Scrivener + MacBook Air = ♥

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AmberV
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Tue Oct 26, 2010 5:59 pm Post

Here is what Scrivener looks like on an 11” MacBook Air:

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And here is a full-size screenshot, so you can see the resolution capabilities of this tiny screen:

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Right-click the image to view the whole thing on its own.


As you can tell, the smallest Apple laptop handles even an involved Scrivener layout with ease. The screen is just gorgeous, by the way. That many pixels packed into a small place means text comes off like a laserjet printout.

I should have put the iPad in the photograph so you can see how small it is. That's a 15" MBP it is sitting on. It's about an inch longer than an iPad, but the same dimensions otherwise, and only very slightly heavier.
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RodiX
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Tue Oct 26, 2010 7:35 pm Post

Stop tempting me! I don't want a MacBook Air 11", I don't want a MacBook Air 11", I don't want a MacBook Air 11"…
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robertdguthrie
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Tue Oct 26, 2010 7:52 pm Post

If only they'd managed to squeeze 500gb (or even 300) into that tiny form factor, I'd be salivating for one myself. Have you adjusted scrivener's auto-save to reduce the "wear" on the solid state drives, or are those chips not as susceptible to failing after X number of writes as your standard flash drive is?
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AmberV
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Tue Oct 26, 2010 8:12 pm Post

I wouldn't worry about wear too much these days, actually. Prior to 2006 that was a real concern, and it still is a concern in the very cheapest thumb drives. Life-writes per cell on low-end chips and chips older than 2006-ish are around 100,000---until you go back to the early 2000's and mid-nineties. Those chips were awful, in the 10k range. Modern Flash chips can take about 2,000,000 writes before they start to fail, and level of wear-levelling and re-assignment going on at the hardware level means you'll see a degradation in total space more than corruption. If the chip senses a write failure, it removes the cell from the write table and moves on to another cell. Effectively, SSD technologies today mean these things will be standing up to typical OS-level usage for anywhere from 30 to 50 years. Remember a lot of OS usage is read-only. The vast majority of the hundreds of thousands of files that make up the Mac OS never get written to---so a lot of usage is non-wear. Virtual memory and caching are going to be the biggest culprits, but like I say, under typical loads the memory itself will probably outlast every other component.

As for more gigabytes? I'm fine with the 150ish I got. This isn't going to be a video editing station or anything. It's for writing primarily, and that doesn't soak up the gigas. For writing I think it's going to be fantastic. The wonderful text resolution combined with Apple's great laptop keyboard feel at full size, with Scrivener 2.0 running at full speed and screen res, makes for a 3k a day monster.
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Tue Oct 26, 2010 8:26 pm Post

My only concern would come from the battery, which is not long enough. 5 hours for the 11" version mean that you have to carry your power cord with you if you want to work the entire day, and this thing is heavy.
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Tue Oct 26, 2010 8:45 pm Post

You gotta have it one way or another. :) Battery life = weight & bulk. But on the point of duration, that's five hours of web usage---all antennas turned on. If you turn off WiFi, BlueTooth, and set the screen brightness down, the gauge estimate jumps from 5:30 on a full battery, to 9 hours.
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Tue Oct 26, 2010 8:57 pm Post

A 9 hours gauge is very good. So let's say you don't set your brightness down, only at half, you turn off WiFi, BlueTooth, you only use Scrivener and iTunes with headphones. What would that be, 7 hours?
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Tue Oct 26, 2010 9:36 pm Post

That would probably be a good estimate. I got the nine hour result with about 1/3 total brightness, and just typed and clicked around in Scrivener for a bit until it recalibrated the estimate. Music and a little more brightness might shave an hour or two off.
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Tue Oct 26, 2010 9:52 pm Post

It is very tempting, but still a bit expensive for a Scrivener device while I already have a laptop…
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Tue Oct 26, 2010 9:57 pm Post

RodiX wrote:My only concern would come from the battery, which is not long enough. 5 hours for the 11" version mean that you have to carry your power cord with you if you want to work the entire day, and this thing is heavy.


Do you actually type, non-stop, for 8 hours a day? I usually take my MacBook Pro (late 2008 version, so before the fancy new batteries) when working off-site and often get 6-8 hours out of it even though it typically only claims a 3-3.5 hour battery life. Naturally it puts itself to sleep during meetings, thinking time, interruptions from colleagues, coffee breaks and lunch, so perhaps it's not so amazing how long a battery can last.
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Tue Oct 26, 2010 10:02 pm Post

That's what I'm thinking too. I hardly ever just sit there for 5--8 hours without standing up or doing something else for a good percentage of that time. That's not very good for your eyeballs and your wrists and your back and so on! Frequent sleeps with this thing are way less annoying because it snaps back on so fast---more like the screen just turning back on---and with the massive latent stand-by power usage that means all those breaks are effectively zero in terms of background drain like most laptops.

I'm anxious to see what it handles like in an actual day out.

A day out.

Hmm.
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Tue Oct 26, 2010 10:36 pm Post

I leave my home at 8 in the morning and I often come back after the public library closes, at 9 in the evening. I like writing there, it is a very beautiful place. So with my day work and my time at the library, I use my computer 5 to 9 hours of real use a day depending on what I have to do every day. I carry my power cord all the time because I only have 5 hours of battery (without WiFi and with only one bar of brightness… not so good for my eyes). So battery does matter sometimes.
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Wed Oct 27, 2010 12:22 am Post

I like writing in libraries too. :) I'm thinking, under those conditions, this thing is going to definitely cover even a long day out at the library like that. I'm at 82% battery now, and with 1 bar of brightness and all antennas off, estimation is still at 8 and a half hours.

Your other point though: yeah, it's expensive for a laptop replacement/augment. Nice price for a new laptop though, if all you have is an iMac or something.
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Wed Oct 27, 2010 12:37 am Post

Solid state drives != USB chips. Much different in quality.

We put a solid state in a linux server (toshiba 80GB from early '09 cant remember the model) as a test. Turns out the admin forgot to move swap over to a real disk and left it on the solid state. Drive jsut failed this month, but only on the swap partition. Gave it a quick initialization and it is back in service. Our high end USB drive don't make it more than a few months (I think they are kingston, but I don't have one to check).

Which is my long winded way of saying I wouldn't worry too much about the solid state drives. I still don't trust a USB further than my cat can swat it.
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Wed Oct 27, 2010 1:03 am Post

Looks good, but it's not quite what Steve claimed, a marriage between laptop and iPad. I still like the iPad, with wireless keyboard, for writing in libraries or away from the office.

And I forget, how to you load software onto the Air? With all the updates constantly coming out, that seems like a major distraction.