Breath of fresh air
WHEN APPLE first introduced its MacBook Air, it was more of a novelty than anything. Though it was one of the world’s thinnest computers and fantastic for travelling, it was expensive, impractical and limited as an everyday work machine. Great for rich users with simple needs, but not much else. All that has changed. The new MacBook Air introduces key features that make it more worthy of attention than its predecessor. Apple says it’s the world’s thinnest notebook. Add to that the tiny 11” form factor of the unit tested and we’re talking about a very, very small laptop.
The tiny size is partly attributed to Apple’s use of solid state disk storage. The MacBook Air has no moving parts and “hard drive” storage chips are attached directly to the motherboard. The upside of that is extra battery time, lighter weight, smaller size and quicker access times. The downside is price and capacity: the maximum available on the 11” is 128GB and on the 13” model you can go up to 256GB.
Apple has also made other sacrifices to scale down the MacBook Air’s physical size. The 11” has no SD card reader, although the 13” model does, and there’s no backlighting on the keyboard. The MacBook Air runs the Intel Core 2 Duo Merom processor that’s 40% of the size of other processors in its class, but somewhat less powerful. However, it’s more than good enough for most computing uses, even for simple audio and video editing.
So the MacBook Air is tiny. And it’s also surprisingly affordable. But the real question was whether I could replace my everyday laptop with it? To do that I moved my entire computing life on to the MacBook Air. The first challenge I had was disk space. To solve it I moved my iTunes and iPhoto libraries to an external disk. Now whenever I want to work on photography or listen to music and sync my phone I have to have the external drive attached. No biggie.
Other than that I’ve found it a workable solution – but I still wouldn’t replace my everyday laptop with the Air. Though the absence of backlit keyboards and big hard drives aren’t major issues on their own, when added together I’d rather spend a little more on a 13” MacBook Pro and have all the things I need – including a DVD drive.
That said, for average users who don’t live on their laptops, the MacBook Air is a fantastic solution and a pleasure for frequent fliers.