearly Apple over engineered these laptops because most technology today is designed with planned obsolescence. I also recently bought a 2020 iMac for the kids, I can flit interchangeably between them and wouldn't know the difference. I also worry a lot less about viruses and haven't had it crash once yet.
Equally, for the same money I could have probably bought multiple cheap laptops and replaced them every 3 years.
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Old 16th May 2020, 23:57
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MacBook Air 2018 user here. Moving from a Mac pro 2012 (which in its fine right it was pretty bulky and heavy). So the move was a good one. Anyway, the laptop itself is a great little thing; very light, easy to carry around, and put into laptop bags. Reliable (so far), although the charger cable is beginning to go, 2 years in.

I generally tend to run different softwares on mine at the same time, and also run windows 10 on my mac Air via parallel. And I've yet noticed mine heating up, or making any noise from the fans, etc.

The only thing I'll fault my mac air is the keyboard. They sometimes can become a bit stiff (feeling as though there may be some dirt trapped beneath them). So some keys may become a bit hard to press. Although mine only does this with either the space key or the 0. Other than this, the keyboard is fine (although it does make a small amount of noise).

Other than that, theyre great little machines - I love mine to the bit. Actually thinking of upgrading the 2020 version (just to stay up to date).
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Old 17th May 2020, 00:07
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Originally Posted by future_pilot_di View Post
MacBook Air 2018 user here. Moving from a Mac pro 2012 (which in its fine right it was pretty bulky and heavy). So the move was a good one. Anyway, the laptop itself is a great little thing; very light, easy to carry around, and put into laptop bags. Reliable (so far), although the charger cable is beginning to go, 2 years in.

I generally tend to run different softwares on mine at the same time, and also run windows 10 on my mac Air via parallel. And I've yet noticed mine heating up, or making any noise from the fans, etc.

The only thing I'll fault my mac air is the keyboard. They sometimes can become a bit stiff (feeling as though there may be some dirt trapped beneath them). So some keys may become a bit hard to press. Although mine only does this with either the space key or the 0. Other than this, the keyboard is fine (although it does make a small amount of noise).

Other than that, theyre great little machines - I love mine to the bit. Actually thinking of upgrading the 2020 version (just to stay up to date).
Just about your keyboard: assuming itís a 2018 Air, it is covered by Apples Ďkeyboard service programí for a free replacement if it becomes faulty (or sticky as you say). This is a known fault for these keyboards and Iíve had the issue fixed (twice!), for free, by Apple on my 2017 Pro. So it really is worth taking it in for repair if it bothers you.

OP: the 2019 Air includes a much better keyboard similar to the older MacBooks as youíd be used to.
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Old 17th May 2020, 00:14
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Originally Posted by LanceHudson View Post
Just about your keyboard: assuming it’s a 2018 Air, it is covered by Apples ‘keyboard service program’ for a free replacement if it becomes faulty (or sticky as you say). This is a known fault for these keyboards and I’ve had the issue fixed (twice!), for free, by Apple on my 2017 Pro. So it really is worth taking it in for repair if it bothers you.

OP: the 2019 Air includes a much better keyboard similar to the older MacBooks as you’d be used to.
​​​​​

Really its a come & go thing. Where they stick for like 1-2 days, then become normal again. Alas, I wasn't actually aware that it was covered by their service. Will deffo, look into getting it sorted, once the lockdown ends. Thank-you.

(Sorry for hijacking)
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Old 17th May 2020, 06:59
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If you want a MacBook look, for half the price why not get a highly specced HP laptop? I decided on an Envy (silly name) 13 inch. Aluminium body, touch screen, i7 processor, 16GB RAM and a 1TB SSD drive. Just over £1k but a lot cheaper than Mac and you can connect everything with numerous ports. If you want MacOS, buy a Mac. Otherwise good hardware is available more cheaply
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Old 17th May 2020, 07:53
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VP, I had the same dilemma, and I made the change, MS to iPad, and do not regret it.

Can't comment on the technicalities, but within the few differences there are work arounds or very helpful Ppruners.

Re keyboard, same concern about change to the screen. No problem, will power and practice, the difference quickly fades into the background, even with aged fumble fingers and poor eyesight.

In addition the screen keyboard alone has advantages when fully mobile, space, orientation, etc; anyway voice interaction comes next - I dislike it, but may have to persevere. Bluetooth to the hearing aid, but as yet no mind-reading to replace the frail voice for input.
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Old 17th May 2020, 08:08
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Originally Posted by Blackfriar View Post
If you want a MacBook look, for half the price why not get a highly specced HP laptop? I decided on an Envy (silly name) 13 inch. Aluminium body, touch screen, i7 processor, 16GB RAM and a 1TB SSD drive. Just over £1k but a lot cheaper than Mac and you can connect everything with numerous ports. If you want MacOS, buy a Mac. Otherwise good hardware is available more cheaply
I've had a couple of these and they are ace. as you say you get all the connectibility at half the price. My problem with Apple products is they're fine until you need to move data around - especially to someone else - then it gets very fiddly
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Old 17th May 2020, 08:28
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Long-term Apple user here too. My only gripe about the current range of MacBooks is I donít find the keyboards good for long typing sessions (university assignments). Iíve never got on using a Windows keyboard plugged into a Mac even though I know you can swap the keys around. Instead, Iíve got the noisiest 3rd party clunk style Mac keyboard there is. Iím hoping when I finish my Masterís that Iíll find the Apple keyboards to be perfection again.

Back to the original question, I donít think you can buy a bad laptop from Apple. Iíve no idea how much memory and processor power my Air or Pro have, and Iím from an IT background. If youíre in the UK, then the dark green high street department store seems the best place to buy (especially when a new model has just been released).
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Old 17th May 2020, 08:45
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Generally spaeking, Apple products are way too expensive and some say under engineered. You are buying into a brand.
IMHO avoid Apple ( Iwas going to say 'at all costs'!) and buy a better machine for less from another manufacturer!
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Old 17th May 2020, 15:19
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Apple may sell over-priced/high-margin and comparatively under-spec'd hardware, but I like that as once they've sold me a laptop I feel they're not really bothered about doing their best to make money from me while I use my laptop. Compare that with a cheap as chips laptop that comes bundled with plenty of unwanted trial software, some of it "security related" that never really seems to go away. Similarly, compare this to buying a lower-priced and comparatively higher priced Android smartphone where it's increasingly common to not be able to remove the Google or Facebook software. I have no proof how the "cheaper" options make their money but I'm happy to avoid them.

Additionally, I can walk into any Apple store in the world with any Apple product and someone can at least try their best to help me.
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Old 17th May 2020, 20:05
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Re lap getting warm, I've used one of these for years (albeit mine is black and grey)
Amazon Amazon

Also my 2011 macbook air 11" battery swelled up pushing the keyboard into a hump, but agree the service at apple is excellent, when my original macbook air screen hinges cracked well outside warranty they fixed it FOC.

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