MacBook Air: Style Over Substance or Another Winner for Apple?

! Warning: this post hasn't been updated in over three years and so may contain out of date information.

It is one of the worst kept secrets in recent years: Apple were due to unveil a slimline Mac laptop at this year’s Macworld expo. And Steve Jobs dutifully did reveal it. It costs a small fortune; has a low speed CPU; has no built in DVD drive. However it is claimed to be the slimmest laptop in the history of the universe and only weighs around 3lb (less than 1.5kg).

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So what does one get for $1799 (or around $2400 if you live in Britain, but it is OK, we are used to US companies ripping us off. Adobe charge double for their products here, so 33% more expensive than the USA ain’t that bad)? A 4200 RPM (ie sloooooow) 80Gb hard-disk, a 1.6GHz Core 2 Duo (the substantially cheaper, but heavier MacBook offers a 2.0GHz CPU) and a super-thin, super-light case. The Macworld site has a good summary of its specs.

Obviously the Mac fanboys are already discussing buying it. But should the ordinary person buy one? In my view, this is a step too far down the style-over-substance path by Apple and it would be a bloody stupid idea to buy one. If you want a Mac laptop, buy a MacBook Pro ($100 more for so many more features). If you want a lightweight laptop, buy an Asus Eee PC and save yourself $1300 in the USA or £1000 (around $2000) here in Britain.

2 thoughts on “MacBook Air: Style Over Substance or Another Winner for Apple?

  1. MB Air vs. ASUS Eee? Hardly a sane comparison, David! The ASUS is a toy with a single core 900MHZ (!?) processor, barely enough RAM, a 7″ screen, WiFi-G and a toy-town OS. The Mac has a Core 2 Duo running at 1.6Ghz (1.8 upgrade is fairly reasonable by Apple standards), 2GB of RAM, a proper screen, full size keyboard, WiFi-N and a real OS. In short it’s usable. I could quite easily work with one – not an ASUS.

    The ratio of style:substance is different in this machine but there is still plenty of substance. And yes, I want one… If you want value shop at Dell.

    Agree with you on the rip-off in the UK and various other comments about the battery not being user-changeable. But I see the battery issue as less of an problem than it is with the iPhone, especially if it can be changed at an Apple Service Centre for the same price as a MBP battery.

  2. I think the comparison is completely sensible: both are trying for the ultra-portable market and the Asus wins hands down. It is truly portable and its “toy” operating system (ie Linux) and built-in applications provide everything the average person will want from a portable device.

    The register’s article comparing them (thanks to Trevor Marshall for the link) shows just how comparable they are.

    UPDATE:
    I’ve just been reading the comments on The Register post about the Air. There is a great one that sums this product up:

    It’s the Paris Hilton of laptops. Thin and pretty at first glance. After a second look though it is ultimately shallow, expensive, and useless.

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