Scrivener + MacBook Air = ♥

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

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

[size=80]Right-click the image to view the whole thing on its own.[/size]

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.

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"…

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?

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.

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.

You gotta have it one way or another. :slight_smile: 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.

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?

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.

It is very tempting, but still a bit expensive for a Scrivener device while I already have a laptop…

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.

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.


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.

I like writing in libraries too. :slight_smile: 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.

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.

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.

It comes with a small USB ROM with 10.6 and everything else that usually comes with an installation DVD, so if you ever need to do a full restore/disk repair/diagnostic you have that. Otherwise, if you need to install anything via a disk, you’d have to use another computer and hook up to it with the over-the-air disk tool, similar to how the old Air worked—or get an external optical drive. Frankly I don’t have much on disks these days. Really only the OS, and the ROM has that covered. It does mean gaming that relies on a mounted disk is probably out, but that isn’t a concern for me. I don’t intend to play games on it.

What do you mean about lots of updates causing a distraction though? Or I mean, how is that aspect any different than any other Mac, or even an iPad for that matter?

I have no idea what Steve Jobs was going on about with marrying the iPad with a Laptop. Sounded like a bunch of marketing fluff to me. :slight_smile:

I think you may have convinced me. I am about to replace my disappeared MBA, and was planning on a 13" MBP — Woohoo, turns out college can help me get academic discount! — but there aren’t any available here in the land of the Great Firewall until a new delivery sometime at the beginning of next month.
So then in the meantime, Steve goes and announces the new MBAs, which solve the biggest downside of the original model … only one USB port, which meant I couldn’t be connected to the internet through the Ethernet converter and an external drive at the same time, for instance.
But it threw up a new decision … 11" vs 13". I love the idea of the low weight of the 11 inch, but was leaning to the 7 hour battery life of the 13" … and would the SD card slot be a deciding factor. But if the battery life on the 11 inch can be extended that way, it might solve the problem; only might as I do have a whole morning of lectures, basically 4 hours with loo-breaks and class change-over in the middle, and I run a sort of VPN thingy so I can use my iTouch or now iPhone to control Keynote, and of course the computer’s “driving” the projector, which I imagine soaks up more power. So I’m wondering if the 11" battery would last such a whole session – the original revision 1 MBA just about made it, but I always had to have the power-pack with me, and plugged in as the “you’re on reserve battery” quite often came up.
Maybe I should change my presentations to use less transitions, etc. as presumably they have a power-cost!
Anyway, the 11" … Scrivener … wow …
And Druid, I keep all my installers on an external portable hard drive and I do have the external DVD I got for the disappeared one, so no problem …
With the 11", can I do what I need without having to carry any more than just the computer … perhaps I would only need the power pack with me on the mornings when I have a full lecture load … Up to 9 hours of text-work … 9 to 12 hour flights from China to London … take out time for meals, a bit of sleep if possible …
Wait till they become available here, or a quick trip to Hong Kong … extra cost of trip, but visit to friends possible … or wait till mid-November when they’re due here? Will lugging this 17" MBA around break my back in the meantime?
Decisions, decisions …

One other quick note regarding the power pack: it’s very small. It’s bigger than the one they ship with an iPod Touch, but way smaller and lighter than the ones they ship with the MBPs and MBs. It would easily fit in a pants pocket.

The sad thing about that is this: guess where all of our MBA’s are coming from? Yup. China. Mine was in Shanghai two days ago. The people waiting for theirs in the UK… also coming from China.

I often buy software on disks, because of some bad experiences with downloads. And sorry to be dense, but what is an “over-the-air-disk tool”? Just transfer the dmg disk via local network, and then install on the Air? That I could do easily.

I’m going to go see the new Air machines next week. Did you avoid the 13" because of size/weight?

I haven’t actually tried it out, but the remote disk utility is pretty snazzy from what I hear. You can set up your “host” Mac to offer disc support to the Air. If you put a DVD into its drive, you can then mount or even boot off of that DVD over the WiFi connexion. That, combined with the keychain sized ROM restore makes for a good combination of travel vs. home recovery.

I went with the 11" because I already have a 15" MacBook Pro, and so my goal was ultimate portability. Something in the netbook size class. It’s a little longer than your average netbook—but it’s a lot lighter (it really is about the same as the iPad in weight—the difference is something you have to feel for when holding both in separate hands—it’s not going to be noticeable in a bag), a lot thinner, and a little narrower than most. So on that criteria, it satisfies what I was looking for: an Apple “netbook”. What I got was actually something that could pass for a reasonably powerful laptop with a ridiculously crisp, high quality screen.