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    August 29th, 2011

    ♬ Love Is In The Air
    Love is in the air everywhere I look around
    Love is in the air every sight and every sound …♬

    Music and Lyrics by Harry VandaGeorge Young , recorded by Tom Jones.

    MacBook Air

    MacBook Air 2011

    This is a guest post by my friend Sherry Katz, a recovering lawyer and now computer forensics consultant.  I loved reading Sherry’s articles on technology when she was a lawyer/technologist and now I love her articles as a forensics consultant.  Her advice on the new MacBook Air is posted here with her consent:

    I have use of several laptops as I use them in my work (forensic analysis, ediscovery).  Among them are an 11″ Macbook Air, a 13″ Macbook Air, and a 17″ Macbook Pro.  I also regularly use a couple of Dell laptops and a few HP laptops.

    The current generation of the Macbook Air is amazing.  I work with technology every day, and the new Macbook Air is the best and most fun to use laptop I’ve ever had experience with.  The lack of a network adapter is not a problem.  I got a device for $15 that adds a network port and three USB ports through the USB.  The use of screen real estate is ingenious, and the 11″ is as efficient and viewable as a 13″ PC.

    Performance is stunning.  Even with the i5 processer and only 4 MB of RAM, boot time is less than 10 seconds, and everything happens instantly.  Programs open in a snap. The touchpad is great; the only usable touchpad I’ve found.

    There are a few downsides.  Until the thunderbolt products are released, there is no highspeed Input/Output (IO) option.  That means I can use the Air for general work, but it is of little value in a forensic context where I use tons of IO.  Also, I don’t like being limited to 4 MB of RAM.  Also, you cannot upgrade the hard drive.  On the Air 11″, the largest SSD is 128 GB and on the Air 13″, the largest SSD is 256 GB.

    Macs run windows incredibly well with Bootcamp.  Two of our forensic workstations are Macs that are running windows, and they work quite well.  My partner also runs a Mac Mini as a home desktop and uses Windows exclusively.  I use Windows in Parallels on one of the Macbook Airs (instead of dual boot, run Windows inside OS X).  It works very well, but the RAM limitations make it less than ideal.

    I have experience with both the 13″ and 11″ Macbook air, and the 13″ is closer in size, weight and feel to a regular laptop.  Generally I don’t like 11″ laptops, but the Air manages a full-sized keyboard and such good utilization of the screen that I love it.

    It boils down to what you do with a computer.  When I practiced law, there was nothing that I did that an 11″ Air would not be more than sufficient.  I work regularly with Attorneys, and I see in detail what a lot of them do on computers because a lot of attorneys end up doing things that result in the need for their computer to be imaged and forensically examined.  Ninety-Nine point Nine percent of attorneys use their computers in a ways that a Macbook Air would be more than sufficient computing power.

    The weaknesses of the Air would be not enough storage space (if you carry lots of documents on your computer)(or, if you are doing things that will get your laptop in my hands you are downloading lots of porn or something otherwise illegal).  If you use a lot of spreadsheets the screen will get tiring and you would need an external screen (rarely do lawyers use spreadsheets even though they are incredibly powerful and useful for everyone else).

    As for the Macbook Pro.  The Pro is a generation older than the Air, and it feels it when you use it.  The build quality of Macs is quite a bit better than other PCs and you can feel it when you use it.  Any of the Pros works well as a Windows computer.  However, you still have to deal with Apple’s funky I/O choices.  The Macbook Pro we use for forensics has an external PCI slot so we can get decent I/O.  However, the choice of firewire, USB 2.0 and Thunderbolt is too limiting (until there are Thunderbolt options).

    In the end I’d say my first choice is the Macbook Air, for anything other than forensics.  If it is going to be your main computer I’d say go with the 13″, much as I love the 11″ it works best as a secondary computer.  The Macbook Pros are all good machines, but I wouldn’t want a new one now until the next generation gets released.  Rumor is that the new generation will be based on the thin profile of the Air and that a 15″ will be released in October to be followed by a 17″.  The 13″ Pro will be phased out.

    There are, of course, a number of serviceable Windows laptops available.  However, if you do want to run both OS X and Windows, don’t hesitate to use a Macbook.

    Sherry Katz
    Director, Ediscovery
    Elluma Discovery
    http://computerforensic.com
    sherry@computerforensic.com

    Thanks Sherry for the great advice..it looks like love it in the (MacBook) Air…!!

    This entry was posted on Monday, August 29th, 2011 at 5:00 am and is filed under I'm a Mac, Make it Work!, Technology, Tips, Trends. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

    One Response to “I’m a MacBook Air…”
    1. Jerry Lawson Says:

      Walt Mossburg’s newest Wall Street Journal column deals with running Windows on Macs, specifically Mac Air notebooks, as Sherry Katz recommended:

      http://allthingsd.com/20110831/parallels-desktop-for-mac-review/

      Mossberg found Parallels 7 & the Mac Lion OS very satisfactory.

      Talking to Sherry at ABA Techshow & following her on the Lawtech mailing list convinced me she probably knows more about the guts of computers and making them productive than anybody else I know. If you are in the market for a nice notebook, her recommendation is worth substantial weight.

      Mossburg’s experience with the newest version of Parallels reinforces Sherry’s conclusion that Macs, and the Air model in particular, are a very attractive alternative.

      Jerry Lawson

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