Register Hardware reviews Apple MacBook Air: ‘Style over substance in the very best possible way’

“We were sceptical about the Air when it was announced, back in January. But now it’s available there was nothing for it: we had to try it out ourselves,” Tony Smith reports for Register Hardware.

“There’s no denying the Air’s beauty, even if aesthetics don’t matter to you. Closed, the laptop’s lid and base are gracefully curved, a trick that accentuates its incredible thinness, making it stand out even alongside Apple’s still-pretty-thin MacBook Pro,” Smith reports. “The Air’s perhaps the wrong side of a kilo… but the weight comes from its aluminium shell, which gives the Air a reassuring solidity. It’s not a ruggedised machine, sure, but the lid doesn’t flex like the R500’s does, and being metal it’ll be more resistant to the bumps and scrapes a laptop taken on the road will inevitably take.”

“The touchpad is big because Apple’s enabled iPhone-stye gesture input: draw two fingers apart to zoom into pictures and the like, then turn them to rotate images. It works as well as it does on the iPhone – pictures zoom and rotate smoothly and without lag – but where it’s essential on the handheld, here it seems a gimmick,” Smith reports. “The keyboard’s lozenge keys are very good to type on, and there’s none of the bend you get with some laptop keyboards – the Air’s keyboard is mounted solidly. The keyboard backlight – activated manually or whenever the light around you dims – is welcome, as is the addition of dedicated keys for Mac OS X’s Exposé and Dashboard features.”

“The Air is a ‘love it or loathe it’ machine, but don’t let the naysayers put you off if it offers the form factor you prefer. Of course it’s not going to be the laptop to suit everyone – you can buy cheaper or more capable Macs and PCs – so it’s not a must have for the price-conscious buyer or the power-hungry,” Smith reports. “If form-factor is your prime concern, then the Air provides a good computing experience, and if our time with it is anything to go by, its port and optical disc limitations proved no handicap at all.”

“For us, price notwithstanding, the Air hits the mark… This is style over substance in the very best possible way,” Smith reports.

More in the full review here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Linux Guy And Mac Prodigal Son” for the heads up.]

33 Comments

  1. I’ve never really understood the frothing and gnashing of teeth in regards to the MB Air. It either fits one’s needs or doesn’t. It’s existence harms no one, nor does it hinder anyone from selecting a different laptop. Yet the uproar after its release was deafening. In auto magazines I don’t see reader comments after a review of, say, the new Smart Car, snickering that it can’t tow a boat or haul a ton of lumber. Why is it in the computer market, so many cannot recognize and appreciate the value of niche products. Weird.

  2. A good review, but I don’t think it’s “love it or loathe it”. I had my first play with a MB Air a week ago. A very nice piece of hardware, no question, and it obviously suits many people (the salesman said it was selling well).

    But I’m the wrong demographic for it. If I was in the market for another laptop (my daughter’s finally inherited my old iBook), I’d never sacrifice features for looks. I’d fork out the extra for a MacBook Pro.

    To me, the MB Air represents an exciting future; it’s just not the present for me.

    I agree with Spark. Each to their own.

  3. I just sold a MacBook Air to a client this morning. I told her that in my opinion it fit her needs.

    She’s a wealthy older actress. She doesn’t want to play games or run multiple operating systems in virtualization. She wants to send e-mail, surf the web, write, do online financial stuff, watch movies.

    She’s heard nothing but bad things from people about the MacBook Air. I explained that if I had the extra cash, I’d buy one for myself, but since I don’t I need to get the most bang for my buck and that’s not the MBA.

    I told her the MBA meets her requirements perfectly, but for many of us it’s an over priced, under powered luxury. One that we’d like to own, just can’t justify.

  4. Amazing! So many reviewers who just don’t get it, now, finally, we’ve had a couple from those who do!
    “Of course it’s not going to be the laptop to suit everyone – you can buy cheaper or more capable Macs and PCs – so it’s not a must have for the price-conscious buyer or the power-hungry,” Smith reports. “If form-factor is your prime concern, then the Air provides a good computing experience”
    Precisely! Although, I wouldn’t have called “ultra-portable” a “form factor”. Still, no ultra-portable stands up well – either for price or for power – to a heavier portable. To that I say “so what?”

  5. If I was afib I would be upset at the fact that all of you would be happy with the fact that this writer didn’t take the time to review every single laptop out there before pointing out the flaws and benefits of the MBA.

  6. But, but, but, but the MacBook AIr makes a *terrible* frisbee and the balance is all wrong. You can actually decapitate small dogs with it! My neighbor’s cat just had his tail cut off by a rampant Apple fanbois — how horrible! Apple must be sued! This laptop must be stopped!

  7. I would have preferred Apple to release a new 12″ PowerBook style MBP, but having played on an Air down the Apple Store and more importantly seen the crowds it attracted when I was doing the multi-touch stuff I now see it as the right machine for the range.

    Sadly not for me, but I’m gradually getting to like the 15″ MBP I bought instead. Not as portable, but far more relevant to my needs.

    And I think that’s the point. Apple are giving people a bit of choice.

  8. “Style over substance!” <b/b>

    What a perfect description of MBA, succinct and to the point.

    Spark, Crabs, et al:

    <b>”I’ve never really understood the frothing and gnashing of teeth in regards to the MB Air.”

    Weird, defines you perfectly, Spar. When some persons point out MBA’s deficiencies and explain how MBA is not THEIR ideal notebook the MDN fanbois generally become utterly irrational and apoplectic.

    ” It either fits one’s needs or doesn’t.”

    Really? So you agree with me that there ARE legitimate reasons NOT to purchase MBA? How did YOU come this conclusion?

    ” It’s existence harms no one, nor does it hinder anyone from selecting a different laptop.”

    Who said that MBA’s existence “harms” anyone? Who said MBA “hinders” anyone selecting another notebook. Your fondness for hyperbole confirms your fanboi bias.

    ” I don’t see reader comments after a review of, say, the new Smart Car, snickering that it can’t tow a boat or haul a ton of lumber.”

    Spark compares the MBA with the Smart Car acknowledging that MBA has lackluster power. However, Spark, you forgot to mention MBA’s smaller and slower hard drive, limited and non-upgradeable RAM, and limited connectivity (no Ethernet or FireWire ports). Fortunately, the author does an excellent job of listing and describing all the numerous deficiencies of MBA.

    ” Why is it in the computer market, so many cannot recognize and appreciate the value of niche products. Weird.”<b>

    Again, you exhibit your profound bias by assuming that those who <b>DON’T desire to purchase MBA are unable to recognize or appreciate the value of ”niche products”. Maybe persons who eschew MBA do so because they “recognize” MBA as being too slow, too limited, and too deficient to be their notebook of choice. Maybe persons who reject MBA “appreciate” the fact that MBA is too little computer for their needs: overpriced for the deficiencies in MBA’s design and incapable of performing the required tasks as a stand alone machine.

    ” I am absolutely shocked (and rather pleased I might add) that Afib hasn’t come on here and started arguing with everyone.”

    I see no need to apologize to you, Crabs. How is it that when Tony Smith states that MBA is best suited “as a secondary machine not your prime computer, unless your performance and/or storage demands are small” you agree with him wholeheartedly, but when I make the same evaluation you get your panties in a bind? Pathetic fanboi.

  9. ?what?

    “Afib you are an asshole…stfu.”

    If that ALL you can thread you really have a problem with interacting intelligently with people.

    Let me help you. Do have a specific point related to my thread or a question that I can answer for you?

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