Sunday, February 10, 2008

Apple MacBook Air

I'M DEEPLY torn. When Steve Jobs first slid the supermodel-thin MacBook Air out of a manila envelope during his MacWorld keynote unveiling, I wanted to buy it. It was exactly what I was looking for - an ultra-light portable with a decent-sized screen and full-sized keyboard. However, after 24 hours away from the effects of Steve's reality distortion field (a well-documented phenomenon), I had time to ponder its shortcomings and desire quickly gave way to doubt.
No sooner had the words "how much are those Apple shares now?" popped into my head, than the web was buzzing with critical scorn heaped on the Air for its lack of optical drive, integrated battery, non-upgradeable memory, limited hard drive capacity, lack of ports and not-so-latest processor. Could I really be happy with a notebook that had so many compromises or would I carry it in frustration wishing the left-brain had been more assertive during the purchasing?
I decided practicality had to win out and the regular MacBook would be my next computing mule ... until I held the Air in my hands. The dilemma was back and this time emotion was involved.
Few would argue that the Air is the sexiest notebook ever built - it's the Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie of laptops. It appeals to both sexes equally and elicits the same gasps of shock, marvel and delight from either gender. Think I'm exaggerating? Just watch anyone's reaction upon seeing the Air for the first time in the metal. Average Joe would be able to resist stroking its anodised aluminium surface only for about two nanoseconds.
Yet the question of function and practicality keeps coming back. The MacBook Air comes in two flavours: a 1.6GHz Core 2 Duo entry-level model and a 1.8GHz version with a 64GB flash memory "solid state" hard drive that costs an extra $1889. The faster CPU and flash drive are available as separate options on the base specification ($430 for the former and a whopping $1409 for the latter).
An Air exclusive is the multi-touch trackpad that uses gestures to perform common tasks such as zooming in on a picture, rotate an image, enlarge text on a web page and jump back in a browser. It is a system that iPhone and iPod Touch users will be familiar with and is an absolute gem on the enlarged trackpad of the Air.
The lack of an optical drive will be a deal-breaker for some but, like a BMW, anything is available for a price. A purpose-built external SuperDrive DVD burner (that connects through USB) is a $139 option and also extra are the Ethernet adaptor dongle thingy and the Apple remote (a standard inclusion on the cheaper MacBooks).

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