Tuesday, January 15, 2008

First thoughts about the Macbook Air

Interestingly something that I didn't notice during the keynote is that it doesn't come with an ethernet jack. This really is a Macbook Air, if you want to plug it into the wall, you need to buy an USB ethernet adaptor. A laptop without an ethernet jack is almost as revolution as a computer without a serial connector, and another Apple first. Of course in typical Apple fashion there is another connector downside, you've guessed it, micro-DVI. Another incompatible DVI "standard" dongle to add to the growing collection. At least they're including to micro-DVI to DVI and micro-DVI to VGA dongles with the laptop, unlike the standard MacBooks...

Another thing that didn't get mentioned is that, despite the Aluminium on the outside, this really is a Macbook, not a Macbook Pro. The Macbook Air shares the same integrated graphics as the other Macbooks. Which is a shame...

Right now I'm torn, it's so thin, but it's actually half a pound heavier than my wife's Dell Latitude X1. It also has a 13-inch screen, and I was really hoping for a 12-inch widescreen form factor. Hopefully some demo models will turn up in the Apple Store in Exeter tomorrow, or at least later in the week, and I'll get some hands on them. At which point, so long as I'm not thrown out of the store for taking photos and video, I'll post a first look review.

Update: Engadget is reporting that the new Macbook Air doesn't have a user replaceable battery. Admittedly it just got harder to travel with spare batteries, but this means you can't even replace the battery yourself when it dies. My old 12-inch Powerbook went through three or four batteries during its life and I'd expect my current laptop to do something similar. My only reaction to this is... "Oh!"

CREDIT: Ars Technica

Update: Ars Technica is hands-on with the new Macbook Air. They're confirming that the battery is not user replaceable.

Update: Should have been obvious, but it didn't occur to me either, it's doesn't have a user replaceable battery so it doesn't have user replaceable DIMMS either. The RAM is soldered to the motherboard, which explains why it comes with 2GB out of the box.

Update: Expectations were so high it's perhaps unsurprising that there is backlash (via Cult of Mac) growing against Apple's new thin book. I can understand the sentiment, despite the fact I don't have a problem with there not being an optical drive as many seem to, I don't think this is the replacement for my 12-inch Powerbook I was looking for...

Update: Some high-resolution pictures from Apple Insider...

CREDIT: Apple Insider

Update: Oh, it looks like the Remote Disc software doesn't work in the way I naively assumed it would, you can't play movies or games via Remote Disc, just install software. Yet another... "Oh!".

Update: I mentioned backlash? Interestingly Engadget at running a poll to see how many of their readers pre-ordered a Macbook Air. Currently 6.5% have pre-ordered the new laptop, 24.1% are thinking about it, but a massive 69.4% are saying no way. Those, no doubt unbalanced and skewed figures, on a survey base of around 27.5 thousand respondents.

Update: After thinking about it this evening, if Apple wanted build a sub-notebook, a true replacement for the mourned 12-inch Powerbook, then the three problems they should have addressed were: the footprint, weight and battery life of the notebook. I think the problem here is that I wanted small, small can mean thin, but it mostly means small. A 13-inch notebook, not matter how thin, is not small.

Update: Hmm, yes... the Macbook is 12.78 inches wide by 8.92 inches deep, and the Air is 12.80 inches by 8.94 inches. This is not a small laptop, it's actually bigger than my Macbook. That's disappointing...

Update: What he said, and what they said... this is not a sub-notebook.