Big Fucking Whoop
"What would happen if a MacBook and an iPad hooked up?", Steve Jobs asked his "Back to the Mac" audience today, and answered his own question with the release of two new versions of the MacBook Air, available today starting at $999. The new duo includes a 13.3-inch, 2.9-pound version, the same display size as the MacBook Air …
Almost every computer manufacturer makes a distinction between netbooks and ultraportable laptops.
Due to licensing restrictions from Intel and Microsoft, "netbooks" almost invariably have Atom CPUs, 1GB RAM, 160GB hard drives, 10" low res screens, etc.
The small MacBook air is clearly an ultraportable laptop and I think you will be hard pressed to find anybody calling it a netbook outside of a few uninformed haters.
compared to my Asus EeePC 901:
Single core Atom vs, C2D
Intel GMA 950 vs. Nvidia 320
1GB RAM vs 2 GB RAM
optional 2GB RAM vs. optional 4GB RAM
Slow 4GB and even slower 16GB SSD vs 64GB SSD
1024x600 vs 1336x768
300 Euros vs 1000 Euros
But they have 5h battery life in common.
I'd call that a subnotebook.
Times move on. My girlfriend's HP cost £280 vs £850 for the macbook.
1.3 GHZ C2D vs 1.4GHz C2D
250GB 7200rpm HD vs 64GB of solid state storage (of unknown performance)
Intel 4500 vs Nvidia (both do basic gaming, bluray accelerated playback)
3GB vs 2GB
optional 5GB vs optional 4GB
1366x768 vs 1366x768
£280 vs £850
Both have 5hr battery lives
I've spent £90 on a Sandforce 60GB SSD that will wipe the floor of whatever is in the air, so £370 vs £850.
The worst thing about this announcement is memories of Saint Steve slagging off the Vaio TZ two years ago ... only to release a laptop two years later based on the exact same parts and screen size (but with a lower battery life, well done). http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OIV6peKMj9M#t=87
that in 6 months that 5 hour battery life on the HP will be about 45 minutes tops, just like the HP laptop and the dell laptop and every other PC based laptop.
the battery in the apple on the other hand and 2 years from now will have 5 hours. Just like the staying power my macbook does (although my macbook has 3 hours, not 5)
thats the difference between cheap battery design and expensive battery design
Tell that to my 18 month old 17 inch macbook, which is showing battery health of 45% and a run time of around 1.5 hours.
Obviously, I know this is only an anecdote, but my last macbook was subject to a battery recall, so I'm a little sceptical of your statement about expensive battery design.
Just wait until the MLC flash has a chip-level error or the like. Sucks that you won't be able to replace the "drive" (or upgrade the capacity for that matter). These look like fairly nice machines for the semi-premium however. If I ever need a laptop-that-feels-like-a-clipboard, might be a consideration. Perhaps.
Hard drives are built to handle some bad sectors and SSD controllers can handle flash cell failures. It will suck if anything breaks in one of these new MacBook AIrs breaks since they are so integrated but that's the price you pay for something with these dimensions and specifications.
The batteries in Apple's latest notebooks are good for 1,000 full cycles unlike the ~300 of their predecessors and those found in most Windows machines. This is because of the sophisticated charging circuitry and the specially developed battery chemistry. After nearly a year of daily use, my cycle count is ~190 cycles. So if it was an old style battery, you would be right. I would need a new one next year but, the way its going, I reckon I'll get four years out of it easily.
In any case, you don't need to buy a new machine if the battery fails, you can get it replaced by Apple or as someone else said do it yourself. I know people who have had their older style battery replaced under AppleCare within 3 years of owning one because it didn't achieve the predicted 300 or so cycles.
I don't think Apple are worse than other manufacturers with regard to obsolescence. If anything they are better. My previous Mac lasted me over five years and several major OS upgrades. The Windows box I had five years ago wouldn't have a prayer of running Windows 7 effectively and was creaking at the seams with XP.
I mean, all those netbooks with OS X, Core 2 Duo processors, nVidia 320M graphics etc... i agree, we're so spoilt for choice it's untrue.
As for built in 3G modem... it's called tethering, Apple want people to have iPhones tethered, tariffs are usually the same as a dedicated 3G card too so makes a lot of sense if you ask me. I junked my Vodafone datacard when i could tether using my iPhone - i always have the phone with me (unlike the datacard) and the tariff is £12 a month cheaper.....
C2D processors in these things are within weeks of being 2 generations out of date, 320M graphics are nothing to write home about, HDDs & batteries can't be removed without costly and lengthy RTMs .... oh, and there's still no fecking ethernet port.
My sister has one of these. They're total and utter crap.
But a C2D may be nearly 2 generations out, but it's still significantly faster and far better at multi tasking than any Atom processor currently out there... I even forgot to mention the SSD hard drive, another hugely prevalent feature in every Netbook i've owned.
As for HDD and battery, you've clearly not used one - my Macbook lasts well over 6 hours still... it's nearly 12 months old and still lasts as well as did when brand new, no other machine i've owned as done that well.
Ethernet... wow, clutching a little now? I don't plug an ethernet cable in with the Macbook either, unless you're constantly moving massive files around a network - which would need to be Gigabit anyway - then Wireless-N 5GHz is way more than ample. Most people browse the web, download music, play films etc... for which a Wireless connection is way more than adequate. If you're in an environment when full speed of file movement across a LAN is necessary, maybe buy a different machine?
Being a fanbois that I am though, i'm clearly blinkered in my views. Though i won't be buying an Air. There is no space for it in my requirements... they're already filled by the iMac, Mac Mini, Macbook Pro, iPhone 4 (x2) and iPad that myself and girlfriend own between us. (I forgot to mention the Dell Mini 9 as that isn't used anymore since getting the iPad, not even when Hackintoshed and upgraded with a 32Gb SSD was it redeemed)
At http://www.apple.com/uk/macbookair/compare.html. £849 for the bottom-end model (I use the phrase comparatively - hardly bottom-end by other standards) with 64GB flash drive + 11.6 inch screen, going up to £1349 for the 13in screen with 256GB flash drive. Hardly netbook prices. Looks pretty nice, but a totally different market.
In all fairness, the screen size and lack of optical drive might make it similar to a netbook - but the CPU clearly doesn't. Any portable machine with a Core 2 Duo processor can't be a true netbook by any stretch of imagination.
On the other hand:
1. What's with the battery size and life - specially on the 11" machine? Samsung have had on the market for a while now netbooks stretching to a (theoretical) 13.5 hours battery life. Couldn't Apple muster something a bit further North? Maybe closer to 10 hours?
2. What's with these Core 2 Duo processors in a brand new design? And not only at Apple. I am under the impression that the new ultra low power processors from Intel are i3 ULV and i5 ULV (all ending in 'UM'). Why am I not seeing any laptops with these in? They were launched in May. Any particular reason for this delay?
See here for press release details: http://www.engadget.com/2010/05/24/intel-officially-outs-core-i3-i5-and-i7-ulv-processors-for-thos/
You can't use the Nvidia graphics with the intel i3 because of licensing restrictions.
And the intel graphics are slower than the 9400M in the old MacBook Air, let alone the 320M. I'm also pretty sure (but not 100%) that intel's graphics don't support Open CL. Which is a problem for Apple.
So Apple has two choices:
 10% drop in CPU for 2-3x graphics performance
 2-3x drop in graphics performance for a 10% CPU boost
Technically they had a third choice which was to change the form factor of the Air to fit a discrete GPU. On balance it is probably still the right choice.
"What's with the battery size and life - specially on the 11" machine?"
Jobs referred to new. more realistic measurements of battery life so that you can expect to enjoy the figures they quote. Forget the precise terminology he used to describe them now.
The 11" enclosure has less room in for battery cells than the 13" that's why there is a difference.
I bet you would easily get a day's real world use out of both of them.
compared to similar offerings from Dell, Sony, Acer etc. this thing is not especially expensive. Note that this is not an Atom-"powered" Netbook at all. It's a subnotebook and these never were really cheap.
Still, I think the 13.3" version is a luxury compared to a 13" MBP. It's a bit lighter, a bit thinner and more expensive.
The 11.6 Version is only about as expensive as a white plastic MB (the cheapest portable Mac) and I'm pretty sure that people will like it. Decent power, full-size keyboard, decent screen, *very* light, small and thin. I've been lugging around my MB quite a bit lately and cutting the weight in half surely would be tempting.
With a core 2 duo and Nvidia graphics of some description this is an ultra portable rather than a netbook.
Something like the Lenovo Ideapad U160 is a closer comparison, £549 for an i3 (faster) and Intel GMA graphics (much slower) or the Thinkpad X201 (12" screen so slightly bigger) i7 (much faster) Intel HD graphics (much slower) £1729.08.
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