Is this the wrong time to buy a laptop?

I’m still happily soldiering on with a 2011 MacBook Air 13". I’ve not found 4GB memory to affect my usage at all, but I don’t use InDesign, just Scrivener, Pages, iaWriter, iPhoto, occasionally GarageBand. Do you really think, Mike, that 8 is necessary for someone using the Air primarily or exclusively as a writer’s computer? Or will it be for Mavericks?
I do agree that it’s better to not rely solely on the MBA. I plug mine into one of the old 24" Apple displays (a refurb which the Apple store were discounting by half when they phased them out a few years ago), so I get the big screen. I thought briefly about using a Mac Mini with it, rather than getting a new (refurb) Air then, and relying on my iPad for portable use, but the Mini’s hard drive felt slower than the flash memory in the Air. (I have a mini in my office, but I don’t write there.) Plus I just love the Air. Sometimes I take a break from sitting at my desk, unplug it from the big screen, and write from my recliner – easier on the back. Even with my bad eyes, the MBA screen is just fine for extended Scrivening sessions but of course YMMV.
FWIW, I was initially planning to get the 11" Air as well, and got the same advice you did from an Apple store employee about the screen. The 13" model’s added battery life and larger screen size seemed well worth $100, particularly as I wasn’t traveling on assignment as much as I had been, so the extra savings in weight/size didn’t matter so much. When I told him I’d be using the Air mostly plugged into an external display, I thought he’d say, right, get the 11" since you won’t be using the laptop screen that much anyway. But instead he said, if you’re not so concerned with lighter weight and size on the road, why not get the 13"? And even though the base 11" now comes with 128GB storage, Apple dropped the price of the 13" base model by $100, so the $100 price differential is still the same.
Also, the iPad sort of obviated the need for the smallest and lightest laptop. I even took it on the road when I flew to LA for a story last weekend. I brought the Air, too, but decided to try carrying only the iPad for note taking and doing an interview, leaving the Air at the hotel. I didn’t even bring my Apple keyboard (which I use with the Air and the external display most of the time and occasionally with the iPad) – just used the iPad’s onscreen keyboard, which I typed on while my subjects were talking. (I was recording, too, with my iPhone, just in case it didn’t work.) Much to my surprise, my transcript of the interview turned out to be pretty accurate, even though I had to break eye contact every now and then to look down at the screen, which I wouldn’t have to do with a real keyboard. So for my needs, at least, the 13" Air is ideal. When I am on the road, I get the larger screen, but when I need smallest and lightest, I have the iPad.
That said, if the 11" model were, say, $200 rather than $100 cheaper than the 13", I might reconsider. And if I saw the screen on a 13" MacBook pro retina model, I might also reconsider the MBA, which is why I resolutely refuse to look at one!

Good idea! Don’t look! I do have a MBP 13" Retina, and after WWDC I managed to convince myself that I should also get one of these new MBAs. 11", of course, since I have the 13" MBP. Today I went to an Apple store, and compare the screen experience of the MBP 13" Retina and the MBA 11". Not even close. Not even close. Bummer. I realized I can’t get an MBA now that I am spoiled with the MBP Retina. It sucks!

OK, I won’t look. But if I, er, that is, my friend, were interested in a MBP Retina, and he happened to have the exact same 24" Apple LED Cinema Display (‪24-inch, Late 2008‬, 1920 x 1200) I do, just by coincidence of course, would the image the MBP Retina produces on that external screen also be commensurately sharper than the image produced on it by my, that is, HIS MBA? I apologize for my ignorance; I don’t really understand how external displays work. Thanks to anyone who can answer.

This discussion is so informative, thank you all, and yes I have decided that the MBA 13 is the choice I am going with, I am going to go for the higher specs to give me some capacity. So 8g and the 512 now need to decide if I want any installed software.
I am totally happy to be getting away from Windows 8 to be honest. I am curious how tabs will work ?

I am not an expert in displays either, but my intuition is that it shouldn’t be different. What counts is the display you are looking at, I think

well having perused the forums I am now waiting with money clutched in hand :smiley: for them to sort out the Wi-Fi issues, it seems there have been loads of issues with the Wi-Fi on the new mac air and it has to be serious as Apple have now acknowledged the problem.

I had purchased TotalFinder about Finder about 8 months ago and it uses tabs for the Finder. Excellent program, and I get frustrated if I have to close out of it for a specific issue. But I look forward to that capability in 10.9.