Verdict: 11-inch Air not practical as a primary Mac

I wondered recently whether I could use my 11-inch MacBook Air as my only Mac, since I use it or my iPad 90% of the time. Someone expressed interest in buying my iMac, so I experimented for a few days by unplugging the iMac and doing a dress rehearsal. Verdict: it's possible, but not practical.

  • Keeping media libraries split or on external drives is dicey with iTunes and complicates the kind of backups I like to do (SuperDuper clones combined with Time Machine)
  • I got some neck strain when I exclusively stared at the smaller screen
  • By the time I connected all the peripherals and their cables and docks, the mobility of the Air was lost
  • Screen real-estate nagged at me for photo editing and some document-related tasks, such as switching between screens
  • RAM and/or processor limitations showed up in only one app: Aperture. I almost didn't list that because it's not overly snappy on the iMac either, but it's the only app to date that gives the Air a moment's pause

In short, the hassle necessary to make it possible isn't worth it to me. I don't want to have to mess with a lot of drive-swapping and library-tending; I'm more of a set-it-and-forget-it gal. I doubt these things would be an issue with a souped-up 13-inch Air, but mine's a base-model 11-inch. I'll keep using it for the stuff I bought it for and not try to make it into something different. It shines in its niche.