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If your current machine has a magnetic hard drive, even the bottom-end Air will feel incredibly fast by merit of its SSD. Check out how quickly it'll boot:


As has been pointed out, compile speed isn't necessarily CPU-bound and some compilation tasks are quicker on a slow machine with a faster drive. CPU performance is much less important than most people think.

Screen size is a more difficult issue, as so much depends on your development approach. I'm increasingly inclined to think that my large display may actually hinder my productivity, as it seems to facilitate distraction and procrastination. I seem to feel less bad about procrastinating if I have my text editor open. I'm giving very serious thought to replacing my 17" MBP with an 11" Air and a Kindle DX. A lot of writers use a full-screen text editor like WriteRoom, or even a typewriter, so there's a lot to be said for minimalist, low-distraction tools.

I don't understand why boot-up time is an issue for a laptop. I cannot remember the last time I rebooted my MBP; the only time it gets switched off is when I have to install security updates which is pretty rare.

Using an Air as your main development machine seems odd to me - I want a large display so that I can read docs/papers and have emacs open at the same time. I also want good separation between screen and keyboard for maintaining decent posture. I hate to use a laptop as my main machine for exactly that reason. My main development machine doesn't get picked up and moved around enough (at all?) to be worth using a high end laptop. For the same price as the machine at the top of the page you could buy a decent desktop and a 13" Macbook and lunch, I guess.

I reboot my MBP every few days. It gets sluggish if I don't. I'd love to know why you don't have to and I do! I suspect it is the heavy amount of stuff I have running compared to my available RAM? Anyone else have this issue?

Basically I have 4GB of RAM (on the latest MBP) and regularly run: Netbeans IDE, Safari (and a bunch of tabs), Firefox (ditto on the tabs), an FTP client, a Subversion client, iChat, Mail, a notes app, alarm clock, Dropbox, Evernote, terminal, one other text editor (MacVim or Textwrangler), Photoshop, MS Word, a clipboard app and sometimes VirtualBox running Windows XP (with 1GB of RAM assigned).

The killers seem to be Netbeans and VirtualBox. Once I have those both going I know I'm in for a reboot before too long.

I assume it's just a RAM issue but it is annoying that 4GB isn't "enough" (assuming I'm correct about why I have to reboot).

> It gets sluggish if I don't. > ... Netbeans IDE, Safari (and a bunch of tabs), Firefox (ditto on the tabs), an FTP client, a Subversion client, iChat, Mail, a notes app, alarm clock, Dropbox, Evernote, terminal, one other text editor (MacVim or Textwrangler), Photoshop, MS Word, a clipboard app and sometimes VirtualBox

Did you check top? free? You should be able to see what's eating your machine after a few days of uptime.

I did check top and I can see that Netbeans and VirtualBox are the hogs. However, even after quitting them I still have sluggish responsiveness.

That sounds like a herculean load. Everythign running at once?

Does shutting down all the applications and re-opening them help? Something's got to be eating all of your RAM, and it's hard to guess without seeing top/Activity Monitor.

I run VB, FF, thunderbird, adium, MS Office and also have 4GB, with no rebooting problems. It maybe Netbeans; I have no experience with it.

> I don't understand why boot-up time is an issue for a laptop.

Word. For me, every Mac has been instant-on for years. I open the lid or hit the power button (iMac), and the machine is up and running (from sleep) in a second or two.

One scenario that immediately comes to mind is frequent flyers. I note this since I just took a series of flights a few days ago. Say you want to be productive during your six hour red-eye flight. That involves several repetitions of "we are now preparing to descend and land, please turn off all electronic devices at this time." If you're a business user who goes through this on a regular basis, a long boot time could indeed get annoying in a hurry.

I've flown with my Macbook and just let it sleep instead of turning it off. Nobody has ever cared.

I generally just put the laptop to sleep by closing the lid. Macs are generally quite happy about that - the superb power management is one of the major selling points.

On a normal flight "switch off electronics while landing" happens once. If you think otherwise you have failed at flying (sorry, couldn't resist re-using your phrase there).

Austin -> Denver -> Las Vegas. http://flightaware.com/live/flight/SWA420

I read 'your six hour flight' and thought of a single flight. I didn't read 'series of flights' - that's where I slipped up. I failed at reading.

An iPad comes in handy as a portable second display using ScreenRecycler and an iPad VNC client. I use it with my 13" macbook to satisfy real estate envy.

I put the less "active" stuff on it, since there isn't a version of JollysFastVNC (fastest VNC client I've ever used) out for iPad yet, although I hear it's in progress.

Air Display is another option and costs under $10 - http://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/air-display/id368158927?mt=8

Is it faster than air display? What i've seen from air display and competitors, it's fairly choppy and not that great.

This is what I've experienced. Bought Air Display and haven't used it more than once or twice because of the choppiness/delay.

Can be choppy, depends on what you're doing. I tend to put palettes and low priority stuff on them. In that regard, the real estate still has value to me.

Agreed. A small screen and the right IDE is perfect for focusing. At first I thought I'd miss the extra real estate but after about a week I adjusted and never even think about it now. Especially with Spaces and gesturing between apps.

And the startup time you mentioned, with the SSD - true. It's phenomenal. My Air starts up (and shuts down) about 5x faster than a Pro. It's almost instant-on.

This says more about OS X than it does about SSDs. I have two Debian boxes. One has an SSD. The other has a regular disk. They both boot up almost immediately.

The reality is that reading about 323k into memory is fast from both SSDs and rotational disks:

    $ ls -lh `which gdm`
    -rwxr-xr-x 1 root root 323K Sep  5 14:20 /usr/sbin/gdm

To be fair it doesn't start or shut down faster than a Pro w/ an SSD in it.

That said I don't need an optical drive and would love to shed 2.5 to 3 pounds. I'm sort of attached to my 1680x1050 display and 8gb of RAM though. A bit unsure if I'll trade my Pro in for an Air just yet.

1680x1050 is 1.75MP while 1440x900 is 1.3MP and 1366x768 is 1.05MP. Being frustrated with my old MacBook's resolution of 1280x800 1.02MP I'd probably have to get the 13" Air.

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