Friday, January 18, 2008

Macbook Air Analysis

The non-Mac-fanboy analysis of the new Macbook Air is very interesting. Here are a couple of blog entries by others:
Both of them miss the really obvious point: portability constraints aren't usually caused by the Z dimension (i.e., thickness). They're caused by the X and Y dimensions (breadth and length). When trying to stuff a laptop into a Carradice saddlebag, for instance, the limitation is not thickness but length and breadth. Similarly, that's also the constrained when you have a small backpack, suitcase, or when trying to use the machine on an airliner's seat-back tray. In fact, I don't see how a thin laptop helps anywhere in the area of portability, other than squeezing the weight down to 3 pounds, which my Thinkpad X-series laptops have always been at, and those laptops have far fewer compromises in terms of available ports, features, and price.

Obviously, if you want a 3 pound Mac, you have no choice but to get the Macbook Air. However, as a practical matter, it is not terribly portable, and not especially light. For the price of the Macbook Air, you can buy a fully loaded EEE PC, and still have enough change to buy a plane ticket so you can actually get in the air. And the EEE PC is a whole pound lighter, fits in a handbag, and also has more ports than the Macbook Air. So I don't know what problem the Macbook Air is trying to solve, other than to help beautiful people look even more fashionable.

Lots of other commentators complain about the lack of an optical drive. I don't see it as a big issue --- I've lived without an optical drive on all my laptops for 3 years now, and just attach an optical drive whenever I need it, which isn't often. For me, the point of a laptop is for it to be thin and light. If Apple had made the Macbook Air a 10 inch machine (just big enough for a full size keyboard) with a touch screen (to eliminate the touch pad), with a 2.5 pound weight, it would be seriously considered as an ultra-portable. As it is, I suspect that the only folks who'll buy it are the fashionistas and of course, the Mac fanatics who will buy anything with an Apple logo on it.
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