I've read the reviews and my decision to get a MacBook Air is made--pending holding one in person. Photos and specs are one thing, but if I decide that it feels (size and weight) about the same as my 15" G4 then I'll hold off. Reportedly it makes a better impression in person, though, not worse. (I also have my bag picked out: just big enough to armor the machine heavily, and not one millimeter bigger: http://www.tombihn.com/page/001/PROD/300/TB0300)<br><br>A MacBook Air offers CPU performance in the same league as some dual G5 towers, has more RAM than most Macs people are using (equal to my desktop), can drive a 26" display, will play UT2004 just fine, and is suitable for all my high-end tasks, from 3D modeling to Photoshop. Not just light surfing, as is the catch-phrase from those who think the ultraportable option should not exist. This ultraportable--the slowest Mac now made--is faster than many higher-end machines that are a bit older and still going strong. It will blow my PowerBook G4 away, especially when multitasking. And after warranty I'll easily drop in a 64 or 128 SSD myself, bringing me a nice boost in disk performance (and battery life).<br><br>I thought I'd share two comparisons that led me to my decision:<br><br><br>1. Cost vs. specs<br>Ultraportables have always required compromises and higher prices--that's not some new Apple fact. And ultraportables still have their market even so, though they're not the mainstream first choice. Different brands of ultraportables choose different trade-offs. What is the trade-off vs. a basic MacBook? I made the comparison as close as I could by adding things to both.<br><br>MacBook 2.0 / Combo Drive / 80GB:<br>2 GB<br>DVI and VGA adapters<br>$1287<br><br>MacBook Air 1.6:<br>SuperDrive<br>Ethernet adapter<br>Remote<br>$1946<br><br>Difference:<br>$659<br>($541 in my case: I already own a remote, and don't plan to get the superdrive; $841 if I get the CPU upgrade)<br><br>Lost:<br>Firewire port<br>1 USB port (2 if using Ethernet; but I'll rarely use even ONE USB port, and may not even buy a hub)<br>Optical audio in/out (USB audio-in is cheap but the built-in mic will do fine--and it's nicely located far from fans)<br>Fraction of a GHz faster clock (benchmarks prove what we already know: the 20% GHz loss does not equal 20% slower computing)<br>Spare battery option (but battery replacement is easy)<br><br>All of which can be added to the Air if needed--including external storage. My firewire drive has a USB port too, but I'm going wireless for storage anyway. What I can never do is attach a Firewire camcorder. I've never done that anyway--but if I had to I'd import the footage to another machine and copy it over. For everything else, a cheap USB hub would make my Air into a desktop replacement that meets all my needs! I'll wait and see if a hub comes out with special support for the external Superdrive. Something I do not plan to get for now. I'll probably put the money towards the slightly-faster CPU.<br><br>Gained:<br>Lighter and thinner (the reason ultraportables exist--hugely desirable to some, irrelevant to others)<br>Scratch-resistant metal shell (love my G4: still looks brand-new unlike a plastic laptop)<br>Uses less power, runs cooler<br>DVD burner (dual-layer)<br>LED backlit screen<br>Lighted keys<br>Bluetooth 2.1 (compared to 2.0 EDR, 2.1 seems to mainly add reliability and remove pairing issues)<br>Multitouch trackpad (and a BIG trackpad)<br>Environmentally-friendly materials, reduced packaging (that affects my other purchasing choices, so it certainly affects this one)<br><br>I like those gains!<br><br><br>2. Cost vs. time<br>People wonder who has money to "burn" on an $1800 laptop. Well, people buy computers that cost a lot more than that all the time, so the real question is, why choose one particular model instead of another at the same price? Simple: people's needs are different, and their wants too. People make choices when buying a computer that add $500 or $800 or $2000 of cost. All the time. It's just a matter of what has value to YOU.<br><br>But cost cannot be separated from how LONG you own the machine. Buy a $1200 machine every two years and you've paid the same as if you bought an $1800 machine every three years. So the REAL price paid by a MacBook Air owner is not necessarily simply money. It could be time. The question then isn't "is the portability worth the price difference." It's "is the portability worth keeping the machine longer?" Some would call a "yes" answer sheer madness. But there are other machines for their needs.<br><br><br>That leaves me with... Specs vs. time.<br><br>What I'll lose is nearly insignificant to me (it would be tolerable even if I didn't have a main desktop system, which I do; an Air couldn't be everyone's only computer, but it could be mine and many others). What I'll gain--especially the form factor--is worth a LOT. It's what I've been waiting for.<br><br>I can have what I want, BUT it will cost me hundreds. I can afford that... OR I can keep the machine longer, and then it costs me no extra at all. Or I can get a machine that isn't what I want.<br><br>Easy decision I've already waited just because no Mac ultraportable existed. That means I can even afford the $300 CPU upgrade, which isn't worth it for most buyers I'm sure.<br><br>And none of my decision is about style... imagine that.<br><br>PS, regarding the form factor: weight and XYZ dimensions aren't the whole story--the taper shaves off a lot of volume. The Air isn't just tapered back-to-front, EVERY edge is tapered to nothing. That reduces the volume (and ease of slipping into a bag) significantly compared to a laptop with conventional vertical sides. It also requires the flip-down ports; and that lost volume COULD have been used to include more ports. It's a sacrifice some won't want, but I'm glad to have the tapered edges and reduced volume myself. That also means some direct-plugging USB devices (EyeTV, cellular modems) need a little extender cord. This shocking scandal isn't such a shock when you realize that LOTS of laptops have always needed those extenders. Which is why those little extenders are included in the box.<br><br>The basic MacBook is the best choice for most people (heck, it's MORE power than most people need). The 15" Pro will be the best choice for most pro or higher-end users. But the "specialty" models--the 17" and the Air--will be exactly what some people need and want. It doesn't matter whether 17" Pros outsell everything else, and it doesn't matter if Airs break any records either. They're still great options that some of us are glad to have.<br><br>nagr[color:red]o</font color=red>mme<br><br>I require stroyent!<br>TeamMacOSX.com | MacClan.net
Well thought out.<br>I did not realize that Apple already has an ethernet adapter and a portable Superdrive. <br>The ethernet adapter is nice and cheap.<br>The Apple Superdrive appears to be very small which is a very good thing.<br>I hope to buy one (MBA) in a year from now.<br><br>You are heavily into gaming. Are you using a PC?<br><br><br><br>
Thanks for the explanation for why I bought one. I thought it was a good move, now I know. Also thanks for picking out a bag too. I always like Tom Bihn stuff. Lightweight and tough. I am going to hold off buying a bag though until I have it because I think this is not going to require a separate bag. Slipped into a plain brown interoffice mail envelope and it goes in with all the manila folders in my carryon.<br><br>What I would like is a super thin bag with a shoulder strap so I toss it in there, flip it onto my back and ride my bike across campus. Room for one manila folder only. <br><br>
No, I game on an iMac/7600GT. Works out great since a) I'm into sci-fi games and they have a high rate of arrival on Mac, and b) I don't care /- a few months when a game comes out. I'd love to be playing UT3 and Quake Wars now for instance--they've been on PC for several months--but meanwhile I have plenty of games to occupy me. (I still play mostly UT2004 because I have friends who play.)<br><br>Oh--and I don't boot into Windows to game. Some game might be worth that hassle to me, but it hasn't come along yet <br><br>I'm hoping Quake Wars will play at min detail on an Air. (It looks like Quake 4 already does fine.) Especially if 10.5.2 brings better X3100 drivers. If not, then I'm willing to settle for UT2004, Halo, and Quake 4 when on the go. And misc. single-player games. I'll stick with the iMac when I want the latest high-detail engines. (And eventually a tower I think.) I'm not a hard-core gamer in the stereotypical sense, though: it's a vital function for me, but not one I spend dozens of hours a week on. I play when I have time, and seldom get really good.<br><br>Key disc copy protection is actually one reason I might some day get the external drive. I can imagine copy-protection schemes having trouble with Remote Disc. But maybe not.<br><br>nagr[color:red]o</font color=red>mme<br><br>I require stroyent!<br>TeamMacOSX.com | MacClan.net
Hey Nagromme... nice write up. But, this is one of those decisions that just doesn't make sense on paper. It's one of those things that if you see it and you like it, then you get it. On paper, you give up an awful lot - more than I could justify. Most reviews are claiming it's noticeably slower, etc. But, then, one doesn't buy this type of machine for power and speed.<br><br>I went to my local Apple store this weekend, but they didn't have any in stock or on display yet. I was hoping to get a feel for the machine to see if I "get it" or not. For the time being, I think it's a nice machine, but nothing I could justify. For that kind of money, you're basically in the Macbook Pro territory. <br><br>Either way, I look forward to hearing about your Macbook Air experience.<br><br>
I do need to see/hold it in person. On paper it does make sense to me: portability is far more important to me than a small amount of speed, and I've been waiting a long time for Apple to FINALLY give me that choice. (There will always be some Macs that feel slower than other Macs--and yet faster than older Macs people use just fine.) For my needs, I wouldn't be giving up anything but speed: the things I would use those missing ports for is rare, and can be done plenty of other ways (including adding the missing ports back on).<br><br>But portability is best judged in person, not as a list of numbers. I look at pics of the Air and I'm definitely imagining it to be over an inch at its thickest point--I know it's only as thick as my iPod but I can't picture that even when I see an edge photo. If it only feels slightly smaller than a 15" Pro then it won't be worth the price to me.<br><br>I think part of it is that those curved bevels are really quite shallow and flat, but the light hitting them in photos makes them look like they have a deep bulge. The same is true of current iPods: photos make the face look very "puffy," but it's nearly flat in person.<br><br>Also fit-and-finish and fragility/flex cannot be judged from a photo. And I prefer to await early-adopter reports. Forums always mainly report problems, not "mine still works fine," and that won't alarm me, but if any true large-scale trends emerge (suggesting a defective component or something) then I might wait for a later batch. Any new product from any company (not just new Macs, as the myth goes) is a higher risk than a later version.<br><br>If I'm on the fence after seeing one, cost will make the decision. Then I'll have to consider either the upcoming Pros (the same bulky brick size I hate now--but with a nice GPU consolation prize), or else a "tide me over" MacBook that I don't really want.<br><br>nagr[color:red]o</font color=red>mme<br><br>I require stroyent!<br>TeamMacOSX.com | MacClan.net
Yes, welcome SteveS... I figured I was the last one here so I didn't get to welcome anyone... but maybe not <br><br>nagr[color:red]o</font color=red>mme<br><br>I require stroyent!<br>TeamMacOSX.com | MacClan.net
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