But not as light as air. Alas, I just can’t see going with the new MacBook air. The price is OK (for now), but it’s just too much compromise for me, and here’s why.
In a previous article about what Apple might do regarding new laptops, I said this (emphasis added):
When the latest MacBooks came out, Apple announced they replaced both the iBooks and the 12 inch G4. While the MacBooks are not large, and were thinner than the 12 inch G4, they were larger to hold, or put in a backpack, or use on an airline tray. For some people, while thickness is important it’s not as precious as length and depth, so the MacBook has always felt bigger then the 12 inch.
Ideally, Apple could make a 12 inch widescreen and put 1280 x 800 resolution on it. Could they use the existing 13.3 inch instead? Sure, but subs are supposed to be noticeably smaller notebooks. Starting with such a screen limits how small one can make its width and depth. Look at the current MacBook and imagine shrinking the edges so they hug the screen/keyboard. That’s only going to shave maybe an inch. Not bad, but not necessarily sub notebook territory.
Now compare the MacBook air (top) and MacBook specs below:
Unfortunately, Apple did use a 13.3 inch display, but didn’t “hug” the display. If you’re paying attention, you’ll notice the MBA’s footprint is larger than the MacBook! So it’s thinner, but depth and width mean a lot more than I think people realize. I’m sure the cost of the unit is a bit lower because Apple used the ubiquitous display, but in the real world of, say, an airline tray table, the new MBA is really no different than a regular MacBook, except it’s a lot slower.
To be sure, it’s lighter weight; the 3 lb. MBA has a big advantage there over the 5 lb. MacBook. But with the MacBook you’re carrying a bigger hard drive, more speed, an optical drive, and a lot more ports (for less money). Even the “thin” advantage of the MBA is only a third of an inch (measured at its thickest). And I can’t stress this enough, the MBA is as large — actually, a bit larger — as the MacBook when you actually set it down and use it. Thinness doesn’t mean anything once you open the thing up for use.
No. The MacBook air is not for me. Frankly, it’s too big for the compromises made and the cost. In fact, I don’t see size as a big advantage of the MBA at all. Rather I see the advantages as follows:
- Weight (40% less than the MacBook)
- Durability (I’m guessing here, but if the aluminum machine is as solid as their new wireless keyboard, this thing is tough)
- Backlit keyboard (I love this feature)
- Cool factor (there is certainly that, this thing looks great)
For me, that’s not enough. If it had the footprint of or less than a sheet of paper, then maybe.
Bottom line for me is that the MacBook air may kick the competition’s sub-notebooks’ ass, and certainly for those where weight is the ultimate criteria you’ve got a sweet machine available. But for me all it does is make me appreciate the old 12 inch G4 PowerBook (and, for that matter, the current MacBooks) that much more.