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Wednesday, 16 January 2008 07:02

MacBook Air is thin, but expensive

Written by David Stellmack

Image

.76” at its thickest point and weighs only 3 pounds


Like most users, when you get done drooling over the new MacBook Air, there are a few things that at first glance you might have missed due to being overcome with its thin form factor and feather light weight. Beyond the fact that the MacBook Air starts at US$1,799, Apple is only taking pre-orders for it currently because it is not scheduled to ship for another two weeks.

In order to achieve this slim form factor Apple did have to leave a few things out. First, and perhaps most importantly, the battery in the MacBook Air is not user replaceable -- which is a real drag. The MacBook Air only offers a single USB port, a Micro DVI port, and an audio out jack. If you are a power user who likes to connect things to your MacBook, this is not the unit for you.

As for network connectivity, the MacBook Air does not offer a wired Ethernet port. Yes, that is correct: because of the size and small form factor, there is no wired Ethernet. While the MacBook Air will support the latest 802.11n WiFi standard and Bluetooth 2.1, these are ‘it’ for connectivity options. This means that consumers have no option to add cellular EV-DO or HSDPA options, even though Apple chose to brand the unit with the “Air” name.

One last tidbit to note, the MacBook Air does not include an optical drive, and even though Apple will sell you an external unit for an additional $99 for the SuperDrive, without loading the software would be a serious issue unless you use the wireless optical drive sharing technology that Steve Jobs spoke of in his presentation. Still, it is doubtful that MacBook Air owners will need the optical drive to load software all that frequently, so it is a clever idea to save the weight by discarding the drive.

While those who use PC notebooks all of the time might consider these potential issues to make the purchase of the MacBook Air a bit more of a compromise, it does not seem to trouble most Apple enthusiasts who seemed more excited about the new Multi-Touch trackpad that allows users to use the same “gestures” that they have been using on the iPhone. Even with 5 hours of projected battery life, we are still more concerned about having to return the MacBook Air to Apple to have the battery replaced in the future. Apart from these issues, it is an innovative and well crafted notebook, despite the compromises that Apple made to get it to fit into this small package.

Last modified on Wednesday, 16 January 2008 09:20

David Stellmack

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