138 DAYS WITH THE MACBOOK AIR: It's Better Than Any Other Copycat Out There

macbook air screen

Photo: Dylan Love, Business Insider

I’ve been using my MacBook Air almost daily for 138 days and I don’t think I’ll be stopping any time soon.It’s been a total joy and a very welcome upgrade from my previous laptop.

Some context:

I used and abused the same Apple Powerbook G4 from August 2004 until August 2011 doing everything from light word processing to multicam edits in Final Cut Pro.

When it came time to replace the PowerBook, I sprung for a 13″ MacBook Air in August and never looked back.

The form factor is an impressive combination of size, weight, and battery life

The MacBook Air is an impressively comfortable computer to use and carry around. Don't let its low weight and skinny profile make you think it's some forgettable softie of a machine -- I've never once felt like I could break it and I routinely get way more hours of use out of the battery than I need. It's robust as hell.

Foursquare co-founder Dennis Crowley puts it simply:

'The future of the personal computer is the 13' MacBook Air. I don't think I've ever seen a more perfect piece of hardware.'

I don't think twice about taking it somewhere

My old Apple laptop was a glorified desktop by comparison to the MacBook Air. It was clunky, heavy, and didn't pack well at all. If I had to travel with it, I did so begrudgingly.

Now I don't think twice about putting my Air in a bag and carrying it around for a day. You know those people who show up in coffee shops with their laptops? One of them might be me.

I took it on a packed bus from New York to Washington, DC and instead of leaving it stowed in a bag, I had it out on my lap to use for the entire duration of the trip. It held up great.

This computer's portability begs you to use it everywhere, whether it's in another country or in your kitchen (not that I've watched Arrested Development on it while making breakfast on the weekend or anything).

The internals make for some awesome performance

I knew on paper that the computer would be fast -- my configuration included an i7 processor which I knew should make short work of any computing-intense tasks I threw at it, but I didn't actually experience this firsthand until I converted a batch of audio. A process that had taken my old computer a measure of 10 minutes or more was done in one minute.

Computers this thin shouldn't be this fast. The i7 rocks. I have yet to install any especially demanding games, but I'm confident that it'll hold up well when I do.

If you're not using an SSD, you're missing out

'SSD' is an acronym for solid state drive. Instead of a spinning hard drive, the Air uses what basically amounts to a hardcore thumb drive. There are two big advantages here -- your battery life shoots through the roof and your computer can access data much, much faster.

There's a trade off -- SSDs can be pricey, so you'll sacrifice a little storage for their benefits. Can you get by on 128 GB or 256 GB? If so, then you can enjoy a computer that boots up in 10 seconds or so.

Personally, I choose the SSD. The speed is worth it, and you can always store stuff using iCloud, Dropbox, or other cloud service.

I use my iPad much less than I used to

I used to carry my iPad with me all the time. It's a great device for basic writing and web browsing anywhere I have access to WiFi. But now I find myself more inclined to sacrifice a little more room in my bag so I can have a full-blown computer with me.

I've come to prefer the more comfortable and tactile keyboard, a larger screen, and full access to parts of the Internet that aren't immediately there for the iPad -- BitTorrent, FTP, and the like.

There are some shortcomings, though

I can't think of any shortcomings to the MacBook Air that can't be solved by spending a little more money.

There's the price of the laptop itself, which ranges from $1,000 to $1,700 depending on your configuration. This will certainly be an obstacle for some people.

And ask yourself how often you use an optical drive -- if the answer is anything other than 'not at all,' you'll need to buy an external drive.

I scored the computer after a period of heavy iPad usage, so I feel the following bears mentioning: for a task-oriented user, the iPad offers a strong advantage in that it forces you to focus on one app at a time. But the MacBook Air is a workhorse and I often find myself bouncing back and forth between Twitter, email, a web browser, and Photoshop without actually finishing things.

Maybe that's my own issue to deal with.

In conclusion, this is the best computer for my needs I've ever used

And I've used a lot of them.

I had previously been hesitant to use a computer anywhere besides my house, but now I enjoy taking the Air out to a coffee shop, getting on the WiFi, and taking care of whatever needs doing.

In loving memory of my worn-out Powerbook G4, 2004-2011

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