Macbook Airy fairy

Whilst at work today, I, like almost everyone else in the office, was being updated in some way/shape/form on the Macworld keynote speech, in which lord Jobs announced a number of products including the Macbook Air. Possibly the most talked-about piece of hardware since the iPhone, the ultra-portable macbook looks mighty pretty (see picture below) and is incredibly small. I’m writing this on a 3rd generation Macbook with the same 13.3″ screen, but the new Air will be almost as thin as the lid of the macbook!

Macbook Air?

However, there are a few problems that I’ve gleaned from the press release, and for these reasons, I won’t be buying one for a long time.

1. There’s only 1 USB port and no firewire – which for me is a no-go area. I’ve got somewhat of a complex external storage problem in that all my music is stored on an external hard drive that connects with either firewire or 2 USB ports. So, without also carting around a USB hub, I can’t use my external drive, which sucks. However, Apple wants you to do everything wirelessly, so I’d have to somehow permanently plug my external drive into the media center at home and wirelessly access it any time I want anything (or buy one of their Time Capsule devices, also announced. No thanks). That, of course, defeats the purpose of having the external drive and significantly reduces the macbook air’s portability for me.

2. You can’t replace the battery – which isn’t always going to be a big thing, but if it goes wrong it’ll mean sending the whole thing back to Apple. I’m one of the lucky ones with an Apple store in my home town, but otherwise, Apple will have to send a courier to pick up my laptop and then I’ll be laptopless for 2 weeks. Hmmmm…

3. It’s incredibly expensive – and I’m not talking Sony expensive, this is another level. Me and my colleague Jon were chatting and trying to guess how much it would cost. I said $1599, the same as a top level Macbook Pro. Nope, the answer was $1799. So, we thought, what’s that in proper money? At the current exchange rate, plus a bit of tax I said £999. When the apple store came back online, I was once again, shocked

Mac pricing

My macbook, now £700 for the same size screen, a more powerful processor, an optical drive and all the gimicks compared with £1200 for a thin, cut-down macbook air. Sure, it may look prettier, but who cares about that when you can nearly buy 2 macbooks for the same price.

I then looked at the customisation options. Another £190 for a 0.2GHz speed increase, that might be worth paying for. £689 for a 64GB solid-state drive! That’s astronomic! There’s also no word on how much faster the SSD will make the computer. I know Windows Vista is optimised for SSDs, is Leopard? There’s also Apple being cheeky and making you pay again for a display output (it’s different on the macbook, macbook pro and macbook air!) and this time they’re making you pay another £9 for a remote control! They used to hand those things out, now you have to pay! I though Apple were a generous company that included all the extras, and that’s what made them so good.

All-in all if you want to get a fully loaded macbook air including portable superdrive, you’ll pay £2102.00

In the other announcements, they put 5 new apps onto the iPod Touch for $20 which is frankly ridiculous as a simple trip to jailbreakme.com will allow you to get all those application for free! They also announced the iPhone update which turns the iPhone into a GPS device which is pretty cool, and a NAS (network attached storage) solution for wirelessly backing up macs. To be honest, just let me use time machine to target a hard drive on my media center and that’ll do nicely thanks.

So, that ends my wrap-up of Macworld. When my macbook dies and I get a monstrous bonus, I’ll get a Macbook Air. For now, I’ll stick with my macbook.

Steve
Currently Listening to: Radiohead – In Rainbows
Currently Watching: QI
Currently Reading: Another Bloody Love Letter – Anthony Loyd
Currently Eating: Bangers and Mash
Current utilisation: 213% (somehow)

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Steve Workman

Steve Workman is the Head of Web Engineering at Yell. He is also an organiser for London Web Standards is an occasional public speaker, talking about web performance and web standards

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