The MacBook Air: Thoroughly Reviewedby Anand Lal Shimpi on February 13, 2008 12:00 AM EST
- Posted in
It Feels So Good
Apple can't help but talk up the fact that the MacBook Air is incredibly thin; something you honestly can't really appreciate until seeing/holding it in person.
The design is amazing and Apple's designers styled the Air in such a way that the shape of the notebook further accentuates how thin it is. It truly is beautiful, and I was a skeptic going into this review. PC notebook manufacturers are always asking me how they can better compete with Apple, designs like the Air are the perfect example of what we should be seeing from the Dells and Lenovos of the world but just aren't.
From top to bottom: iPhone, Macbook Air and the original MacBook Pro
The thinness is only a part of the equation however, unlike most ultra portables I've used over the years - the MacBook Air feels solid. Largely due to its aluminum shell, the Air feels unbelievably rigid - something I can't say about most ultra portables.
The screen hinge is also very tight but I'm unsure how that will wear over time; even the best constructed notebooks tend to fare poorly in this department as you use them.
The aluminum exterior does scratch pretty easily, even when taking good care of it we still managed to incur a few scratches on its underside. But just like dings on a new car, you get used to them after a while and stop worrying so much. The all aluminum exterior also means that it'll always shock me after going through airport security, just like my MacBook Pro - great; it's a small price to pay for a sturdy system.
The feet on the bottom of the Air are also very well done; they keep the system elevated enough to avoid scratching the base while flowing with the design.
The form factor of the MacBook Air is absolutely perfect, I can't stress enough how much Apple's entire lineup of notebooks needs to feel like the Air does in your hands.
Apple does fall very short in bundling accessories with the Air. At $1799 I don't expect Apple to include everything, but the Air really needs a well designed case. Apple kept mentioning that you can fit the Air inside a manilla folder, but failed to design a better alternative for you to stick it in when carrying it around. If you want to even attempt to carry accessories with the Air, you'll need a standard notebook bag which is designed for much larger systems - partially defeating the purpose of having such a thin and light notebook.
While I'd like to see Apple step to the plate and offer a case worthy of the Air, there is a great opportunity for a clever third party manufacturer to make something efficient for carrying the Air and its accessories around.
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Anand Lal Shimpi - Thursday, February 14, 2008 - linkYou are correct - it looks like the power draw is identical to any other USB optical drive. I don't see any indication of any hardware based authentication tied to the drive, although I haven't specifically tested it.
Brau - Thursday, February 14, 2008 - linkWow. Thank you very much for looking into it. IF you do get a chance to test out the drive on another MBA, I'd sure like to know the result. I'm really hoping they haven't invoked any limitations similar to Remote Disk under the assertion that people could use it to share media content.
Xenoterranos - Thursday, February 14, 2008 - linkBravo Anand. I loved the review, and it reminded me of why I started reading Anandtech in the first place.
I honestly couldn't care less about the Macbook Air, but the review was top notch.
mlambert890 - Thursday, February 14, 2008 - linkSo Anand...
Seriously.. the Mac koolaid is making you drunk.
Youd be "blown away" if Dell and Gateway took away the removable batteries from their existing thin and lights (they dont make ultraportables, and neither does Apple), made them thinner, and removed a bunch of ports and the optical drives?
Were you "blown away" by the Sony X505? Or how about any of the MANY PC based notebooks that are a LOT smaller and lighter than the MBA?
I guess not. They're not that nice white color with the Apple logo and arent held up by Jobs at the Mac expo.
Are PC guys really getting THIS desperately bored that now we're going to join the flocks swooning over any crap Apple chucks into the marketplace?
At least be honest man. If the MBA had a Dell or Gateway logo you would TEAR IT APART for lack of ports, too large of a footprint, weight that was mediocre since there is a BIG list of sub 3lb PC notebooks and.... NON REMOVABLE BATTERY.
mlambert890 - Thursday, February 14, 2008 - linkNot to be picky but, well, *PC* reviews are always picky. There is NO WAY the MBA is an "ultraportable"
Its HUGE in terms of the dimensions that mean something - LxW. It is a THIN AND LIGHT.
Im typing this on a Fujitsu P1610. THAT is an ultra-portable - 9.1x6.5x2.2lbs
13x9 is massive. My Sony SZ had similar dimensions and I couldnt open it in a cramped coach seat on a plane.
People keep talking about how "the MBA is for special people - you dont get it". MANY of us *do* "get it". There are ALOT of travelers like myself who have been using notebooks in this space for YEARS.
Apple has given us yet another ~13x~9x~3lb notebook. The only difference is this one is THINK (useless) and has NO REMOVABLE BATTERY (big problem)
I keep seeing Mac lunatics ranting about how the battery *IS* removable because you can surgically remove it. Its funny because thats pretty directly counter to the argument of "only special people use this type of notebook" since those "special people" are executives and road warriors who NEED TO SWAP BATTERIES WHILE ON A PLANE and also need to open the thing on a plane.
Sorry to all the drooling Mac-o-philes, but the MBA is a miss.
Griswold - Thursday, February 14, 2008 - linkBut but... its only 10 tiny screws of varying sizes that need to be removed to change the battery - anyone can do that on a plane!
Souka - Thursday, February 14, 2008 - link13.3" screen and 3lbs...
Why not a
heckuv a lot more durable (proven)
2.2lb (26% lighter!)
upto 4GB of ram
upto 200GB SATA HD, not old school PATA...
Wi-fi a/b/g/n + EVDO broadband (Verizon or AT&T...you can choose!)
you can CHOOSE what CPU, RAM, an HD you want....
hardware based security encryption (if you set it up and lose your laptop the data is %100 safe)
choice of 4 or 8 cell battery....carry an extra and change without taking 10 screws out...or upgrade at any time
can be purchasd in tablet-form...uber cool
Oh yeah...prices start at hundreds less than Macair
what am I talking about?? Lenovo X61...and other laptop makers are in the SUB 3lb market....
True...Lenovo's development is way more experienced at ultra-portables than Apple... and I do say the Apple is "pretty" and sleek... but if I had a kid in college, I'd spend the $$ on a Lenovo laptop as I know it'll take the abuse much better than the Macbook air and heckuv lot less likely to be stolen...
OccamsAftershave - Thursday, February 14, 2008 - linkAnd a X61 with a Penryn, 100GB HD and Ultrabase+DVD is $1600 vs. Air+DVD $1900.
Only comparison negatives: with an 8 cell X61 is 3.3 lbs and resolution is XGA, not WXGA+.
(And the 4 cell weighs 2.7 lbs. not 2.2 lbs.)
lopri - Wednesday, February 13, 2008 - link
What happened to the special, customized, and powerful Core 2 Duo CPU that Intel designed just for Apple?
aliasfox - Thursday, February 14, 2008 - linkIt may be 50% faster than the 1.2 GHz ULV processors in most other ultraportables, but that also means it's also about 50% slower than most mainstream high end CPUs (2.2 GHz and up).
Slow hard drive doesn't help either.