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Apple Mac Book Air : Looks Are Everything

Reviewing: Apple Mac Book Air  |  Rating:
Cameron Eittreim By Cameron Eittreim on
Badge: Publisher | Level: 5 | Computers & Laptops Expertise:
Image for Apple MacBook Air : Looks are everything

You can place this in your purse, or chop a persons head off if you wanted to. But leave it to Apple to create one of the most beautiful laptops around, and while this certainly isn't strong on power it definitely won't be a hassle for frequent flyers to carry onboard a plane. I've purchased many apple products including the original iBook Clamshell, and most of these purchases still work great as of this writing. I must admit, I am an addict when it comes to the newest tech goodies, and I just had to purchase the Apple Mac book Air. Now there really isn't anything special about this laptop, in fact you can probably get better performance for less. But if you have money to burn and you want an absurdly thin laptop, then this product has your name on it. Now it's not the most practical laptop on the block, I own a 2001 Dell Latitude C600 with a bigger screen, and you can certainly purchase a laptop with a bigger processor for less, but when you are constantly on planes then size really does matter, and this is where the Mac Book Air comes in strong.

the Hardware :

At first glance the Mac book air is definitely one of the most beautiful laptops I've seen. This computer has a very purposeful design that is well worth the price of admission, and the goal was very clear, apple wanted to create a Mac that you could carry with you everywhere. Without airport security warning you about carrying explosives onboard, of course this would be one sexy explosive for sure. The flaw with this little beauty is it lacks the sufficient power for most business travelers, especially web developers. Lacking features like an optical drive also adds to the incontinence, while the overall design is definitely what this computer has going for it. So what does the Apple Mac book air get right?, well certainly has a decent amount of horse power for the average user, just not a web professional. Apple chose to go with an Ultra Low Voltage 1.6GHZ chip, this isn't the new power-efficient, lower-heat 45mm Penryn chip design. Don't worry about burning your lap, I've played around with this for a few days and my lap isn't burned yet. Really this laptop defiantly belongs on your lap, this is perfect for watching movies or writing with, my IBM ThinkPad Pentium 4 computer heats up must hotter then this little computer. The 1.6GHZ chip is slower then some of the computers I've played with, including my AMD phenom tower. But this is sure useable, for most travelers this is definitely enough speed to take pictures or stay in touch with family members. In terms of performance this isn't a monster, but it's not a snail either.

The 13-Inch LCD is excellent on power consumption, my larger CCFL displays consume much more battery live then this does. And because this screen is 13-Inches I know most people would assume that it's hard to read but it actually provides a nice amount of room on the screen to get work done. I do unfortunately have a stubborn gripe with this display, apple only this display with a glossy finish. And when I take this laptop to the park or sure the internet by a sunny window the glare is horrible, I'm sure they will probably correct this in a few years as most companies improve their products. The bezel around the display is actually larger then most laptops I've seen, the lid does not tilt back as far as most laptops, because you can see the physical constraint in the joint design. But this isn't really an issue for me, because if I wanted a tablet PC I could purchase one. Another feature that stands out from similar laptops is the full-size keyboard, which manages to add some to the body of the Air. Those of you, who are like me and are fond of you Mac book iMac ridge less keyboard design will instantly love the Airs keyboard. The Airs keyboard is very solid, as opposed to similar laptops I've owned whose keys were flimsy and fell off easy. Now I know most of you are probably thinking to yourselves, wait how could a laptop key fall off?. Well I have pets so when they start getting into stuff it can become a nightmare, and my dogs have ruined my previous laptop keyboards, so pet proofing is a must. Luckily from my experience with this, the keyboard is solid and sturdy, the keys are not at all mushy like most laptops, which is great because I know that I always hit the wrong keys when a keyboard is mushy. Did I mention the keys are backlit?, yes and I love this feature when I'm writing at night, working with this keyboard at night is definitely a pleasure. And in another stint of ingenious apple design, the speakers are placed under the keyboard. The sound quality is on par with most portable units, I would say that I've heard better come out of a Sony Viao, but that is just a minor complaint because it's nothing that a good pair of head phones won't fix.

You won't need to worry about purchasing a wireless card, because the Air has integrated 802.11n wireless. This worked great with the integrated access point I have on my tower, and I got a transfer rate of 2Mbps, which I'm happy with because I don't use my wireless very often. The Air also has Bluetooth 2.1 EDR built in but I've never used it yet, and I don't really think I will. The Air lacks an ExpressCard slot, which makes using 3G difficult but it really never bothered me. One of the things unique about the Mac Book Air is the lack of any ports along the edges, like most laptops have. This instead has a 90-degree power connector, on the left underside of the Air, which makes this laptop look great on a Desk. There is also a door on the left side that you can push with your finger, this exposes a USB 2.0 port, a Micro-DVI, and a headphone jack. One of the items apple did have to sacrifice is a user replaceable battery, which I don't like because there is only one apple store in my area. One of the reasons I think this is troublesome is if you are away from a power outlet for long periods of time, you will not be able to use your laptop. Now I'm sure your wondering what kind of a battery the Mac Book Air uses, well it's a 37 watt/ lithium polymer battery. Apple says you can get 5 hours of live out of this battery, well I was at the park and I managed to squeeze 3 and a half, that's with surfing the wireless internet and playing music. I'm sure if I wasn't such an energy hog I would get more power, I mean this laptops battery life isn't so bad, my dell latitude is like the Hummer of battery life I'm lucky if I can get 30 minutes out of it. Luckily if you are near a plug outlet the Airs power adapter is very small, in fact it fits the laptop perfectly. The other ports aren't so lucky, using my USB flash drive on this is almost impossible, the same with plugging an iPod into this, especially first generation iPod shuffles. And my ear buds almost didn't work with this because of where the port is, if apple ever reads these reviews I would recommend moving the port to a different location if at all possible (this isn't a major complaint, more of inconvenience). The micro-DVI port isn't compatible with those found on the other Mac Books, in fact it requires more connection accessories to make this compatible with VGA and DVI in/out, thankfully you will not need to pay for these unless you buy used because they are included in the box. The Air doesn't have a very powerful graphics card, apple says you are only able to run a 24-inch display, and I use a 19-inch widescreen which works perfect. I've played movies on this display and they really don't suffer from the weaker graphics card, star wars attack of the clones looked great on this. I really have a problem with the fact that the memory is built onto the motherboard, sure the 2GB is great for most people but I always upgrade my laptops. And this laptop definitely needs more memory for applications like Photoshop CS3 and iMovie, which still run OK on this but I know they could both render faster.

The 80GB 1.8-inch hard drive is slower then the usual suspects, the problem with this is because these are used to power most modern MP3 players, so this is not even in the same league as standard laptop 2.5-inch drives. This hard drive is adequate for the average user, but if you are gaming or designing high intensity graphics this definitely won't do. The Air also doesn't come with an Apple Remote, which is included with most of their other machines, I guess apple figured that this little laptop couldn't handle media and they didn't want to embarrass themselves. Still I would of liked the option to have one at least, I mean with all the other things that (aren't) included with this. Basically that's everything in the hardware side of things, now it's onto the software.

the Software

This is one of apples newest machines to run Leopard, this build number is (932324) which is optimized for this machine so if you ever need to reinstall make sure it is this build. This version of leopard takes advantage of the Mac Book Airs oversized touch pad, which is great because I was hoping it wouldn't just be a useless feature on the laptop, you can use certain touchpad-based multi-hand gestures that I have yet to learn, but I know they are probably useful for something. Another new feature with this Mac Book is Remote Disk, which is a handy little tool for sharing optical drives with other apple systems. For an extra $99 you can buy the USB Super Drive which only works with the Air, I definitely needed this and I think it's a must for this computer.

final Opinion

The Air is probably one of the unique laptops I've purchased, this laptop is really barebones in terms of the lack of an optical drive and needed ports. But if you need an ultra portable computer for business trips with decent duel-core power then this is perfect. I love this laptop but I'm sure that most people can't justify spending almost two grand for a laptop that really doesn't even come with most of the items it needs, such as the optical drive and Ethernet dongle. With major down falls like the integrated memory and the undersized hard drive most users can't ever upgrade this laptop either, so I really don't see this laptop selling well. I'm sure this will become a cult classic like the iMac in a few years, when you will be able to get these for like $800 bucks, but for people who need more power for less money this Apple is definitely not the road well traveled. Apple has a winner and they just need to do some redesigning and this laptop could be perfect, along with the price knocked down a little bit. Overall a decent laptop but it's definitely not the best new product on the block, and I'm sure you can get a better computer for less, if you are an apple die hard like me then this Laptop is worth the price of admission.

~Thanks for Reading~