The MacBook Air Makes Me Wonder

My good friend Elvis hit the nail on the head when he said about the MacBook Air, in a teasing and mocking tone mind you, “But it’s so thiiin! You can put it in an envelope.” That about summed up how I felt after seeing how señor Jobs offered it to us this past Macworld 2008. I was sort of gob smacked. It was like “deja vu” for me. I got that same feeling I had when the iPhone was released. It was another case of, “Is that IT?!?” for me.

Try not to get me wrong folks. I’ve owned my MacBook Pro for a year now. Hands down, it’s the best computer I’ve ever owned or used in both my professional and personal life. The battery life is rather atrocious, but this is my fault. My battery cycling habits could use some improving. Despite the anti-Mac criticism of both colleagues and friends, I have little doubt my MacBook Pro would out-perform even their most modern Windows PCs.

My wife’s MacBook is a great piece of machinery as well. She followed my switching to Mac not too long after me. Our Windows PC was really starting to become a pain, and I’m not one of the tech types who believes “it’s good to reformat your hard drive and reinstall your Windows OS on an annual or biannual basis“, as I’ve heard some techs say in a sage-like tone as if that was something to brag about. I shouldn’t have to reinstall my OS because of normal everyday use. After more than a few of the usual Windows lock-up-so-you-have-to-reboot problems, and hearing me talk so highly about my MBP, it wasn’t long before she bought her MacBook.

Since buying and installing our Airport Extreme, there’s been nothing but smooth sailing in our home network. Unlike the bumps I encountered with my Linksys WRT-54G, our Airport Extreme is fantastic and does a noticeably better job routing, and I love being able to connect to my 500Gb external router via the Extreme. An IT pro friend of mine bought his Airport Extreme because it was the only router available reasonably priced that could take full advantage of his 100Mb/100Mb line at home. (Yes, you can actually get that sort of bandwidth at home in Sweden without having to sell a kidney.)

I didn’t write all of the great stuff about the Apple products above because of a tangent or because I felt like endorsing Apple products, though I don’t really mind sharing the joy they’ve brought me. I wrote it so you can understand that I when I criticize any of them, I’m not doing it because I have an ax to grind. I usually have good reason.

Now on to the MacBook Air.

As I wrote in the first paragraph, “Is that IT?!?” I’m confused! All they hype, all the fuss, all the letting the press and blogosphere spin out of control for this? A good friend of mine, who purchased a MacBook just this past summer, felt a bit miffed because he wasn’t sure if he should’ve waited. His reaction after only seeing the picture of MacBook Air was that it looked cool. No argument there. Apple knows how to make cool looking products better than anyone. However, my response to him was: “Cool my eye! What a rip off! It’s a cannibalized MacBook thrown in a different form factor with a price-bump of $800-$2000. No optical drive, no firewire or Ethernet connection, and if you want the battery changed you’ll have to take it to a dealer or send it in with the understanding that it may take up to five business days for it to be changed, on top of the $129 price for a new battery. The only two USB ports are recessed, so certain peripherals are probably not going to fit.”

It’s been five days now since I sent that. I’ve had time to think things through and digest them a bit more. I’m afraid I remain unmoved. Besides my friend Elvis’ “But it’s so thiiin!” comment, there is absolutely nothing that makes me want to even consider purchasing or owning it. I was and remain pretty excited about Apple getting involved in solid state technology, but a price bump this much has dampened my interest considerably. Terribly so, I must say.

To experience the benefits of solid state technology via the MacBook Air I would have to pay $3,098 in the U.S. That’s only going to get me 64 GB of hard disk space, 1.8GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, 2GB of RAM, two (recessed) USB ports, Bluetooth, no Ethernet connectivity, and no optical drive. For the $1,499 that a black MacBook costs, I get 160GB of hard disk space, 2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, 1 GB of RAM (though I can upgrade this to 2GB for an additional $150, or even 4GB for $850 if I really feel like going crazy!), two USB ports, one firewire port, Bluetooth, one Ethernet port, and 802.11n WiFi capability. Some are claiming there’s no need for Ethernet because WiFi is everywhere. Yeah… That excuse works juuuust fine until you’re stuck in that one hotel that doesn’t offer it, or one of the many hotels that have spotty coverage that will force you to walk from place to place looking for one of the few spots have good coverage. Typically it’s by your hotel room door or in the bathroom, while the Ethernet jack is right there near the desk. Accuse me of seeing the glass as half full if you like, but I’ve been away on business in that very same situation and needed to get access. I was REALLY glad to have an Ethernet port.

And the lack of ability to change the battery for the MacBook Air..? HELLOOOO! This is one of the major faults of the iPhone! So now folks who own both devices risk losing both their laptops and phones for a few days while they ship them off to Apple for them to be changed? Thanks, Steve!

In any case, I expected more from Apple. Maybe it’s because I own a MacBook Pro and know what they can do when they put their minds to it. Especially for $3098!!! If you’re considering spending that much on a laptop, please take a quick look at these tech specs for a suped up MBP 15″ (forgive me, but I’m a believer in if you’re willing to buy a 17″, you may as well face up to your wanting an iMac):

Suped up MBP

And, yes, it has the same ports and more as the MacBook I mentioned above. That should pretty much say it all.

Nevertheless, I’m not going to end on a bad note. There were, of course, some nice things that came out of Macworld 2008. I’m afraid I’ll have to save that until the next time. 😉

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