A year after announcing the iPhone, Apple presents its latest laptop: the MacBook Air, which they claim is the thinnest laptop in the world. Is the MacBook Air really the dream laptop for all travelers or does it conceal irreparable gaps?
The MacBook Air features a 13.3-inch LED-backlit widescreen display, the MacBook Air has similar dimensions than the MacBook, but its maximum thickness does not exceed 0.76 inches. Just as its predecessor, it presents a wide keyboard, an integrated webcam and the latest operating system Mac OS X “Leopard”. In its basic version, it comes with a processor Core 2 signed Duets Intel and rhythmical to 1.6 GHz, the MacBook Air is equipped of 2 Go of RAM, Bluetooth, WiFi 802.11n, and a 80 GB hardrive.
Look, keyboard, touchpad
The MacBook Air is immediately enticing. Breaking with the design of the MacBook and Pro MacBook, that present comparatively rectilinear lines, Apple chose to conceive a chassis with very lightly rounded edges, which contributes to reinforce its thinness impression. The general dimensions establish themselves to 12.8 inches wide and 8.95 inches deep, same as the one of the MacBook, it features a 13.3-inch LED-backlit widescreen display that has a 1280 x 800 pixel resolution.
The MacBook Air weighs a little less than 3 pounds. The body of the shell of the MacBook Air adopts a gray anodized surface similar to what one rediscovers on the Pro MacBook or on the rear face of the iPhone. Rather rigid, this shell makes good impression in the measure where the MacBook Air adorned clearly less fragile than one could have thought initially. Nevertheless, this soft surface to the key marks enough easily, the true nomadic will need a protection slip-cover.
As on the Pro MacBook, this keyboard takes advantage of a back light, rather pleasant when one uses the machine in obscurity, of which the intensity can be regulated regardless of the one of the screen. After several days of use, and the necessary moments of adaptation, the keyboard of the MacBook Air reveals itself very pleasant.
The MacBook Air has a webcam (640 x 480) of poor quality and a microphone. It has a luminosity sensor that automatically adjusts the intensity of the backlight LED when one is located in a dark area. In this case, the intensity of the lighting of the keyboard diminishes. When you put your finger on the sensor: this one detects instantly obscurity, and the screen intensity diminishes. With a resolution of 1280 x 800 pixels, the screen of the MacBook Air offers a work surface less important than the one of certain models 11 inches, with which these the resolution climbs to 1366 x 768 pixels, but Apple guarantees thus a certain visual comfort, with a definition that will suit completely most users. Of brilliant type, the flagstone LCD is luminous, and returns hot colors, rather faithful. By increasing the luminosity, use the Macbook Air in the outside light.
The MacBook Air inaugurates a new generation of touchpad, inspired by the iPhone, the first movable telephone of Apple. It is wider, a traditional touchpad. With three fingers, you can use the navigator Safari… but not with Firefox. Most of these small functionalities do not radically transform the user experience, but are part of the charm of the Apple products.
The three connectors proposed by the MacBook Air are located on left side, sheltered by a small trap door that, once opened, leaves only little space to reach them. Concretely, if your connector is thick, or if you use a wide USB key, you will not be able to connect them directly. In order to remedy the problem, Apple suggests suing an extension. These are rather inexpensive, but one is now obliged to multiply the cables, which somewhat diminishes the ultra portable aspect of the machine.
WiFi but no DVD
The absence of DVD reader is voluntary (there is not enough thickness anyway). Apple’s marketing states that at a time where wires are going away, is it still necessary to have a DVD reader? Apple plays the network card, with an application compatible with Mac as well as Windows XP and Windows Vista that allows DAV and CD use wirelessly. The reader of your principal machine will be able therefore you to serve to install applications, transfer contents towards the MacBook Air and even resettle your operating system but it may take 5 to 10 times longer than using a DVD reader. If that is a major issue you will have to buy an external $99 USB 2.0 based DVD reader.
Powered by a processor Core 2 rhythmical Duets to 1.6 GHz, engraved in 65 nanometers, the MacBook Air is not a speed demon, and is slower than the other Apple laptops. The choice of Apple is therefore supposed to guarantee a level of acceptable performances for light and medium users.
If you are ready to spend more the MacBook Air comes with a more powerful processor posting a frequency of 1.8 GHz but also and especially of a hard disc to memory Flash of type SSD of 64 Go, similar to the one that integrates in standard Lenovo in his Thinkpad X300. To take advantage of these two improvements, it will be necessary nevertheless to pay out a supplement of some $1,300, which will carry the final price of the MacBook Air to about $3,098.
Certain applications extremely resource intensive work clearly slowly on the MacBook Air, due to its 1.6 GHz processor. In other words the manipulation of pictures of big size under Photoshop or video editing will put your patience to a certain test.
On the other hand, the manipulation of photos or video sequences by means of iMovie will work without difficulties, and without any notable discomfort. The interface preserves the fluidity that you can expect of Leopard in spite of the poor performances of its processor. The Web navigation, office, music and video use do not suffer from any problem. As for games, let’s keep it simple, just choose a different laptop.
Apple talks about an autonomy of about five hours with activated WiFi. While selecting the eco mode proposed by Mac OS X and the screen luminosity to 75% of his capacity, the MacBook Air was able to work during 3h15 before the low battery warning showed up.
One could think that with his MacBook Air, stretched Apple to create a new segment on the laptop market. Its irreproachable design, moderate weight and extreme thinness makes it a good candidate for the ultra portable category. But the impossibility to change the battery or the extremely limited connectivity will stop many professionals who generally like this type of machines. The performance of the MacBook Air will suffice for light traveler users i.e. bloggers, connected fanatics, journalists, and other sales representatives. They will have no difficulty working with photos, compose bills and items or prepare, then to assure a presentation, all profiting from it of his excellent flagstone LCD screen.
Apple has attempted to circumvent some of the handicaps of the MacBook Air. The absence of DVD is compensated by the functionality of take in charge of a reader network on a distant machine, PC or Mac. The idea is interesting, even if in the facts, we cannot envision installing anything sizeable that way. The touchpad is improved, integrating more functionalities coming from the iPhone. Although these improvements do not revolutionize the way one interacts with a computer, they are rather pleasant.
It will be necessary to add to the MacBook Air an external DVD, as well as a USB hub and an adapter USB for the Ethernet to assure a real comfort of usage, and to put it on an equal foot with other machines with equivalent price and functionality. Therefore this diminishes what makes the charm of the MacBook Air: its thinness. The other solution would be to adhere to the idea that the MacBook Air is conceived only as an auxiliary machine, a light portable and elegant one coming to complete your work station for the days where you travel and only do light work.
This beautiful machine suffers from cruel limitations that other computers, sometimes lighter or less costly, do not have. In spite of the beautiful lines and user friendliness of the MacBook Air, it does not deliver the ultra portable promise as expected. The previous MacBook performs better, is more functional, and cheaper!