Why I love the 11-inch MacBook Air

MacBook Air Header

If you follow my rants on Let’s Talk iOS then you know that there’s a running joke about how many times I change my mind. In the last 2 years, I’ve switched from an iMac, MacBook Pro, another iMac, a MacBook Air, a Retina MacBook Pro and another MacBook Air. I don’t have to tell you that that’s insane, and probably not a healthy way to go about living your life.

But I’ve settled. I’ve settled on the machine for me. That machine is the 11″ MacBook Air. It’s the MacBook with the exceptionally long battery life due to its Haswell processor. This — and trust me I would know — is the perfect computer for me. It’s probably the perfect computer for you as well; you just don’t realize it yet.

Three important factors

A good computer is capable of getting work done. Not just text editing or blogging, but real work. I’m talking photo editing and video editing and a little bit of gaming, too. I’m talking graphic design and web design and podcasting. This MacBook Air’s underpowered underpinnings can do all of that, and it can do so surprisingly well.

Portability is another huge concern for me, and if I had to guess, it’s probably a concern for you as well. There exists no Mac that’s more portable than the 11″ MacBook Air. I won’t spout off numbers on weight and size, but if you’ve ever touched the MacBook Air, you know I’m not lying. You’d be hard pressed to find any computer, Mac or otherwise, that competes in this area.

MacBook Air ThinThe MacBook Air set the standard for the thin and light working machine

My last requirement is battery life. This isn’t a factor for desktop machines like the iMac, obviously. But for recently released laptops, it’s become their defining factor; a true differentiator from the laptop of old. Battery life no longer feels like this ominous cloud hanging over your head. For the first time since the laptop’s inception, I feel free to go out with a fully charged device feeling confident about its 9 hour battery life.

Compromise A.K.A. the Mac with the terrible screen

The 11“ MacBook Air is the perfect laptop for me for the reasons listed above, but there’s more to the story than just weight and battery life and performance. The device’s full size keyboard and trackpad are two things that I think we as longtime users take for granted. Having the ability to have a ”real” computer with you in such a diminutive package is a feat that I continue to marvel at down to this day.

As someone who just recently started podcasting, I’ve found it to be an excellent machine for the job. Not only does it have the power, it’s extremely quiet, which is great for podcasting. I’m not just talking about the quite fans that are barely audible when working on a processor intensive task; it’s the low decibel keyboard, too.

The only real compromise that I find with the MacBook Air lineup is the screen quality. Granted, that may be a deal breaker for those who place screen quality above all else, but it’s something that I can live with. That’s not to say it’s not annoying. The MacBook Air’s screen is borderline horrendous. Its viewing angles are a joke and there’s no way to color it to make it sound nicer. And don’t make the mistake of marveling at the Retina MacBook Pro’s gorgeous screen, because it makes the MacBook Air’s screen look even worse. This is the one area where I feel that the MacBook Air fails miserably in. Even the first iteration of the device was pretty lackluster in this area when compared to other laptops.

But even with the terrible screen, I still love the MacBook Air. Screen quality falls below the other important aspects I named earlier: battery life, performance, and form factor. I’m going to wait it out until Apple updates its MacBook Air line with a better screen, which will hopefully be sooner than later. Until then, I’m fine with compromising screen quality in order to benefit from the MacBook Air’s other desirable qualities.

But Jeff, you can’t possibly do real work on that!

I’ve heard this argument for a while, especially after I posted my office work space setup for you all to gawk at. But you should know that I do do real work on the 11″ MacBook Air. In fact, I wrote this post on my MacBook Air. I do graphic design on this machine, render videos from Final Cut Pro X and bounce hour long podcasts from Logic Pro X. Many of these tasks are accomplished while out and about, away from the power plug.

Holding MacBook AirFor my needs, this is the best working machine available today

You can get real work done with any device. You can do real work with an iPad or an iPhone, as long as you have the proper workflow and drive to do so. It doesn’t feel like much of a compromise at all to work on my MacBook Air. It actually feels like I get more done, because there’s less to get in the way. There’s no big monstrous 27″ screen to fill with apps. There’s only so much real estate offered by the MacBook Air, which forces me to focus more on what’s important. You could say that that’s a cop-out in an effort to defend the Air’s shortcomings, but I find it to be a tangible benefit.

There has yet to be a task that I’ve encountered where I’ve said: “I can’t do this, this MacBook Air just isn’t capable.” That has never happened, and I don’t ever think it will. I think that the MacBook Air is the perfect machine, especially the 11″ variety. It’s the perfect balance of all that matters to me. If you’ve yet to try it, don’t deny yourself the opportunity to try one of the best computers ever made.