What’s wrong with the new MacBook Air?

The new MacBook Airs are adorable, particularly the 11". Should you get one...reluctantly I must say probably not. Here's why.

macbook air 11 13
MacBook Air 11" & 13" side by side: notice how pleasingly compact
the 11" is - can it replace a MacBook Pro though?

No standard memory socket.

We own lots of Macs in this category at Foliovision (old MacMini 2 GHz with 9400 GPU: a great basic machine). The bare minimum memory for a really great work experience on an OS X computer is 3 GB. Apple should be putting 4GB soldered on and leaving us at least a single installable memory slot. I'd put in another 4 GB, other might even put in an 8 GB sodimm (Samsung has started mass production).

If like me, you run about twenty programs at a time (why so many at the same time? I work with finance, graphics, four browers throughout my day) you'll want more than 4 GB memory. Especially if you use a Virtual Machine for Windows web testing or some obscure app, you'll be able to work much more quickly on 6 or 8 GB of memory (in my testing, 6GB is usually enough to reduce regular paging out).

os x applications early in day
OS X applications open early in day
OS X using 4GB memory early
OS X using 4GB memory shortly after a restart,
running just the applications above. Nice to
have another 4 GB of headroom available

The advent of great SSD's (SandForce, thank you) does improve matters as it makes it much faster to open and close applications than otherwise. There is no longer any need to leave Photoshop or Open Office running between sessions.

Non-standard SSD form.

Apple has put in underperforming Toshiba SSD's into these MacBook Airs. The Toshiba SSD is what Kingston uses in its value line Kingstong V and V+ SSD's. Apple has tweaked the firmware for slightly better performance and for long term performance. But they don't hold a candle on the OCZ Vertex 2 I've put in my MacBook 13".

MacBook AIr 2010 SSD 4KB Random Write MB sec
MacBook AIr 2010 SSD 4KB Random Write MB/sec

Stats from Anandtech: please see their 11 page review
for more detailed performance stats

No Fast Drive Port

These little jewels don't come with FW 800 ports, nor do are they equipped with eSATA ports. FW800 is a non-standard feature to add to motherboards. So I imagine with computers this small, there would be a cost and space premium. Moreover FW 800 is not suited to SSD computer (transfer rates top out at 75 MB/sec on 2008 MacBook Pros and 58 MB/sec on MacPros).

On the other hand, SATA is a standard motherboard component and adding an eSATA port takes next to no space. Bad Apple.

Why do I want a fast port? Two reasons: if I am on the road and need to do some photo editing (the Nvidia 320M has lots of power for Aperture and Pixelmator), I need a fast external drive: USB 2.0 at 27 MB/sec won't cut it, nor woiuld I want to lose the CPU cycles for the USB controller.

Even more importantly, I'd like to be able to use the MacBook Air as an external hard drive to boot my MacPro so I only need a single install for my office/road computer.

FYI, just coming and doing a SuperDuper clone to an SSD on the destination computer won't work as a lot of software is tied to remaining on the same hard drive so when you sync off to another physical hard drive you have to relicense the software each time. Too much trouble.

No User Replaceable Parts

Without the ability to upgrade memory or SSD, these MacBook Airs will become obsolete very fast. Four GB is just not enough memory long term. While memory rarely stops working after the first couple of years, if anything happens to your Apple Flash drive after AppleCare is over, good luck replacing the drive for a reasonable price.

Speaking of which, don't even think of buying a MacBook Air without Apple Care. Consider it part of the price. A single repair of these computers without Apple Care, will cost more than the computer itself. After Apple Care is over, I wouldn't take my MacBook Air out of the house.

Your three year old would have to be retired as a coffee table computer or kitchen terminal. Basically for your €1609 (with Apple Care and upgrades) you are leasing a computer for 3 years from Steve et co. That's €45/month. When your three years are up, you are living on borrowed time. If you sell at 34 months for €500 to someone who likes to live dangerously (portable computers without warranty), you can bring your monthly cost down to €33/month. Much better.

An alternative is retiring the MacBook Air at eighteen to twenty four months for €700 and replacing it with the new model. Your conscience remains clean as the purchaser has at least a full year of Apple Care and you get a faster machine.

Will I be buying one of these computers?

Probably not. I've been dreaming about a computer like this 11" jewel for years (since I had to replace my PowerBook 12", probably my favorite every computer) but I want a better SSD and I want 8GB of memory.

For a while, I was carrying an external 2.5" FW800 hard drive around between five different Macs (talk about travelling light) with a 17" MacBook Pro with an Nvidia 8600 GPU for road trips. But Skype just wouldn't work properly on my Mac Mini at the office (there's some impossible problem in there: no one can figure it out and no recent version of Skype for OS X would work).

In the end, there's no substitute for a single main machine. I've tried both just the hard drive on different computers, just the 17" and just the 13" for over six months at a time. The best is a single 13" MacBook Pro all tricked out with 8GB of memory and an OCZ Vertex 2.

What's really great about the 11" MacBooks Air?

Built-in underclocked CPU means very few heat or noise issues (unlike the 13").

This underclocking on a portable machine impresses me enough to make me very interested. Real world performance suffers surprisingly little, according to AnandTech:

You'll notice the less CPU intensive tasks are quicker on the old 13-inch system as the CPU isn't able to get hot enough to trigger Apple's throttling....We wondered how Apple was able to cram such a high speed CPU into such a thin chassis as early as it did, now we know....after prolonged use or completing CPU intensive tasks it was tough to tell apart from the new 11-inch. What's even more troublesome is that Apple's aggressive clock throttling went relatively undetected until now. This is something I'm going to have to devise tests for and pay more attention to in future reviews.

Even with my 2009 MacBook Pro 13" sometimes the fans get on my nerves. SMCfancontrol has helped (I keep the base at 2800 rpm which I can't hear leaves the CPU cool enough that even fairly extended CPU spikes don't drive the fan into high RPM's). The built in graphics  9400M is not powerful enough to drive my HP LP3065 30" monitor in Aperture and the 13" MacBook Pro is a little bit heavier and larger than I'd like. If could get the 11" MacBook Air with 8GB memory, I would certainly be a buyer.

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43 Responses to What’s wrong with the new MacBook Air?

  1. Ted

    the flash based hard drive uses mSATA. there are already 3rd party upgrade modules available. yes, not having firewire is a pain, but it has to do with power draw resulting in lower battery life. AppleCare is a poor investment… you already get the first year free, so you are only paying for years 2 & 3, it’s better to put that money away, use it if you need it, which is rare. My main gripe with the new models is no backlit keys! how sad.

  2. ronin48@mac.com

    Oh my god. Where do I start?

    “If like me, you run about twenty programs at a time (why so many at the same time?”

    -No one is like you or needs to be. It’s moronic to run 20 programs at a time. You can’t work on that many things at once. And with the new features in the new Airs you can close a program and start where you left off instead of frying your machine for no reason. Get a grip.

    “FYI, just coming and doing a SuperDuper clone to an SSD on the destination computer won’t work as a lot of software is tied to remaining on the same hard drive so when you sync off to another physical hard drive you have to relicense the software each time. Too much trouble.”

    -First off, nice run-on sentence. Is English your first language? Second, you are making things way too hard on yourself. It’s a convoluted way of doing things. There’s no reason or need to do the things you are trying to describe here. Nonsense.

    “No Fast Drive Port”

    -You can’t possibly be in that big a rush. An extra few seconds or minutes with USB transfer a few photos won’t be a problem on the road. You’ll be busy closing all your open programs anyway. By the way, your car doesn’t have a lawnmower function either.

    “No User Replaceable Parts”

    -WRONG. Airs are easy to open and some stuff is or will be replaceable. See iFixit’s teardown. And here’s a Sandforce SSD memory upgrade for the Air: http://www.macrumors.com/2010/10/27/256gb-ssd-upgrades-for-new-macbook-air-announced/

    You need to reassess your workflow. You are making things really hard on yourself and your equipment. You also need to understand what the Airs are and what they’re for. Do you know that the Airs are ultraportables?

    And you should do research and tell the truth. It seems like you wish you could get and Air but can’t so you are making things up about them to make yourself feel better about your decision.

  3. Hi Ted,

    Thanks for the tip that third party modules are available. Interesting take on Apple Care. We buy Apple Care for all portables but not for our desktops. Actually we buy a local version of Apple Care from Austria’s biggest authorised reseller McShark which is about half the price so it’s not that bad.

    The problem with a portable computer without Apple Care is one repair will cost the price of the whole computer.


    Hi Ronin,

    I’d heard that the trolls come out to play on Apple related posts.

    Often I do have to work in that many programs at the same time. On Tuesday, I was taking notes on a seminar in BBEdit, publishing via Tweetie, corresponding in Apple Mail with my office with SpamSieve running in the background, checking references in Safari, checking SEO information in Firefox, double checking javascript in Camino and editing pictures in Aperture. All at the same time (i.e. back and forth between apps with no extended pauses). Another day I might be crunching numbers in Open Office instead of editing pictures. As we use a lot of web apps to run Foliovision, I have two or three site specific browsers open at any given time (Basecamp, Freshbooks).

    I don’t think you understood my intentions for the MacBook Air. My intention is for the 11″ to become my main computer as the PowerBook 12″ was my main computer for over a year. In that case, USB is too slow. I would use a desktop computer only for very heavy duty photoprojects. Everything else would be on the air as it is on my MacBook Pro 13″ now.

  4. ronin48@mac.com

    Hi,

    You’re right. Sorry for the tone of the post. It was very troll-like.

    You seem to do a lot on your portables at once. I would suggest at least trying your workflow on a 4GB RAM MacBook Air of either size. The workflow you describe, although unrealistic, should be fine with 4GB RAM. How you can you comment on whether they would be adequate without trying them? They are extreme overachievers.

    The 12″ AlBook was great in its day but was bettered by a lot by the 13″ MacBooks that replaced it in 2006. And that was more than 4 years ago. The new MB Airs absolutely blow the 12″ AlBook away in every respect. The time, energy, space you’d save with either new MB Air greatly outweigh the few seconds you’d save once in a while using the 12″ AlBook’s firewire to transfer a few files. And if you learn to use the cloud you can transfer files in the background which takes zero time. You can’t even compare the 2 machines. The 12″ AlBook is a dinosaur.

    Finally, how can you say “A single repair of these computers without Apple Care, will cost more than the computer itself.” That’s just silly. All repairs are the same and all cost more than $1000? Come on! You know that’s wrong. Why would you write that? As for Apple Care, you don’t need to buy it right away. You have up to a year to purchase it. You can see how the machine performs and holds up before you purchase the AppleCare. Also, many credit cards will extend the Apple warranty for free for one or two years so you won’t even need the AppleCare.

    Again, not be be troll-like but you really wrote a lot of exaggerations and outright falsehoods. Why don’t you try a new MacBook Air before bashing it? Wouldn’t that be more responsible?

    /Ronin

  5. Hi Ronin,

    My current computer is a MacBook Pro 13″ 2.26 GHz with 8GB of RAM and a 120 GB OCZ Vertex 2. I can assure you that the new MacBook Air 11″ will be slower than this computer. With the third party flash drive additions available, one of the big hurdles to parity is gone. The only remaining performance issue is half as much RAM. I can live with the slower processor.

    I’ve never seen an Apple PowerBook or MacBook repair bill less than $500 in fifteen years with Apple laptops.

  6. Rick

    Thank God you’re not an Apple hardware engineer.

  7. Could you explain that?

  8. Scott

    I just had my MacBook 13″ repaired by Apple. Totally replaced the logic board, hard drive, & battery charger interface. Total cost: $298.

  9. I thought this was a review. Did I miss the part where you actually used a MacBook Air?

  10. Hi Scott,

    Thanks for the info on current repair costs. Sounds like you got a good deal.


    Hi Khurt,

    This is a technical review from a guy who owns two MacBook Pros and a MacBook (girlfriend’s but I work on it sometimes and maintain it).

    The task I set myself to determine is whether someone used to using a top end MacBook Pro 13″ could get by on an 11″ MacBook Air. There’s a lot of people out there like me who like their computers small but still need a fully capable work station.

    The answer is the MacBook Air 11″ is perfect, apart from the 4 GB memory limit which is not fixable.

    My recommendation: go with the base unit with 4GB of RAM and 64 GB hard drive and standard processor. Save your upgrade dollars for when the Sandforce1200 flash drives come available and then upgrade to 256 GB.

  11. Chris Lee

    It is quite a joke that Steve put only 2G RAM for all based model of macbook air. TOO GREEDY THEY ARE.

  12. Eric

    Amazing how people seem they should not be responsible for figuring out these things for themselves, and then blaming someone else for their decision. It’s disingenuous to claim you have a right to dictate to Apple how they should make their computers.

    You get 50 billion in the bank, change the computer world over and over again, and then maybe they might have some reason to listen to you.

    It’s like telling Microsoft to make a version of Office for Linux. They have no reason to.

  13. Your analogy has no merit, Eric. Microsoft makes nothing for Linux while Apple is in the portable computer business.

    You are fighting straw men here Eric. I didn’t blame anyone for anything. Apple if free to do as they please.

    One of the main reasons Apple is still in business is people like me.

    If they choose to make computers I like I buy more of them (at least one a year personally and another five for my company). If they don’t I buy less of them and older models.

    Apple isn’t making computers for themselves. They are making computers for Apple computer buyers.

  14. Eric

    You’re probably right Alec, it was somewhat of a straw man point. But what I was trying to say is that we don’t always get what we want from Apple, so we choose something else.

    For example, a co-worker who travels a lot would really benefit from a MacBook Air. He doesn’t do heavy-duty stills and video like I do on the road, so these would give him the computer he needed in a much smaller package. When you’re crossing the border from Pakistan to Tajikistan, or in a tiny airplane in Burma, small can be a good thing.

    But he won’t buy one because it doesn’t have USB 3. As if that would make that much of an improvement in his computing experience. But he loves being buzzword-complaint. I think a lot of complaints about the MacBook Air is just that, whining about it not being buzzword-compliant.

    Sure, it’s not the perfect computer for me either. Shooting 2,000, 21 megapixel images a day of emerald mines in Colombia, or 1080p video in Tanzania, I might have a problem working with such a computer. But I’m not typical.

    And I have to admit, if they had LightPeak and I had a 1TB external SSD drive that supported that protocol, I’d be all over one.

  15. Hi Eric,

    You’ve hit the nub on the head now. There is no high speed external storage on the MacBook Airs. Not FireWire 800 (which isn’t very fast these days topping out at 75 MB/sec with the best bridges and chipsets on both ends), nor eSATA nor USB 3 nor LightPeak.

    I think Apple will rectify this omission in a future revision. The lack of any fast external protocol and the small amount of RAM are all that are holding me back from buying an 11″ tomorrow. No fast external storage is probably the bigger issue for travelling photographers (I’m in that number too) who have to at least catalogue and evaluate on the road, if not process.

  16. “The lack of any fast external protocol and the small amount of RAM are all that are holding me back from buying an 11″ tomorrow. ”

    I’m glad that you realize that this lack is holding YOU back. It’s not holding back the people buying it.

    Sounds to me what you want is 15″ MacBook Air with USB 3, FireWire, 10 hour battery life, 4GB of RAM, 250GB SSD, and weighs less than 3lbs for under $999. If Apple could make that what would be the point of the other MacBook products in the line up?

  17. Hi Khurt,

    How are your reading skills?

    I don’t want a 15″ MacBook Pro. If your reading comprehension were a bit better, you’d have noted that I currently own and use as my primary computer a MacBook Pro 13″ with a 120 GB OCZ Vertex 2 and 8 GB of RAM. When I travel I take a FireWire 800 drive for my pictures. I don’t mind changing my portable drive for another fast format.

    Nowhere did I suggest that I was particularly price sensitive on this primary computer. I am size and weight sensitive which is why I want the 11″ and not the 13″ MacBook Air.

    I need more RAM (no weight), a middle capacity very fast flash drive (Sandforce1200 is the only one out there which really works and doesn’t deteriorate over time under OS X) and a single fast external port. As I mentioned above, the slightly slower processor doesn’t bother me on a dual core machine (all of Apple’s laptops).

    Extra RAM/RAM slot is easy enough to add, as is a single fast external port. Apple probably had to pay extra to have the motherboard manufacturer remove eSATA as it’s standard on most motherboards now.

    In the meantime, instead of buying another computer you might look into some remedial reading courses at your local college. It would really improve your quality of life.

  18. ronin48

    Alec,

    If you know anything about Apple you should have known that the “motherboard” for the MB Air, especially the 11″, would be a proprietary design. Every inch was designed to saved to save space and they never would be buying and off-the-rack “motherboard” and then removing the eSATA components or leaving out memory slots.

    But even if you couldn’t intuit this you could have seen the nice work of the folks at iFixit – a well known site to Apple users – who did a MB Air teardown on 10/21 way before your original post. The LOGIC BOARD is clearly proprietary with every bit of space being used.

    Here it is: http://www.ifixit.com/Teardown/MacBook-Air-11-Inch-Model-A1370-Teardown/3745/1

    It’s bad enough that you weigh in on use and performance issues for the MB Air without actually using one or comparing performance.

    It’s bad enough that you ignore others’ actual benchmarks, published before your original post, showing the MB Airs’ real world performance vastly outperforms your imagined performance.

    It’s bad enough that you get multiple facts wrong as already pointed out here in the comments.

    But can’t you at least get something right about the components and other easily available information? Can’t you at least use someone else’s research if you won’t do your own?

    The MacBook Airs, inside and out, were designed by Apple to serve a certain niche and group of users. You seem to want a machine that can’t yet realistically exist. That’s fine but you can’t say fault the MB Airs for not measuring up to your impossible dream specs. I, myself, want a time machine to go back in time and prevent your original post from appearing. But I know that’s not possible and I’m not about to fault my car for not having a time travel button. I’ll just laugh at your post and write a comment.

    I think you should just be content to enjoy your very expensive, heavy, big, 13″ MacBook Pro for now and let the power users get the most out of their new MB Airs. And please, for all of us, leave the hardware reviews to people who actually review hardware.

  19. Hello Ronin,

    If you’d been using Apple computers long enough, you’d know they make plenty of mistakes and don’t need such energetic apologetics.

    I’ve seen the teardown thanks.

    All I’ve asked for is a single memory slot (or higher factory mod memory configuration) and a single fast interface.

    That machine can and will exist (next rev probably). Sony’s already made lots.

    Stop kissing Apple’s butt. Apple won’t return the favour. I promise.

  20. Alec,
    This is how you write a hardware review:http://arstechnica.com/apple/reviews/2010/11/the-future-of-notebooks-ars-reviews-the-11-macbook-air.ars/3

    You actually need to use the device to review it. In my opinion, everything you wrote is conjecture.

  21. Hello Khürt,

    This is not a hardware review: there are people who spend days of their lives preparing the tests and breaking down the computers. I run a very busy design and marketing company.

    This is a high level analysis of the available data. I’m not trying to compete with ArsTechnica or AnAndTech.

    And yes, I have used an 11″ MacBook Air myself. There was no issue with processor speed in my subjective tests. If you’d like detailed performance data rather than use analysis, I recommend you visit the above two sites and reviews.

    Thanks for stopping by.

  22. Stoney Mahoney

    Hey Alec,

    I can understand where you’re coming from, but I don’t think your desire for an 11″ port-filled Mac will ever be filled. The Macbook Air has not historically been about practically or performance. With previous their specs and price tag, they’ve been aimed at coffee house posers and rich people who like to look at things and think “Mmm, pricey and mine” rather than people who actually need a useful, expandable system. That’s what the Macbook Pro is for.

    For it’s target audience, the Air has a perfect set of ports. The kind of person who buys one of these might want to plug a camera and hard drive into it at once, or maybe a WWAN dongle and a mouse, but they’ll never need the throughput of a eSATA port and won’t miss the administrative ease a Firewire port adds to a Mac. Even the 4GB memory limit will likely never cause them any performance headaches in the entire lifetime of the product.

    I can’t say I’m too sympathetic to your complaint that a product never aimed at someone with your needs doesn’t fulfill your needs. Also, I’d dispute your assertion that you need 3GB minimum for working on OS X. I used to work at a publishing firm that’s staple system was Mac Mini’s with 2GB of RAM running 10.5 and CS4. One of our power-users moaned he needed more RAM in his system to speed it up so we upped his Mini to 4GB while he wasn’t in the office and he didn’t notice, just kept moaning. ;)

  23. Stoney Mahoney

    Oh yeah, just noticed, does anyone even mentioned the lack of an ethernet port yet? No?

  24. Hi Stoney,

    The difference in RAM is very noticeable between 4 and 6 GB in my experience. Between 6 and 8 GB not so much, in my case.

    No one is complaining about the missing Ethernet as you can add Ethernet with a USB dongle on both your home and office 7 port hubs.

    On the other hand, USB 2 won’t give you decent transfer speeds. I think LightPeak will be coming to the MacBook Air when it’s ready. FireWire won’t as FireWire is a product about to be phased out and requires extra space on a board (those chips are big). On the other hand, eSATA is readily available and already on the board. Apple just needs to add a port.

    It’s a pity if Apple over cripples their smallest computer again and then phases it out too quickly again (Duos, PB 2400, 12″ PowerBook) citing lack of demand. It isn’t lack of demand for small computers, it’s crippling them when they come along.

    Making the web work for you, Alec

  25. Jeanne

    why don’t all of you collectively get a life?

  26. fernando

    hi alec
    im tottaly agree with your points of view.
    i myself own a mbp 13 2,53 with a ocz 120gb. travel a lot, and i need the performance as well, and also use a owc hd 800fw.
    i also would like to have a air because its slim and light.
    im expecting for the next air revision and if they came out with thunderbolt, 7 hours of battery , 4 gb ram standart , and a decent ssd like the vertex2 performance, im sold.

    at least i will have air for 2 or 3 years.
    Regarding my mbp 13 like yours im tinking to remove the optical drive and had another ocz vertex 2 and use both in raid 0 .
    cheers.

  27. Proud Shareholder

    “why don’t all of you collectively get a life?” Well put.

    Apple is offering the products it believes their customers will find useful. I for one found the MacBook Air to be exactly what I need as I travel a lot. I use a MacBook Air to keep weight down and because it doesn’t take up a lot of space in my suitcase.

    In a few years Apple will offer more bells and whistles to the machine as price allows. I am certain that could make each of your dream machines but you would probably be their only customers since the price would be horrendous.

    Like all well run businesses Apple markets each of their products to specific types of people, offering the best computers while keeping prices down. If you don’t think Apple knows what it is doing have a look at its share price!!!!!!!!!!!

  28. My goodness recent Apple customers make themselves ridiculous. Share price doesn’t tell me anything about whether the product suits me or not.

    Apple has just released updates to the MacBook Air, again underpowered in terms of memory.

    Dan Thor, Apple is crippling their products to force you to buy more of them. If you like that, indeed you must be a shareholder and not a user.

    I don’t think Apple is offering the best prices: they are gouging us for everything they can.

    Who is letting them do it?

    1. Microsoft by turning out such turkeys of OS in the last ten years (since XP). Windows 7 is overpriced and a pain to maintain (I have one machine for website testing).

    2. The Linux crowd by refusing to put out a coherent OS with solid hardware support (not helped by the video card manufacturers).

    3. Adobe who have a near monopoly on professional design and photography tools and who don’t develop for Linux.

    Apple and Jobs are taking advantage of the above three conditions to take us all for a magic carpet ride on iCloud. Kudos to them for an attractive OS. A big raspberry for crippled hardware and for the spyware they are foisting on all of us.

    Jobs told us that Apple is different. Actually in the end, no they are not. Now that they have a chance to force monopoly conditions and registration they are behaving just as Microsoft did and Google does.

  29. Eric

    I think you overstate it a bot Alex. They make better gear than anyone else. And Lion is one killer OS. Install took 20 minutes on my Mac Pro. And it’s clearly faster. How many Windows updates make a PC faster? ( Okay, Vista was a dog )

    And what about the new Airs and the Thunderbolt display. No USB 3 port, but now more RAM bigger storage wit all those ports via the new display. With a LaCie Little Big Disk and an air it’s one compelling travel companion.

  30. Lion is spyware. It knows full time what music you have, what apps you have, your home address, your credit card information and lots of other things that we don’t know yet. Lion is connecting on a full time basis to the mothership.

    I’m not comfortable with that. Not from Microsoft, not from Google and no more from Apple. That’s what Steve Jobs promised us repeatedly Apple would never do.

    The new Air is the same dog as the old one: you are limited to 4 GB RAM. That is not enough for heavy photo processing or even intense multitasking business use. I have computers at 4 GB, 6 GB and 8 GB of RAM, so this conclusion is based on empiric experience. For some reason 6 GB is much better than 4 GB. One feels the difference between 6 and 8 GB much less.

    Until Apple puts an 8 GB RAM offer in the MacBook Airs they are toys for correspondence on the road or browsing in bed.

  31. Ronin

    Oh no. Here we go again.

    -”Lion is spyware…connecting on a full time basis to the mothership.”

    Lie. Prove it. If you can, people at Apple will be charged criminally. This is just silly. If you are so sure, take off your tinfoil hat and prove it. Apple only knows what you tell them.

    -”(Lion) knows full time what music you have, what apps you have, your home address, your credit card information and lots of other things that we don’t know yet.”

    How can you know Lion knows things we don’t know it knows yet? Statements like this show the critical thinking skills of a 6 year old. It’s just a silly and illogical statement and hurts what’s left of any credibility you have.

    -”The new Air is the same old dog….” blah blah blah.

    When did you come to realize that Apple exists to make products only to satisfy your exaggerated computing needs. Apple makes a series of different products for various needs, one or more of which seem to be making millions of people happy. If you can’t find a product of theirs that you like you are free to not buy anything they make. You do realize this don’t you? They have NO DUTY TO YOU. Get that through your head.

  32. Wow, Ronin, I always wonder what they spike the Apple koolaid with.

    Apple is not your friend. It’s unwavering disciples like you which encouraged Jobs et co. to take these steps to disempower you.

    You can’t even download free applications without being signed in with a credit card.

    Welcome to iOSverse.

  33. Eric

    Apple’s not our friend?

    I’m crushed! How can I go on living! Apple sets its own rules, and people have no choice but to buy their products. They are the worse company in the world…

    …except for all the rest.

  34. Jon

    Dear All

    I’ve recently visited an Apple store here in the UK.

    I saw the 11″ MBA. I loved it.

    I can probably get a Windows laptop for not much more than half the price which will have much bigger RAM and internal storage. But it won’t be anywhere near as sexy as the MBA.

    So I will be getting a new MBA in the next couple of weeks.

    If it doesn’t quite fit my needs for any of the reasons previously mentioned in this review, then I will change my needs – simple!

  35. Jesse

    alec:
    At least your first request, the faster device interface, was fulfilled. So there to all the folks who kept insisting that you were nuts to ask for one.

    Now to head over to microcenter and pick up a $80 1tb portable with a thunderbolt port… oh right, doesn’t exist. proprietary wins again.

    I’m with you, 8gb is a requirement as i have a windows vm running much of the time…

    I wonder: When (not if) they come out with an 8gb logic board, will it be possible to swap it out with the 4gb available now?

    logic board with soldered on ram, video, processor: $$$$, and much less small bits to replace, so you’re right again about practically any repairs to the air. Google says: macbook air logic board, $789 and up.

    I may pick up a used 2010 13″ anyways, need something lighter than this anchor (15″ mbp)

  36. I actually have a 2010 Macbook Air as my carry around computer, Jesse. It can’t replace the main computer (I did do that for a few months but got tired of 4 GB of memory and constantly quitting Safari).

    I don’t see any point in upgrading to a 2011 model with still 4GB of memory. With 4 GB of RAM, the MacBook Air remains a tool when on the road or writing something at home.

    With Apple, it will never be possible to swap a logic board viably (technically probably not possible, economically certain not).

    The used 2010 MacBook Air is a great idea, but I’d go for the 11″ for true portability.

  37. Eric

    @john,

    You may find a Windows laptop for half the price and more RAM and storage, but you won’t find a PC laptop anywhere near the features and form of the MacBook Air for even the same price. The manufacturers are complaining and demanding Intel subsidize their “ultra notebooks” to the tune of $100 per device so they can compete with Apple on price.

    That should tell you all you need to know.

  38. Phil

    Alec

    Thanks for a great article. I agree with you about the 4GB ram limit. I would buy 13 inch if I could get 8GB. I run virtual machines to separate my various client’s work and 4GB doesn’t go far. If the Air was supposed to be a cut-down portable with no intention of being a people’s main machine, why put the i7 in it? It seems like putting a V8 in a car and then not putting the transmission in to use it.

    The Airs do have thunderbolt so there is some fast connectivity.

    Phil

  39. Maik

    Apple has replaced religion. One word of criticism and the crowds (shareholders?) are after you… Even if you write a balanced, common sense review like this one.

  40. P2noway

    This is ridiculous .. The average user of a mac computer does not even know how to quit a program!!

    If apple is not going to implement software to cut back on haggard multitasking .. than PLEASE PLEASE do not release computers without 4gb minimum of ram .. AND ALWAYS ALWAYS make your ram user changeable .. or else I agree .. no point in buying applecare .. your computer will be obs elite and WORTHLESS by year 1.

  41. Eric

    Reading the last two comments, and one has to conclude irony, not to mention reality, is lost on some people.

    MacBook Airs can be upgraded. Check OWCs website!

  42. Hi Eric,

    You are wrong. OWC does not upgrade memory. Just very expensively upgrades the flash drive. A flash drive you cannot use in any secondary computer. Please do not spread disinformation around the web.

    While I own a Macbook Air 11″, Apple has deliberately crippled the Macbook Air line. People like you are what helps Apple get away with it.

    The latest Macbook Airs can only run Lion which is a catastrophe of an operating system for professional use in any case.

    Apple is done with the pros. And the pros are slowly done with Apple.

    Making the web work for you, Alec

  43. p2noway

    I love apple.

    Its great! They make unbelievable products!! (compared to everything else..)

    Honestly.. Mac is better for pro’s .. even if we have to buy new (pro) equipment every year .. it still beats using a non-working PC with *user friendly windows 7 .. haha

    Enjoy your computers! 1 or 2 years is a long time .. Just be happy your computer is not made of plastic .. :D

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