Product Note: 2013 13-Inch MacBook Air

Vol. 3, No. 1

Nicole Black is a Director at MyCase, a cloud-based law practice management platform. She is an attorney in Rochester, New York, and is a GigaOM Pro analyst. She is the author of the ABA book Cloud Computing for Lawyers, coauthor of the ABA book Social Media for Lawyers: The Next Frontier, and coauthor of Criminal Law in New York, a West-Thomson treatise. She speaks regularly at conferences regarding the intersection of law and technology. She publishes three legal blogs and can be reached at niki@mycase.com.

 

  • What's so great about it?
  • Are there any drawbacks I should consider?

 

I travel frequently, and my MacBook Pro was starting to weigh on me—literally. At nearly 4.5 lbs., it wasn’t exactly a light laptop by today’s standards. When I bought that laptop, it wasn’t considered to be heavy, but it had been more than two years since I’d upgraded, and my weary shoulders and back were telling me it was time to upgrade to a newer, lighter laptop. The MacBook Air seemed to be the obvious choice, but in the past I’d avoided it out of fear that I’d sacrifice performance or storage space.

 

A Lighter Laptop Made Possible by Cloud Computing

But this time around I decided it was time for a change. After all, as I’ve been saying in multiple venues for years now, cloud computing is the future, and the utilization of cloud-based tools is the basic premise behind the MacBook Air. Because without the ability to store data and software offsite via cloud computing, the thinner, sleeker, and—most importantly—lighter MacBook Air wouldn’t necessarily be feasible. And, as the Director of Business Development for MyCase, a cloud-based law practice management system, and the author of the ABA-published book Cloud Computing for Lawyers, it was about time I walked the walk after talking the talk for so long. So I took the plunge and made the switch to latest version of the MacBook Air—and I have no regrets.

 

A Very Thin, Light Laptop

The newly released MacBook Air is thinner and lighter than you might believe to be possible. My 13-inch laptop (technically 12.8 inches) is only .68 inches at its thickest point when closed and weighs in at a little less than 3 lbs. This laptop is thin and light—just what the chiropractor ordered! The 13-inch screen is my screen size of choice and is perfect for my needs, so there are no complaints there. The 13-inch screen is my screen size of choide and is perfect for my needs, and the display resolution of 1440 by 900 pixels is more than adequate, so I have no complaints.

 

Processing Power, Flash Storage, and WiFi

For my needs, the processing power and storage on this laptop are more than sufficient, and I can’t tell the difference between the performance on this laptop and my MacBook Pro. Of course, my laptop was custom ordered and includes a 1.7GHz dual-core Intel i7 processor, and thus has a bit more processing power than is standard.

It also has the maximum amount of onboard memory at 8 GB along with the standard maximum amount of flash storage, 256 GB, although it is configurable to up to 512 GB. Of course, because the MacBook Air only includes flash storage, you need to be mindful of the programs that you install and the amount of data that you store on your laptop. Accordingly, when I set up this laptop, I chose not to transfer data over from my old MacBook Pro and instead relied on accessing copies of my data that I’d stored in the Cloud. I was cautiously optimistic about this approach and, fortunately, things have gone very smoothly. I have yet to find myself in a situation where I needed access to a document, etc., that was not easily accessible in the Cloud, whether located in my email account or a cloud storage platform. And even after installing a few necessary programs and storing some data on the laptop, I still have 222 GB (out of 256 GB) of storage left over.

Finally, the new MacBook Air now supports the very fast 802.11ac Wi-Fi, so when you’re connected to an 802.11ac base station, you’re browsing experience is downright speedy.

 

Extended Battery Life

The battery life—oh the battery life—it’s more than I could have hoped for! All of my earlier MacBook Pro laptops ran out of battery power within four hours, which was incredibly frustrating when traveling. But the new MacBook Air has a larger battery—made possible by the compact, all-flash storage mentioned above. And what a difference it makes! The battery lasts for at least 10 hours, and Apple claims it can last for 12 hours. I haven’t tested that claim, but I have yet to come even close to running out of battery power. Major props to Apple for the extended battery power in this laptop.

 

The Minor Drawbacks

Thus far, I’ve encountered only two issues with my MacBook Air. First, it apparently includes a new video driver that isn’t yet compatible with certain programs that rely on video, including GoToMeeting, the web conferencing software that my company uses. Citrix is aware of the problem, but until it updates the software to work with the new video driver, I won’t be able to participate in GoToMeeting video conferences.

Another issue is that my laptop occasionally puts itself to “sleep” for no apparent reason—sometimes when I’m in the middle of working on a document. This appears to be a problem for a small number of customers, and the Genius Bar representative that I spoke with suggested that I wait out a software update or two and see if that resolves the problem prior to replacing my computer, given that it’s a mild annoyance, more than anything. So that’s what I’m doing at this point.

But aside from those two issues, my transition to a MacBook Air has gone without a hitch. It does everything I need it to do, the battery power is amazing, and my laptop is a few pounds lighter. What's not to like about that?

 

Neither the ABA nor ABA entities endorse non-ABA products or services. This review should not be construed as an endorsement.

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