MacBook Air Hands-on Impressions


I nipped into a local Apple store (Design Group, in IFC Mall) on Sunday, to see if they had the new Time Capsule yet. That's still not out, but they did have one of the new MacBook Air laptops.

It is, without a shadow of a doubt, the best made laptop in Apple's lineup. The build quality is astonishing, and the feel of holding the thing in your hand is amazing. The use of tapered edges makes it feel even thinner than it really is. As the screen and keyboard are full size (and almost the same as a MacBook), the thinness of the device is very striking.

Being made of metal, the 3 pound weight (2 pounds lighter than a MacBook) confounds your senses. You expect a plastic MacBook to be light, and it is. But this feels so solid and metallic in your hand and is lighter so you seem to discount its weight completely. It almost feels weightless.

The keyboard feels slightly more solid than the MacBook one, but I think that this is mainly down to the different materials.

Technically, the laptop is far too compromised to be of interest to me. The hard disk is too small, the CPU slightly too slow[1], it has integrated graphics, and the non-expandable RAM is a real concern for power users. But this machine isn't aimed at power users. It's aimed at people who use their laptop for email, writing, photos, web-browsing, etc. Normal stuff. Not running Crysis, making HD movies or Music production.

People are decrying the lack of USB ports and thinking that you'll need a powered hub, but the single USB slot is a high power slot. It must be, as it provides power to the optional SuperDrive. I'm sure it won't be long before there are sleek hubs powered from the +5V line on that with style to match the Air.

It's gorgeous, and it might just redefine the consumer laptop as a device where the technology disappears and you just have a beautiful screen and keyboard. And seemingly no computer.

[1] a 1.6Ghz Core 2 Duo is about as fast as a 3.2Ghz Pentium 4 processor. And probably faster on some tasks, as there are two independent cores rather than the 1.5 cores you get with Hyperthreading. Slow is relative.

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This page contains a single entry by dave published on February 20, 2008 7:20 PM.

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