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Macbook Air: OK, I’m a Little Impressed

Posted by J Powers at 11:29 AM on October 25, 2010

Over the weekend, I got a hands on to the new Macbook Air. At first, I did what everyone else probably did – picked it up at the small point with one hand. The lightweight frame was the one thing that really differed from my laptop. It did get me to stop into the Apple store today and look at it a little closer.

The Specs

The Macbook Air has a height of .68 inches at it’s largest point. It comes in11 inch and 13 inch models. The differences are below:

11 inch: The processor, Core 2 Duo at 1.4 to 1.6 GHz with 800 MHz front side bus. 2GB of memory and a SSD of 64 or 128GB. 35W battery

13 inch: Also a Core 2 Duo, but with 1.86 to 2.13 GHz and 1066 MHz frontside bus. 2 GB of memory, an SSD of 128 or 256 GB and an SD card slot. 50W battery

Both models have: 802.11n and Bluetooth 2.1 ready. NVidia GeForce 320M with 256 MB DDR3. Display up to 2560 x 1600 pixels. Keyboard, Trackpad and Facetime camera. They also have 2 USB 2.0 ports, a Mini Display for VGA or DVI output, Headphone jack, microphone (which is not next to the camera?) and MagSafe power jack.

11 inch or 13 inch?

The one I played with over the weekend was the 13 inch model. When I checked out Macbook’s Little Brother, I was pretty much sold on that 13 inch model. The screen was the deciding factor. If I am on a computer, I want more screen. That is why I never bought a netbook.

Of course, the processor speed and Bus speed were  factors, along with the SD card option. However, the biggest factor in getting a machine like this is the amount of SSD drive space.

64GB is great for storing smaller documents and pictures, but you might find yourself clearing out the computer every other month. A 256 GB hard drive (that, BTW, you can’t replace without getting a whole new motherboard) makes more sense.

SSD means Speed over the Macbook i7?

I opened a lot of programs with both the 11 inch and 13 inch Macbook Air. I then walked over to the Macbook Pro i7 and did the same thing. The Air took 1/10 the time in opening some programs.

The i7 definitely would outperform in higher process tasks, but when it came to the speed in opening up a program to begin typing, I was pretty impressed with what the Air did.

The Good Air

The Macbook Air feels like an iPad: with a cover and the Mac 10.6 OS installed. Apple did not skimp on Keyboard or Trackpad space, so I am really happy with the oversized chicklet keys.

When you get your Air, you get a reinstall USB drive. You also get the new iLife software, with Garage Band, iWeb, iDVD and iMovie.

Finally, the case was sturdy. I didn’t feel like I had to use kid gloves to use the machine. While I’m not going to beat on it with a sledgehammer, I do feel that with a protective notebook bag, I can get some good use out of this machine.

The Bad Air

Of course, with good comes bad, and the Air does have some bad points to it. The first is the on-board SSD. If I want more drive space, you have to get an external device. If I want to play a DVD, you also have to get an external device or a whole other computer through CD sharing.

Connecting an external monitor will come at an extra price of $29 to $99 dollars. Want to connect an Ethernet cable? That is another $29. No Firewire.

Speaking of price, you will definitely want to get the AppleCare Protection – if anything for the SSD drive you cannot easily replace. That will cost you an additional $249.

Overall

While I don’t see myself buying this machine anytime soon, I do see this being  perfect for the college student, DJ or blogger. That is, if they want to spend the $999+ for this.

If you need more, then of course, the Air is not for you. Might as well just get an iPad and a Macbook Pro i7 or other machine.

The 11 inch model might be a waste of money. I would guess that machine will be off the shelves after January. Once again, you might as well just buy an iPad if you are going to do that light of work. They are cheaper.

The Air is lightweight, it doesn’t skimp on the keyboard or trackpad and I don’t feel like I have to treat it like fine china. Those are the qualities that impress me most.