[FoRK] MacBook Air, week 4

Jeff Bone <jbone at place.org> on Thu Mar 6 16:01:45 PST 2008

I got one of the first MacBook Airs to roll out, and have been living  
with it as my "only machine" for almost a month.  (I have a desktop at  
work with two monitors attached, but it is used as a "read-mostly" box  
--- it just runs market monitoring tools for the most part, doesn't  
have a keyboard or mouse attached, I drive it from the laptop's  
keyboard and touch pad via the wonderful Teleport [1] tool.)

This is the best laptop I've ever owned.  I bought it for the SSD, as  
I'd been holding out for a year beyond my self-imposed 3-year lifetime  
on my old Aluminum PowerBook.  I was a little concerned that the  
screen real estate wouldn't be sufficient, coming off of a 15" machine  
--- but it's got the same horizontal resolution and only 54 vertical  
pixels less, totally acceptable.  The reduced actual screen real  
estate hasn't actually been noticeable, but I don't do a lot of  
graphics stuff, YMMV.  I don't do heavy-lifting computation on it,  
either --- leave that to the Linux clusters and / or my various  
compute appliances at home.  For what I use it for, it's perfect.

I wasn't really looking for an ultralight / ultraportable, but this  
has turned out to be a huge bonus.  I find it much easier to keep with  
me *most* of the time, and the battery life is superb --- I find  
myself using it even more in impromptu situations than any other  
computer or device I've used before.

Lack of a DVD hasn't been a huge problem, I don't watch or rip DVDs on  
this (again, another home appliance is used for that.)  I've had to  
use the Net Disk utility once, and it's a bit of a pain --- but unless  
you're really using your drive regularly on your current lappy, you  
probably won't need this too often and it's not so much of a pain as  
to be unusable.

I have two small, related complaints.

(1) My laptop-before-last was a 15" Titanium PowerBook.  The display  
on that laptop was attached to the body with two separate hinges, and  
after two years of use I went to open it and ripped the display loose  
--- metal stress in one of the hinges.  The Aluminum PBs went to a  
single, long hinge, and I never had a problem with that.  The Air  
reverts to a design with two small hinges --- and while it looks and  
feels more solid than the Titanium design, it still makes me slightly  

(2)  The range of motion of the display is somewhat limited, in part  
due to the two-hinge design.  The consequence of this is that I cannot  
fold the display back quite as far as I would like when using the  
laptop on my lap, leading me to bend my neck in an ever-so-slightly  
unnatural and uncomfortable way.

Aside from that, I've got nothing at all bad to say about this thing.   
Lots of folks on the various gadget blogs have ridiculed the Air as an  
pure fanboy vanity play, but that wasn't my motivation at all --- and  
while it's a bit pricey I'm quite pleased.  Cool, quiet, quick, great  
battery life, ultraconvenient --- and completely usable as an "only  
machine" --- even for (some, YMMV) power users.



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