I just thought I would chime in to give my experience with MacBook Airs at our
school. We had some teachers that had very old laptops and we needed to get
something for them right away. We had to consider what they needed to do with
the computer and what they didn't need to do.
Things like word processing, email and projecting with Smartboards and
researching were a given. These are very basic needs and requires little power
to run. Things like iPhoto library management was also common but libraries
sizes rarely approached more than 5GB. Our old MacBooks only had 80gb drives
and we didn't have a single computer with more than 30GB of space used.
We have local server storage for all teachers and students. We also have a
Google Apps account for file storage for every person in our district. With our
current push to move users to a more cloud based mentality, limiting their
machine storage space didn't feel like a compromise.
If you compare the specifications of the old MacBook (unibody), you will see that
they are similar machines, but in fact, the Air is a far superior option (barring
the lack of an optical drive). For one, the Air has no moving parts. The base
64GB solid state drive means that the machine will start faster, load applications
faster and be far more reliable than a traditional hard drive while also extending
the battery. It has a fast i5 processor which in my experience delivers very good
performance while being very efficient in terms of battery use. Also, as far a the
nonremovable battery, these computers last a really long time. I've haven't
looked back since moving from my MacBook to the Air I'm using now.
We did opt to upgrade the memory to 4GB but I think that for most poeple, 2GB
will be enough considering the applications they will be using. Certainly the best
thing you can teach a student/teacher is the close applications properly when
they are not using them. The speed of the ssd negates to time you save by
leaving an application running for later use.
We purchased the 11" model before the new pricing took effect. Getting the 13"
model for the same price is quite attractive.
One last bonus of the Air for our staff has been that the weight of their already
heavy bags has been significantly reduced. Students can also carry them with
ease, especially in our K-6 environment.
We haven't found the lack of an optical drive to be an issue. We have a couple of
external drives that can be checked out if needed. In many cases, we can create
a disk image of a cd/dvd and place it on the server which seems to be more
convenient for everyone involved. This also stops the problem of students
sticking things into the superdrives; and already unreliable piece of hardware.
I can understand the concerns when it comes to considering the Air but we have
had nothing but a positive transition to them. The only step down in specs is the
lower storage space compared to an disk based HD and the lack of an optical
drive. They are, like the floppy drive of yesteryear, soon to be unnecessary.
I hope I have shed some light on the matter, and if you have any questions, do
let me know.