I want a 15″ MacBook Air

I've always been a fan of the size and weight of the MacBook Air. However, due to the low end performance that they typically have I could never use one as my primary notebook. It's rumored that we will see New MacBook Pros sometime in March and it's also rumored that Apple will take some design cues from the MacBook Air and implement them in the MacBook Pro. For example, eliminating the optical drive. That got me to thinking about what I would want in my next MacBook Pro? Here's my wishlist:

  • 15.4" ANTI-GLARE Display (I could live with a 13" display, but I really like the 15.4" size)
  • Intel Core i7 level of performance <-this is probably the hardest to do and the biggest deal breaker for me on the current Airs
  • 2 USB Ports
  • 4GB RAM minimum, expandable to 8GB of RAM or more (If i can't get Core i7 performance, then I definitely want 8GBs of RAM
  • 1 FW 800 Port (I'd be willing to give up the FW 800 port in favor of USB 3.0)
  • 1 Gigabit Ethernet Port (not  a deal breaker if it had to be 10/100)
  • 1 SD card slot (I would give this up in favor of the other ports though)
  • Audio in/Audio out
  • iSight Camera
  • 512GB SSD
  • 802.11n WiFi/ Bluetooth of course
  • a built-in 3G data option would be nice, but I'd probably use my MiFi anyway
  • 4-5 hours of REAL battery life (does anyone ever get the 8-9 hours they claim on the current model, ever?)
  • Fast Nvidia Graphics Card <-a wish, I know
  • Display Port video out

I really could live without the optical drive. I only use it every blue moon these days and as long as there was an option to use the external SuperDrive when I needed to, I'd be fine.

What really attracts me to the MacBook Air is that it's so darn light! If Apple could build a MacBook Pro with the above specs and have it come in under 4 pounds I'd order one without blinking.


Call it a MacBook Prair πŸ™‚  – thanks Lukas for that!

34 Replies to “I want a 15″ MacBook Air”

  1. Remove the optical drive? Yeah, wonderful. I can’t stand laptops that leave out the optical. It’s the main reason I don’t invest in a netbook for mobile computing. I want to be able to pop in a CD or DVD, just as much as I want to be able to burn files to one. I know thumb drives are all the rage and everything, but until my car stereo comes with a USB port for a mp3-loaded thumb drive, just leave the damn CD/DVD-RW drives in the computers.

    Also, how about a CF card slot for those of us that are using them for our cameras? Not everyone is just looking to swap files between their Powershot or their cell phone. So sick of CF getting ignored in the laptop world.

    I’d been putting off finally getting a MacBook Pro but if they really do pull something stupid like removing the optical drive, I’ll have to snatch one up before they take them all off the shelves.

    1. Rob, note I said “I want”, not “you want”. Notebook manufacturers build a line of notebooks for various users. Just because “I” don’t want a 17″ laptop, doesn’t mean they shouldn’t build one for the guy/gal who wants one.

      As far as Optical drives go, I can’t remember the last time I used one beyond doing a clean wipe of my computer with the OS disc or installing off the shelf software and for those rare occasions an external drive would be fine. Having it built-in means that I’m carrying it 100% of the time and hardly ever using it.
      Although my Nikon D700 has a Compact Flash slot, more and more cameras including the high end are adopting SD. You even seen cameras with dual slots (1 CF and 1SD) as the transition to a “smaller” SD format rages on.

      The days for optical drives and perhaps CF cards are numbered, especially when it comes to notebooks. If Apple or anyone else eliminates optical drives from some or all of their models it’s because they believe that the “majority” of their customers (for that model) don’t need them. I had a knee-jerk reaction when they removed the Express Card slot on the 15″ and I haven’t missed it one bit.

    2. I really don’t see a need for an optical drive either. I think I have used mine once to import a CD into iTunes recently. The fact that there is the accessory Super Drive is fine with me. But, instead of just making the computer that much smaller I’d rather see a SSD in that space for all the applications and then a large HD to hold all of the data. Faster boot time and lots of storage… Just my personal request.

      I too have wondered if a MacBook Air could be my only laptop. I would like the size but if there were an “in between” size with some very robust features then that would be good.

      Firewire 800 is a must… especially for a CF card reader. If it were a built in CF slot then it would probably be pretty slow. With CF cards exceeding the 32GB range now I’d like a faster CF reader to handle that amount of data. An SD card slot doesn’t take up much room and it can be handy… if it weren’t there to make room for another USB port I’d lose that too.

      One thing… go back to putting the USB ports on both sides. That’s much handier for multiple USB devices…

      As Burgess Meredith said in Grumpy Old Men… “We can wish in one hand and crap in the other and see which one gets filled first.” πŸ™‚

  2. I third it! I used to think my MBP was light and versatile, until I picked up the Air. Maybe they’ll listen to you, Terry. Apple, are you listening?!? A lot of people read this blog! I would buy one in a heartbeat.

  3. I gave up waiting for the machine you described and went with a three pound ThinkPad x201 (i7, 8GB RAM, 500GB hybrid drive). I still use the Mac at home, but wireless connectivity on coast-to-coast flights with one battery totally rocks. I know you are a committed Mac guy, but . . . . you might want to investigate some of the alternatives. I wouldn’t hesitate to install OS X on the ThinkPad if Apple ever licensed it for other hardware.

  4. My thoughts. USB 3.0.. Will not happen.. Apple is behind lightpeak so they will not invest now in USB 3.0 for a 6-12 month life span.

    Optical – yep extremely likely to be dropped.
    512MB SD – Cost prohibitive. Possible they will implement a hybrid drive system considering what a larger form factor MBP body will allow.

    Matte versus Glossy.. The arguments have been made for a long time without a change so don’t hold your breath…

    Also I agree CF days are numbered and you can be dam sure Apple is not interested in adding support for anything that is legacy or bypassed. honestly how many pro photogs like Cf because they prefer the format or just because they already invested in CF from the bodies they bought years ago?

    1. Scott,
      I should clarify – I want a MATTE “Option” just like I did on my 2010 MacBook Pro. I got the CTO with the Antiglare display.
      Also while I know the cost of the 512GB SSD is high, it’s also currently a CTO option on the MBP, so it’s not unreasonable to ask for it on this device as an option either.
      Agreed on your other points!

  5. Terry, with the speed of ssd drives, the requirement of maxing out RAM becomes significantly less important. I bet you’d find (and it’s only a matter of time when we find out!) that the same cpu/gpu with 2gigs Ram and ssd drive isn’t noticeably slower for most tasks than one with 8 gigs. This is especially true with the newer Apple Air m/board designs in which the ssd drives are integrated, reducing the i/o lag.

      1. Terry, have a look at this graphic, representing the performance differences of mechanical hard drive vs SSD, and as you add RAM. I see that adding significant amount of ram makes an enormous difference in the computer with the HD, but much less with the SSD machine. This is just as I suspected, but only could confirm with this article/speed test.


  6. Me too! And I really think there is a chance. Steve Jobs said the MBA was the future of Macbooks we would see in the future…something to that effect. I mean we have the iPhones on Verizon, so why not a more capable MBA? I would order it in a minute too. I think my MB feels like a brick next to my husband’s last generation MBA. And I need the large SSD drive too. I like my iTunes and some video and pics on my MacBook, while LR can be on the external.

  7. USB3 would be nice. A third USB port would also be nice.

    I’ve been using a CF-to-SD converter in my camera lately, although it seems to slow the write speed a little bit. Then again, I have a Canon 40D and it has a slightly bigger CF slot to allow for those old “microdrives” so it might not work for the newer cameras.

  8. Uhmmm…you can buy that today, except the integrated 3G card.

    $3649 at the Apple Store. Top-line MBP 15″, upgrade to a Hi-Res Antiglare screen (+$150) and add the 512 GB SSD (+$1300). The MBP has everything else, including i7, 4GB RAM, SD slot, battery life, ports and inputs; all except 3G.

      1. The weight came off as an unimportant afterthought πŸ™‚ The essay implied to me that you were wishing for Apple to make a magical device with an i7 and 512GB SSD…which you already have πŸ™‚

  9. I couldn’t live without MyFi these days, but Apple SHOULD be putting 3G cards in everything from here on out.

  10. I just bought a new MBP 17″ i7. I used a kit from Other World Computing and replaced the optical drive with an SSD drive. For an extra $30 I got an enclosure to turn my optical drive into an external. Win-Win πŸ™‚

  11. I replaced the optical in my MBP 17″ with a SSD over a year ago – never looked back. I have no need for an optical drive so that was just wasting space there. An external optical drive for those 2 occasions I needed one cost me $50. It’s definitely not something I want to carry day to day.

    I totally agree, I want a 15″ MacBook Air too. I am even fine with the MBA ports though a 3rd USB port would be nice. FireWire is a thing of the past and needs to go. Ethernet would be nice mainly because we must maximize connectivity options – a laptop without connection is good as useless.

    I’d be fine with a Core i5 even – the SSD and lots of RAM would easily make up for raw CPU speed.

    My 17″ is great but because I actually really use it as a mobile machine, carrying it around with me all day, it’s too big and too heavy. Next time I’ll go with 15 again.

  12. Its funny laptops have become powerful enough to replace our desktops. & now are they about to take that power away ?

    SSD drive- at least 512 Graphics card-FW 800-even combo eSATA USB ports would kick butt. If they
    take the Express Card Slot off that 17” I’ll be going with an older laptop or back to a Desktop for the Power.

  13. Oh yeah one more thing ….. I love CF cards. The feel the size. I really hope the top end camera’s stay with them. To me they are the perfect size. & they are faster that SD cards & sturdier.

  14. Thanks for the article, it was informative. I had no idea that Apple was working on a 15″ Mac Book Air. I’ve been debating between getting a new Mac Book Air or a Mac Book Pro as my primary computer. I already have a robust Linux workstation that I’ll turn into a file/print server once I buy my new Mac. I primarily want to use my new Mac for photography and word processing and I can’t decided if a Mac Book Air, with 4GB of RAM and a solid state drive would have enough power to handle working in Adobe Photoshop CS5 and Adobe Lightroom 3 on a regular basis. What are you thoughts about using a Mac Book Air as a primary computer?

  15. That is quite a wish list, I just listed my 13″ MacBook Pro on eBay in order to upgrade to the refresh. I’m really sick of the Core 2 Duo processors, just upgraded my desktop to the new Intel Sandy Bridge and I really hope that they will put the mobile version in the next refresh. SSDs are awesome! I have a 64GB SSD in my MacBook Pro right now, and I can start up in 10 seconds, shut down in 2 seconds. Obviously I don’t store my media on my MacBook Pro, I have a 2TB media service at home to take care of that. 512GB might be pushing it on this refresh, but 256GB is achievable.

    I believe that carrying around an optical drive is like carrying around dead weight all day, I wouldn’t mind having that externally to cut down on weight. The laptop will be a lot thinner without it, considering if they make the battery thinner as well. A 15 inch Air would be perfect, I’ve always wanted to upgrade to the 15 inches, but being 5 foot tall and small kind of makes that difficult.

    Let’s just keep hoping Apple will do us good this time!

  16. If you want to see a 15″ Mac Book Air.. look at the video in the Apple website that illustrates the Mac Book Air. At the 2:00 minute mark a woman is shown with a 15″ mac book air. Its not the 13″. I think Apple did this to exaggerate the screen size.

  17. I’d like something that allows me to digitize on the road. Putting in an Expresscard would sort me out but they seem against that and determined to go the Thunderbolt and/or SD card route… grrrr….!

    Anti-glare screen all the way. I can’t believe that’s not an option on the new MBAs (or maybe it is?)

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