Newsweek’s Levy reviews Apple MacBook Air: an instant object of techno-lust, a design triumph

Apple 13.3With their new MacBook Air, “Apple has fulfilled its goals in terms of thinness. The Air is a lithe sheath of aluminum so slim that it can slide under my office door,” Steven Levy reports for Newsweek.

“Packed inside the shell–which is three quarters of an inch at its thickest point, trailing off to a wispy 0.16 inches–is two gigabytes of memory, a bright 13.3-inch screen (lit by cutting-edge LED technology) and a full-size keyboard. This is a top-of-the-line array for a subnotebook. And, of course, it runs the Macintosh Leopard operating system, which you know, if you’ve seen the ads, is superior to Microsoft’s competing Vista OS. (The commercials are right.) Did I mention that it’s really skinny? When I slip it in the sleeve of my backpack where my six-pound MacBook Pro usually travels, the pocket still looks empty. Surely this is salve for the shoulders of anyone who springs the $1,799 it costs to buy,” Levy reports. “The gentle curves and the absence of protrusions make this an instant object of techno-lust, another notch in Apple’s belt of design triumphs.”

“Apple was unstinting in including an excellent keyboard with its great automatic backlighting feature, which radiates illumination in dim conditions. Its brain is the powerful Intel Core 2 Duo processor (though running at a lower clock speed that Apple offers in other laptops). It’s got a built-in video camera for conferencing. The screen is big for a subnotebook, and quite bright. And the battery life is quite acceptable–I didn’t have time for a definitive study but was getting only slightly less than the five hours per charge that Apple promises,” Levy reports.

“The maximum built-in storage option–the only one–is an 80-gigabyte hard drive. Apple insists that if it used the 160-gig hard disk drive it offers in its high-end iPod classic, it would blow the profile of the MacBook Air. Eighty gigs isn’t much these days; you can get a bigger drive on even Apple’s low-end MacBook. In one sense, this is a prescient look forward to the day when people will store their all-digital assets remotely, ‘in the cloud’ as this concept is called. But since it’s still a couple of years before my voluminous iTunes collection of movies and songs will be stashed in the ether, I need a computer with a standard-size drive, and the MacBook Air will work for me only as a second machine, a luxury item for on-the-go use,” Levy reports.

MacDailyNews Take: If not “in the cloud,” MacBook Air users would likely store their movies and songs on their iPods. An iPod classic (80GB or 160GB) – especially with Disk Mode enabled – would be the perfect complement to MacBook Air. Tossing their iPod in their bag to use as an external MacBook Air drive (hard drive or flash drive depending on your iPod) to store and transfer data files seems to us what a MacBook Air user would want to do as it only adds a few ounces. iPods are so complementary to MacBook Air, in fact, that Apple might want to consider a special bundle of the two with some savings; similarly to how Apple offers $100 when you buy a printer with a new Mac.

Levy concludes, “Though I can quibble with a few of Apple’s choices of what to take off, the product’s dimensions and design make the case that the losses were not in vain. The things that Apple left on were the ingredients for a quality computer. And did I mention how thin it is?”

More in the full review here.


  1. ” . . . a lithe sheath of aluminum so slim that it can slide under my office door . . .”

    And the first revision is currently being tested as a stylish and effective method of birth control. Extra battery not included.

  2. Today’s common ‘front lawn’ originated in France as an expression of the Nobles’ wealth. The ability to waste good earth on growing something so useless as grass was quite the status symbol centuries ago.

    Fast forward to 2008. The MBA will be a status symbol, signaling that the owner most likely has another computer system back at the office, and most likely another laptop as well (for those times a FireWire port is needed). Apple should have named the sub-notebook the MacBook Cartier.

  3. MDN – why keep making excuses for the MBA?
    Is Apple recommending all these things you keep harping on – buy more gadgets to hang off your laptop!
    If they wanted the computer to have them, they would have included it.
    The MBA is for the few that want to carry a thin, nicely designed computer that costs more. It is for going on the road, make a presentation, surf the internet (wirelessly), write some emails. Kind of like a dressy pair of shoes or a real nice suit. You use them only when needed and you don´t load them down with extras.

  4. My front lawn supports a bunch of trees that take in carbon dioxide and give off oxygen in return. My trees and I think that’s a real good deal! The trees in my back yard also think it’s a good idea. Kind of scratching each others back.

  5. We are not recommending carrying anything other than an iPod with MacBook Air.

    Our point in previous articles is that if you are trying to do other things with MacBook Air, there are options available for Ethernet, extended battery life, multiplying USB ports, etc.

    Obviously, carrying additional items will add weight and bulk to your carrying case. It’s up to users to determine which MacBook model is right for them.

    People who see Apple’s MacBook or MacBook Pro as preferable to the MacBook Air — or who end up trying to replicate those models’ features with add-ons to the Air — are simply not in the MacBook Air’s target market.

  6. It has no floppy drive! No PS/2 ports! What a piece of crap!

    Seriously, this is what mobile computing should have been all along. Leave the optical drive and the biggest portion of your hard drive capacity at home or in the office where it belongs.

    Sync the stuff you need for the road trip just like you sync an iPod Touch or Nano. Just have your basic programs, the data you need for the trip and the entertainment files you may want to use.

    Syncing your portable like an iPod has to be a future feature.

  7. “The trees in my back yard also think it’s a good idea. Kind of scratching each others back.”

    When the wind blows just right, there is a bush that covers my stump. And when it blows hard, it thrashes about quite a bit. I think they scratch each others back, too.

  8. Again … the MBA will serve its purpose/expense as it brings people in to the Apple Store to gawk – then walk away with a different computer. The various “premium features” will arrive on less expensive – and more powerful – machines “soon”, spreading the engineering cost out to a wide variety of products.
    * LED screen – coming “soon” to MB, MBP, and monitors
    * multi-touch pad – coming “soon” to MBP, then to MB
    * backlit keyboard – already here?
    * WiFi – already here!
    Yes … it’s an object of techno-lust … and that’s a Bad Thing, how? You know of any car dealers that put their sportiest model up front to draw Daddy in so they can sell him the van his wife needs?

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