MacBook Air – Is it in to be thin?

Published by • January 15th, 2008 RSS News Feed

Today Apple unveiled the MacBook Air, a portable laptop thinner than an anorexic on a hunger strike. Thank you, thank you. Right off the bat, it’s obviously clear that this is one sexy machine. But once you move past its impressive form factor and look at the actual specs, you can’t help but wonder — who would buy this?

I don’t ask that sarcastically, but rather as a matter of curiosity. I just can’t seem to figure out who this computer is being marketed for. Let’s take a look at the specs: The base model is 1.8 ghz with 2mb ram , an 80gb solid-sate drive, and a 13.3 inch screen. It comes with an iSight camera, as do all Macbooks, a full-size and backlit keyboard, and a multi-touch gesture supported trackpad. All cool stuff. But what’s noteworthy about the MacBook Air isn’t what it has, but what its missing.

The MacBook Air is missing an optical drive, though an external is available for purchase from Apple. It’s also missing an ethernet port and a firewire port, which is extremely important if you’re hoping to import any video onto your mac. Also noticably absent is a user replaceable battery. As opposed to other electronic devices, average consumers actually make use of replaceable batteries for their laptops. The most important thing it’s missing, however, is a cheap price tag. For you see, this lightweight baby is gonna set you back at least $1800 bucks — and that’s before you add on an external optical drive or more HD space. This begs the question: Who would actually buy this machine?

For nearly $700 less, users can purchase a regular MacBook with much more impressive specs. And though not as thin or light as the MacBook Air, the regular MacBook is no slouch itself. The most recent iteration of the MacBook weighs a measly 5 pounds, only 2 more than the MacBook Air.

Too weak for Pros, and too expensive for everyone else?

The MacBook Air is clearly not versatile or powerful enough to be the computer of choice for power users, and its hefty price tag is sure to put off users looking for a primary computer. I guess the computer could appeal to heavy travellers who might want the thinnest computer available, but with the regular MacBook being significantly cheaper and only mildly heavier and larger, is the MacBook Air worth the extra price? I simply fail to see what void the MacBook Air is filling and maybe that’s where the answer lies. The MacBook Air seems best used as a secondary computer, a road companion of sorts.  But given it’s extremely thin build, is it durable enough to be the computer of choice for heavy travellers?  In the end, perhaps it will be a luxury product that will sell surprisingly well on account of its shockingly small form factor. And for all I know, seeing and using a MacBook Air in person might be so impressive that it might convince people to lay out the extra cash right there on the spot.

Some are already calling the MacBook Air a disappointment, and I myself have my doubts as to how it will fare in the marketplace. But you can’t deny that Apple is once again pushing the limits of what engineering can do and that’s precisely why they’ve succeeded in the past. And because the bosses over here at Itola weren’t kind enough to cough up the cash so that I could hit up Macworld, I’ll have to wait two weeks before I can get my hands on one and give it a full review.

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Itola Author

is a business / tax attorney from the windy city. Yoni is also a gadget enthusiast who enjoys writing in the third person.
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