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Apple MacBook Air – Mini-review

Written By: Gary on February 2, 2008 6 Comments

So I went to the Apple Store today to take a peek at the MacBook Air. Honestly, I had pretty low expectations so I thought I’d get my socks knocked off, but it was just okay. It’s more beautiful than my 12 inch PowerBook, but just by a small margin. It’s light and thin seems pretty durable, and has the beautiful LED display (but a bit of glare). But I thought I’d leave and say “I have to have one”, but it didn’t happen. If I had the extra bucks to spend it on I’d certainly get one, but I think I’d still need a more powerful laptop.

Pluses: 3 lbs., 13.3 inch low power LED display, small, new track-pad, backlit keyboard. Please note, some of these are huge pluses.
Minuses: External DVD drive (which I could live with), special MagSafe power adaptor, slow hard drive, lacking ports, 80 GB, maximum HD, no option for a spare battery and (of course) the price. Note that while it’s a metal MacBook it has a shared memory video card like a MacBook, not a MacBook Pro.

The solid-state 64 GB drive is a plus, but the $1000 price tag is certainly a minus…

If I had a 17 inch PowerBook, the MacBook Air would make a great addition as a “day” computer, when I don’t need the power or DVD drive and didn’t want the 6.8 pounds to lug around. If I could only have one machine I’d probably take a loaded MacBook 13.3 inch (5 pounds). If I could “create” an ultimate machine it would be a 12 (or 13.3) inch MacBook Pro; I could even live with an external DVD drive it it could lower the size and weight…

This kind of fits with my initial thoughts when I first saw the announcement of the MacBook Air, it’s not what I was hoping for. If you haven’t seen it, this is the MacBook Air ad.

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6 Responses to “Apple MacBook Air – Mini-review”

  1. e:leaf says on: 2 February 2008 at 5:57 pm

    In your mini-review you write, “Honestly, I had pretty low expectations so I thought I’d get my socks knocked off, but it was just okay.”

    I’m wondering how that makes any sense at all. If you had low expectations, you could not have thought that you would get your socks knocked off, and even an “okay” machine would have been impressive.

    It sounds more like you had very high expectations, and that those expectation weren’t met.

    How can I take your opinion seriously if the basis of your argument is heavily flawed and about as inconsistent as they come?

  2. Gary LaPointe says on: 2 February 2008 at 6:35 pm

    Since my expectations were so low, I expected to be proven wrong, I hoped I’d be proven wrong. It is Apple after all.

    I thought it might turn out to be what happened with the Apple TV. I had medium expectations for the Apple TV, but I purchased one anyway to try it out, and I was wrong, it’s a great machine.

    With the Apple TV I was very happy I was wrong and I hoped that I’d be wrong again with the MacBook Air.

    FYI, my expectations weren’t meant to be an argument for or against, it was just meant to tell you what I felt when I walked into the store. (Maybe I was just confused.)

    This is all pretty much from my perspective here, for what I need and am looking for. If I purchased one today, I wouldn’t expect people to run out and purchase one for themselves just because I did, it’s gotta fit their needs.

    I expect people to be able to move the options around for themselves, if a 80 GB drive isn’t too small for them, I’m assuming they’ll mentally move it out of the minus column. And if they have a goose that lays golden eggs, they won’t care about the price.

  3. KenC says on: 3 February 2008 at 12:47 am

    Interesting. I too have a 12″ AluPB, and basically, all the specs of the MBA exceed my AluPB, as it came with a slow 4200 40Gig HD, slow video card, and my optical drive was not a Superdrive but the combo one. And, of course, it has only 1.12Gigs of Ram. And, the video out is not DVI but VGA.

    Presumably, you have one of the newer 12″ AluPB models with some better specs. I played with an MBA at the Fifth Ave store, and I was wowed. I’ve used a MB, but didn’t like the plastic flexing. I liked the solid billet-like feel of the 12″ AluPB. The MBA feels just as solid, but in a lighter package. My other peeves with the 12″ AluPB are screen size, 1024×768 and the thickness of it, at 1.125″.

    Interestingly, one would assume the 12″ would take less space in my briefcase, but I realized it takes as much or more, as it’s the thickness that was filling up my brief. All the other things in my brief are documents, and they are closer to a manila envelope size than my 12″. I’d prefer the thinness of the MBA which allows for less blank space in my brief. It just fits better. As soon as the Rev A bugs are worked out, and perhaps the next gen with a larger or faster harddrive comes out, I’m biting. I was waiting to see what Apple came out with, before I upgraded my 12″ CPU to a 1.4Ghz. Now, I’ll save that for a new MBA.

  4. Gary LaPointe says on: 3 February 2008 at 1:45 am

    I think the PowerBook 12 inch that I have was the last one. 1.5 GHz G4, 1.25 GB of RAM, 100 GB HD (5200 RPM?), SuperDrive (dual-layer I think?).

    It’s definitely a bit thicker than the MBA and a lot of people have said that with the MacBook Air it’d fit in anything they have and there would always been room for it. They were just talking about that on MacBreak Weekly (they also commented on the slow speed test results with the MBA, I was surprised at that, slower than a MacMini they said). But everyone on the show who had the 12 inch PB, really wanted a refresh on them…

    I’ve had a plastic iBook before and I liked the plastic better than the aluminum cases. Less slippery and it never dented. Originally, I got it because I wanted the 12 inch model, they didn’t have a 12 inch PB yet.

    I always get compliments on the 12 inch PB, people like the size.

  5. Ruhayat says on: 3 February 2008 at 1:40 pm

    Another vote here for the 12-inch Powerbook vs the MacBook Air. The 12-inch form factor is just about perfect — compact, solid, yet with a full-sized keyboard (so who says you need 13 inches to fit one in, huh?).

    Plus, I’m not swayed by the AirBook’s alleged thinness: it quickly tapers from the lip, and even that lip is actually sitting more than the stated 0.16″ off the ground. But this is a moot point, anyway — I shudder to think of the ergonomic consequences of typing long-term on a low keyboard. (Use an external keyboard? Hmm. And the AirBook is supposed to make you MORE mobile, is it not?)

    All in all, this doesn’t excite me the way the 12-inch PB did. The 12-incher actually made me save up a few months longer so that I can afford it instead of the 12-inch iBook, because — unlike the AirBook — the 12-inch Powerbook had a performance edge over the consumer version.

    If Apple had simply stuffed a Mac Mini Core 2 Duo into the existing 12-inch PB form factor, it would have been much, much better than this vague new thing.

  6. Gary LaPointe says on: 3 February 2008 at 2:30 pm

    While the 13 inch form factor is larger the keyboard on the MacBook Air doesn’t take up the whole width so it’s not much different than my 12 inch PB.

    I didn’t measure it, but I’d say the keyboard is about the same size (it’s hard to tell since they’ve got they funny chiclet keys on it (with all the space around them). My 12 inch keyboard goes all the way to the edge and it’s only bout 1/4 inch (maybe 1/3 inch) smaller than my Mac desktop keyboard.

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