The MacBook Air Question

35 thoughts on “The MacBook Air Question”

  1. Bought the one Jobs compares it to (Sony TZ-1). Totally regeretted my decision when I saw the Air.

    BUT, the Air just is not a tool for those who need to present or work in corporate work. The TZ-1 has integrated EV-DO which is killer. (You can buy a card, but you’ll break it, lose it, etc. Integrated is 100x better.) The Air doesn’t have Ethernet or (like other Macs) VGA, making it a challenge for many presentations.

    Bottom line is the Air is slicker than the TZ-1, but can’t survive without Ethernet/EV-DO/VGA …

  2. Did you pony up for the SSD or not? With the normal hard drive the system is not worth hassle of the missing components. With the SSD you are looking at something much more amazing. Having no moving parts it is going to be one strong device.

    It is also a first gen Apple product. That means that it is going to have problems, they all do. If money is no object the solid state Air would be a great computer for the right person. For the rest of the world who have to watch our wallets there is no reason to get this computer.

  3. Let’s be honest. You’re buying the first generation of a more or less new concept. Ofcourse it is not perfect. Would you buy an iPhone? No you wouldn’t (would you?) it’s a slick machine, but the next generation is going to be much cooler. We all want those slick, thin ultra long battery life immensely powerfull laptops. But we know – we do know that, because we are geeks – it isn’t there yet. At least not to our full satisfaction. Then again, if you are not into graphic design or movie editing and the like. Why would you want ‘the’ fastest machine? And not just something that’s comfortable to use?

  4. For comparison’s sake, I have a Thinkpad X61. True, it’s far from sexy but: it has a full-size keyboad; it has a 2GHz dual core chip with up to 4GB of RAM and you can get a full speed hard drive in there (i.e. 7200rpm); it weighs a touch over three pounds; is smaller (if obviously thicker) than a Macbook Air; and is available with WWAN. Yes the Air is thinner – and impresses potential mates at Starbucks – but unless something is in my pocket, thinness really make any difference. The X61 takes up less space in a bag while outperforming it. The Thinkpad does, however, come with Vista which, as I understand it, everyone loves and has no problems with whatsoever 😉

  5. The MacBook Air obviously has limited abilities, so its just whether or not you need the advantages it provides more than the abilities it doesn’t. The advantages being light weight (less to lug around), thin (easier to carry around by itself or with other stuff), simplicity (no need to bring a lot of extra junk you can’t use anyway). You mention live blogging and on the go computing which it seems to be a perfect use for it. It sounds like a good fit especially when it won’t be your only Mac.

  6. I took Levy’s comments about how hot it runs as a positive – he says it doesn’t run as hot as Apple’s other laptops, then made a joke about others being detrimental to fertility. Personally, I’d say it’s a good choice for a second (but not your only) Mac, especially for event blogging or on-the-go computing.

    One thing that bugs me is that you don’t seem to be able to rip music to it using the Remote Disc feature. Don’t really get that if you can install software using the same feature. Although, I suppose if you’re going to pony up for a 2nd computer that costs this much, might as well throw in another $100 for the SuperDrive. No sense in choking on the tail when you’ve already swallowed the whole horse.

  7. Om, I agree with Steve’s thought as this being a good cloud computing experience. It’s why I bought my Asus Eee PC with the 4 GB storage limitation. However, if you’re going after the cloud, you need a flight to get there and for most folks, WiFi isn’t going to cut it. Your mileage may vary of course. I raise this point because like most die-hard mobile device owners, I use 3G. Mine is in the form of a USB card. It’s the USB727 and it works great with all of my devices (Asus Eee, Samsung Q1P UMPC, MacBook Pro, tablets from Gateway & Toshiba). One problem though: it won’t work easily with the Air because USB modems don’t fit! There isn’t enough clearance in the little drop down USB port! Ugh… you’d need a male / female USB cable, which I have, but that’s not the sexy, lightweight solution Apple really wants us to use… is it? [Of course, they could always sell us the ‘iCable’ for only $49.99.] I say cancel… but it’s your money and your computing requirements; not mine! 😉

  8. Jason Lemkin, you incorrectly wrote:

    “The Air doesn’t have Ethernet or (like other Macs) VGA, making it a challenge for many presentations.”

    Wrong. The MacBook Air comes with a micro DVI to VGA adapter if you really need VGA. You can get an optional USB to Ethernet cable, and you have the option of getting a micro DVI to S-Video cable.

    Om Malik — I ordered an MBA with Solid State Drive. Before doing so, I confirmed with Apple Business (if you call 1-800-MY-APPLE sort the phone tree for Apple Business and you will get to telephone operators who can usually answer more nitty gritty questions or get to an engineer to answer your questions). As we know in this day and age, the art is asking the right question. Did Pogue, Mossberg et al ask the right questions? I don’t think so. The questions I asked about the hard drive options were:

    1. Does the internal 80 GB PATA drive have a sudden motion sensor (wanted to make sure) and the answer was “yes” it does.

    2. Is the solid state drive soldered into the logic board or can it be replaced. The answer: it can be replaced. In fact, in the future, as Solid State Drive densities increase, it can be replaced with higher density SSDs. Now, ladies and gents, we’re talking about a cloud-based machine that could conceivably last a long time!

    But I didn’t see Pogue / Mossberg, et al asking the same questions even though they are alleged “gurus”.

    I can’t wait to have a machine with no moving parts, and I fully expect the MacBook Air with Solid State Drive to a.) run cooler than the MBA with 80 GB PATA drive, b.) last longer on its battery than with the 80 GB PATA drive — probably has a shot at exceeding Apple’s estimated 5 hours on the SSD drive.

    Eddie

  9. Dude,

    Glad to have you back.
    This is version 1.0 of a untested concept i.e. it’s really a public beta. If you want a thing that “just works”, this is probably not it. Just like with Powerbooks and Leopard and iPhone and …. wait for a couple of releases till they figure it out. On the other hand if you like paying to be part of the beta testing team (a lowered expectation for which Microsoft has conditioned us all) then get every Apple product on day one ;-).

    On the other hand if you want to make it easier to strike up conversations in airports with beautiful women and ugly nerds this is just the ticket when paired with your iPhone.

  10. Have you thought about the ASUS eeePC ? It might do the trick very well if you’re gonna use it as a blogging machine. Sure it’s less powerful, sure it’s not running OS X (even if some have got it running illegally), but well, it’s only costing 299$…

  11. Om, the reviews gave me pause too. However, I am holding steady and will get one.

    The reason is that I just use Safari and Mail.app alone 90% of the time. IM? Web app. RSS? Web app. I am cloudified.

    My iTunes library long outgrew my MacBook so it already sits on a 500gb externall drive. All I need to move is my photos, many of which to are in the cloud.

    My needs are writing, PPT/Keynote and web/email. Those are easily handled by an MBA so I am sticking because I want the weight to be light. And I am probably going SSD for the durability and hopefully better battery, even though I know the money is crazy.

    So, net I think you need to ask yourself how you plan to use it. You like Mac apps I know. But for me web apps carry much of the load these days.

  12. If it had two USB ports, and a better Hard drive/cheaper SSD I would have already ordered one. I feel constrained by the two USB ports on my MacBook Pro; sometimes I want to use my EVDO USB adapter (I use it across platforms, so I need a USB one, not an express card one) and a thumbdrive or external hard drive, so that’s a real concern. I have a USB squid, but it’s kind of a pain to break that out for just two USB items.

    I’m also really concerned about the lack of ability to upgrade the RAM; 2 GB is fine for now, but what about in a year or two? The slow, small hard drive is also a concern. I only have one battery for my MacBook Pro, so I don’t care much about the user replaceable battery. I also don’t want integrated 3G – I don’t want the $1800 investment tied to a particular Telco or technology. I want to be able to swap in via USB or express card to use EVDO Rev X or HSDPA or UMTS or whatever 700 mhz or Wimax flavor wins out. There are too many options there to lock the hardware to only one (but this also highlights the need for more USB ports).

    Finally though, I want to see the screen and feel the keyboard and trackpad. If they work as well as they look, I’ll be hooked. The feel of a good keyboard and the look of a good display will go a long way – though again, I wish they had provided even a BTO option for a matte display instead of a glossy one.

  13. Om, you should know better NEVER buy a v1 Apple product. If you dont regret the purchase now you wl in 3 months when it has a faster CPU, reduced flash prices and more on the port connectivity front.

    Im still pissed fpr buying a week 12 MBP!

    cheers

  14. I think you’ll be happy with the MacBook Air. On the heat issue, it seems Walt comment provide comfort. On the battery issue, I’d say this, if 5 hours is to be believed then a 2nd battery is not very useful. From what I understand you can’t carry spare batteries on plane anymore and that’s about the only place I ever found them useful, a plug seems handy enough on terra firma. More at http://personafile.com/Macbook-Air.html on the battery issue. Oh yea, I ordered one too.

  15. I ordered one too, and had a brief exchange with Gruber about it. Like many pundits, his initial reaction was that it was targeted as a secondary machine. I have a different take. I think its for a different user, and a strategic move by Apple.

    The target user is like you and me. We prefer Apple products to the competition in many situations. And our computing needs are more than met by the lower-powered feature set… web browsing, emailing, blogging, word processing, presentations, feed reading, spreadsheeting, calendaring, address booking, chatting… and maybe the occasional image editing, movie editing, heavier lifting required sort of stuff. Also, we’re moving more and more of our content online and using the cloud.

    I think Apple got it right here: while many are saying a much smaller form factor would have been better, I’m personally excited to have thin and light, but a full-size screen and keyboard, two things I’ve never wanted to sacrifice in a smaller computer. I like seeing GigaOm and all the cool new stuff on the web in all their glory (though the Mobile Safari on the iPhone is a decent alternative). And writing is so much of what I do every day… email, blog, chat, reports, and so on, that the big keyboard is crucial.

    I also think Apple is only dipping their toes into thin clients and cloud computing with this device. Future generations of the form factor may go significantly further. But this iteration is a way to head down that path while still appealing to those wanting a more traditional notebook computing experience.

    Anyway, I’m excited to get mine. Wish I was one of those getting theirs early, but alas, I’m still showing the Feb 11 arrival date. I think you’ll be happy with it.

  16. Om,

    I would return the v1 MacBook Air and wait until the next release, which will likely feature the energy efficient 45 nm Penryn processor. Apple and Intel shrunk a 60 nm chip into this laptop but it uses more energy and produces more heat than the Penryn chipset. That and the fact that it doesn’t support 3G connectivity kind of sucks. But it has a great design.

  17. If you have doubts, I think you should cancel and avoid the risk of aggravation — it will only mean a small delay in getting one, should you doubts prove unfounded when MBA ships and is widely reviewed. Me, I ordered an entry-level model and the reviews confirm my opinion I’ll be happy with it — I also have an ASUS EEE and use it when I must, but the 7″ screen is just too tiny and the 2-hours-in-real-use battery life quite limiting; MBA will remove those issues (I’d have chosen a 12″ screen if I had my pick, but anything between 11″ and 13″ is probably going to be OK; and the battery life does seem like it will exceed 4.5 hours in real use, which matches my needs well).

  18. I think that you should undoubtedly cancel your order. The MacBook Air compromises on way too many features which should be standard in any notebook – even an ultra-portable. If Apple can move even a modest amount of MBAs, you can bet that Apple will never offer a real ultra-portable, something akin to a modern version of the 12″ PowerBook.

    I think that a successful MBA is also a slippery slope. If successful, I’m sure that you’ll see its deficiencies ported to the next iterations of the MacBook and MBP. Buying an MBA is like voting to have no user-swappable battery in the next MacBooks. While the Pro will probably not be affected too much, you’ll see the MacBook get dumbed-down so it won’t compete with the Air (which it currently does, favorably).

    What I actually dislike most about the MacBook Air is that, truthfully, no one wants it. The Mac-faithful are starved for an ultra-portable. In this case, Apple has served up a steaming, 3-lb. pile of (nice-looking) garbage. Since Apple insists on being the sole-provider of hardware for their OS, it’s either garbage or nothing – your choice.

    Mac users deserve better. This is what they deserve: a true ultra-portable. It would include everything in the current MacBook, have a 12″ WXGA LED display, be slightly thinner, weigh 3.5 pounds, have integrated WAN as an option, and be styled just like the MacBook Pro. That’s what they should be selling for $1699 ($2299 with SSD, and spec-bump).

    I have a Dell XPS m1210, which is almost exactly what I described above. It’s almost 2-years old. Surely Apple could improve on it, give it Apple-styling and OS X, and Mac users would be racing to the stores. However, if enough suckers to buy the Air, the people who want something small AND functional will never get it. At least, not from Apple.

  19. MBA seems to be a real example of what everyday users need.
    1. SSD will add longer battery life. When someone actually gets their hands on one to review, bet the battery life far exceeds 5 hours. SSD’s have a 50+ year life span and with the SSD being removable, the next iterations will be cheaper and bigger as time goes by. Giving the one I order now, a longer life cycle. Battery is user replaceable, unlike what “the big 3” stated.
    2. USB hubs are now very tiny and no big deal to add if needed. Glad only one on board, minimal is better, because most of the time traveling or even in the home, more than one is not needed. Hookup to time capsule and you’re off to the races, with plenty of storage and accessibility.
    3. The air will sell like hot-cakes. Understand design of bezel needing to be thicker for rigidity on such a thin screen.
    4. Purchased 2001 Titanium and used it to date. 7 year life span and still clicking. Can’t get that out of a Dell or PeeCee iteration. MBA is the Titanium for 2008 and beyond.

  20. Let us know about the heat thing when you get yours. Being that you aren’t using this heavily, it shouldn’t matter really. For those who are ditching other hardware for this as a replacement, might have some issues.

    Oh, another thing. Mossberg has major conflict of interest issues. As a “journalist” for the WSJ, he should know better and give full disclosures when commenting on Apple. He might also be singlehandedly be responsible for upcoming mac viruses.

    Anyway, can’t wait to hear about your experiences. Cheers!

  21. Thin is not the issue here, rather light weight and easy to whip out and use at any or all occasions is. After looking through all the early reviews, I am amazed that people jump to erroneous conclusions without having all the real facts about the macbook air. Take for instances the SSD. Yes, it is expensive at 999 for just the hard drive, but take a look at the advantages.
    http://www.previewgadgets.com/gadget/comparison-between-ssd-vs-hdd-apple-macbook-air/
    For some advantages will outweigh the cost. Plus, have confirmed that the SSD is user replaceable, as is the battery. If you can use a screwdriver, you can replace both these items in the future. When SSD prices come down, buy a bigger SSD and add it to your computer. Most issues people have are solved with the SSD option. The computer costs 3098.00 with cutting edge technology. I paid 3200.00 7 years ago for the titanium G4 powerbook, which was then the cutting edge tech. I still use my G4 today, although the ancient .500 GB chip won’t run leopard, so I must update to the new machine. Most other laptops on the market lack in the area of, ease of use. I am less likely to carry the heavier laptops around and don’t want to have to wait for boot-up, etc. to put down ideas. Macbook Air is an ideal tool to become more productive. My imac 24″ does the heavy computing tasks. As a destination point for heavy duty applications. The files and things I have on my computer are more valuable than the computer itself. If I can become more productive with a device that I am prone to use more because ease of use, isn’t that really a more powerful tool than the higher spec’d heavy laptops that we hesitate to take everywhere with us?

  22. Excellent blog. I have ordered a 1.6 SSD MBA. I have been stoked about the SSD for a very long time. Not as stoked about the upgrade price apple has set. The things that apple have decided to take out of this portable computer are not the end of the world people. Comments generally tend to imply that apple is going to end the optical drive, firewire ports and all amenities altogether … come on, use your head – this decision was made for their PORTABLE offering. Not everyone wants or even cares about portability but I certainly do and have been waiting for apple to come out with this product. My 12″ powerbook has served me well, every day, for more than 4 years now. It is been banged, dropped, modified (HD & ram myself), traveled hard, orange juice spilled across the keyboard sitting in the middle seat in coach, even had the jack from my earbuds sink the jack into the computer upon one of the many crashes! The outer shell of the bottom half is wrinkled due to abuse through heavy work and the batter is now duct taped on !! That little sucker still WORKS LIKE A CHARM.

    The MBA is the perfect replacement for me – the only design regret for me personally is that it didn’t follow the perfectly sized footprint of the 12″. The bezel around the screen and keyboard seem somewhat wasteful to me after seeing the insides. I am no engineer but it kind of looks like they could have trimmed that back without compromising anything but the full sized keyboard. Again, the 12″ compact keyboard has always worked well for me. Sometimes when I jump back to a full sized keyboard I am thrown off actually.

    Good job apple – a little heavy on the price point for the SSD option but it is still not stopping me. I spent exactly the same amount on my 12″ 4 years ago.

  23. WILL I AM GETTING THE MACBOOK AIR WITH THE 1.8 GHZ AND THE 64 GB SSD DRIVES I HOPE TO START SEEING SSD DRIVE COMPUTERS AT THE LOCAL COMPUTER STORE SOON WITH THE EXTERNAL OPICAL DRIVE I CAN PLAY HALO ON THE GO MAC HAS HALO FOR MACS.

  24. WILL I AM GETTING THE MACBOOK AIR WITH THE 1.8 GHZ AND THE 64 GB SSD DRIVES I HOPE TO START SEEING SSD DRIVE COMPUTERS AT THE LOCAL COMPUTER STORE SOON WITH THE EXTERNAL OPICAL DRIVE I CAN PLAY HALO ON THE GO MAC HAS HALO FOR MACS.

  25. WILL I AM GETTING THE MACBOOK AIR WITH THE 1.8 GHZ AND THE 64 GB SSD DRIVES I HOPE TO START SEEING SSD DRIVE COMPUTERS AT THE LOCAL COMPUTER STORE SOON WITH THE EXTERNAL OPICAL DRIVE I CAN PLAY HALO ON THE GO MAC HAS HALO FOR MACS.

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