MacBook Air – My 5 cents

Here we go again.. Apple brings out a new product and makes a controversial claim (“The world’s thinnest notebook”) and the entire gadget-loving internet is going bi-polar again. Oh well, I guess that was Apple’s marketing goal in making this claim anyway: get everybody talking about its new product.

Mission accomplished.

The Gadget sites all seem to be taking the wrong approach once more, by comparing the MacBook Air to other (sub-)notebooks based on:

  • features
  • price
  • weight
  • size

The usual arguments re-surface: “It’s too expensive because Acer does the same thing for 20% less”. “It’s missing connectivity (DVD, firewire, ethernet, ..)”. “For $XXXX, I’d expect it to be faster”, etc, etc.

In my personal opinion all this misses the point. The sentence below summarizes my take on the MacBook Air’s “unique selling proposition”:

The MacBook Air is the most portable Mac.

It’s perfect for taking down to Star Bucks (please open one around the corner, so I can take it there!), answering your mail, doing a spot of programming or just plain surfing. True it’s not as small as your iPhone, but it has got a bigger screen, and yes, it does run Mac OS X, which is nice.

How is it possible that almost all reviews of the MacBook Air forget to even mention, it’s main feature: It’s a Mac stupid!.

Is the Lenovo X300 a Mac? No? So why would Gizmodo let you vote on which is better? Surely if you want a Mac, you’re not going to buy a Lenovo?

I guess now that Macs can run Windows or Linux, the question that Gizmodo is asking is: “As a Windows user, is it worth buying the MacBook Air rather than the Lenovo X300 so that you can run Windows XP (not Vista!) on a box that looks nicer?”

The mere thought of buying a Mac, just to erase the Mac OS X partition and install Windows instead makes my skin crawl.. Arrgh.

Anyway, my MacBook Air arrived a week or so ago and it has kept everything it promised: It’s a Mac that I can slip next to my notepad (which happens to be thicker) in a bag and take out with me without breaking my back.

It’s not going to replace my Mac Pro and my triple monitor setup, which I’ve grown to love. Its tiny screen means that I need to switch between windows incessantly, its small disk means that I can’t just mirror my 600Gb Mac Pro installation via Apple’s Setup Assistant, but had to install things by hand.

Sure it would be great if it had a larger disk, a faster CPU or faster wireless networking, but you don’t really expect those things in this small a package. You just know it’s not going to be a tiny version of a full-blown Mac Pro and if you don’t well..

The MacBook Air is a Mac that you can take with you everywhere; without breaking your back. In this market segment it’s unique. Apple had to make some compromises, but I’m happy to live with them. The main thing is that I can just take it with me, in case I need it. It has already supplanted my MacBook Pro, which is a more capable machine, but simply doesn’t offer the same convenience.

The MacBook Pro won’t be anybody’s main machine.

It will be too expensive for teenagers to run facebook on, but it’s ideal for professionals who rely on their Macs and need to take it pretty much anywhere.

I can’t just close shop for a two week holiday. I need to keep on top of my email and I need to be able to fix my website should it decide to go down.

The MacBook Air will pay for itself, just by letting me go on holiday without having to lug my MacBook Pro around for a couple of hours while trying to reign in my 18 month old toddler.

Thank you Steve!