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In-Depth Review of the MacBook Air With Photos 244

Engadget has the first really in-depth review of the MacBook Air that I have seen with plenty of great photos and specifics. They do a great job of highlighting the highs and the lows with plenty of concrete examples to back their claims up. It seems that while the MacBook Air is a great step towards ultra-portable computing, overall the pricepoint is just too high. Which is not surprising from a new Apple gadget I guess.
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In-Depth Review of the MacBook Air With Photos

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  • by Ohreally_factor ( 593551 ) on Saturday January 26, 2008 @10:02AM (#22192900) Journal
    Going by weight, emmmmmmaybe we can kind of, sort of call this ultra-portable, but like you, I've always considered the foot print to be an important aspect (I'm typing this on a 12" Powerbook, btw). And just going by the looks of the thing, I'd really love to own it, but not at this price.

    I've been a Mac owner since 1991, and my main machines have always been Macs. Currently I'm considering the Asus eee PC, which is both tiny and light, and which seems capable of handling 80% of my computing needs. It's so (comparatively) inexpensive that I'm tempted to buy now, even though I want to wait and see the 2nd generation of eee PCs.
  • by catwh0re ( 540371 ) on Saturday January 26, 2008 @10:20AM (#22192986)
    I just think they were stuck for things to talk about... when you spend a paragraph detailing how a different laptops power adaptor doesn't fit in the unit, or that if you have dirty/sweaty wrists you'll have to clean the unit (unlike any other material?) - then it just sounds like you've got nothing to really complain about.
  • by autophile ( 640621 ) on Saturday January 26, 2008 @10:56AM (#22193194)

    Lord knows I love all things Apple-y, but not the MBA. That being said, perhaps the MBA is a showcase machine, not really designed to be practical, but to show off new technologies for light laptops. And, unlike concept cars, you can drive this one home with you.

    I guess that's positive enough spin :)


  • Re:Power Users? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mccalli ( 323026 ) on Saturday January 26, 2008 @11:02AM (#22193244) Homepage
    Who are these power users everyone is talking about? I run genetic simulations and I'd be fine with what the MBA is offering.

    Well, there's me. The things that it lacks for me are...
    • Memory - I run large VMware images and 2G is barely sufficient for me.
    • Storage - Not big enough to store lots of vms plus a large amount of music and video. Probably not fast enough either - I do a lot of compilation and have multiple processes writing huge log files simultaneously. A fast drive is appreciated.
    • CPU - inside my VMware images I'm often running 5 or more large Java VMs - I like my CPU.
    • Screen - it's both not quite big enough for what I do, and it's glossy whereas I prefer matt
    • No firewire - so no input from a DV camcorder
    • No wired ethernet - I hate adapters
    • "There can't be that many people doing video editing"
      Oh, and I also do video editing. And Logic Express for music work too.

    Now don't get me wrong, the above wasn't an anti-MacBook Air rant and in fact I quite like the device. Those answers are specifically addressed to your question - "who are these power users?". One would be me. That's fine though, a MacBook Air isn't aimed at me whereas a MacBook Pro is. I'm actually fine with the no optical drive thing which others are seeing as such a controversy, but the other compromises are a bit too much for my usage.

  • by peragrin ( 659227 ) on Saturday January 26, 2008 @12:02PM (#22193644)
    I actually did a price comparison on the vaio's and the Vaio's give you slightly more bang for the buck but at the cost of less battery life. All in all you are talking about ~$100 price difference. Apple also surprisingly has the least expensive 64gb SSDrive on the market. Hundreds less than retail and competitors.

    What I want to know is does Intel and apple have an exclusive contract on that motherboard? or can Intel start selling those boards to anyone? in 6 months will sony be selling these? Better yet will someone merge one of these and an LCD TV to make turely interactive TV.
  • Air Smaller (Score:3, Interesting)

    by shmlco ( 594907 ) on Saturday January 26, 2008 @03:50PM (#22195250) Homepage
    At 12.8x8.94x0.16~0.76, the Air takes up 52.63 cubic inches of space in a bag or briefcase. Your 12" PowerBook, at 10.9x8.6x1.18, takes up a whopping 110.6 cubic inches of space in the same container, or over twice as much room.

    Further, the Air is only a third of an inch deeper (8.94 vs. 8.6), so in terms of depth (and in screen height when opened) they're functionally identical. As such, on a airline tray table they'd behave pretty much the same. (Since tray tables are typically 16.5" wide by 9.5-10.5" deep, the Air's extra width has little impact. Still room for it and a cup of coffee.)

    Heck, going by the same calculations, the Air is even smaller than the Eee [].
  • by AdamReyher ( 862525 ) * <adam.pylonhosting@com> on Saturday January 26, 2008 @04:43PM (#22195552) Homepage
    Knowing Apple, it probably is an exclusive contract on that particular motherboard. However, given the fact that Intel pretty much designed the thing, I think the could put out a different but similar form-factor motherboard in a couple months time. Knowing Intel, I can guarantee they'll be pursing that avenue. - Adam
  • by rbanffy ( 584143 ) on Saturday January 26, 2008 @05:21PM (#22195796) Homepage Journal
    Comparing the MBA an the Eee is, to say the least, unfair. One is an exercise on how little and inexpensive you can make a comlhted wighojf crjppling it completely. The MBA is a full featured notebook that runs pretty much anything a desktop Mac runs. It may lack an ethernet port, buf Apple considers wired networks legacy tech (at my home it mostly is and in most of my clients it's only for the desktops). Even my printer has 802.11. For those who need cabled ethernet, there is a USB thingie. As for the optical drive, the external USB one seems more than adequate.
  • Re:Air Smaller (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 26, 2008 @06:26PM (#22196238)
    I have an eee pc... and a coworker shelled out the dinero for the air. If you put them side by side and had a person pick the "smaller" laptop they would choose the eee pc everytime.

    The air is an impressive piece of engineering and a cool notebook, but if apple was aiming for the ultra portable market they missed it by several miles.
  • Re:Misses the point. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ronanbear ( 924575 ) on Saturday January 26, 2008 @07:27PM (#22196552)
    2gb is what you need if you're thinking about running Parallels. If it's hard to upgrade then you run into all sorts of problems. It's probably not all that expensive to add the ram once the extra engineering involved in fitting the stuff is taken account of and also the difficulties that are encountered with build to ordering, stocking additional ram, warranty claims.

    Also, it's not really 2gb of ram. The integrated graphics take their share and that would really make 1gb impractical. Performance is going to be affected by using the smaller, slower drive and that would be exacerbated by a shortage of ram as any use of virtual memory involves a bigger than usual hit.

    Yes, Apple are frustrating with some of their design choices, but they also know their stuff. They have one of the biggest selling notebook ranges of any manufacturer based on only 2 models (3 if you count the 17"). They'll be expecting big things if they're going to the trouble of adding a 3rd. But I expect this thing to sell. I've been considering one but eventually decided that 2 pounds isn't worth the difference to me as I'm a pretty strong guy and I drive most places. But public transport commuters might see things differently.

    They'll have a lot of data on who's been buying additional batteries for their MBs and MBPs. I'm sure they're confident enough that they know they it's not that big a deal for enough of their customer base. To be honest, I've never bought a 2nd battery and most of the people I know never really even consider it. Magsafe will be an issue with coming up with power accessories (such as an extra, external battery pack) but if the demand is there...

    Apple are design leaders when it comes to laptops and I can see their policy on ports becoming more popular. Many people use their DVD drives very rarely so it was only going to be a matter of time with all the memory sticks and wireless out there. FW was a bit of a shock, as was the Kensington slot but ultimately the shape of the side dictated things. That shape is designed to sit more easily and comfortably on someone's lap. It also makes it easier to pick up. Thinner design is really useful for typing. It makes for more comfortable typing as does the thinner front. I had been hoping Apple would make this change soon as there were some other nice laptops out there that were showing the way.

Never buy what you do not want because it is cheap; it will be dear to you. -- Thomas Jefferson