Macbook Air

Macbook Air

The MacBook Air not only sheds some weight, it makes do without some key features you’re used to having.


The Facts


Apple products lay claim to lofty titles: the world’s easiest operating system, the world’s best-designed computers, the world’s most popular portable digital media player. And the list goes on. Now with the MacBook Air, you can add the world’s thinnest notebook computer to the roll call of superlatives. At its widest point, the Air is 0.76 inches. At its narrowest point, it’s 0.16 inches. Weighing 3 pounds, the Air is also the lightest notebook Apple has produced; the company has come a long way since the introduction of the 15.8-pound Mac Portable some 19 years ago.
At the heart of the Air is an Intel Core 2 Duo processor, a redesigned 65-nanometer Merom chip that Intel says is not exclusive to Apple. The base configuration comes with a 1.6GHz processor, and a 1.8GHz upgrade is available for an additional $300. The processor uses an 800MHz frontside bus and 2GB of RAM is fixed to the motherboard. There are no RAM slots for you to add more memory, and 144MB of the RAM is used by the Intel GMA X3100 graphics subsystem.


The $1,799 model comes with a 4,200-rpm 80GB hard drive. A 64GB solid-state disk option that uses flash memory for storage is quieter, faster, and consumes less power than a hard drive, but it’s a pricey $999. Apple says the Air’s small size makes it impossible to include a built-in optical drive, but a $99 external USB SuperDrive is available. Apple has also developed a new feature called Remote Disc, which lets you put a CD or DVD in a networked computer, fire up your MacBook Air, and then access that disc over the network.


Open the Air and you’ll find that instead of going with a small screen often seen in ultraportable notebooks, Apple has opted for a 13.3-inch glossy, widescreen, LED-backlit display with a native resolution of 1,280 by 800 pixels. You’ll also find a full-size, backlit keyboard that auto-adjusts to ambient light, and is similar to the MacBook keyboard design. Taking a page out of the iPhone interface, the Air’s trackpad lets you perform finger gestures (zoom, pan, scroll, rotate, and more) in Apple software, such as iLife ’08.


AirPort Extreme and Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR are standard, and if you like to use a mouse, make it a Bluetooth one because the MacBook Air has only one USB 2.0 port. There’s also a Micro-DVI video port that, with the proper adapters, provides Composite, DVI, S-Video, and VGA video output (Apple includes DVI and VGA adapters). Next to the USB port is a headphone jack.


Finally, we get to what is the most controversial feature of the MacBook Air: the battery. While its stated 5-hour battery life is good enough for most people, the battery is integrated into the notebook—you can’t remove it. If your battery needs to be replaced, Apple has a service similar to that for iPhone battery replacement. You bring your MacBook Air to an Apple Store and pay $129, which covers the cost of the battery and installation.




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