PC World reviews Apple MacBook Air: For when portability is top priority

“Apple’s engineers know that there’s more to good design than just a spec-sheet full of numbers. It’s the sheer elegance of the Macbook Air’s slimline design that catches the eye, and when you feel how comfortably the machine balances in the palm of one hand you can’t help but wonder if your credit card will stretch to buying one,” Cliff Joseph reports for Personal Computer World. “There’s no doubt that Apple has hit the ultra-portable nail right on the head. But shrinking the unit down to this size has inevitably involved compromises in other areas.”

“Anyone looking for a powerful laptop to replace their desktop PC or Mac should probably look elsewhere as the Macbook Air simply doesn’t have the raw horsepower for that,” Joseph reports.

MacDailyNews Take: Hence the existence of Apple’s MacBook Pro.

Joesph continues, “Even so, it is more than adequate for running ordinary business software such as Microsoft Office, surfing the web and handling your email.”

“You will, however, probably end up spending a bit more on optional extras for the Macbook Air. The ultra-thin design leaves no room for a DVD drive at all, so watching DVDs is out of the question – unless you pay £65 [US$99] for the optional external DVD drive,” Joseph reports.

MacDailyNews Take: Why waste battery power spinning shiny plastic discs (and carrying them around) when there are far better ways of watching content on the go? Bring your iPod along and, while you’re at it, enable Disc Mode. Or – here’s a daring move – put a couple movies on the MBA’s drive.

Joseph continues, “There’s only a single USB port for connecting peripherals… while the lack of Ethernet is just daft.”

MacDailyNews Take: Targus’ Ultra Mini USB 2.0 4-Port Hub costs $19. Apple’s USB Ethernet Adapter connects to MBA’s USB 2.0 port and provides an RJ-45 connector which supports 10/100BASE-T Ethernet for $29. Each items weighs about an ounce. Any more meaningless complaints?

Joseph continues, “Omissions such as the lack of DVD drive and the non-replaceable battery will mean that the Macbook Air simply won’t be suitable for some people. And it’s not powerful enough to replace a desktop PC or Mac. However, the sheer size-zero slimness of the unit is hard to beat, so if portability is your top priority then the Macbook Air could be just what you’re looking for.”

MacDailyNews Take: If you want to carry an extra battery around, you want a MacBook or a MacBook Pro. If you’ll still determined, third-parties do make external batteries that plug into MBP’s and MB’s MagSafe power connector. External batteries that likewise support MBA should be arriving shortly.

Full review here.

24 Comments

  1. I think Steve Jobs is simply a genius when it comes to launching new products. He never fails to do something audacious, resulting in a continued stream of debate… and free publicity.

    I goes all the way back the very first iMac (which I purchased with glee) and he dropped the 3.5″ floppy drive. The whole industry thought he was nuts at the time.

    I just love watching this guy turn industries (computers, films, music, telephones) on their proverbial heads and the world does its collective double-take every time.

  2. Explain to me why the macbook air isn’t powerful enough to replace a desktop mac. My mom has an eMac…is the macbook air not powerful enough to replace it? My sister has a G4 mac mini…is the macbook air not powerful enough to replace it?

    To suggest that a 1.6GHz Core 2 Duo with 2GB RAM is only suitable for word processing and email is just plain absurd.

  3. @ jooop

    Yes, the MBA would be fine to replace an eMac or G4 MacMini..

    However, with the slower spinning hard drive and integrated graphics it is no match for a current gen desktop like the iMac.

    Still, it is fine for eveyday mail, web and iLife usage.

  4. Portable? I’ll give ’em that. Pretentious even, but that’s what MAC sheep are all about.

    The MBA doesn’t ship with Windows Vista and therefore can’t play games so it’s pretty much useless. Add to that without Windows you can’t run Zune Marketplace to use a Zune so the story gets worse for the flimsy MBA. Whatever.

    Your potential. Our passion.™

  5. @ Al

    But they do have those fancy phone holsters clipped to their kakis. That’s *hot*.

    @ Spark

    No kidding. I really like it, and I might buy one when flash prices come down in price and up in capacity. But geez… I get it already.

  6. @Al

    Like all MAC cultists you don’t know what you’re talking about. People with MBA’s are right up there with MSCE IT managers. These unsung heroes are the engine that makes business and the economy run. Why don’t you MAC-tards stick to your ‘graphic arts’ or whatever it is you do on your useless MACs and stay out of real world business discussions. Dorks.

    Your potential. Our passion.™

  7. I have to say, auren (the first poster here) has summed it up just perfectly.

    C1, don’t be upset, it’s all good. Publicity for Apple is always good. I understand your frustration, but it’s just as well that everyone’s talking so much. It will sell everything else as well (MBPs, MBs, iMacs…).

  8. I just picked mine up and it works perfectly on my airport network at home.While it took some thought to get connected at work, where I’m sharing an internet connection, it now works flawlessly and I really don’t need all the extra crap that some people carry around. I guess I can forego the usb-ethernet connector.

    I do wish it had a floppy drive though.

    NOT

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