The trading post: MacBook Air 1.86GHz/2GB/128GB

Hey there my San Francisco buddies, and farther-away buddies who might be willing to pay shipping!

It’s laptop shuffle time at the Vibber house… I’m replacing my MacBook Air as my mobile & webdev machine and am looking for a good home for it… For just US$1150, you can become this ultra-thin laptop’s sponsor. All it needs is a place to plug in and a good meal of electrons every day, and it’ll be your best travel buddy!

I’ve used the box for MediaWiki and StatusNet development, general web surfing, and a little light gaming. Memory and disk performance are a bit tight for a really hardcore workstation (I wouldn’t use it as a mobile video editing studio, that’s for sure!) but it’s perfect for mobile webdev/notes/surfing/skyping and beats the pants off any netbook I’ve tried.

This machine has been to such exotic locales as:

  • San Francisco!
  • Orlando!
  • Paris!
  • Montreal!
  • Los Angeles!
  • Seattle!
  • Berlin!

Purchased from Apple as a refurb in September 2009 with 1 year “like new” warranty — it’s still eligible for purchase of a 2-year AppleCare warranty extension, if that sort of thing floats your boat. Apple still lists this model (full specs) at the refurb price of $1349 that I paid; specs are about the same as the current $1499 base-model MacBook Air but with the 128GB SSD drive.

Machine shipped with Mac OS X 10.5 and a 10.6 install disc; I’ve wiped the drive and put on a fresh install of 10.6. Accessories included: 45W power brick, US 2-prong plug and 3-prong plug w/ extension cord; USB ethernet adapter. Note that VGA and DVI adapters are not included; like other current Apple models it has a native Mini DisplayPort connector and needs an adapter for pretty much any external monitor.

Why I’d recommend it: compared to a netbook, the Air is much more powerful and has a keyboard that won’t hurt your hands. Compared to an iPad, the Air actually can run arbitrary programs and be used for software development. Compared to other full-size laptops, it’s delightfully thin and light, which your shoulders and back will appreciate if you need to travel regularly or cart it to the office on public transit.

Why I’m replacing it: I’ve picked up a MacBook Pro 13″ (same form factor & screen size, but 1kg heavier) primarily for the huge increases in battery life in the last couple product generations. I prefer the lighter weight, but I have a lot of long-distance travel this year and a battery that can actually last me through a cross-country flight or a full day of conferencing is going to serve me better right now… I just have to be really hardcore about keeping extra crap out of my bag!

The good: thin, light, and beautiful! At just 3 pounds, this thing is a joy to carry around when traveling; it really does make a difference to my back. CPU/gfx performance are decent enough for light webdev and a little gaming.

The bad: SSD disk performance is relatively sluggish, which may be painful if you do a lot of compiling. Running heavy CPU for a while can lead to the machine slowing itself down to stay cool. Battery life is similar to the previous generation of MacBooks (theoretically 4-5 hours; I get 2-3 hours of real usage).

The annoying: 2GB RAM is adequate for most needs but cannot be upgraded; folks working with virtual machines will find this awkward. Single USB port can be overly confining when traveling, especially if you need to use the USB ethernet dongle at the same time as anything else. No built-in CD/DVD drive may be a problem for some uses (remote disc is supported if you have another Windows or Mac machine with a CD drive, but has limitations. External USB drives will work, but be warned that Apple’s $99 Air-branded external drive does not work with USB hubs — it must be plugged directly into the Air’s single USB port, leaving you unable to use a USB keyboard, mouse, hard drive, Ethernet adaptor, or iPod.)

If interested, drop me a line. If there’s no excitement it’ll end up on eBay.

One thought on “The trading post: MacBook Air 1.86GHz/2GB/128GB”

  1. Hmmm. I’ve got an Air too. It’s the bosses, but maybe he wont notice if I sell it too. I didn’t think anyone actually bought Mac’s ^_^.

    Maybe I can install Win7 on it….

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