Scrivener + MacBook Air = ♥

Po
Potts
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Thu Nov 11, 2010 4:07 pm Post

Hi all,

I'm hoping someone experienced with the new MacBook Airs (11 and 13-inchers) can give me some sound advice. I am starting a major research and writing project that will demand portability and great battery life. I will routinely capture data in Devonthink Pro Office and organize and write in Scrivener. Daily WiFi usage will be very limited, and I have no problem with a screen intensity of, say, 30-50 per cent. Since both units are very portable, to me the real question is about battery life. I have read that the 13-inch gives you an additional two hours, but I am fonder of the 11-inch's size. So my question is this: given my usage scenario, could I reasonably expect to work on the 11-inch 6 to 9 hours a day on a single battery charge? If not, does anyone know of a small external battery that might do the trick? Any other advice you may be able to offer would be much appreciated.

Thanks for your help.

Cheers,

Barry

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ptram
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Thu Nov 11, 2010 5:35 pm Post

Shame I will have to move around with the whole Adobe CS5 with me. This ties me to heavier, ugly, old-fashioned notebooks. But I WANT an Air 11. I WANT one, NOW!!!
Paolo

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Cadence
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Thu Nov 11, 2010 6:25 pm Post

ptram wrote:Shame I will have to move around with the whole Adobe CS5 with me. This ties me to heavier, ugly, old-fashioned notebooks. But I WANT an Air 11. I WANT one, NOW!!!
Paolo


Not gonna happen.
*evil laugh*
Cady.
Procrastination Dominatrix, Duchess of Delayshire, & Lady Protector of the Brown-throated Three-toed Sloth.

ap
aproudlove
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Thu Nov 11, 2010 9:26 pm Post

I have a MBP, one of the core 2 duo unibody types, so a "brick" compared to the new airs which I have to admit do look really nice. I'd probably go for a 13" though if I had the cash just for the extra screen real estate, I know its not the same type of comparison but my colleague at work had an 11" netbook (or was it 10"?) and ended up selling it as the screen was too cramped to work on.

I really, really, really like the instant on, I am playing with the idea of getting a SSD drive for my MBP, just so I can enjoy it to, unfortunately at the sizes I need it would require me to sell my house and my kids (I currently have a 640GB drive with 200GB free). Or have a smaller main drive and carry a portable around with me. Although if I ever do take off as a writer and end up mostly just writing on my machine, I believe I could reduce this a byte or two ;)

By revision 3 I think that MBA's will become the main portable comps for Apple, as the drive sizes should be reasonable then and I'm sure they will bump the processor's too.

Sad fact and public confession time: I love my MBP just as much as I loved my Amiga. (No, not the spanish gf though at that age I was wishing I had one ;) ).

Ok, enough of my tired rantings, I'm jealous of all you new MBA owners, so I'm going to sit in the corner and wait for IOS 4.2 on my iPhone.

p.s.
I'm running my 15" MBP on battery right now, its a 2.8ghz C2D, I'm using the weaker GPU the 9400m I believe and I have just Safari and Scrivener open in the dock, otherwise running I have F.Lux, Little Snitch, Knox, the sync component of BusyCal, NetworkLocation, Wifi and Watt, my battery is showing 5h:12m, screen is on half brightness.

Just thought I'd throw that in there for comparisons sake.

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AmberV
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Thu Nov 11, 2010 9:34 pm Post

It would probably be unfair to compare Apple's 11" screen to your average 10/11" netbook screen, by the way. It's not like working on my external monitor, of course, but I don't ever find myself feeling that it is vertically cramped. It shows about the same amount of text that a smaller regular-sized computer would show, like the MacBook.
.:.
Ioa Petra'ka
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dje
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Mon Nov 15, 2010 6:10 am Post

I have a 13" MBA and I'm in luuuurve. :) (My wife persuaded me to get a mac so I didn't lug my work laptop home all the time.) Still learning OS-X strangeness but I think I like the dark side (they have chocolate).

Regarding battery life, I regularly see >9h on the meter with screen at 40%, Bluetooth off but WiFi on just doing text entry or internet browsing. (Turning off WiFi lifts that to 10-11h. Maximum continuous CPU + disk access has seen that drop to 3h, but it's still not bad.) In practical terms, though, 10 hours is actually about 7 hours since it's a Really Bad Idea to continually use batteries like those in the MBA to exhaustion.

The screen is an utter delight, bright and clear with good colour rendition, and a very wide range of brightness adjustability. The gloss screen is nowhere near as annoying as some others; it must have some kind of magic treatment.

Regarding 4GB memory, that cannot be added after delivery and nor can it be had over the counter; it's a build-to-order only option. I wouldn't bother unless you plan to do programming, or run Parallels/Fusion, or Photoshop on the poor thing; the default 2GB should be fine for most text work.

Overall general-use performance (of my 1.8GHz, 4GB system) is really snappy; for editing and general work, it's easily faster opening applications than my 2.8GHz Windows laptop, and more or less on a par with my fairly grunty (!) desktop system which is mainly used for photoshopping.

The only real shortcoming I can see with the MBA is that it's a laptop. By this I mean the screen's too small and too close, and the keyboard too close to the screen for long, intensive work sessions. But I bought myself a MD->HDMI adapter (A$35), plus a HDMI cable, and plugged in my 27" monitor. The MBA drove the huge monitor no problems at all, though I haven't tried it at full native resolution yet (a technical matter requiring far too many words to explain to a probably-disinterested audience).

So would-be MBA owners, don't hesitate!

Dave.

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AmberV
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Mon Nov 15, 2010 6:45 am Post

The gloss screen is nowhere near as annoying as some others; it must have some kind of magic treatment.


Thanks for mentioning that, I keep forgetting to bring it up. Apple finally saw the light and is using an anti-glare texturing on the screen. It’s not the old frosted matte, but’s definitely not the MBP, which could be used to stand in for the Hubble mirror, in a pinch. We can only hope they continue with this practice in their other laptops and screens.

The MBA drove the huge monitor no problems at all, though I haven’t tried it at full native resolution yet…


You shouldn’t have a problem unless your 27” has a different resolution than mine (the standard Apple one). I tried plugging it into that monitor and it ran the entire display at 2560 x 1440 with no problems—an astounding performance considering the graphics card available. It also didn’t seem to really draw that much power. Your luck may vary with the HDMI solution, as mine was just the MD cable coming straight out of the monitor.

My biggest gripe with it so far seems to be some firmware glitches that hopefully Apple resolves in the coming months. I’ve had the trackpad lose connexion after awaking from sleep; requiring a reboot to resolve (thank goodness for LaunchBar); and on occasion it takes a while for the keyboard to “wake up” too. I consider both of these flaws to be very minor (assuming they do not indicate deeper motherboard problems), especially for a gen 1 machine.
.:.
Ioa Petra'ka
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xiamenese
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Mon Nov 15, 2010 7:15 am Post

Hey ... I got it! ... With the most phenomenal amount of luck.

Between me and my friends we'd rung half a dozen Apple Shops, and virtually all the independent registered Mac dealers in Hong Kong — about a dozen; they all said, none in stock, two to three weeks. On the Saturday morning, we went looking ... 5 shops, no go, same thing. Then male-half of friends said let's just try this one more before we give up.

First answer ... none in stock. I was about to walk out but Romney said, "When do you expect more?" The chap said, "Monday or Tuesday" ... "Too late," I said, "I'm leaving on Sunday afternoon." Hang on, he said and disappeared to telephone. He came back and said, "5 o'clock this evening", so I plunked down the deposit on the 13" 256GB SSD model. It arrived — with one other only — at 4.45 ...

Phew ... mission accomplished ... and it's really great!

Mark
The Scrivenato sometimes known as Mr X.
iMac 27" (late 2015) 10.15.7, 24GB RAM, 512GB SSID
MBP17" (late 2011) 10.13.6, 16GB RAM, 2TB SSID
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Scrivener, Scapple, Nisus Writer Pro, Bookends …

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xiamenese
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Tue Nov 16, 2010 4:21 pm Post

For those of you thinking about an MBA and concerned with battery life, the 13" is rated by Apple at 7 hours. This morning, I had my new one start with a fully charged battery; I gave four hours of lectures with the MBA driving the projector, with bluetooth running and a private network set up so I could control the presentation from my iPhone. At the end of the morning's lectures, the battery indicator was showing more than 4 hours still available. I shut down, because I had to disconnect it from the projector.

When I restarted in the afternoon, the indicator was just under 3 hours left. The brightness had gone up to over 60% so I lowered it to around 35%, switched off bluetooth, as I didn't need it, internet was running. Time available went up to well over 5 hours. I did just under 3 hours, reading the Scrivener forums, then editing in Scrivener and when I stopped, it was saying around 2.5 hours left ...

So on one charge, doing all that, it was active for 7 hours, with airport running, no bluetooth, the screen turned down for 3 of the hours, and driving a projector for 4 of the hours, and I still had over 2 hours of juice left.

Pretty good, eh? No need to carry around the power pack and cord ... fantastic.

Mark
The Scrivenato sometimes known as Mr X.
iMac 27" (late 2015) 10.15.7, 24GB RAM, 512GB SSID
MBP17" (late 2011) 10.13.6, 16GB RAM, 2TB SSID
2017 iPad, iPadOS 14, 128GB, Apple Pencil
Scrivener, Scapple, Nisus Writer Pro, Bookends …

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AmberV
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Tue Nov 16, 2010 6:18 pm Post

While my usage with the 11" has been much more modest (mainly just writing and composing e-mails), real world usage does seem to suggest Apple's new method of calculating battery efficiency might be, if anything, overly aggressive. Having the WiFi antenna on is one thing, using it is another, and I think for their tests they were using it nearly non-stop, which probably isn't realistic unless one has a serious problem with procrastination, or it is their job to be on the 'net.
.:.
Ioa Petra'ka
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Jaysen
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Tue Nov 16, 2010 6:41 pm Post

Or they are doing anything on a network that is primarily Microsoft. The chatter the MS systems create is crazy.
Jaysen

I have a wife and 2 kids that I can only attribute to a wiggle, a giggle, and the realization that she was out of my league so I might as well be happy with her as a friend. 26 years marriage later, I can't imagine life without her. -Me 10/7/09

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RodiX
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Tue Nov 16, 2010 6:51 pm Post

Well if you download some podcasts that may affect the battery. And I'm sure their battery test includes a "download the entire discography from the Beatles on the iTunes Store"…
Some short stories in French.

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Jaysen
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Tue Nov 16, 2010 6:56 pm Post

RodiX wrote:Well if you download some podcasts that may affect the battery. And I'm sure their battery test includes a "download the entire discography from the Beatles on the iTunes Store"…

And
StarGate SG1 seasons 1-10
All known Star Trek episodes/Movies/Fan vids
All know variants of Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy
All ...

Wait. I think that was Ioa's test.
Jaysen

I have a wife and 2 kids that I can only attribute to a wiggle, a giggle, and the realization that she was out of my league so I might as well be happy with her as a friend. 26 years marriage later, I can't imagine life without her. -Me 10/7/09

ImageImage

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AmberV
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Tue Nov 16, 2010 7:25 pm Post

Hey, at least you didn't infer that I was a Fireflyhead.
.:.
Ioa Petra'ka
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KB
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Wed Nov 17, 2010 1:53 pm Post

AmberV wrote:Hey, at least you didn't infer that I was a Fireflyhead.


And just WHAT is wrong with Mal, River and crew? Huh? HUH?
"You can't waltz in here, use my toaster, and start spouting universal truths without qualification."