Expensive compared to what?
I am somewhat miffed to see this sub-notebook described as being too expensive. Traditionally sub-notebooks have been very expensive, usually over $2000. People who have to carry their laptop frequently are happily pay a little extra for reducing the size and weight. At $999 for the entry model I consider this a total bargain.
I currently have more than 10 laptops all less than 3 years old, ranging from several 15" desktop replacement models, to a few 13" ultramobiles, a 12" ultraportable wannabe, and a 9" netbook, so have a good basis for comparison. Apart from the netbook the Air was the cheapest of all the laptops I have, and gets the most use currently...
The laptop that was used the most before I got the Air was my X301, which is possibly the best 13" laptop made, so how does the Air compare:
- Speed - Despite having the same CPU the AIr blows the X301 away due to the faster disk and GPU.
- Screen - The screen on the Air is far superior, much better contrast and clarity.
- Keyboard - The Macbook keyboards are the worst I have used on a notebook. The flat tops on the keys make tough typing close to impossible. The keyboard on the X301 is far superior. The Air however does beat any netbook hands down since it is full sized.
- Ports - I have never used more than 2 USB ports at once so I don't miss the extra port. Ethernet might have been useful some day but no great loss. The only thing I miss from the X301 is the DVD drive for ripping DVDs to the hard drive.
- Expandability - I wish the RAM was expandable aftermarket. I got the 2GB model and I really hope it is enough since I am now stuck with this option. The Air is the only laptop I have that doesn't have one RAM slot that is removable.
- Battery - The battery life on the Air is the best of any of the laptops I have in every day use. Video playback is 4-5 hours (less for Divx since it uses more CPU then H264 on the Air). Web surfing is 6-8 hours depending on screen brightness. If you crank the CPU up to 100% and the screen up to full brightness you can drop the battery life to under 2 hours. This really shows how efficient the battery management is when the CPU isn't under stress. It is somewhat of a drawback that the battery is not removable, but at least the battery doesn't poke out the back like it does on some other notebooks. When the battery dies I will be forced to pay Apple to replace it, and often when traveling long haul back home I need a battery that can last 8+ hours of video playback. I have two batteries for my notebook to fill this role. Hopefully someone will come up with an external battery to plug into the Magsafe port which will solve this problem.