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Portables (Apple) Apple

Apple Announces MacBook Air 1218

Apple made four announcements at MacWorld Expo: the new MacBook Air, new features for the iPhone and iPod Touch, and movie rentals via iTunes from a TV without a computer involved. The new portable gets most of the attention. It is 0.76" thick at the thickest part, tapering to 0.16". It weighs 3 pounds and has a 13.3" screen and full-size, backlit keyboard. Its Intel chip is the diameter of a dime and the thickness of a nickel. The MacBook Air will cost $1799 and up. Its storage is either 80 GB disk or 64 GB solid-state drive. 2 GB of memory. It has no optical drive (an external one is available for $99) and features a way to wirelessly use the optical drive of any nearby Mac or PC with the proper software installed.
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Apple Announces MacBook Air

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  • "Integrated Battery" (Score:3, Interesting)

    by rockmuelle ( 575982 ) on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @02:49PM (#22054234)
    (from tech specs page on

    "Integrated 37-watt-hour lithium-polymer battery"

    Are they serious? No way to swap out a battery halfway through a 10 hour flight? No way to take it out at security check points (or if it catches fire)?

    Please tell me I'm misinterpreting that phrase. Want to buy one now, but that's a deal breaker. Argh!!!

  • Movie Rentals? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by 0100010001010011 ( 652467 ) on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @02:50PM (#22054262)
    I thought this was a pretty big part of todays Keynote:

    Touchstone, Miramax, MGM, Lionsgate, Newline, FOX, WB, Disney, Paramount, Universal, Sony all on board.
    Library titles: $2.99,
    New Releases: $3.99,
    HD rentals are $4.99.

    Rules: 30 days to start watching. 24 hours to finish
    Watch anywhere (Macs, PCs, all current iPods and iPhone

    Thanks MacRumors.
  • Durability & EEE (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Kyokushi ( 1164377 ) on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @02:52PM (#22054312)
    I wonder how durable that thing is.... put that in a bag and drop it, see how it compares to the macbooks and thinkpads.
    Also why nobody mentioned the EEE pc yet? though the similarity seems to end at portability....
  • by stewbacca ( 1033764 ) on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @02:53PM (#22054332)
    It hasn't been an issue (for most people) on the existing Macbook models, so what's the fuss now? Last trans-Atlantic flight I was on (December) had electrical outlets in the seats (even in coach).
  • Short on Options! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by qwertphobia ( 825473 ) on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @02:55PM (#22054396)

    So, somebody's going to buy one, and when they foobar their OS and drop it off at the helpdesk, how do we fix it?

    • No Firewire - can't boot target mode!
    • No Optical Drive - can't boot from DVD!
    • No Ethernet - can't net-boot!

    Yes, there is USB, so we'lll need to keep a few USB CD-Rom drives around for these things. >p>ah well, it looks real nice.

  • No FireWire?! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by alispguru ( 72689 ) <bane AT gst DOT com> on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @02:56PM (#22054434) Journal
    Just a USB2. FireWire target mode has saved my butt so many times, I would really hate to give it up, especially on a portable machine.

    Although, you probably don't need it as much if you have that $1000 solid state disk...
  • by RedSteve ( 690399 ) on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @02:58PM (#22054476)



    How is it lock-in?

    As far as I can tell, Apple still sells plenty of laptops with optical drives. They even sell one as an accessory for this machine.

    The fact you are gleefully glossing over this fact in your hurry to paint this one item as a lock-in tool is that this is a subnotebook -- meaning that it doesn't have all of the features that you might expect from a regular laptop in order to meet a number of design goals. If your design goals are small form factor and extended battery life, what are the first things you sacrifice? Bulky, power-consuming electronics like a DVD drive.

    But don't let me get in the way of your lock-in rage...

  • How expensive is it? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @02:58PM (#22054494)
    Can you link to something cheaper with a competitive hardware spec? Please do not link to anything physically larger, as size is the primary discriminator in its class. I went looking for a Vaio to price against it but couldn't find anything in its class. HP, Dell, and Lenovo all fell short as well. Before saying it's more expensive than its competition, please actually tell us what its competition IS, keeping in mind that to compete, you have to compete on form factor first.
  • by neapolitan ( 1100101 ) on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @03:01PM (#22054562)
    Agreed -- definite deal breaker for me as well. The battery is ALWAYS the first thing that dies in my laptop -- I would like it to be a $40 replacement part, not something that I need a screwdriver for, or (even worse) mail my machine back to Apple.

    I have never gotten more than a hundred charges or so from my battery without noticing definite decrease in capacity -- these are not deep charges, and if you use the battery every day, that is quite a few replacements over the life of the machine...
  • Re:Time Capsule (Score:3, Interesting)

    by soft_guy ( 534437 ) * on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @03:12PM (#22054856)
    I already have the Airport Extreme that supports Air Disk which I was lead to believe would be a target for Time Machine, but then they dropped that feature at the last minute. Now they come out with this which still doesn't do what I want. I hope that they will add back Air Disk support for Time Machine.
  • by sokoban ( 142301 ) on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @03:12PM (#22054858) Homepage
    Ave you ever disassembled an Apple laptop. It's pretty easy, and an external battery will probably be coming soon from some third party.
  • by Aphrika ( 756248 ) on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @03:12PM (#22054862)
    I'm a tad annoyed by this. iPhone users get the new software update for free, new iPod Touch users get them for free, yet the early adopter iPod Touch people have to stump up $20?

    I know I'll end up buying them, but it's the principle of it all...
  • Re:But.... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by TClevenger ( 252206 ) on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @03:12PM (#22054864)
    Exactly. My Macbook Pro has been tweaked every which direction, and now the LCD doesn't sit flush when closed, and part of the case above the F12 key bows outward. I don't know how an even thinner laptop would handle travel duties.
  • by BMonger ( 68213 ) on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @03:18PM (#22055012)
    I know this won't make you feel better but... iPhones are technically purchased over a 2 year period. At least that is how Apple is putting it into their accounting spreadsheets. iPod Touches are probably accounted for all at once. Add this in with the reasoning behind why they charged $1 or whatever it was for 802.11n in some devices and that may be part of why they are charging $20 for these new features...

    Not that I *agree* with it at all. But that at least might shed some reason on it. Even if it's a poor reason.
  • Re:A few thoughts (Score:2, Interesting)

    by cbart387 ( 1192883 ) on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @03:21PM (#22055102)

    1 USB port. Seriously? You can have wired ethernet OR a superdrive OR any of a huge number of wired devices, until you end up getting one of those tiny and somewhat annoying USB hubs which don't seem to be as reliable as having multiple USB ports.
    I agree with you on only have 1 USB but I disagree with the USB hub not being reliable. I have one for my non-mac laptop which works quite well. It comes with a power supply, which I don't use since that's only required for stuff that needs to be powered (usb harddrive, phone datalink etc) and I typically only have one of those plugged in at a time.

    I actually find the hub quite useful. I've never had an issue with Linux or windows recognizing devices. I have a printer/keyboard/mouse hooked in to it so that I only have to plug/unplug one usb cable instead of 3.
  • by joey_knisch ( 804995 ) on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @03:30PM (#22055300)
    Underwelming displays are not exclusive to the Air. Look at the 15in MBP for example. Any other manufacturer offers wuxga upgrades for their 15in laptops. Leopard apparently even has resolution independant control rendering.

    How sweet would it be to both see most of your photo and check if it is in focus without zooming in and out? Ahh... one day someone will see the light... Until them, I guess I am getting a dell, dude.
  • Re:A few thoughts (Score:3, Interesting)

    by proxima ( 165692 ) on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @03:38PM (#22055450)

    The MacBook Air is NOT designed to be a "primary computer."

    I agree. My claim is that this is going to limit the market for this laptop to a fairly small niche. This is where we disagree:

    In fact, the brilliance on Apple's part here is the recognition (FINALLY) that there are lots of people with big honkin desktop machines who also need a portable computer[...]

    $1799 is a fairly hefty price tag to pay for a second computer. People have complained about the lack of replaceable battery hampering business use (perhaps that's a big deal, I don't know). My point was for the "travel" user who wants something for entertainment, I thought that the inability to easily watch DVDs with it would limit that use. That's why I suggested a terrific feature would be the ripping of DVDs into iTunes. This will only happen on a large scale on Macs when Apple does it itself and thus does it legally.

    This laptop is competing directly with the Sony Vaio market. That's fine, but my point was that it seems like a much smaller market than a good successor to the 12" Powerbook could have.

    So yes, my entire point about it not working as a primary computer is that it is playing for a much smaller market, and that Apple has continued to leave a bit of a hole in the Macbook Pro lineup.
  • by norminator ( 784674 ) on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @03:42PM (#22055538)
    I also just noticed that it doesn't come with the Front Row remote by default... you have an option to pay $20 more to get that... what's the deal with that, when the other MBs include it?
  • by ZombieRoboNinja ( 905329 ) on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @03:53PM (#22055768)
    >>Do you want a laptop that is 0.16" to 0.76" thick? Go grab a ruler and put that in perspective.

    I've been trying, actually. The 0.16" is clearly marketing-speak, because when you look at the thing the edges come to points. By that logic, I've seen cars that are .16" "at the thinnest point." And .76" is certainly thin, but hell, my current MacBook is less than an inch thick already. So at best they saved maybe a tenth of an inch of thickness and added in a prettier, curvy form-factor.

    After watching the little intro video on the Apple website, I'm getting the impression this is intended mainly as a shiny executive toy. They mention presentations, meetings and airplanes every time they get a chance, for example. But beyond looking sleek, I'm not sure I get the point. I mean, are you actually SUPPOSED to be storing these in packing envelopes? If not, what are the advantages over a normal laptop? Is it worth the inconvenience of no removeable battery, no optical drive, minimal connectors, and limited hard drive options, all for a pound or two of weight saved? I know, I know, it comes with the subnotebook territory - but who are these "subnotebooks" targeted at, anyway?
  • by crbowman ( 7970 ) on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @04:49PM (#22056892) Homepage
    Actually I did just the other day to replace my hard drive, and I would in no way call it "easy" there were no less than 14 screws of the smallest phillips head variety I have ever seen not to mention the torx screws. Not at all easy. Want to replace the hard drive on my work IBM laptop? One, count that *ONE* frick screw and it was fairly normal sized at that. Apple makes great gear and I love my MBP but easy to disassembled? I don't think so.
  • Re:Expensive (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Penguin's Advocate ( 126803 ) on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @04:55PM (#22057026)
    The SSD is a $999 upgrade. Have you looked at the prices for 64GB SSDs recently? They tend to run in the $1500 range. I know it's hard to believe, but the SSD from Apple is actually *cheaper* than retail at the moment. It's not something you usually see in BTO upgrades for a Mac.
  • Re:I'm underwhelmed (Score:3, Interesting)

    by petermgreen ( 876956 ) <[ten.knil01p] [ta] [hsawgulp]> on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @05:09PM (#22057274) Homepage
    I can see the attraction of a true small form factor machine (e.g. libretto, eeepc, VAIO TZ ) but other than showing off I just don't see the use of ultra thin but large area machines. They seem like they would be very fragile and no less awkward to pack than slightly thicker machines like the regular macbook.
  • Re:Expensive (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MrPerfekt ( 414248 ) on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @05:13PM (#22057324) Homepage Journal
    You're more right than you know.

    The difference in price between the 'middle' MacBook and it is $500. I put together a WHOLE PAGE of stuff that is on the cheaper MacBook but not on the Air. And for less money, seriously, look at the specs, it's freaking hilarious. I'm a huge Apple fan boy but I can't say I'm enthusiastic about something that is so blatantly only sold for the 'cool' factor (insert your 'isn't that all Apple products' line here).

    Apple really missed the mark with this one here. At $1000-1200, it's reasonable but at %50 more it becomes laughable. I was really hoping for something in that range so I could replace my girlfriend's aging iBook but now it looks like I'll wait for an LED-backlit refresh of a MacBook, you know, that laptop that actually does something for $1200.
  • by mzs ( 595629 ) on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @05:27PM (#22057502)
    First the Air is not a subnotebook, it is a very thin notebook. A subnotebook would need a screen no larger than 10".

    I just priced a Dell XPS M1330 and it comes to $1,304 with 40GB more hard drive space (you can get a 64 SSD for a grand instead) 128MB graphics card, bluetooth, wireless-n, CD/DVD+/-RW, 8-in-1 memory card reader, firewire, more USB 2.0 ports, removable 9 HOUR battery, 1.66 GHz core duo 2, 13.3" lcd, 2.0 MP webcam, and an expresscard slot. The depth and width are the same and it is only half an inch taller and less than a pound heavier.

    So except for Mac OS X it does not even come close to outclassing the Dell and it is $500 more. Sure if you compare it to a Sony then the Apple is a better deal but Sony is consistently very expensive and that is why Jobs chose to compare the Air to it.
  • by arrrrg ( 902404 ) on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @05:39PM (#22057708)
    I'm on a 1.5 year old MacBook Pro, on my fourth battery. The first one was recalled, and the next two started performing poorly and both times I called AppleCare and had a new battery on my doorstep the next day without paying a dime.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @05:40PM (#22057736)

    iPhones are technically purchased over a 2 year period. At least that is how Apple is putting it into their accounting spreadsheets. iPod Touches are probably accounted for all at once. Add this in with the reasoning behind why they charged $1 or whatever it was for 802.11n in some devices and that may be part of why they are charging $20 for these new features...
    Yet, somehow, Microsoft manages to make available all of the 2nd-generation Zune's new features to 1st-generations Zune owners for free. The Zune's whole freakin' OS was updated (as well as the Zune PC software), improving the interface and making it more responsive. It also added things like wireless computer-to-Zune synching, no time limits for Zune-to-Zune sharing (3 plays still applies), Windows Media Center TV shows synching, and Xbox 360 streaming.
  • Re:Time Capsule (Score:2, Interesting)

    by CestusGW ( 814880 ) on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @05:44PM (#22057772)
    Actually, that added feature pushed me to buying one of those when they come out. I've got an XBox and a PS3 in the living room fighting over the single ethernet cable there, and a very noisy 2.4ghz spectrum. I've been thinking about getting an 802.11n router for my MBP so I can switch over to 5ghz networking, but the AEBS wasn't doing it for me. However, an AEBS with an internal 500gb drive well get me: Some more zero-downtime networked storage (which I need) A small gig ethernet switch to let my living room devices live in harmony An 802.11n router to let me get off the 2.4ghz spectrum A good place to add external drives from guests or as a later expansion Consolidating all that stuff in the living room (which keeps the light, heat and noise out of my bedroom), in a single box, for a reasonable price seems like a win/win/win to me.
  • Genius indeed! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dazedNconfuzed ( 154242 ) on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @05:45PM (#22057780)
    Removing unnecessary stuff from a computer - I mean really removing it, not just taking half away and ignoring the half that's left - is difficult when the cheap option is to leave crap hidden inside, and to tell the suits "no, really, people will pay MORE to have LESS!" Sounds goofy, but true. Ever consider building a really really small computer? even with the "micro" and "nano" sized motherboards, there's always a whole bunch of useless ports on it; want to get rid of the unused stuff? go build yer own motherboard is the answer.

    Crossing the 3lb barrier has huge physical and psychological changes. Getting a Vaio ultraportable has (dare I say) changed my life: having a computer so light it's harder to not have it around than to drag it everywhere. Never do I have to go home to get email, or look stuff up, or run handy tools, or decide whether to lug the durn heavy thing around ... instead, it's within arm's reach or a short walk all the time. The one thing holding me back from Apple was the absence of an ultraportable (and now my only hesitation is no 1024-line display).

    Part of the genius of Apple IS the gumption to say "no, you're not going to have it that way". They compel people to think forward to better ways of solving a long-running problem, rather than hanging back to old solutions. No optical drive? yeesh, they're so 20th Century, get with the download/bittorrent/thumbdrive/802.11n future already. Limited hard drive? wireless shared drive, man. No Ethernet port? get a USB adapter for those rare no-Wi-Fi times.

    Time to switch. Apple is hitting the tipping point: just a hair (or 224 lines of video) away from "PC? Vista? why bother what that old stuff?"
  • Re:Absolutely right (Score:3, Interesting)

    by cayenne8 ( 626475 ) on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @06:02PM (#22058078) Homepage Journal
    "Now, you can debate whether the Mac approach is better than Microsoft's (=We give you ALL you need, but each bit of it only works 80% of the time. Most people will need to use FIVE such elements, so it will only work, (Pet 2.0 fans, help me out here) 32.768% of the time), but the fact is, fashionable obsolescence is part of Apple's game plan. And we can always needle you for it."

    Well, I dunno what macs you bought, but, I seem to think they hold up pretty well, and hold their value amazingly well for resale.

    I've only got one mac computer right iBook G3 800Mhz. I think it was built around 2000 or 2001 maybe. I bought it used for $800 with all original cd's, a nice travel case and full accesories in about 2003-20004. I originally bought it to turn into a Gentoo Linux laptop. I kept a very small partition for OSX on it...just to play with. Over time...I redid the box, and put all OSX on it. (Don't worry, I have plenty of gentoo on other boxes). This is 2008 and still my only laptop I work with. It is just now getting a bit long in the tooth for me and slow. I'm about to buy a new macbook pro....and then, I'll relegate this old iBook to the my kitchen computer for emailing while cooking...or looking up recipes..or playing a dvd on.

    I don't know of many other laptops out there that stay useful for so long. The OS upgrades seemed to help it keep its usefulness over the years...and it was a solidly built machine.

    I don't find that fashionable obsolescence was something built into this product. And, aside from only being USB has served my needs for quite awhile, and I do use it for more than email and surfing. I'm often sshed in from it to my other boxes in the house doing jobs or developing on it....

  • Re:Expensive (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MobileTatsu-NJG ( 946591 ) on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @06:50PM (#22058778)

    You're more right than you know.

    The difference in price between the 'middle' MacBook and it is $500. I put together a WHOLE PAGE of stuff that is on the cheaper MacBook but not on the Air. And for less money, seriously, look at the specs, it's freaking hilarious. I'm a huge Apple fan boy but I can't say I'm enthusiastic about something that is so blatantly only sold for the 'cool' factor (insert your 'isn't that all Apple products' line here).
    What amazes me is the gist of the comments, here:

    "There's no optical drive!"
    "You can pay Apple more money to solve that!"

    "There's only one USB port!"
    "You can pay Apple more money to solve that!"

    "There's no user replacable battery!"
    "You can pay Apple to solve that!"

    I'm sorry guys, I just don't get this one.
  • Re:WTF? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bluekanoodle ( 672900 ) on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @11:37PM (#22062010)
    I have to disagree. My wife is a flight attendant. She makes the business frequent fliers look like sunday tourists. There is no way that this thing is going to stand up to the kind of abuse a very frequent traveler needs. Even her macbook, built as solid as it is, is starting to show cracks and wear after 6 months.
  • Re:Expensive (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Conception ( 212279 ) on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @03:23AM (#22063570)
    The oqo2 has the upgrade option for 650 bucks and they don't have nearly the volume as Apple. Apple is way over priced on this.

Order and simplification are the first steps toward mastery of a subject -- the actual enemy is the unknown. -- Thomas Mann