MacBook Air: The ultralight laptop from Apple

Yesterday, Steve Jobs unveiled the new MacBook Air, as I'm sure you all know, following a week of rumors that this time were true, even having a photoshopped picture of the Air surprisingly similar to the end product. Apart from that, a new Apple TV with updated HDTV support has been launched, and an Airport Extreme with a 500GB or 1TB "server grade hard disk drive" on it (think of wireless Time Machine), called Time Capsule (I love the name!).

So, the MacBook Air. The machine is less than 2cm thick (0.4 cm in its thinnest side, and 1.94cm in the thickest), and weights about 1.3kg.

Among the things I also like is the CPU (a standard Core 2 Duo 1.6 or 1.8GHz), which apparently had to be reduced 60% in size compared to the Core 2 Duo that other MacBooks have, and that Apple reportedly persuaded Intel to build it for them.

The standard (non expandable) RAM memory is also enough (2GB), and the battery life (apparently having wireless on) is a whopping 5 hours.

As for the rest of the features, it is pretty much a small MacBook Pro (iSight, Bluetooth, Backlit keyboard, Micro-DVI output).

Another great feature is the inclusion of an iPhone-like, bigger than usual trackpad. It allows you to scroll, zoom, pinch, rotate... the whole deal.

It only has one USB and no Optical Drive, though, which I find completely understandable just by looking at its size. And I don't miss the Optical Drive, specially in such a small form factor laptop.

No Ethernet adaptor either, but again, I understand as this is a travel laptop, the Air is supposed to work with AirPort, and leave the cables behind.

Apple has come up with an already well known but improved feature to resolve the lack of a SuperDrive. All you have to do is enable CD/DVD sharing on a computer with one (apparently you have to install additional software if it's a PC) and it will automagically appear on Finder, so you can install all the software you need (it even works if you want to reinstall Leopard, for instance).

As for the things I like less are, for instance, the size of the hard drive (80GB), and the price of the super-fast 64GB SSD optional disk (about EUR 900). The battery is sealed, as in the iPhone, so you can't get a replacement and change it yourself if you want.

In a few words, this is a travel laptop, it's great to carry it around, has good battery life and you can work exactly the same as in a MacBook Pro. I'm already picturing myself working on it in an Airport Lounge.

Just so you know, I'm getting one already, so I'll let you know how it performs.



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About is a blog about technology, opinion and random thoughts written by Daniel Alvarez, a computer engineer currently living in Zurich, Switzerland.


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