Apple's MacBook Air has polarised opinion, not just between the company's fans and everyone else, but even within the Mac community itself. It's expensive, it's arguably underpowered and certainly has very limited expansion opportunities. On the other hand, it's ridiculously thin and is a truly gorgeous-looking object. We were …
Style over substance - So what?
I'm not a fan of Macs. I have one (a G5 iMac), and I don't like it. The hardware is nice (would be even nicer if it had a real UK keyboard), but the software is pants, especially the GUI.
However, this is just my personal gripe, and generally, I don't really have a problem with the whole "style over substance" thing.
We see "style over substance" all the time - we buy our cars based mostly on how they look. Same goes for mobile phones, household furniture, washing machines, TVs, and even our houses!
What's so special about a computer that means the same (arguably trivial) criteria can't apply equally well?
Who cares about thinness?
Of all the physical dimensions of a laptop - width, depth, thickness, weight - thickness is the least important. When have you ever thought "this laptop is to thick"? I suspect Jobs insisted on it being the smallest in some dimension, and couldn't make it the lightest, which is what most people really want. It's even arranged internally so it can have a really thin front edge - the back is much thicker.
So what you're saying is...
It's got soldered internals in the way Tiny used to get slated for, you can't remove the battery, there aren't enough ports, the cooling system's rubbish, and it's way too expensive, but it's OK, because it's stylish and the functionality sacrifices were worth it because it's thin?
Are you serious?
Cheque in the post, is it?
The Air's awesome - and anybody who doesn't think so is an idiot... :p
re: This is style over substance
TheRegister needs to be careful about condoning style over substance - as we might all decide to apply it to our web reading tastes :p
Never had an Apple
Not because of some dislike of the brand or products, just never really thought about it. This one though, well its quite sexy isn’t it. OK so there are some performance issues, some port issues but if I can write letters, browse the web and send emails on it then, well, I'm seriously thinking about it, I can’t quite believe it.
I feel dirty now........
Two words - docking station
If Apple aren't going to provide a few more ports such as ethernet or firewire why not provide the option of a docking station or media slice for the Air as Dell do with the D420/430? Then you've got the ports and optical drive when needed and the weight is unaffected for travelling.
I hate to imagine how much Apple might charge for an Air docking station though.....
I think it's hideously ugly. I'd like to see IBM's take on the Air.
A review of an Apple product up for an hour and not a single comment, troll or flame!? Has someone switched off the internets?
Cue Fanboi bun fight!
..you know it coming don't you...Pro Apple on one side, anti-mac on the other, and Pro-linux sitting on the side lines, and out the fight altogether because they can't get their X11 to run and they've forgotten the obscure command line to set screen settings for xconf.
Flame on! It'll at least give me something to read this afternoon after the pub lunch...
An utter gimick
The macbook air is nothing but an utter gimmick - thrown together using the cheapest components, with a shiny case to cater for the 'design concious'... oh please
I cannot ignore the lack of ports, or non-replaceable battery... shameful apple, shameful.
Mines the one with Eee PC 900 written on it.
Pales compared to the R500
The "form over function" comments are absolutely spot-on.
I got an R500 a week ago - 699+VAT factory recon from Morgan - and it beats the Air hollow on all the things I need as a business traveller: several USBs; a FireWire; inbuilt optical drive; removable, light and long-lived battery (so I can carry a charged spare for long plane flights if I want); PCMCIA (yes, I do use it); Ethernet port; mic socket for my headset ... and all for around 2/3rds the weight of the Air.
When you add in the bulk, weight and cost of the added peripherals I'd need for the Air in order just to achieve the same functionality, it makes the Apple product look laughable, overweight and seriously overpriced. Yes, the R500 is slightly thicker - _slightly_ - but who cares? I can _use_ the R500. The Air would be an expensive (but pretty) mistake.
No vested interests here to declare: just a delighted Toshiba owner.
Pick the right tool for the job ...
I think people disregarding the MacBook Air because of it's specs and high price are missing the point here. Obviously when you buy a laptop you look at what's available and you weigh up what is most important to you out of size / weight, spec. and price. If one person decides that they want a high-spec. machine at the expense of a bigger / heavier machine at a higher price then how is that any different to somebody who decides that the size is more important than spec. and price?
Personally I wouldn't buy a MacBook Air. For me the size doesn't warrant the extra ... I have a 13" MacBook which is slightly more powerful and half the price but in my opinion is already pretty small. But I still think it's a pretty funky machine and if somebody else decides that the extra reduction in width is worth the price then the Air has served its purpose!
quit trying to please everyone and make a decision
You don't mind but you do mind but you don't mind the lack of Ethernet and further USB port[s]..? Make up your mind, it should be part of the review..
>>>I think it's hideously ugly. I'd like to see IBM's take on the Air.
Erm, it has. ThinkPad U300. And it's a better machine as well
Yes but does it....
come in different colours, to match my shoes? Don't want it to clash darling....
I'd like an air
I currently use a 1st gen MBP and there's nothing wrong with it. it's a perfectly good machine, btu I love the idea of the air. I agree it is a bit shrot on ports, but I can't remember the last time I used most of the ports on my MBP, and I rarely (if ever) use more than one USB port at once.
From a purity PoV I think firewire is better than USB for mass storage, but the truth is, I habven't owned a firewire drive in some time. my laptop is virtually never plugged into ethernet, it's all on wireless. my dvd drive is rarely in use (the occasional dvd rip or cd rip, I would be happy to use an externa ldrive for it). and I have never replaced the battery in any laptop I have ever used (either work or personal).
I love the backlit keyboard as I do use the laptop in low light from time to time, I like laptops to be slim, light and good looking. the screen is big enough.
basically I can't justify changing my current laptop, but if it mysteriously got hit by an asteroid, or fell under the wheels of a lorry, I'd give the air serious consideration. would the macbook do everything that air does and more? yes, but I'd want to air (and I just know I'd want the SSD version too!).
Oooooo.... shiny, shiny, shiny.
Shiny, shiny, shiny...... SHINY!
"Apple unveil iNvisible iBook"
"‘Anyone with any taste or appreciation of computer design can see that this is the best product on the market’."
It's just a laptop PC . . .
. . . and it's undeniably different. It turns out that its design suits a lot of people (it's a big seller at apple.com and amazon.com), which surprised me. Just because it doesn't suit many people doesn't make it a bad laptop; we don't all have to have the same.
Cheapest possible components?
What are you talking about? Apple got Intel to redesign the Core 2 Duo to make is smaller.
Even The Reg ran an article about it, the processor is now available to all, but if your thin laptop uses a small Core 2 then you can probably thank Apple for that:
Form over Function
Form over Function is the worst possible thing for most products. In reality, most of us have a minimum spec for anything we are going to buy, and then once that spec is achieved, we consider form/style as the differentiator. Okay, geeks are a little different because we consider features and capability to be form/style anyway, but the vast majority of the population shop like that. For example, when buying a sofa, you have a required level of comfort, and a size that will work in your house, beyond that you get the nicest looking one. With a car, most people have a simple list of things they need: enough seats for the kids; sat-nav; electric windows; air-con; good stereo. Then they go for the nicest looking one.
This is the market that Apple have always been in. What they want to do is pick up the people who have achieved minimum spec and are looking for the prettiest. Unfortunately, I don't see the MacBook Air achieving this. Laptops usually fit into one of 2 categories. They are either needed as a desktop replacement which you can move - in which case you are usually looking for powerful specs. Or they are a highly portable device to use on the road - in which case you usually want small and light. Note I used the word small - not thin. Thin, as another poster quite rightly said, is by far and away the least relevant dimension of a laptop. If we were talking about something you carry in your pocket (a phone for example), thin is really important. But this is something that gets thrown in a bag. An Eee PC or a Sony Vaio (which I use) is much much smaller, and more importantly goes in a much smaller shoulder bag or briefcase. What I haven't seen with the MacBook Air is pictures that show the transformer - if that's thicker than the Air itself, then the thinness of the computer is even less relevant. Who travels or goes anywhere solely relying on battery power these days - especially without a replaceable battery. When you are travelling with a laptop, you definitely want lightweight. But with size, you either want to be able to throw it in really small hand-luggage, or its going in a big bag that you are already taking. Thin does not equal small. The amazing thing is, a MacBook Air weighs in at 3 pounds. I can get a Sony Vaio G2 with 12 hour battery capacity and a DVD-RW internal drive at 2.46 pounds. The lightest Vaio is something like 1.89 pounds. Also, let's be honest, the Vaio's look cooler as well.
The fan-bois are going to be out buying the MacBook Air just as we expect, but most business travellers looking for an ultra-portable laptop are going to stick with the better options out there already.
If there's one thing I'd change...
For me, the MBA really only needs one thing extra to make it substantially more useful for a number of people, and that is an expresscard 3/4 slot. If they could find some room to add that, then the power user could add their own expresscard slots that adds whatever is missing for them, perhaps a 3g card, a couple more usb ports, firewire ports, tv tuner, a flash drive etcetc.
I think that the form-factor would allow for such a slot to be added and would hlp flesh out the laptop for a number of users, and give it at least some of an upgrade path.
Mmmmm, there appears to be something missing here...
No hate-filled bile. No unreasonable blinkered ranting. No personal attacks on Steve Jobs.
It must be Websters day off.
Not a compulsory purchase
Good to see that the nerd rage surrounding the Air hasn't abated yet.
Remember, no-one's forcing you to purchase it. If you like it, buy one. If you don't like it, don't buy one.
Remarkably simple really, isn't it?
Love it and loathe it
Beautiful but pointless.
What is it with thinness, anway? I don't fancy supermodels much either.
Bezel, not bevel.
The thing around the edge of the screen is a bezel, not a bevel. However, it is possible for your bezel to have a bevel.
Whenever I see something about the Air, with the usual rat's tail of "bwaa it don't suit me, it expensive" comments, I realize that I really do not care about either the Air or the whiners. It is nice to see though that there are some relevant thoughts on the table this time around, meaning the issue of small versus thin. Apple used to build a small computer, it was called the 12" Powerbook G4. I own one. Small. All the ports. Outstanding keyboard. Made like a swiss watch. Not fast by today's standards, but fast enough for all I need on the go. It is not going away before it falls apart. Nevertheless I can see some people would like the Air, it is impressive in its own way.
Thin it may be, but overpriced definitely
Think about it. It's a laptop of fairly standard components, minus just about everything of any use and those components it has are the cheaper variants and underpowered versions to make them small and cool enough.
All of this in a standard "PC" laptop would make it half the price. In a Mac though, no. Make it three times the price of something with far more components.
Okay, so you're paying for the style and thinness, but Apple are making one huge profit from this just by giving you less. Makes no sense, even to Apple fans surely!
I love the look of it, and yes it's lovely and thin. But it's really taking the piss at that price.
Oh well. People will buy it anyway. After all, they're prepared to spend £700 or so on an iPhone in the UK (considering the mandatory subscription that is on top of the phone cost, unlike all other phones on the market).
Anyway: "A final complaint is the non-removable battery. We've never been too bothered by this in a phone or a music player"
Hmm, personally (not being an Apple fan) I always expect a removable battery in every phone or music player I have ever owned.
I mean... non-removable battery in a Nokia? You wouldn't expect that.
More so though in a laptop as these don't last anywhere near as long. Many laptop batteries I find are heavily reduced in performance after a couple of years use and need replacing.
i ended up getting one to replace iBook G4
and it's great. i'm a tech pro and college student; my laptop goes with me everywhere (along with, unfortunately, a bleeding *tome* of a calculus text and accompanying binder) and i'm not gentle with it. i try to be, but i forget. The iBook (4 years old) has lived all 4 years like this, including falling off bicycles onto asphalt, dropped from 4 feet when i tripped over a dog in the hallway, and, of course, being pulled numerous times off tables and chairs when i tripped over the power cord. It needed the hard drive replaced *once* (after the dog incident), but the motherboard replaced a couple times (the notorious iBook whacked display problem). In fact, that's what finally killed it: it's out of AppleCare and my attempts to shim and solder the IC in question only worked for a bit.
i'm not rich -- far from it -- but we decided that a replacement laptop for me was more important than other expenses we have coming up, since i use it every day and need it for school and work.
Since i am certified with Apple, i perused their internal tech documents about all three model-lines. i got a chance to test the MBA and a MB in noon sunlight and in the middle of a forecourt lawn for display and wireless capability. i put them both into my backpack in place of my iBook and tested the weight of them with my typical load.
i did also examine specs and price, but i'm not a gamer or multimedia person, but a beginning programmer and web coder, so pretty much anything would've been acceptable after the iBook -- which worked perfectly for me for years. i never felt its age before it actually failed.
Style, i don't care about. Otherwise i'd've found a way to replace the iBook last year, instead of making it last as long as possible.
After an hour in an Apple store, i went ahead and financed a MBA.
It's been perfect in the month since i got it. i never have wireless trouble; it switches networks effortlessly (like Macs do, unlike the Windows laptops i've had to deal with), the display is perfect and the weight is like losing a couple pounds out of that backpack. And the slimness means that the pack doesn't strain when i close it anymore and i can fit my lunch in finally.
Best of all, AppleWorks still works perfectly under OS 10.5, so i don't have to buy Pages! ;)
i never miss the ports. All i ever used was a USB double-button mouse for WoW and some light graphics work, and it fits and works fine.
A hard-core gamer or heavy multimedia producer wouldn't like this unit. But for one who is neither, but does program and does often have ten or more apps open at once, and carries the laptop around everywhere, it's perfect. i'm even not minding the fixed battery, since i haven't been able to hot-swap batteries since the Duo anyway. If i can plug in long enough to swap batteries without shutting down, why not just stay plugged in and recharge? The battery lasts long enough for it to go through a day at work (it's not constantly used, just regularly) and an evening at school -- and often, the bus ride between.
i *have* used Windows (Lenovo) laptops. i've used them for work, where i had to carry them around to test wireless at various schools. They were a pain in the patookus, because they'd almost invariable bluescreen when awoken in a zone different than when they went to sleep. i took to carrying my iBook as well (talk about a heavy bag!), because *it* could sleep and wake in different zones without batting a cycle. If the wireless were up and running, it would just attach and keep working as if nothing happened. The Windows laptops would BSOD or complain about IP numbers if it did manage to reattach to the new zone; i'd have to quit any network apps and restart them. The iBook i could leave all my apps open and they would just pick up where they left off.
So please, whilst i admit i never even considered a Windows laptop for the replacement, don't accuse me of a blind Mac-worship. i *have* and do work on both sides.
re: Who cares about thinness?
I was sceptical about the whole thinness thing as well, but believe me, there is a point to it: no matter how full my bag is, my Air can always be squeezed in...
YMMV, as always, and you probably won't know if it's for you without trying it, but with the standard loadout I carry around, thinness was actually an immense advantage.
Form v Function
I get why someone might want an MBA, I really do. The weight issue is very important to some people, for one thing. Those would be the ones who regularly tramp through endless airport terminals with a laptop bag slung over their shoulders. They'll pay anything to decrease the indentation that strap is making.
Then there's the question of aesthetics. That tapered aluminum design is seriously cool and uncluttered looking, and I think it's okay for that to be a consideration. When you live with something all the time as you do with a laptop, it's good for it to be something you like to look at. This is nothing to be embarrassed about.
However, if the thing doesn't meet your computing needs, then obviously you'd look for something else. In my case. years of iTunes store addiction and digital photography have left me needing more than 80GB of disk space, so I won't be getting a Macbook Air. If someone else wants one, though, I understand completely.
Re: Who cares about thinness?
Until folding displays become viable, if you want a laptop with a nice, visible 15" display and a comfortable keyboard, thin is the only dimension you can improve portability in.
And when it comes to portable computing, size isn't style, it's substance. It may not be the most important specification to you, but it is an important attribute.
Really the price for this thing isn't all that high. If you look at ultra portables from Fujitsu and Sony, you are going to spend something like $2200 for a reasonably spec'd machine. And that'll have a slower cpu.
Of course the use of a 1280x800 13 inch wide screen is crazy. You rarely sit far away from a laptop like this, so you can easily fit that many pixels on a much smaller screen (Been using 1280x768 on a 10.6 inch screen for 4 years now) or you can put more pixels on the same size. 13 inches really isn't much better than 10.6 if you can't actually fit more stuff on the screen.
I'd say if anything, the screen is too large, the cpu is too fast, and the graphics card is overkill. If you just want to do your productivity and communications apps, then you don't need that stuff. You do need that much power to run OS X, though, so maybe it's just best not to use an Apple for anything which approaches minimal functionality.
I work at a university helpdesk, and once this came out one of the well-funded professors called and asked us to get him one. Then we explained the lack of usb, ethernet (we won't have wifi for 2+ years,) and optical drive. He immediately changed his mind and went with a MBP. This is one of those guys that has to have at least one of every product that Apple puts to market, and even he didn't think it would be useful. And since he has two desktops and a MacBook already, he is the target market for this device, as far as I can tell.
I think this is just a ploy to get other manufacturers to copy Apple, so they can say they invented another new trend. I honestly believed that Apple could do a much better ultra portable than this. Oh well. And yes, my laptop fits easily into a manilla envelope, even though it was released 4+ years ago.
You've just provided a prime example that priorities vary from buyer to buyer. In choosing the R500 you've had to compromise on clock speed, L2 cache, fsb speed, standard RAM load, graphics performance, no DVI port, 1.2" of screen diagonal and no built in web cam compared to the Air. Depending on what you want the machine for this may or may not be important to you, but it's a personal choice and you shouldn't try to dismiss folk who choose based on different requirements to you.
To sum up the review, the Air has the same "useful" dimensions as a normal laptop, with the processing power of an ultra-portable (I don't care about how thin it is, I'd have to get a large bag to fit it in, so no ultra-portability). It also has the price tag of an ultra-portable+a normal laptop. With barely any connectivity and no optical drive. So, functionnally-speaking, it's nothing else than a huge shiny PDA. With one major backdraw: huge accessories (as compared to PDA accessories).
Target maket: PDA users who want to have a large keyboard. And who have piles of unused money. And a large bag. Fool - money...
The only reason why it will sell is that it's a "must-have" for design lovers. I used to think that my saying that "Macs are for people who don't really need a computer" was a bit exaggerated. It is not anymore. How long before Apple actually stop selling electronics and focus on their real business: design sculptures?
@Also, let's be honest, the Vaio's look cooler as well.
So when was the last time you saw a bunch of punters standing round a Vaio going "Ooh, Aah!"?
When you do let me know and then I'll admit that the Vaio looks cooler than a Macbook Air.
Typical "blind Apple follower"
"It needed the hard drive replaced *once* (after the dog incident), but the motherboard replaced a couple times (the notorious iBook whacked display problem). In fact, that's what finally killed it: it's out of AppleCare and my attempts to shim and solder the IC in question only worked for a bit."
"the iBook -- which worked perfectly for me for years. i never felt its age before it actually failed."
Good grief, you've got to be kidding me!
What about the lock?
Sorry Tony but your review didn't mention the deal-breaker for me ... the lack of a kensington lock slot on the MBA means it really is not suitable for my workspace.
I can handle the soldered-in battery. I can handle the ordinary graphics, the lack of ports ... but it's too easy to lift, and I cannot guarantee nobody will leave the door open and some miscreant dips in and lifts it. Too easy.
MacBook Air Battery is easily replaceable...
I opened up my MacBook Air yesterday and it took less than 2 minutes. So hate to break the news to everyone, but the battery is very user replaceable when the time comes (4-5 years) so I'm not sure what all fuss is about.
Day to day, the MacBook Air is a GEM of engineering and usability... Sure the price is a bit high but they will come down once components fall into line for something this thin, light and small... It's a masterpiece of computer hardware that's for sure.
Thinness has always been the goal of laptop designers, Apple has been working towards a foldable screen, paper thin device for decades. So the MacBook Air is just the next logical step.
When you hold one in your hands, or use one on a day to day basis you'll understand why the MacBook Air is so great, but until then... please don't comment on it since you won't make a valid assessment.
After three weeks of heavy use ..
I started using my Air (1.8/SSD) three weeks ago and consider myself a heavy mobile user (laptops since 1991), doing a lot of traveling. I must say that the Air is a breeze to work on: it's fast enough, the screen indeed is crisp and it is small and light.
Sure I have looked at a Vaio and Eee PC. They might have better specs and indeed are a bit less wider, but they are simply not as durable as the Air (opening the lid on Vaio and EeePC really doesn't give you a solid feeling), nore as thin. And thin is important, because 9 out of 10 times I travel with a set of documents (which happens to be A4 standard) and the air slides in the bag with it. Thicker notebooks won't.
That said: The Air is the second best portable I have ever worked on. The best being the out-of-production 12" Powerbook which still holds its place in my hobby photokit, because it perfectly fits in the Domke bag and has a near perfect robustness. I still don't get it why Apple cancelled that nerd's dream of a portable and if I ever get to meet Mr. Jobs I will certainly ask him about the 'why' ...
I would like one.
If somebody came up and offered me either an Air or an EEE, then I'd go with the Air. Sadly nobody did, and I can't afford the £1, 199 for the Air, so I bought an EEE PC.
As far as I'm concerned the Air has only two drawbacks, the price and the single USB port. Nobody should have to choose between a mouse and a flash drive.
Here's a radical concept. If you don't like it, don't buy it. But if you haven't tried to use it, how do you know you don't like it?
Personally, it's a little underpowered for my tastes. However, the sheer thin of it makes it VERY attractive to me. Not in the "it's cute" sense, but in the "it's practical" sense. I have a limited amount of vertical space in my briefcase when I travel around doing my consulting. If I can shave that much space off, I can fit another 2 shirts and 1 pair of trews and stay an extra week with just my briefcase as luggage. That's a powerful incentive for me.
Still won't get it though. I'm off to Akihabara next month to find myself a real micro-pc. Pity Japan is still mired in the Windows crap though.
@ Steve Todd (right of reply)
In some ways you're correct; in some you're quite wrong.
The first thing I did with the R500 was "downgrade" it to WinXP, to get the best out of its performance. Now, we can bat back and forth about performance, but the truth of the matter is that a processor spends much of its time waiting on the memory or the hard drive: it's very rare (and this is a fact cunningly hidden by chip makers) that CPU power actually matters. The Mac has 20% higher FSB; the R500 has a faster disk. It all balances out. I'd say that Leopard makes rather greater demands than XP does on the system's processing power, which probably annuls any advantage the MBA might have.
The R500 would not feature well as a games machine, nor as a high-end number cruncher. But it does really well, surprisingly well in fact, as a host for VMWare virtual machines (I use them a lot), as a development machine, and above all else it doesn't break my collar-bone hauling it through airports and (many) trains on trips to and from China and the US.
If you feel I was dismissive of other buyers, I invite you to read the words I actually wrote. I described only _my_ priorities as a business user and frequent traveller.
If I'm derisive about the MBA as a laptop, it's particularly for the non-removable battery. This is an expensive piece of computing kit, for Bob's sake, not an MP3 stick. I can _just_ forgive the lack of optical drive, although the Tosh manages to include a DVD-DL burner in 2/3rds the weight. But the paucity of USB sockets, and lack of an Ethernet socket (what _was_ Jobs thinking?) are just inexplicable. These are things that Apple should have got right, and by not doing so they've turned what could have been an amazing piece of kit into ... shiny.
I'm no anti-Mac fanatic: I've had a Mac Mini since they came out. It's been one of my most reliable pieces of kit (at least until Leopard came out, *cough*), and I love it to bits. It's got me out of one or two scrapes when standard PC kit failed on me.
Apple can make great gear. In my opinion, as a computer industry veteran, the MBA could have been, but isn't. If their arrogance doesn't get the better of them (yet again), Apple will learn from the mistakes, and maybe MBA 2.0 will be what its predecessor promised but didn't deliver.
As often the case, it might be a good idea to save up and wait.
Thin is good
Having just today flown in to Los Angeles long haul and taking my MacBook Pro to do a bit of work on the plane I was chatting with my colleague about the Air only this afternoon. If I didn't need FireWire and more disk for what I do then the Air would be ideal for my purposes. Compact and light for travel, nice screen, perfectly capable performance wise, and very, very sleek. When you have to take two laptops in your rucksack then having them as slim as possible is very much a factor, trust me.
Ok, I did take a spare battery for my MBP, but I used less than half an hour on the second one. Six hour battery life would be more than adequate, with time spent watching a movie and chatting as well. And the price wouldn't bother me either. As the review pointed out, it's actually cheaper than other similarly spec'd ultraslim laptops. Nor would only one USB port or lack of an optical drive - I use my drive once or twice a year, and use a trackpad out of choice, so really can't be bothered with plugging in a mouse.
The Air is not for everyone of course - it's not supposed to be - but it's a very credible and desirable machine nonetheless.
For Jon Green - Battery is Replaceable & It has Ethernet
Jon - Please read over all the comments before you base your assessment of the MBA on false information.
The Battery on the MBA is very easy to remove and replace. It will be a 5 minute job for someone in the 4-5 year time frame. You DO NOT have to take it into Apple for this task, that's completely FALSE.
For those that need a 2nd battery for trips, here is an external battery for any MacBook, MacBook Pro or MacBook Air.
And the MBA certainly has Ethernet, it's just a little adapter if you still need it. It also has a Fax/Modem. You may be overlooking that is has 802.11n which is similar in speed to 100BaseT, so the need for a physical ethernet port is gone, but for those that want an ethernet port, simply add one. The part number is: MB442Z/A
"If I didn't need FireWire and more disk for what I do then the Air would be ideal for my purposes."
If this computer did what I needed then it would be perfect. Gee, you don't say! If my car could get me laid it would be the perfect chick-magnet. If I was rich I would find it easier to pay my electricity bill.
As to Jon Green: I see my processor running at 200% (2 cores) while compiling and encoding video every day, so I don't know what you're thinking of when you say "it's very rare ... that CPU power actually matters". FSB is just another link in the chain of performance, it's still not the limiting factor for every, or most, tasks.
The Air is just another overpriced toy for overaged children to brag about in the corporate playground; it is of no interest to anyone who actually needs to use a computer on the go.
Multi-touch trackpad, nice, but I don't really like using the trackpad on any notebook, I find it cumbersome and still end up using a mouse. And I can't just buy another battery for it when the inevitable eventually happens, but have to return the whole notebook and who knows how long it will be before I get it back... Bad call, and an absolute deal breaker for me.
If you can afford to pay that amount of money for a "secondary" machine
...go to it.
"For us, price notwithstanding, the Air hits the mark. It's effectively as portable as our Eee, but with a much better battery life, a bigger screen, and a much more usable keyboard and touchpad. "
Yeah, and at 4 times the price, you'd hope that'd be the case. Seems like yet another example of an attractive piece of Apple kit at a ridiculous price for the functionality. Some people want to buy diamond-encrusted platinum cigarette lighters; just shows there's a big market for style over substance. I like my style/substance ratio to be about even, or weighted towards the substance end, thanks.
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