My Take on the MacBook Air After 30 Days

I have been quietly using the new MacBook Air for the last 30 days. I haven’t written about it until now, because, frankly I didn’t know if I would like it. However, after using it for 8–12 hours a day over the last month, I can honestly say it is the best computer I have ever owned.

Someone Holding the MacBook Air

When Steve Jobs announced the new Air computers on October 20, 2010, I was intrigued. While I have always been impressed by this model’s size, I couldn’t imagine it replacing my beloved MacBook Pro. I saw three major obstacles:

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  1. Hard Drive. I have a lot of media files—112GB of music and 60GB of photos. I had already upgraded my MacBook Pro’s hard drive to 500GB. I couldn’t figure out how to cram all of this into the Air’s maximum drive size of 256 GB.
  2. RAM Memory. I also had 8 GB of RAM on my MacBook Pro. I keep a lot of programs open and often use large memory-intensive programs like Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. The most RAM you can get on the Air is 4GB, so I figured the Air would slow to a crawl.
  3. Screen Size. I use a 27″ Cinema Display at work, so even my MacBook Pro’s 15″ screen seemed like a compromise. I had become used to it, but I couldn’t imagine going down to the Air’s 13″ screen.

However, two of my power-user friends, John Saddington and Michael Sliwinski, had bought the new MacBook Air and were raving about it. It fact, they were gushing that it was the best computer they had ever owned. So I decided to take a second look.

I purchased the 13″ Air with 256GB flash drive, the 2.13GHz processor, and 4GBs of RAM. I also bought a G-Technology 320GB G-DRIVE slim Portable (i.e., external) USB Drive. It was only $99.95 and matched the fit and finish of the Air.

The first thing I did was relegate all my media—music, photos, and movies—to the G-Drive. When I analyzed my usage, I realized that I didn’t need constant access to these files, especially since I keep my favorite music on my iPhone and only access my photos once a week or so. Everything else fit on the Air’s drive, and I currently have 122GB of drive space free.

Here’s what I love about the Air:

  • It’s incredibly light and thin. It weighs less than 3 pounds and is only .68 inch thick. In fact, for overnight trips, I have stopped carrying a briefcase. I just tuck it in the outside flap of my Eagle Creek Tarmac 22 carry-on bag. Ryan Bingham, George Clooney’s character in Up in the Air, would be proud of me.
  • The battery lasts a long time. Apple says “up to 7 hours.” In my experience it is 6–8 hours, depending on what I am doing. I no longer have to take an airline power cord, except for international flights.
  • It is really fast. This surprised me. The processor is only rated at 2.13GHz. My MacBook Pro is 2.66GHz, yet the Air feels much faster. This is probably due to the flash drive, which makes programs and files load faster.
  • It boots in less than 45 seconds. If the computer is completely off, from the time I press the on switch to the time I get the login screen is 15 seconds. After entering my password, everything is loaded and ready to go in another 30 seconds. The amazing thing is that this includes nine background apps (e.g., Alfred and Typinator) and the six major apps (e.g., Apple Mail and Google Chrome) that I use in my normal workflow.
  • Big programs and multiple programs run fine. I still use Photoshop and Illustrator and can’t tell any difference. Granted, I don’t edit very complex files, but having half the memory on the Air as compared to my MacBook Pro has turned out to be a non-issue. I also still run as many programs concurrently as I used to with no noticeable degradation in performance.
  • The screen size is just fine. I noticed a difference during the first couple of days, but I quickly got used to the new size. In fact, I haven’t thought about it until I started writing this post. When I speak, I almost always use a Keynote slide deck. This works no differently on the Air. I plug the Air into the projector using a Mini DisplayPort to VGA Adapter. The display is the same as the MacBook Pro, albeit a tad smaller.

The only thing I really miss from the MacBook Pro is the backlit keyboard. This is really nice in low-light situations like an airplane at night. Other than that, the Air has completely replaced my previous computer. (By the way, I don’t use a desktop computer. This is my sole machine.)

If you are in the market for a new laptop, I recommend taking a look at the Air, especially if you have been considering the MacBook Pro. In addition to the benefits I listed above, it is also about 30% cheaper. I can’t imagine going back to a bigger machine.

Question: Have you considered the MacBook Air? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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  • Christopher Scott


    I have not considered the MacBook Air, but now I will for future computer purchases.

    I have a desktop I use at work, and my laptop which I use at home and while traveling.

    I try to do all administrative work on my desktop computer. And do only creative writing and thinking on my laptop. That way it triggers my mind and prepares me for what I need to do.

    Thanks for sharing.

  • Anonymous

    I considered the air but just yesterday decided I wanted the iPad instead for it’s apps. Two totally different technologies …. Typing is a lot more difficult but I do love this iPad. My new laptop will be the Dell inspiron … Not ready to move entirely to the Mac!

  • Jamesvickery

    Michael, how do you deal with those clients or colleagues who use PC software. One of the problems I can see is the possibility of having to ‘run’ two systems!


    • Michael Hyatt

      Not an issue. At Thomas Nelson, we have had both for years. I have been using a Mac for five. Word, Excel, PowerPoint—they’re all interchangeable.

      • Steven Cribbs

        Do you use Microsoft Office for Mac or something else for your Word, Excel and PowerPoint files?

        • Michael Hyatt

          Yes, I have the latest version, which is pretty good. Thanks.

          • Steven Cribbs

            Thanks for the information. I initially looked at other apps; but, MS Office for Mac seemed to be the best option at the time.

  • DrDavidFrisbie

    We’ve been holding back for the same objections you mentioned, but your experience may push us over the edge toward ‘yes.’ Meanwhile, going solid state on the MacBook is making all operations much faster — what an amazing change! Thanks for this review.

  • Michael

    Has this now replaced your iPad? Are you still using your big display at work? Do you just connect that to your Air?

    • Michael Hyatt

      No, I gave my iPad to a colleague. I wasn’t using it. It just wasn’t powerful enough for me.

      • Michael

        Awesome, thanks. Mark and I are up for hardware swaps (my MBP is three years old now), so I was thinking of an Air for me with a large display, I think you confirmed it. How do you connect to your display at work?

        • Michael Hyatt

          I just use the Mini DisplayPort to HDMI Adapter. It works great!

    • Michael Hyatt

      Yes, yes, and yes! I gave my iPad up a few months after I got it. I realized that I just wasn’t using it.

  • David

    I still use the MacBook Pro and love it, though we just got my wife the Air (which I’m on right now). It is certainly more than adequate for all of her uses. Since we’ve gone to the cloud with so much of our less sensitive data, it’s a great option. Funny, didn’t even realize the keyboard wasn’t backlit until just now when I read that. Guess we didn’t miss it.

  • Lucy

    Do you use a docking station to attach the full size monitor / keyboard on your desk? What does the set up look like?

    • Michael Hyatt

      No, I don’t have a docking station. I had one from BookEndz for my MackBook Pro, but I can’t find one for the Air. The truth is, I don’t really miss it. I can hook the whole thing up quickly. Maybe I will do a post on this.

  • Gospel lab

    Why do you do this?

    You are torturing me. It is like waving a piece of candy in front of a baby. :)

    Would really love to have one, but my wallet right now is just like the Macbook Air –

    It’s incredibly light and thin.

    • Michael Hyatt

      Ha, sorry about that!

  • Andrew Thomas

    Just curious, what did you do with your Mac Book Pro? I’ve been in the market for a MBP for a while now and could be persuaded to take it off your hands. :)

    • Michael Hyatt

      I still have it for a backup. Sorry.

  • Sloganvi

    Mac Air + 3G = instant switch. Expect 3G plus backlit keyboard in ver. 2.

    • Michael Hyatt

      Now THAT would be totally cool. I have a Verizon 3G USB modem plugged in right now, but it should be built-in. I would also love a backlist keyboard. I would only use it when I needed it. Thanks.

  • Cyberquill

    My sole machine is an HP Desktop I purchased in 2004, the same year I bought my current cellphone. I’m beginning to feel like Fred Flintstone.

    • Michael Hyatt

      I can hear the theme music from the Flitstones play now!

  • Eric Wyatt

    My friend Matt Crow pointed me to this post after we were discussing the Air tonight. My wife and I spent a couple hours playing with one at the Apple store this weekend, and her new computer will be a MacBook Air…we’d already come to that conclusion, but your blog post helped cement the deal.

    • Michael Hyatt

      Man, I should be getting a commission from Apple! Seriously, I’m glad the post was helpful.

      • pastorbrett

        Now that is funny! As I was reading down through these comments. I was thinking about posting a comment suggesting that you should start getting either (a) commission checks from Apple or (b) free products. I just got a new MacBook Pro two months ago. But I watch a LOT of DVDs on my computer, so I’m not sure I could make the switch anyway. Thanks for the review.

  • Justin Lukasavige

    Uh oh, I was looking for a reason.

  • Pahouseholder

    I’ve had a Pro as our sole home computer for a year & love it. Especially versus my Dell desktop at work. This week I’m going to the Apple Store to buy a new computer for work. I was considering the Air & your article is one more reason to choose it. Thanks so much. Timely for me.

  • Anne Rogers

    Oh well, I went with the 13″ Macbook Pro! It is heavy, but I love it. I wanted a machine which was upgradeable, solid & would last me a while as I can’t afford (in money or stress!) to change my computers very frequently. Also, I switched from PC to Mac so it was a BIG change for me.

    I bought a separate screen to use with it at home, but actually I find the 13″ screen is excellent – very comfortable to use at my home desk. If I’d waited to buy the screen until after I’d been using the Mac for a while I probably would have saved myself the extra money! Oh, & I use a Knomo sleeve with it. Looks great & the fit & finish is extremely robust. Style & functionality – can’t really ask for much more. :)

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  • Anonymous

    I believe the broad adoption of smartphones should help with the adoption of smaller screens. 13″ is a luxury compared with what most of us are carrying in our purse or pocket. I’m more intrigued by the Mac vs. PC debate. What’s the cost of transition (i.e. there’s an investment of time, hardware, software) and how much does that affect your unwillingness to ever go back, or is it more a matter of “why would you?” given your current level of satisfaction.

    • Michael Hyatt

      It was a big factor when I converted to Mac five years ago. Obviously, this is something you will have to calculate for yourself, depending on your workflow and needs. For me, it has definitely been worth it.

      • Anonymous

        For reasons I mentioned in my e-mail to you I don’t have much option in my work environment but I’m definitely compelled by your review to reconsider my options for home.

  • Randy Walton

    Great review!

    I am curious where you purchased and how you got an upgraded 500GB solid state drive. You mentioned in the comments that you paid $1,799 and I assume that included the upgraded memory as well. I can’t find machines configured with the larger drive on the Apple website or at MacMall.


    • Michael Hyatt

      Yea, I bought a third-party 500GB drive for my MacBook Pro. Unfortunately, my IT department handled it, so I am not sure where it came from. There is even a 1TB version.

      Yes, the $1,799 included upgraded processor and memory. You can’t get a bigger drive that the 256GB for the Air.

  • Jennifer Rowsell

    I thought about it, but I would own no other machine. I didn’t like not having a disc drive (I also don’t own a TV) and I didn’t think it could handle everything I want… I bought a 15″ MBP last summer. I’m happy with it, though sometimes I wish I went to 13″ so it was smaller. But at this point in my life I think I still want/need the heftiness of the pro. I’m also wanting an iPad, so between the 2 I should be fine :)

  • Allyn

    My boss recently cleared the way for me to get a MacBook Air 11.6″ – I’ve been using it as my main work computer for about a month now and it’s awesome. IT kept telling me that ya, it’s cute, but it’s not powerful enough. They kept insisting that I get a MacBook Pro. Nope, got the air and it was a good decision.

    I’m a HR Project Manager and the Air suits my need perfectly. I run Windows in VMWare, Photoshop, Project, etc. all without issue.

    Now, I need to convince my boss to let me keep it if ever I decide to leave the company. =)

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  • Matt Beard

    You’ve successfully made me want a MacBook Air. Now, can you think of a good excuse for me to buy one? :)

    • Michael Hyatt

      Here’s three:

      1. You can travel lighter, getting to your destination less fatigued.
      2. You will be just as efficient as ever, even more so, because of the fast load times.
      3. You will have the cool-factor. ;-)

      • Matt Beard

        I don’t know if I’ll ever write a book but I know one thing. If I do, I want Thomas Nelson to publish it. Their CEO is an excellent salesman when he likes a product. :)

        • Michael Hyatt

          Don’t you think Apple should be paying me a commission!

          • Matt Beard

            I’d say so!

  • Jeff Randleman

    You are only one of several that have mentioned this to me. I just might have to break down and buy a Mac…

    • Jeff Randleman

      The hard part for me will be replacing all my software with Mac compatible versions…

    • Michael Hyatt

      Come on in. The water is warm!

  • Ashley Musick

    Thanks for always posting reviews like this on tech stuff. I’m a learner and researcher, so even though I don’t have any extra cash to blow for myself, I like to talk intelligently about things like this. Thanks for the education.

  • Jeff Goins

    I haven’t, but mostly because my Macbook Pro is already slim enough, and I still use a CD drive quite a bit. Is the solid state hard drive noticeably different, performance-wise?

    Also, can you hold it just like the ad suggests? (I know John said he tried and that he thought it was a sham — my words, not his.)

    • Michael Hyatt

      Yes, the solid-state drive is very fast—way faster than a normal hard drive. I haven’t tried to hold the machine like the photo. (It’s plugged into my monitor and external keyboard right now, so I can’t test.)

      • Jeff Goins

        Ok, well when you do, let me know. ;)

  • Georgiana

    Thank you for the great review on the MacBook Air as I will definitely consider it when I’m in the market for a new laptop. :-)

  • Michael

    Glad that after 30 days you’re still loving it :-)

    Having been an owner of 1st Gen, 3rd Gen and now the 2010-gen Macbook Air, I believe it’s the first Air that has been done right… and it’s the first laptop ever I have no issues with. I just love it. Pure love. It’s fast, snappy and gets the job done.

    Michael, you mentioned you chose Alfred over GSB and QS, can you let me know what drove you to Alfred and why you think it’s better than the other launchers? After your article I’m thinking about checking it out, too.

    • Michael Hyatt

      I just like the Alfred interface better, plus the integration into iTunes and my browser is great. Give it a whirl!

  • Davidm1003

    I have been considering it but not sure especially that I have to buy an external drive for my CDs or DVDs which is an extra piece of equipment! And besides need an external storage cos of the low flash storage (128)especially as I was considering the 11″. Other than that I would go for it as I’m looking for something light and portable but can do the job.

    • Michael Hyatt

      The key for me was analyzing how many times a day or week I actually access these drives. As it turns out, no much.

  • Anonymous

    I couldn’t tell you if there have been changes in subsequent versions, but I have the First Generation of Mac Air, the keyboard can be backlit. You can control it using the function keys (there is an “up” and “down” set for screen brightness and an “up” and “down” set for backlit keyboard brightness). It may also be a setting in your preferences. I’m on a Windows machine and not near my Air, or else I could tell you for certain!

    • Michael Hyatt

      Yes, they removed this in the latest generation.

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  • Abby Van Wormer

    after debating between the air and the macbook pro, i finally decided on the Air. It will be my very first mac computer and I’m so excited to get it!

    • Michael Hyatt

      Let me know how you like it. I am still loving mine!

      • Abby Van Wormer

        I will! Your post was what convinced me to go with the Macbook Air. I bumped up the RAM to 4GB and also got the faster processer like you did. Yesterday I went to Best Buy just to play on the Macbook Air they had so I could see what I’ll be getting. I love how light and thin it is compared to the Macbook Pro; that was one thing that drew me in as well. :)

        • Michael Hyatt

          Yea, I am spoiled.

  • Anonymous

    Well, Michael, you convinced me. I bought the 11 inch Macbook Air three days ago because of this post. My iPad has sat beside my bed untouched since then. I’ve even unplugged the MacMini I was using at the office so that I could plug the MBA into my larger screen when at the church.

    Perhaps I’ll get used to it, but I’m still amazed at how quickly programs open on this little machine. I went with the 4GB RAM, 120 GB HD version and simply love it.

    Thank you for the post … now, I may sell the iPad and pick up the Kindle 3 for reading.

    • Michael Hyatt

      Awesome! I am still loving mine. I can’t imagine going back.

      • Anonymous

        Well, ordered the Kindle 3 today … my wife says you are costing us too much money! :-)

        And yes, the Air is incredible.

  • Colby Brown

    Michael, what are your thoughts on Apple’s iMac? I am looking to purchase a new computer and am trying to decide between a desktop like the iMac or a MacBook Air. I already have a MacBook Pro (purchased in 2007), but it’s time for an update! I just don’t know which route to go…

    • Michael Hyatt

      Honestly, I don’t know. I have never tried one. I have to have something portable, so the iMac has never been an option. Thanks.

  • Johnleonardson

    Good analysis! I would like to comment on what Thomas Nelson Publishers did about 11-12 years ago. I’ve been in prison ministry 31 years now and this event was great. They donated 10 semi-trucks full of books and bibles for the prisons in TX. It took crews of inmates many weeks to sort through and distribute this material, but it blessed the prison libraries greatly. Thanks again!

  • Mosdefjoka

    I been thinking about it seance the 1st one came out but that 2000$ was just a bit much … Especially seeing as Thoe I pretty much use my computer for light notes in class facebook syncing my pad and phone …. Once the new one dropped Thoe with the slightly new design of which I like better then the 1st one then that 1299 for the 13″ I said F?$& it and bought it ….
    That’s said I’m super in love with it .. I barley ever play with my pad .. Thoe I know that a change in a few months cause it’s much easier to grab that and jump in the bed or the couch .. Or bathroom for that matter .. Of which I’m in and using right now .. Lol … But I’m loving it Thoe very sexy, super quick …. Get one

  • Darin Michael Shaw

    thanks for your review michael. it helped me make the decision. ordered my macbook air today. cannot wait for it to arrive. and i am SO ready to graduate from the pc world!

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  • Andy

    Great info. I’m handing my 15″ off to my wife who is in desperate needs a new one and buying the air!

  • Sanasaeed2u

    Hay, guess what! I own an Apple iPad which has 64GB. And with all my fab. Stuff n all works easily done, I’m as happier as u must be! Cherrios, my buddy! And welcome to the Latest, awesome, technical world. ;-)

  • shaun mchugh

    though not a christian I do find common ground with you in the love of the macbook air I just ordered an 11″ maxed out 1.6ghz 4gig ram 128SSD. With a 24″ imac at home connected to a second 20″ cinema display for the heavy lifting I find the air will complement my computer needs very well

  • Daniel S Fernandes

    For the past few months (ever since the new air was released) I’ve been wondering whether I’d do good with it.
    I’m replacing my dead-old 4 year Macbook Pro (2nd gen Intel Macbook Pro 15″) and, to be honest, I’ve always been a fan of power and speed and can’t help but drool over the current lineup of Macbook Pro’s (esp. the “basic” 15″ MBP)… however, 2.5kg of laptop across my back on my laptop bag isn’t something I’m looking forward ANYTIME I travel. And that’s where the Macbook Air fits nicely… though I LOVE the slim design and lightweight-ness of the Air, I kept wondering whether it would be powerful enough…

    Moving on, your post made me think about whether I’d be pleased with the Macbook Air… and here’s my question to you: do you think Photoshop and Illustrator would run smoothly in this über slim machine? I mean, do you think the basic 13″ Macbook Air replace and be in par with my current Macbook Pro (at 2.2GHz Core2Duo and 2GB DDR2 RAM)?

    I hope I get to hear from you… but if I don’t THANK YOU for this amazing post! :)) It definitely made me rethink my options… :)

    • Michael Hyatt

      I think it depends on how big your files are. I am running Photoshop and Illustrator on my Air, and they both seem faster than my MacBook Pro. However, I am not loading big files, so it might be different if you are.

      Regardless, I still love this machine. It is awesome!

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  • Tim Dahl

    I’ve been using an iPhone for quite a while, and I’ve just got an iPad. I’m loving the iPad! I understand why you gave it up, you wrote a great post on it. But, I’m loving it. Now, my work computer (I’m clergy) is acting up. It is an HP laptop. Not only is it running a bit slow, but the battery has gone out.

    I’m thinking about asking the finance committee to replace it, and I’m liking the Air (and the MMP). Your post has me leading toward the Air; but I’m worried about not having the CD Drive. Yes, I know that I can have an external drive, but I’m thinking I might have a big/bulky/heavy bag for just my accessory pieces! Also, concerning the CD Drive, I seem to still use it quite a bit. I don’t know why, but my denomination sends us lots of them for different reasons.

    Also, in a related question: what does your office set up look like? You said you use an external keyboard and monitor with your Air. Do you have a picture of it? Do you use some sort of docking station for your Air, that then hooks up to printer/monitor/keyboard/mouse/etc.?



    • Michael Hyatt

      Great questions. When I tracked it, I found that I only used a CD or DVD drive occasionally. If you are near another Mac, it will automatically map its DVD drive and make it available on your Air. In other words, let one of your colleagues do the heavy lifting. ;-)

      I haven’t been able to find a docking station for the air, but I have all my cords secured, so it is very easy to plug in and unplug. I do plan on doing a post on this once I have finished setting up.


  • cp

    I have never owned a mac computer and while doing a lot of research looking for a netbook or something compact to add to my 6 pc’s, I actually bought a netbook then brought it back and was talked into a mac air. My computer tech at work was not happy, he said I do everything on PC’s and it will not work for me. Well I love it, I only wish I would have found how easy mac’s are compared to PC’s once I watched hours of tutorials the transition was not bad. This mac air is light, portable, fast and I put Mac Office on it and it does everything I need, Im still learning but love it!

    • Michael Hyatt

      Some IT people are just afraid of the unknown. Or maybe it’s job security. I am just thankful that my IT people at Thomas Nelson were so open to me using a Mac. They now support both with equal proficiency.

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  • Guest

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the MBA. I’m actually trying to decide between purchasing and discounted first gen iPad or selling my 2011 13″ MBP  and purchasing an 11″ MBA. I have a work issued 15″ MBP and I wanted to go with something a little more portable for when I travel for work, which will be quite a bit. I’m kind of leaning towards getting rid of my MBP and buying the MBA and getting an external monitor to hook it up to when I’m at home. I kind of feel like having a personal MBP, a work MBP, an iphone and an ipad would be kind of over kill. Anyhow, thanks again and if anyone has any suggestion on my set-up please feel free.

    • Michael Hyatt

      My only advice is try to use the fewest number of devices possible. For example, I only have one laptop. I use it for work and personal stuff. Also, Apple is supposed to update the MBA’s in the next few weeks, so you may want to hold off for that announcement.

  • Karen Jordan

    Thanks for all the info! I’m considering a Mac, and this really helps!

  • Howilleri

    Hi, I’m considering the MB air 11 inch model. I need and external monitor as well but don’t have the budget for and Apple model. Any suggestions of a good Third Party monitor? Does the monitor have to HD to work and will I need separate cables to connect?

    • Michael Hyatt

      I don’t have a recommendation. I have a last generation Apple Cinema Display.

  • Mbarsky

    Have been working with Mac Air 11 inch for about a month. Also have large which I use for certain tasks. LOVE my Mac Air-so light, always with me-apps are great! Anything missing-extra space, etc., can be purchased. Air Mac is the smartest,quickest laptop I have used to date, and I have used many. Apple should pay me for my recommendation! Still on a learning curve-but everything is on line to learn-and easy to implement. One problem-I can not utilize my Mac at work. 

    • Mbarsky-

      MBarsky again-someone posted that they need to squint to read the small screen-go into your settings and change your size of font, or just put fingers on screen and pull!

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