Apple did it again. The MacBook Air with new and exiting features that are important for a Subnotebook: The 13.3-inch display, less than 1.5 kilogram weight and a CPU speed up to 1.8 GHz is unprecedented just as the extreme flatness. The formerly thinnest notebook used to be Sony’s very light (850 grams) Vaio VGN-X505 with a 10-inch display. But these are not built anymore.
In order to make an even thinner notebook, Apple needed to leave out a couple of components. To name the biggest cut, there’s only one USB slot available. So, the MacBook Air can at the same time either copy pictures from a digital camera, copy data into a LAN (the adapter goes for about $ 35 extra), utilise it’s DVD player (another extra) or load a USB Stick, but none of these things simultaneously and at the same time. Plus, you don’t get an external mouse. To cover its bases, the touchpad was made very large, one of the largest on the market. And the two-fingers-spread trick known from the iPhone works on the touchpad as well. Only time will tell if this is as convenient on a pad, away from the display.
At the presentation, Steve Jobs compared his MacBook Air with the Sony Vaio VGN-TZ and said the Sony was too thick. To be honest, there are quite a few features in the VGN-TZ that are missing in the MacBook Air: DVD-burner, modem, LAN, FireWire, Memory card -Slot, In-Jack for a Mike, ExpressCard-Slot, RAM-slots to enhance your memory and so on. He should have maybe compared the MacBook Air with other Subnotebooks that have been designed with similar goals in mind: Thin guys without optical drives like the Fujitsu Siemens Lifebook Q for instance.
Considering the weight of the MacBook Air, its 1.36 Kg, compared with a super lightweight as the Lifebook Q (1 kg), the Samsung Q40 (1.1 kg) and above all the extremely light Toshiba Portégé R500, which can be reduced to 800 Grams, are not exactly sensational. Some even manage to build in a DVD burner and still stay under 1,3 Kilograms, like the Fujitsu Siemens Lifebook P (10-inch-display) and the Panasonic Toughbook CF-W7. The Toshiba Portégé R500 should weight a little under 1 Kg, with a DVD drive.
Considering the runtime of a MacBook Air, the promised 5 hours with the 37 WH Power Supply Unit puts it in the line of many its competitors. Too bad the power supply is not exchangeable. For many of other Subnotebooks there are two or even three different battery packs available, some of them with an extra pack, most of the times instead of an optical drive. Sonys VGN-TZ last over 6 hours with its standard battery pack, the Lifebook Q with its high efficiency battery pack last more than ten hours.
If you want to work outdoors or on the road, you’ll have to make do with WLAN and Hotspots, using the IEEE 802-11n Draft Standard. UMTS or even EDGE are not available since there is no PCMCIA Slot to add the feature. This is a bit strange; about all other makers carry models with at least optional UMTS modems. Apple allows internet connectivity through Bluetooth or cell-phone, as long as you don’t have an iPhone, which does not support this feature.