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Topics: Autism Development

Macbook Air Day 2: First Impressions & Benchmarks

(note, this post was suppose to go online yesterday, but i did not have an internet connection so its going up a day behind schedule!)

Yesterday i posted the first in this series of posts about the Macbook Air, this post today is the first of the follow up posts. Today i’m going to talk about my first impressions of the Macbook Air (2010) and look at a few early benchmarks.

So, lets get started! Im going to look at what i love about the Air.

Unsurprisingly, the first major things about the air which has impressed me is its size and weight. It really is tiny and very light. Its a good comparison to the weight of the iPad, its light enough to pop into your travel bag without thinking. Next week i will be using it in uni for the day, so i will get a better idea of its portability then, but so far its very impressive. I have recently been carrying the iPad around with me, and i can swap the Air into its place easily. I will comment on its portability some more a little later in the week after a few days at uni and a train trip, but first impressions are good.

The next thing which is striking about the Air is its speed. While word processing, web surfing, emailing etc the Air has kept up easily. Applications load very quickly and the machine feel responsive. To see how the machine performs under some load, i will be testing it while it recording HDTV (on of the things i need it for) later in the week, but so far i have been very impressed with the performance.

Other areas which have impressed include the quite and cool running (its never even got remotely warm!), the battery life (i got 4.5 hours from the first charge!) and the sharp screen. The familiar macbook keyboard is as good as it always is and the multitouch trackpad does its thing very well.

However, all is not perfect with the Macbook Air, during my testing yesterday and after playing with the machine a bit i have found a few areas of weakness.

Hardware wise, the areas of weakness result from the compromises made to get the macbook so small, the machine is missing Gigabit Ethernet and a IR sensor. Part of how i would like to use this machine is as a media centre / server when its not in use. The requirement for an external IR system or to use a wifi remote and the lack of a hardwire port make the macbook less effective for this. Though, its not a killer loss, the inbuilt wifi is very fast for file transferring and streaming video.

In general use the only time i felt the macbook was overwhelmed was when reading a large (230mb) PDF. The PDF loaded very quickly, but scrolling was choppy. A quick look in activity monitored revealed that the machine was out of RAM. The paltry 2gb or RAM for a machine of this cost is disappointing.

The very limited hard drive space has led to a bit of space paranoia! Deleting install DMGs, managing media carefully is very important when you only have 45gb of storage space to play with. I have so far been living out of my dropbox, but if this machine is to work as a media center it will be relying on networked storage and external disks.

Talking of performance, i have run the first benchmark on the machine. I started with the simplest to run a benchmark called geek bench. Geekbench only measures the performance of the CPU and ram and it came out with a modest score of 1898. This is not very impressive (my current 13” MBP score 3,700 or so) however it does not look at hard drive speed or graphics performance.

Compared to the Mac Mini this will be replacing its around 300 points slower, compared to the new Mac Mini (2010) which is the other contender to replace the Mac Mini is a large performance drop with the 2010 mac mini putting in a score 45% higher than the Macbook Air.

As a final note, light weight is not always an advantage! One of the issues with the light weight is that when on my meta desk the laptop bounces up and down as i type!

Today i will be running the Macbook Air as a media center, and benchmarking its video converting, and TV recording powers.

Published: 13 December 2010 | Categories: , Permalink

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