In typical Jobs-ian fashion, the most speculated about piece of kit
of the past week was finally unveiled at today’s Stevenote… err,
Macworld Keynote address. Say "hello" to the MacBook Air.
Apple touts it as the world’s thinnest laptop, and when you look at
the specs, it’s pretty hard to argue. At its thickest point, it is
1.96 cm, which on it’s own is a pretty respectable number. At its
thinnest point, it’s a scant 4 mm thick. Yes, that’s correct. Four
millimeters. It’s as thick as about two-three credit cards, thinner
than a Bic pen, and even with it’s "junk in the trunk" sub-2 cm end,
the whole thing slides neatly into a manila envelope with breathing
room to spare. That is pretty absurd. I want one!
But at the same
time, I don’t.
My friends and I are fairly divided on the MBAir. On the one hand,
you’ve got to have a little techno-lust after a design like that.
Super thin, super light, solid battery life, using all pretty top of
the line specs, where is the compromise? Subnotebooks are always a matter of compromise, it practically defines the segment. And apart from the issue of not having any money
or authorization from the to-be-wife, here are the reasons why I
wouldn’t even ask:
- Fantastically thin form-factor is clearly not for everyone.
- One-spindle (HDD only) is great for the connected and for road
warriors, but Averages Joes will balk at an external optical drive,
especially at an added cost
- Lack of ports. I could a headphone jack, one USB jack, mini-DVI,
MagSafe power, and I presume a lock-down slot (haven’t seen it, but
I’ll assume that logic would dictate it having one). That leaves you a
grand total of 1 port for expansion, so you’d better pack a travel USB
hub if you want to connect more than one device.
- Notice the lack of an ethernet port? I live in a big city and a
large suburb when visiting the parents. Wifi is so common and
plentiful that signals and interference are really a problem at times,
and many business hotels I’ve been in provide only wired connections in
their rooms. Guess I’d need to pack an Airport Express too? Update: they also sell a USB-Ethernet adapter… Meh.
- Update 2: The battery is non-replaceable!! Egads…
Don’t get me wrong, I love many things about it! LED screen,
improved graphics chipset (I’d still prefer a real GPU from ATI or
Nvidia, but anything is better than the horrid GMA950 that Apple used
to use), SSD as an option, Multi-Touch trackpad, backlit keyboard (but
why the black keys on a aluminum body?), 5 hour battery life, and the
list goes on and on.
I’m a mobile guy. I pack a lot of tech into my bags and jackets
when I’m on the go, and I can see who Apple is targeting with this
release. I can see them selling scores of them. It’s just… not for
me. 😦 My first gen MBP (15", 2.0 Ghz Core Duo, 2 GB of RAM, 256 MB
DDR3 ATI x1600) is comparably gargantuan, heavy, worn-in, but it has
served me well and will continue to do so for the next few years. I
just keep needing Apple to replace the batteries every year. D’oh! I guess that would be nearly impossible in the MacBook Air…