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Sunday, May 16, 2010

Review: MacBook Air

I've been the owner of a MacBook Air for about two months now. I originally got it because I was going on an overseas trip and wanted some computing power on the move without breaking my back. Also, because not long after that, I was presenting at BarCamp Singapore and, again, wanted a computer that wouldn't weigh me down.

After that, I had used it intermittently, until my main computer, iMac G5 "Onomatopoeia", died. Now, my as-yet-unnamed MacBook Air is my main computer, giving me a chance to really get to know it better. My MacBook Air uses the latest version of Mac OS X, version 10.6 "Snow Leopard". Since the software is no different from any other Mac's, I'll just talk about the hardware.

And what a glorious piece of hardware this is! As the name implies, this laptop is featherweight, compared to most other laptops or even netbooks. It is so light that I can balance it on one hand! Which actually comes in handy when I'm overworking the CPU and the bottom gets too hot to be placed comfortably on my lap.

Its ultra-slim aluminum casing looks and feels fragile, but it's also surprisingly sturdy. When opened, I can grip it at one corner to carry the whole device. That's actually quite good because it means that I can be as rough with it as a normal laptop, without worrying about damaging the shell. (Of course, I don't intend to be hard on it anyway!)

People talk about the iPad's incredible slimness. Through my MacBook Air, I can see where and how Apple perfected creating a lightweight but tough shell.

My MacBook Air is the 13" version, so the keyboard takes up half the space, with the palm rests and huge trackpad taking up the other half. That's more than enough space for comfortable typing. This being a laptop, though, I miss some of the extra keys found on a full-sized keyboard, like the number pad. I also miss having a mouse, though I'm getting used to the multi-tap gestures for the trackpad.

I don't use a mouse because I hold on to this principle: it's a laptop, it's meant to be portable, a mouse will just drag me down. Yes, maybe it's misguided, but that's how I think. And anyway, I don't have a Bluetooth-enabled mouse. Which means that if I wanted to use a mouse, I'd have to connect it to the lone USB port.

That's a major drawback of the MacBook Air. It only has one USB port. I now find myself having to mentally "schedule" which devices to connect when needed, especially external hard disks. It doesn't help that I also need to charge my phone and iPod nano through it.

And if I need to use an Ethernet cable for networking, yup, it connects via an Ethernet-USB adapter to the USB port. Fortunately, we live in a wireless world, which is what the MacBook Air was clearly designed for.

Another aspect that surprised me when I first opened the laptop was the frame around the screen. It's wider than I had expected, making the brightly-lit screen seem smaller than it should. I don't know if it's for the screen's protection or the need to accommodate the screen's electronics, but it was quite a letdown.

But overall, it's been a pleasure to use the MacBook Air. Its light weight is definitely a huge plus factor. If not for its crippled feature set, I would heartily recommend this to anyone who's looking for a laptop. Having said that, if you don't want to strain your back to carry a laptop, then the MacBook Air might be just what the chiropractor ordered.

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1 comment:

shandy said...

awesome, I want to have it

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