This review is from: Apple MacBook Air MC234LL/A 13.3-Inch Laptop (OLD VERSION) (Personal Computers)
I’ll say it straight away: I like the MacBook Air (MBA). I am a PowerBook collector, and have been using Apple’s portables for many years, so I have some solid background in relation to their portable computers.
You may not know this, but in 1997 Apple had what, at the time, could be considered as a MBA. It was the PowerBook 2400c. What a machine it was. Tiny (10.4″ cover) and light (4.4 lbs.). It came sans floppy drive: floppies were built into many laptops around the time the 2400c hit the streets, although they were on there way out. It also had reduced ports, but subdue included 2 PC Card slots. Strangely, it has a sort of unibody case, a landmark in design at the time. Underneath, you will find no interruptions in the case: it’s all one, and the case wraps up and around smoothly. Released only in Japan, with just a handful of the units building it to the US, it is a rare machine indeed.
I reckon the reason Apple confined it to the Asian market was because the keyboard is 87% the size of a full-sized keyboard: it’s a netbook size keyboard. People are larger in other parts of the world, so they may have thought that users wouldn’t take to it in those areas. Overall, the 2400c could be considered as a netbook: Apple’s first and only netbook to-date.
But what about the MBA you say. Isn’t that a netbook? The MBA is a ultra-portable laptop, rather than a netbook. It’s a full featured laptop. Apple never meant it to be a netbook. It makes hardly any of the compromises that netbooks make. You get a full-sized, backlit keyboard. A 2.13 Ghz Core 2 Duo, with an Nvidia 9400M, 256 MB graphics card, the same one found in Apple’s MacBook and access MacBook Pros. Some compromises are lack of a firewire port; 1 USB port; no ethernet port; no DVD-drive…
But with equipment like Remote Disc, etc. I don’t need any of these equipment that are missing on the MBA, especially since this is a companion computer to my Mac Mini and MacBook Pro.
This model is much improved over the first generation MBA: better graphics chip, quicker processor, and cheaper. Combining these specifications with such a thin, light design is impressive. What about its performance? It performs very well, I am pleased to report, after 5 months of use. iWork, HD playback, web surfing… It’s the SSD that really helps equipment by the side of. Shutdown times, application launches, everything is speedy because of the SSD. It’s really quicker for many tasks than pretty much any MacBook/Pro that is running a standard platter hard drive.
But equipment like converting audio and record… the MacBook Pros will go one better than the MBA because of their quicker processors and ability to use more RAM. This leads to the following question: Can the MBA be used as a sole machine? My answer to this is yes, depending on your needs. It is capable of being a sole machine. But if you are someone working with record, audio, and the like, you would be wise to go with a MacBook Pro (i.e. 15″). But subdue, this machine is capable sufficient that you can throw pro apps at it and it will work for you.
Here is the caveat with the MBA though. Don’t have too many applications open at once, because it only has 2 GB of RAM. There are a few service providers out there who will unsolder the RAM from the MBA’s motherboard, and connect back on 4 GB of RAM. If I were using this a a sole machine I would probably go for that service. But you can subdue get by using it as a sole machine with 2 GB of RAM.
Here is one cut of advice: get click-to-flash. It shuts down flash in Safari, or whatever browser you are using, and makes internet surfing more manageable on the MBA. It’s not that flash makes browsing on the MBA impossible, it’s just that it frees up resources and speeds equipment up. With flash heavy sites like YouTube, playing flash videos, for instance, can yield this model to heat up some, and then, by defaulting, the record will become a bit choppy. This will only really happen if you are obstructing the air vents on the MBA. So if you are not using click-to-flash, make sure your MBA’s vents are clear and free of any obstructions when web surfing.
But, mind you, flash in Safari causes even the MacBook Pros to heat up…
Let’s now get back to what really sets this unit apart from anything on the market: it’s super light and super thin. I did an in depth comparison to the Dell Adamo, and determined that the MBA is really much thinner overall than the Adamo, even though the MBA is thicker than the Adamo at its thickest point. It’s just that more of the MBA is significantly thinner than the Adamo, so overall it’s much thinner, and it shows. Not only this, but the MBA is much more powerful: better processor and better graphics.
It is a joy to use and carry such a tiny, thin and light device, especially in comparison to lugging around the…