USA Today’s Baig reviews Apple MacBook Air: 3-pound marvel for frequent travelers

“The MacBook Air laptop that CEO Steve Jobs unveiled last week turns heads. And now that I’ve used this Twiggy-thin, 3-pound marvel for several days, I can also report that it’s a remarkably sturdy-feeling machine, especially given its size and weight,” Ed Baig reports for USA Today.

“The skinny — the word can’t be emphasized enough — $1,799 (and up) computer will make students and frequent business travelers gush. Encased in aluminum, Air has a comfortable-to-type-on full-size keyboard, widescreen 13.3-inch display and an iSight video camera,” Baig reports.

“But with too few ports, a sealed battery that you can’t replace on your own and no built-in CD/DVD drive, Air is not the ideal laptop for everyone. And while battery power is impressive, it pooped out in my tests well short of the best-case, five-hour scenario Apple has been touting,” Baig reports.

MacDailyNews Take: There must be solutions for people trying to use an Air in ways it was not intended to be used, right? Well, you could carry an external battery for MacBook Air, which, we suspect, will soon become available. It’s pretty much the same as having to carry a second battery, except you’ll have to live with it not being stuck into the Air itself. You could pick up a tiny, inexpensive USB hub and turn one port into three or more. You could get Apple’s US$99 SuperDrive for CD/DVD use. If any or all of these solutions strike you as untenable, the Air really isn’t designed for you. You’re probably more of a MacBook or MacBook Pro user.

Baig continues, “Air opens and closes with a magnetic latch. The wide, backlit LED screen is lovely. The keyboard keys light up the dark — there’s a built-in ambient light sensor. Just below the keyboard is a spacious track-pad on which you can ‘pinch,’ ‘swipe’ and apply other iPhone-like touch gestures. You can resize pictures, for example, by placing your thumb and forefinger together.”

“As with all new Macs, Air has the latest virus-resistant OS X Leopard operating system. (It puts Windows Vista to shame.) The top-notch iLife multimedia suite includes iPhoto (for photo management) and iMovie (video editing),” Baig reports.

“Given the compromises, I don’t expect anyone to use Air as their only computer. But it is a yummy machine for people who spend a lot of time traveling,” Baig reports.

Full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Citymark” for the heads up.]

MacDailyNews Take: Baig’s right, “Air is not the ideal laptop for everyone.” Just as Apple’s Mac Pro is not designed to serve the entire desktop market, Apple’s MacBook Air is not designed to serve the entire portable market.

People who see Apple’s MacBook or MacBook Pro as preferable to the MacBook Air are simply not in the MacBook Air’s target market. We’d venture to guess that Apple will be just fine with those people choosing MacBooks or MacBook Pros instead.


  1. I was thinking about this the other day when rejigging the cables on my mini in the spare room, to a certain extent if a device doesn’t have enough ports then you need a hub, in which case it almost may as well only have 1 port anyway – especially if we’re just talking about a mouse or iPod or something minimal like that.

    Personally, I would love one of these but with a 24″ iMac a laptop as a second machine is a luxury at any price. Personally I would like a Macbook but with the features stripped down the same as the air, almost like a wireless terminal. Of course that would make the Macbook a real budget machine which is perhaps not the market they want.

  2. The MacBook Air is going to be the future of laptop computers.

    It all has to do with heat, processors cannot be made any faster or better without incuring a lot of heat, which requires more cooling and a larger battery.

    This is one reason why Apple switched to Intel processors, because RISC processors by nature have more heat.

    So instead of carrying around a suitcase laptop, performance was reduced (see MBA processor specs) and battery hogging functions (optical) were moved to external devices.

    Note: The MBA “only” Superdrive uses more USB power than normal and may not work with other computers or with hubs/other devices on a hub.

    The MacBook Air is a first in a whole line of new laptop computers and external devices. Where reliance on the internet for storing files, even running apps will become the norm.

    I am predicting a new sort of device for the mobile professional that requires all the functions of a MBP, it will have a larger case so the larger battery and more processor performance can be utilized.

    So another shoe is going to be dropped by Apple shortly.

  3. Register or Login,
    I feel the same.
    It’s been some time since Apple introduced a computer that I don’t really need but want so much. I shall also leave my credit card at home when I go and see it here in Berlin.

  4. Why couldn’t they just bring back the old 12″ Powerbook in a new slightly less skinny form. I don’t agree that the non-replaceable battery is a big deal. I’ve had a 17″ Powerbook for 4 years and I’m still using the original battery. But the lack of ports *is* a big compromise on this machine. And the price is a little high. I guess I’m not in the right market demographic, huh? (I wonder who is?)

  5. MAC Book Air is the sissy MAC for MAC sissies. A real laptop has Windows, ports and girth. Believe it or not at one time Apple had two out of three of those. When this moron reviewer is gushy about how thin and lightweight this toy is I want to puke. Who cares? It doesn’t come with Windows so it’s totally useless.

    I suggest you MAC sheep get to the gym so you can have a little more choice when it comes to laptops. And give it up with the fascination with MACs. Apple won’t be around in a couple of years.

    Your potential. Our passion.™

  6. The whole world is starting to think like him: that Leopard puts Windows to shame…

    The hardware is stunning but the software is even better.

    APPL is going to be a case study when it bounces mightily in a few weeks time.

  7. And the price is a little high.

    My opinion is, especially with the $3000 all flash drive option and the lack of moving parts, is that Apple forsee’s a decline in laptop sales from turnover with this MacBook Air.

    The only thing I see that could wear out is the USB port from constant use. Sure the battery, but that can be easily replaced in under three minutes.

    As long as no one sits on the darn thing, it could easily last 6 years or more, instead of the normal 3 year turnover rate.

    It’s performance is hobbled anyway, mostly a internet/email, word/spreadsheet machine anyway.

    So Apple may have made the best value computer, despite it’s higher price tag.

    $3000/6 = only $500 a year for computer use.

  8. Someone could come out with an external battery that plugs into the USB port. And it could give you a built-in USB hub, so that you don’t loose your USB port usage. This way, maybe you could charge the battery from the laptop itself later when you are connected to power. Or charge it from a “power to USB” module made for iPod or similar (might need to be bigger.)

    An alternate unit could be a desk dock-type unit in which they include the Ethernet adapter, a modem, 3 USB ports, and maybe a card reader or other card capability, but without the extra battery.

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