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Portables Portables (Apple) Upgrades Apple Hardware

Early Review of 11" Macbook Air 348

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the must-resist-urges dept.
adeelarshad82 writes "Apple's latest entry into the ultraportable space is no netbook, even though it's the closest the company has come to making one. Its chassis is, amazingly, even thinner than the original MacBook Air, with a screen two sizes smaller. Moreover, the MacBook Air's 11.6-inch widescreen is not the only first for Apple; so is its 1,366-by-768 resolution. Although Apple found a way to squeeze in two USB ports and a speedy solid-state drive (SSD), the MacBook Air (11-inch) is not nearly as feature-packed or as fast as the rest of the MacBook family, primarily because its 1.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo SU9400 Ultra-Low Voltage (ULV) processor is running on previous-generation Intel technology. Still, it will give the latest batch of Consumer Ultra Low Voltage (CULV) laptops a run for their money."
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Early Review of 11" Macbook Air

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  • Meh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by clang_jangle (975789) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @12:21PM (#33974906) Journal
    I'm typing this on a Mac Mini (running FreeBSD), but still the MB Air seems like a lot of money to me for a netbook running OS X. Especially when you see how nice Ubuntu is (for n00b types, anyway) on a netbook that costs half as much or less...
  • by 0xdeadbeef (28836) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @12:21PM (#33974920) Homepage Journal

    Just because someone says it isn't a netbook doesn't make it true.

  • Netbook Pro (Score:3, Insightful)

    by digitaldc (879047) * on Thursday October 21, 2010 @12:25PM (#33974992)
    No ethernet? No laptop.
  • Re:An Ad? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gstoddart (321705) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @12:27PM (#33975004) Homepage

    I thought I checked that "Ads disabled" option checkbox at the top of /. page

    But, I bet you read the article about the new version of the Linux kernel and didn't whine about that, right?

    Just turn off the Apple section or stop clicking the links.

  • Re:Meh (Score:4, Insightful)

    by H0p313ss (811249) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @12:32PM (#33975076)

    I'm typing this on a Mac Mini (running FreeBSD), but still the MB Air seems like a lot of money to me for a netbook running OS X. Especially when you see how nice Ubuntu is (for n00b types, anyway) on a netbook that costs half as much or less...

    Of course it's a lot of money, we're talking about the top 5% of the laptop market. They really couldn't give a crap about us; the 0.1% of the market who build their own machines and recompile the kernel.

  • Re:An Ad? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bonch (38532) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @12:32PM (#33975078)

    If you think a link to a review is an ad, that suggests you simply don't like Apple and don't want to see them reviewed favorably in any form. What other reason could you possibly have? Otherwise, you would have just not replied to the story out of disinterest. In other words, though you accuse the site of bias, the only bias is from you.

  • by rotide (1015173) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @12:33PM (#33975088)
    Take any netbook on the market and charge $1000 for it. Is it now not a netbook?
  • Re:An Ad? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @12:35PM (#33975118)

    I thought I checked that "Ads disabled" option checkbox at the top of /. page

    I hate to break it to you, but we geeks really do have an appetite for blinky things that cost money. I can only imagine the amount of emotional turmoil this site is causing you.

  • by drunkennewfiemidget (712572) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @12:36PM (#33975128) Homepage

    I heard rumours of this system and held off on a new laptop purchase until after the announcement in the hopes they'd release something at a reasonable price tag and with hardware I'd like.

    And they didn't.

    $999 for the 11" cheap version of a system with a CPU that is already outdated? No thanks.

    Instead, I bought an ASUS U30Jc: Core I3, 4G of RAM, 13.3" screen, aluminum, replaceable battery, relatively light, albeit not as thin as the macbook, and all for $200 less. Throw in an SSD and we're still at $100 less.

    I mean, 1.4GHz? The used laptop I sold for $200 last week had a 1.6GHz dual core.

  • by Jugalator (259273) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @12:37PM (#33975152) Journal

    Its a damn netbook, and not even a full year after Steve claimed at the iPad keynote that netbooks have no use...

    It's twice as fast than an Atom-based netbook on the CPU alone, not counting the SSD, with (at least) 2 GB RAM...

    Netbooks are sluggish things often running XP because they can't even run Windows 7 well.

    It has one thing in common though: Screen size.

    But netbooks got their names because they can basically only surf the web, unlike this one.

  • by topham (32406) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @12:40PM (#33975198) Homepage

    Is that what constitutes a review today?

    It reads like an ad for Toshiba. The battery life wasn't compared, they performed a test, declared it awful while acknowledging the test was completely unfair and they didn't do the same on the other devices compared. Statements like that in an article are intended to put a bad taste in someones mouth, while its dismissal is intended to imply they are being fair by not using it in the comparison.

    Complete lack of professionalism.

  • by t2t10 (1909766) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @12:45PM (#33975280)

    And why exactly is the new 11" Air *not* a netbook? Sounds like we are mincing words here...

    Because Jobs would then have to admit that he was wrong, and he couldn't possibly do that. So, instead of an "overpriced netbook" he calls it a "revolutionary laptop".

  • by timepilot (116247) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @12:45PM (#33975284)

    Yet.

  • by AndrewNeo (979708) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @12:46PM (#33975300) Homepage

    Not for long, the way things are going.

  • Re:I dunno man (Score:3, Insightful)

    by symes (835608) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @12:46PM (#33975302) Journal
    I was thinking the same - and what seems to be missing is that you still need to carry around a great big charger, possibly a spare battery, headphones, books, papers, umbrella, and other gubbins truly roaming office workers need all in one big bag. So a couple of mills here and there might look good, but is it that important? I've just got one of the new sony vaio z ultra portables (ssd, i7, hdmi, etc., etc.), with a docking station widescreen monitor and chunky external keyboard it works very well as a desktop substitute... but the vaio feels positively clunky compared to this new mac. Would I swap the vaio for the mac? Only if I could get the same feature set - and that is not going to happen on something this thin, at least not yet.

    I'd be curious to know peoples thoughts on what happens next in the thinness race...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 21, 2010 @12:46PM (#33975304)

    1) because it has a real laptop processor in it...netbooks are usually characterized by their anemic Atom processor.
    2) because it is too thin and high quality to be a netbook
    3) because it has a full sized keyboard and a large touch pad

  • Re:Netbook Pro (Score:2, Insightful)

    by plalonde2 (527372) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @12:46PM (#33975306)
    Because you keep your laptop tethered?

    Wifi actually works.

  • Re:But, but (Score:5, Insightful)

    by powerlord (28156) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @12:47PM (#33975316) Journal

    Well, to be fair, when Netbooks first started coming out it was $200-$400 for a netbook versus $800-$1000 for a laptop.

    The advantages the Netbooks offered were portability (size/weight), with a tradeoff for power/ease of use (battery/cpu/gpu/smaller screen and keyboard).

    Additionally, the low price compared to a "real" laptop, meant there was less worry involved in them getting damaged, so you could (for instance) give one to a younger child and if they broke it, go buy another.

    The specs and price of "Netbooks" have since crept up quite a bit, and the price of laptops has dropped to the point that there is currently less disparity between a small low end laptop and a large high end netbook, but things weren't always like this.

  • by bonch (38532) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @01:05PM (#33975572)

    Did you ignore what I wrote? The MacBook Air is $999 and uses a Core 2 Duo instead of an Atom. The point Apple didn't see in netbooks is that they were cheaply made and underpowered for the tasks they're trying to accomplish with an affordable price. To them, the iPad is a better deal and a better experience. You're free to disagree, but the MacBook Air is still not a netbook.

  • Re:But, but (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@ g m a i l.com> on Thursday October 21, 2010 @01:09PM (#33975638) Journal

    Uhhh...why not have both? I've been selling my customers looking for a thin and light the new AMD Neo x2 based netbooks and they are nothing but happy. It has the smaller screen and better battery life while coming with 2Gb of RAM (easily upgradeable to 4Gb) and a nice Radeon 3200 GPU (sure beats the Intel GPU you usually get) and can be gotten at Newegg and the like for around $450. Sure it isn't gonna be as fast as the $500 one, but it also isn't gonna weigh a ton or cause you to need to carry around an extra bag. These things are just 3 lbs and play video nice and smooth on Windows 7 HP. My customers are quite happy with them and after setting up so many I've decided to get my oldest one for class, as it'll be just the perfect size for him to carry around in his book bag at the college while still giving him enough ooomph he can relax with a video or probably play his LOTRO with it.

    As for TFA? Must be nice to be rich. The rest of us have kids and GFs (oh, this is /. those aren't supposed to exist, sorry honey. She just rolled her eyes and said "nerds") and bills and frankly I could buy both kids a Neo based netbook and have cash left over for the price of a single MBA, and that of course is without figuring in the Applecare, which is extra for the extended warranty, yes? I really gotta give old Steve credit, he took a company that had been turned into total shit by the Pepsi guy and in just a couple of years turned it into a company that prints money. Give credit where it is due, the man knows how to get his customers to shell out the $$$$.

  • by barole (35839) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @01:22PM (#33975860)
    The air is not and has never been a desktop replacement machine. I have an original model and it is a great laptop if you are on the go and money is not an option. My biggest complaint with the original Air is that battery life is abysmal. It sounds like they have focused most on improving that. The other problem with the original Air was the price. Now, you may complain about the price of the new version, but the fact is they have brought it down quite a bit.

    Machines like this don't need the latest and greatest CPU. There were very few things that I do on my original air that tax its CPU. That's because I'm not editing video, etc on it. You basically have grown-up machine that you can do actual work on and it's not much bigger than an iPad.

    Do I see a need to have both an ipad and an air? Probably not. If you have an ipad already, then chances are you would be better served with a larger laptop.

    As far as the ethernet port. On a machine like this, it's not that important. I have a USB ethernet dongle and I've used it 2-3 times.

  • Re:An Ad? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by blair1q (305137) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @01:36PM (#33976118) Journal

    I'm pretty sure Linux kernels don't cost $1k a pop.

  • by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Thursday October 21, 2010 @01:52PM (#33976488) Homepage
    But "netboook" is basically a meaningless marketing term anyway. If we didn't listen to marketers, we wouldn't call it a netbook.
  • Re:An Ad? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by mcgrew (92797) * on Thursday October 21, 2010 @01:56PM (#33976594) Homepage Journal

    I was thinking the same thing. I bought an Acer Aspire One in April for $300. The Mac version with the eleven inch screen has a slightly faster processor, twice the ram, and about the same drive space. The Apple web site says it has "room for" a webcam, the Acer has one built in.

    The Apple is a lot thinner, but the Acer's thin and lightweight enough. The Acer's battery acts as an easy-carry feature.

    The Apple costs three times what the Acer costs. I don't think I want one.

  • by rotide (1015173) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @02:11PM (#33976902)
    Pretty much agree, however, netbook more defines a class of laptop. One that generally has good battery life/low power, more portable than a normal laptop and cheap. If this new mac isn't a "netbook" then it's clearly an underpowered laptop. A $1000 underpowered, magical laptop.
  • Re:I dunno man (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MrNemesis (587188) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @02:37PM (#33977376) Homepage Journal

    You may laugh, but it seems pretty common practice. I got myself an Acer Timeline 1810TZ (dinky 11" with the same duallie as the Air) for the small size and awesome battery life... it didn't come with a recovery disc, but software to allow you to burn your own recovery discs, on a machine without an optical drive. I was a little flabbergasted - you couldn't even say "just make an ISO or a backup file and I'll copy it somewhere on the network", it wouldn't even start the process without a DVD burner attached.

    Thankfully I never plan on using the default image, and I replaced the HDD with a 120GB SSD and installed from scratch (Acer provide all the drivers and utilities, but none of the bundled crapware, on their website), but it's an idiotic "recovery" measure for anyone who isn't a geek.

  • Re:An Ad? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Wovel (964431) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @02:53PM (#33977636) Homepage

    As opposed to your personal distortion field that insists it is iCrap because it is made by Apple. :)

  • Re:Netbook Pro (Score:3, Insightful)

    by BlackSnake112 (912158) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @03:15PM (#33977978)

    Or maybe in some places people will use a network cable because there is no wifi? Having options is good.

  • Re:Oops... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RocketRabbit (830691) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @03:19PM (#33978034)

    No, the Aspire is quite a bit slower. It runs at a higher clock speed, but a Core2 Duo is going to get more (much more!) work done per time unit.

    You can't just look at the clock speed and say "the one running at a higher megahurtz is faster lol" because that only worked in the old days, or when comparing processors of nearly identical internal design.

  • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @04:34PM (#33979172) Journal

    The MacBook Air is $999

    This makes it an expensive netbook (though Sony had some similarly priced models, as I recall). Price does not define netbook.

    and uses a Core 2 Duo instead of an Atom.

    This makes it a rather powerful netbook.

    The point Apple didn't see in netbooks is that they were cheaply made and underpowered for the tasks they're trying to accomplish with an affordable price. To them, the iPad is a better deal and a better experience.

    For the tasks that a netbook can accomplish, an iPad can accomplish less for 2x the price. It only has the upper edge in convenience of some of said tasks due to its form factor.

    You're free to disagree, but the MacBook Air is still not a netbook.

    You're free to repeat Apple's marketing drivel (just the same as "iPad is not a computer" mantra), but it doesn't make it true. I know a netbook when I see one.

    This isn't bad, by the way - the market of "high-end netbooks" is an undersaturated one - with pretty much just Sony, last time I checked - and Apple has a very good offering there. It's a pity that they are ashamed to call it what it is, though.

  • Re:But, but (Score:2, Insightful)

    by OldTroll (970892) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @05:04PM (#33979628)
    Then back the kwality up with a warranty.

    Apple delivers a standard one year warranty which you can pop to 3, Dell provides the same warranty but extends to 4 years AND I've never so much as talked to a Dell rep since I'm certified, I just RMA my own hardware without an issue. Can't do that for the Mac w/o a huge hassle. I won't mention that we replace more power supplies out of Macs than we do Dell desktops and its not uncommon for a crapped out PS to toast the entire Mac.

    FWIW, the OP can buy an AMD Neo whatever now, pocket the other $500 bucks and buy a newer model when the original dies. Now he's still spent less than the MBA and he's got newer faster hardware. And honestly, he can probably scrap parts out of the old netbook if he desires. After three years your non-replaceable battery has shortened up it's lifespan to the point where it's easier to measure in minutes than hours and if our customers are any example, at least one hinge is busted and you've lost a key.

    Logically you can't both resell your laptop and keep it for the long hall. Either it dies and you buy a new one, or you sell it and it's a case of diminishing returns, no one will want your four year old MBA badly enough to let you buy another one anyway.

    Eventually you too will realize that all hardware sucks, all software sucks and all technology sucks. Or you'll still be a fanboi, either way I'm too old and tired to give a crap as long are you're too stupid to care.
  • Re:An Ad? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by polaris20 (893532) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @05:14PM (#33979764)
    I don't get what is so difficult. If you don't want a $999 11" machine, then don't buy it. Who cares? This machine isn't for you, any more than a Porsche 911 is for me. I don't spend too much time going in depth about cars I'll never own. So why spend time bitching about a computer you'll never own? For the specs, and in comparison to the Sony 11" machines (of which the Air is the closest to) the price is very much on par. it's not a 1.4" thick plastic laptop with a cheap Atom processor and slow hard drive.
  • Re:An Ad? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 21, 2010 @07:10PM (#33981062)

    Of course it's iCrap because it is made by Apple! Otherwise it would be Krap, GCrap or MS Crap

    Shouldn't that be Krap, gnome-crap, or Microsoft Crap Foundations, Enterprise Edition?

  • by indiechild (541156) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @10:27PM (#33982312)

    You use AutoCAD productively on a netbook? Surely you're not doing it professionally, i.e. to earn money. I would find that hard to believe, seeing as a netbook is damn slow. I bought an Eee PC 901 a few years ago and it was essentially a wasted purchase -- the machine is too sluggish even for casual web browsing.

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