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MacBook Air 2010 Ergonomics

Observations on ergonomic factors.

Noise

Actually using the CPUs for processing (e.g., Photoshop, Lightroom, etc) makes the MacBook Air fans run loud enough to be quite noticeable, even annoying, in a quiet room. This noise reminds me of crappy plasticky Windows PC laptops, and brings back memories of stultifying meetings. Just the way it is for me.

Under similar loads, my 2.66 GHz Core i7 MacBook Pro was silent.

Glossy screen

The glossy screen is a source of eyestrain when lighting cannot be controlled. For an on-the-go computer, I consider this a design defect, which is why I prefer the anti-glare screen option on the MacBook Pro. Neither is ideal, but the anti-glare helps.

Screen resolution

The higher resolution screen on the ’Air is good for photos, but anyone that already struggles with small type might find text on the ’Air on the small side, especially with absurdly small type in programs like Apple’s own Aperture.

I find the limited screen space really tight in programs with lots of palettes, like Adobe Lightroom. But the same is true of the 13" MacBook Pro; this is one area where a 15" or 17" MBP is vastly preferable. I have a strong aversion to small screens for real work.

Screen gamut

According to AnandTech, the gamut of the MacBook Air screen (both models) is far inferior to the 13" MacBook Pro — problematic for photographers looking to do any editing on the MacBook Pro that involves color accuracy.

Keyboard and trackpad

The relative placement of the keyboard and trackpad feel good to me on the MacBook Air; my hands rest comfortably near the edges of the case, the edge allowing easy grasp and a sort of reference point. This is one area I really prefer the Air over the MacBook Pro. It’s a subtle thing, but I quickly grew to like it.

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