After a week and a half with the 11″ MacBook Air (thanks to the good offices of the Worldwide Product Marketing seed pool), I have changed my mind yet again. I think the 11″ model could actually be a very viable workplace machine for me – sure, the display is a little cramped, but (at least from my main desk) it’s a piece of cake to attach an external display and boom, off to the races. In fact, most of my usual squats at work feature a loose display one place or another. The main appeal is that this thing weights two and a half pounds – I think my first cellphone weight about that much – and is just wicked quick.
Something I hadn’t considered is the ergonomics of the thing. Sure, I say all the time that typing on glass isn’t a great idea, but how much easier is it to have the laptop in your lap for reading things? If you’re stretched out with your feet propped up and the thing in your lap, it’s a lot easier to watch the screen than it is to prop up an iPad somehow.
Battery life is a bit of a concern. I’ve established that with my normal real-world use, I can only expect about 4 hours of battery life (now in fairness, that has included more than a little Flash video thanks to WatchESPN.com). Might be time to activate the free trial of Hulu Plus and see how the iPad stacks up in terms of streaming video. Worth noting: this is the i5 processor MBA with 4 GB of RAM, and it hasn’t struggled with anything.
Bottom line: the 13″ MBA is probably a better all-around choice for work, even with the i5 and especially re: battery life, but I wouldn’t be heartbroken if I got the 11″ instead – and if I were buying for personal use, I wouldn’t hesitate to take the 11″. For all the emphasis on phones and pads, Apple laptops still lead the way.
EDITED 10/20: however, it bears noting that a first-gen iPad running iOS 5 depletes its battery at half the pace of an 11″ MBA running the same six apps, and is far easier to use with one hand when having platelets needled out of your arm. Kind of back to square one. 🙂