I love Apple products, but lately they’re just not coming through for me in quite the same way they used to. Take the new MacBook Air, announced yesterday.
As you can see, it looks fantastic. But unfortunately, Apple have seriously compromised on functionality – and more bafflingly, they’ve done it for no apparent reason. The only benefit of the MacBook Air is that it’s a bit thinner than a standard MacBook.
I have a simple question: Why?
For those of us looking for an ultraportable, ‘thinness’ is not one of the requirements that comes high on the list. The other dimensions are far more important! I want to be able to slip a laptop easily into pretty much any bag and go. I don’t care how pretty it looks or that people will say “Ooooh” and “Aaaaah” when I take it out. I just want to get stuff done on the go.
Here’s some more of the MacBook Air’s shortcomings:
- The battery is not user replaceable. But that’s Ok, right? I mean, I’m never likely to want a bit more battery life when I’m on the go, am I? And it’s not as though laptop batteries are have a tendency to explode and need to be recalled? That could never happen….
This laptop is apparently designed to be ultra portable – i.e. it’s easy to take with you anywhere… like far away from a power socket, for instance. In Apple’s entire range of laptops, this is the one that most needs a replaceable battery. Yet that’s simply not an option, and if something goes wrong, you’ll just have to send it back to Apple.
- That 1.8″ hard drive. Not only is it impossibly slow, but it’s straight out of the iPod, and is known for being fairly unreliable. I can guarantee you that it will die at some point during the lifetime of the computer. And as for the 64Gb solid state drive… $1299 extra? Seriously, Apple…
- Mono speaker (under the keyboard). Yup… all that beautiful design, and it still sounds like crap. Yes, I know you can get stereo through the headphone socket, but it seems to have escaped Apple’s notice that it’s the 21st century, and we’ve had stereo sound for quite a while now.
- 1 USB socket, no firewire. This is going to be the killer for many people. Apple have taken away all that clutter with one hand, yet made it necessary to buy a raft of external accessories with the other.
- The price. $1,799 (£1,199!) is too much. Way too much. Apple have made this laptop smaller by stripping out a huge amount of useful stuff (like the optical drive!). This should be cheaper than a basic MacBook, not the same price as a MacBook Pro!
Unfortunately, the MacBook Air is a case of Apple taking it’s current “form over function” philosophy way too far. It’s over priced, under spec’d and will almost certainly snap in half if you sit on it.
A genuinely small sub-notebook seems to be beyond Apple’s capability right now – despite the fact that they’re already more than half way there with the iPhone. Sigh.