The New MacBook Air and Mac mini

Apple on Wednesday released both a new MacBook Air and Mac mini. And, I bought one of each.

I’ve been waiting for a MacBook Air update since last month and was willing to buy any update Apple had for it. My late 2006 white MacBook was starting to show its age. After two battery replacements, a new top case, and a replaced AirPort card it was time to move on. So, on Wednesday I loaded up Apple’s Online store and placed an order for an 11-inch MacBook Air with a 128GB SSD, 1.8GHz Core i7, and 4GB of RAM. I wanted to get the most portable Mac available with the most future-proof specs. I could have spent the extra $300 on a 256GB SSD but the I doubt my main computer will need more than 128GB of storage anytime soon because I will be offloading all of my media onto the Mac mini.

I fell in love with the MacBook Air the day Apple released it. And, I’ve been fascinated about how Apple slowly took that $1800 computer, reduced its price, increased its speed and features, and eventually replaced their iconic white MacBook with it. The MacBook Air used to be considered slow, but ElectricPig reports that the high end 13-inch MacBook Air actually beats the high end MacBook Pro from last year. That’s an incredible feat for such a small laptop.

I’ve also noticed an interesting trend that relates to the MacBook Air. It used to be that geeks would buy the fastest computer they could afford, but that’s changed. Now, geeks seem to be focusing on buying the slowest computer they can get their work done on. Five years ago I was the guy that spent $700 on graphics cards for his home-built PC, just so that I could play the latest PC games with all the graphics turned up. But now I’m buying what many Mac users would consider a mid-range laptop. I actually spent less money on this MacBook Air than I did on the MacBook I bought in 2006. And, the only thing that concerns me about using an 11-inch MacBook Air as my main computer is its screen size. Everything about the MacBook Air is faster and better than my previous computers except for the screen size. But if push comes to shove, I can always run out and buy a display to connect to the MacBook Air when I’m at my desk at home.

The MacBook Air really is an amazing product and I expect it to remain as my main computer for at least the next three years. And, a lot of that is helped by my purchase of a Mac mini. I bought the Mac mini for a specific purpose, it’s going to be a media server that spends its life in a closet next to my modem and Time Capsule.

I didn’t buy a display for it, I didn’t even buy a keyboard and mouse for it. Instead, I’ll do the initial setup with it connected to the HDTV in my living room and then every interaction I have with it afterward will be through either Screen Sharing or VNC. It will house my entire iTunes Library and (when iOS 5 is released) wirelessly sync my iPad and both of the iPhones in my house. The Mac mini will be the streaming source for my Apple TV and iMac, which will move into the bedroom and be used as an Apple TV and HDTV rolled into one.

The Mac mini will rip purchased DVDs with its (now external) SuperDrive and record television programs with Elgato’s EyeTV Hybrid. These recorded programs will be exported into iTunes so that they will be ready to watch at any time from the iMac or the Apple TV.

I’m super excited about these Macs. It’s been a long time since I’ve purchased one and I can’t wait to set everything up, especially the Mac mini. The new media setup in my home is going to feel refreshing. I’ve been planning this type of setup for over two years and am glad I’m finally making the purchases necessary to get it done. The purchase of these two Macs will be the biggest change to my computing setup I’ve ever made. And, I can’t wait to write about it.