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What to think of the Macbook Air

with 3 comments

 Update: Looks like I’m not the only one that had concerns with the Macbook Air.
Photo of Macbook Air

Every year the annual Macworld Expo brings the blogosphere to a complete halt with the multiple announcements of Apple products that are to dominate the new year. 2006 was the Intel iMacs. 2007 was the iPhone. 2008 is the Macbook Air. In move that is similar to last year’s unveiling of the iPhone, the Macbook Air is sure to revolutionize the way laptops are used in the years to come. Or is it?

While the design and aesthetic look of the Macbook Air makes it one of the best looking Apple computers to date, I feel there is one problem with the Macbook Air that is preventing it from taking off like the iPod did way back in 2001: there is no clear type of consumer that the Macbook Air is intended for. At first I thought that the Air was intended for college students, seeing as Apple is one of the most popular brands for the 18-24 demographic group, and the Air is basically a computer version of the popular iPod Nano. The main thing I see going against this line of thinking is the lack of features on the laptop, specifically the absence of any optical drive and the lack of USB ports. While the idea of wirelessly installing software from a different computer’s drive sounds really cool, it just isn’t realistic for a college student who more than likely is not going to have a spare computer lying around. Also the idea of having to exclusively download music/movies off of iTunes is pretty unrealistic for a community that is much more likely to pirate

So if college students are not going to purchase a Macbook Air, that leaves the business users. Ultraportable laptops have been “the thing” in the business world for a while now, and it doesn’t look like that is going to change any time soon. My reason for not thinking that business consumers will be pumped about the goes back to the same reasons I mentioned before, namely a lack of the features. While the price will be within a business consumer’s price range and the 5 hour battery life is sure to turn some heads, the combination of a non-removal battery and no optical drive really hurts it chances at standing out from the rest of the ultraportables on the market. This is due to the fact that most ultraportables have an extra battery (not possible with the Macbook Air) and more input devices than 1 USB port (more USB ports, Firewire, etc.) than the Macbook Air.

All in all I really don’t see any reason for anyone to purchase a Macbook Air within the given features and starting price. If anyone is interested in using a Mac as an ultraportable it’s a much better move to go with the Macbook, which has several more features at almost half the cost.

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Written by Daryn

January 23, 2008 at 1:33 am

3 Responses

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  1. An ultraportable with an extra battery, a power brick, some cables, a presentor’s remote, back-up USB stick, a few empty dvds/cds in order to be able to make use of the optical drive etc. ends up being equal in weight to a normal-sized notebook, but still compromises on a smaller keyboard, less processing power, a smaller screen and often battery life.

    Apple chose to reduce to the max: keep the form factor of a normal 13″ screen and a full-size keyboard, but get rid of everything else which is not essential for daily work as an office or mobile worker. It is a way of forcing the user to accept, that “hey, I never really use my optical drive, my ethernet port, more than one USB port simultaneously or my firewire port when I’m on the road. How often have I really needed a second battery? Instead of carrying everything with me “just in case”, can I not just retrieve the additional information I need from my main computer by using “back-to-my-Mac” funcionality, or access my iDisk, Gmail Account or my web 2.0 productivity apps on or through the internet?

    And even when home, why not use Time Capsule to store my extra data such as my 40GB iPhoto Library and my 80GB iTunes library instead of carrying this data with me at all times and also ensure I back-up all my data all the time, without needing to worry about it.

    A very slim but fully functional (secondary) notebook for everyday tasks is all that is necessary to carry around. Additional (but usually infrequent needs) are catered for in external accessories: dongles for full-size DVI ports, VGA poerts, S-Video ports, a dvd/CD burner

    For anyone who says they need more, there is the MacBook or MacBook Pro.

    swissfondue

    January 23, 2008 at 9:54 am

  2. I agree with you swissfondue, an ultraportable with all of the accessories that you mentioned is going to end up weighing 5lbs. What I don’t understand is why would you bother paying $700 more to get less features than a Macbook? Yes the Air weighs 2 lbs. less than the Macbook, but with several more features that someday you may need while you are on the road it’s a much better bang to buck ratio (as Apple says on their own site)to purchase a Macbook over the Macbook Air.

    Daryn Haynes

    January 23, 2008 at 6:28 pm

  3. I think it’s a perfect little device (minus a removable battery). I think anyone who purchases this as their primary computer though, is misinformed by Apple’s intent.

    Apple wanted to provide a stripped down alternative to a MB or MBP that you can take on business trips, the train or the café. While at home, you still have your iMac, Mac Pro or even PC for all your major computing. However, it’s an obvious nay for college students.

    Shawn

    January 24, 2008 at 11:18 am


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