Breath of fresh air

Finweek English Edition - - TECHTRENDS BITS - SIMON DINGLE si­mond@fin­week.co.za

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.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.