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I’ve been a die-hard 17″ Apple Laptop fan for years.  I’ve had them since the 17″ Powerbook, and my latest, the 17″ Unibody MacBook Pro was a superb machine.  I was running Lion on an Xpress card SSD and using the internal 7200rpm drive for my home folder.  It was fast, powerful and had a stunning display at 1900×1200.

My rationale for the 17″ was that I wanted something that gave an experience that was as close as possible to a my work desktop machine.  The screen and hard drive size made this possible.  The type of work I’ve been doing over the last few years also required a screen with a decent resolution.

Recently however, I’d become more and more uncomfortable with the size and weight of the 17″MBP.  I was finding that I’d leave it at home rather than transport it to the office each day, or I’d take my iPad on business trips… which ended up in compromise at some point.

I decided to take the plunge.  I put my MBP on eBay and after some arm-wrestling over a BIN price, I sold it within two hours to a really nice guy who was keen to give it a new home.  He paid immediately and arranged a UPS pickup from my office for the following day.

I settled on the latest MacBook Air 13″ i5 with 4Gb RAM.  As I understand it, the i5 in the MBA now supports hyper-threading. So, for me, there’s little need to spend the extra on the i7.  I picked up a refurb machine which met my spec and came with 3 years Applecare.  I can highly recommend refurb machines, either from Apple or from Jigsaw24.  I buy all my machines this way, they’re immaculate, and often come with 3 years warranty. Luckily for me, the price to change cost less than the UPS courier charges, so I was extremely happy!

I’ve needed to make a few workflow changes, which hasn’t actually been too painful.  I now do a ‘Selective Sync’ with Dropbox to ensure I’m only carrying about my most recent files.  iPhoto and iTunes syncing between machines will need a little more thought, but I’m running the iPhoto Cloud Preview, and it looks like this will solve most of my issues (as will the next version of iTunes). I also bought a 1Tb portable drive, which I now use as a TimeMachine for my desktop machine.  When I leave the office I take this with me, so if I really need a file and I don’t have a fast enough wifi connection to drag it from DropBox, I can just pull it from the portable drive.

I’ve been running the MBA for a couple of days now, and I’m hugely impressed.  I won’t pretend I don’t miss the screen resolution of the MBP, and the speed isn’t much different to my SSD powered MBP, but the battery life and portability are incredible.  Rather than carting around a huge Crumpler bag, I can now fit everything I need for the day in a tiny bag, and with the battery life, I don’t even need a power adapter.  It’s also completely silent, whereas my MBP had its fans running pretty much constantly.

I’m really, really impressed.  I’m echoing many people’s thoughts, but the MBA really has hit a sweet spot in performance, build quality, price and portability.  Until Apple do something with the form factor for the MBP series, it’s the one to buy.

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