We've been waiting for an ultralight Mac laptop, Should we be happy with what we got? Will it capture people's hearts and minds? It only came out a few days ago, and already people are alternatively praising and dismissing it. Some people say that its lack of built-in ethernet and no built-in optical drive are killer problems. And the little door that flips open to expose the USB port isn't enough for some people, whose multiple USB dongles don't quite fit. Someone somewhere commented that the machine felt cheap and very plastic, but let me tell you, I find it anything *but* cheap and plastic. Yes, it is true that my first impression just looking at it on a table down at the Apple store in downtown San Francisco (http://
I only used the keyboard briefly, and with only a short time to look over the machine I didn't pay much attention to it. But I did try the multitouch keypad and found it... interesting. I am not a big fan of touch pads, but I use them without much trouble. I prefer a mouse or even a... oh, what is that thing called, the little pencil eraser embedded in the middle of the keyboard, invented (if I recall correctly) by IBM long ago. There doesn't seem to be a standard name for that thing: I have seen "nubbin," "eraser," "pointer," "touch point," even "joystick" (!) to describe it. I rather like those for business use but not much else. However, sometimes you will see it zip off towards one corner of the screen at hyperspeed for no obvious reason, and all you can do is wait for it to calm down and give you back control. I suppose, overall, a touch pad is the best choice, and it certainly gives Apple the ability to offer multitouch. The Air's touchpad is quite large, and I experimented with pinching and expanding in Safari, which decreased and increased the font size. Okay, I can see that being useful, I suppose. One thing that did feel strange is the very narrow button. Apple is maintaining the single button, of course, and I do not see them changing it, but I wish it was just a bit thicker.
The power connector is interesting, as is the drop down wedge for plugging wires in. Will its single USB port be a problem? No Firewire, no built-in ethernet. No built-in CD/
I really like the SSD option. Even though it is much more expensive than a hard drive, it offers flexibility and opens new possibilities for (rich) people. Random reads are likely faster and problems with head crashes and mechanical failures should be essentially eliminated. It isn't worth the money to me at the moment, but prices will continue to drop and some day solid state devices will be ubiquitous. I don't see hard drives going away any time soon, but they may become more common in arrays or desktops, while laptops might favor SSDs.
If you need to connect several USB devices, you can certainly use a USB hub, but that can become inconvenient after a while. Do you need a MacBook Air or would a MacBook or even MacBook Pro be better for you? While some people are questioning whether the MacBook Air is going to be another Cube, that's an invalid comparison to me. They're comparing "apples and oranges." The MacBook Air is for people who have access to wireless networks, who can copy media to their local drive and don't need to be constantly using DVDs or CDs, who need to travel quite a bit or don't have space to keep a large machine. This is simply one more machine in Apple's lineup giving us a wider choice based on our needs. And remember, this is first generation.