This morning, Apple announced the much speculated and predicted MacBook Air. An ultra portable laptop that in the price range sits between the MacBook and the MacBook Pro [that’s if you’re considering the old decrepit PATA drive, instead of the SSD], otherwise it is the most expensive laptop in the MacBook range.
Will this be the iPod in the realm of laptops or the Newton of PDA’s?
First lets have a look at the specs:
- Intel Core 2 Duo ULV processor – 1.6/1.8GHz
- 2GB memory [soldered in]
- 80GB 4200-rpm PATA hard drive / 64GB solid-state hard drive
- Built-in 802.11abg +n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR
This will have the grunt required to complete your word processing, email and perhaps even some Lightroom/Aperture + Photoshop thrown in. Although the people that would actually be purchasing a device such as this for the given price-tag are the early adopters with a thicker wallet, or the high-flyer’s for whom mobile is uber-important.
In the once again tastefully designed guided tour on Apples site, ‘John’ in his skivie runs us through the features of the Air. He mentions that Air is “optimized for the wireless world – only the way apple can do”. Well I’ll be damned – then if my guess is correct and their market is the high-end travelers who will use the backlit keyboard – where is the mobile broadband? Understandably – you can plug in a modem via USB – but Apple is all about one integrated package that simply ‘works’.
Another critique from the demo – one can see the various way in which the trackpad can be utilized. Personally I was expecting the same feedback as when playing on the iPhone/iPod touch. Unfortunately it seems that it isn’t as well implemented. The changes between states seem to be jerky and very coarse in intervals, this is especially evident with not only the font changes which you’d think would be gradual, but also the photo rotation (although this could be merely a limitation of the applications demoed ie. iPhoto). Now for one of the better implemented features is the Remote Disk. First I’ll say that even though the ability to remotely map and mount a drive has long been available – in Windows and *nix worlds – although Apple as they’ve shown with their phone implementation, can introduce a different way of using the technology and make it that much easier to interact with.
Where is the dock? Surely they would be aware of the fact that people with ultraportables tend to have a ‘base’ to which they come back. This will not be all extendible from a mere USB port. Have to do better than that on the connectivity front.
How will it fair vs. its competition – the Sony T series and the Toshiba Portege? Only time depth of wallets will tell.
The Sony weighs in at 1.2kg, whilst the Portege being a mere 780 grams. On paper – both have a higher set of credentials for features, and both come with a pedigree of at least 5 models.
Judging by Asus’s Apple’s rocky history with laptop manufacturing, it will be interesting to see how many people when needing a replacement flap – will require a complete laptop switch, due to the integration of the components. Due to the lack of quality control within Apple, is the only reason I’m writing this on a T60, and not a MacBook Pro.