MLK Day and I am off from job1, job2 I have to go to and teach tonight, but it is still a day off.
I wanted to write about Apple and the connection they seem to have with consumers. I have long been a fan of Apple products. A fan of their design, durability and operability, something other manufacturers cannot seem to touch. I think this hold on industrial design and consumer awareness has been shaken lately. The iPhone, which I own, thrust Apple into a market with consumers they were not used to reaching. Working with US cell carriers forced Apple to make business decisions that comprimised their previous ethos. As soon as the iPhone was unveiled, I knew I had to have it. Any phone at that time was better than my current cellphone, which did not have web, email, or anything. Also, the idea of a Mac-Compatible smartphone was right up my alley. I use a MacBook Pro for my daily computing needs. My Mac Mini and G4 tower are now expensive stereo components. The lack of 3G and other common capabilities did not bother me too much at first, but they do know. The first sour taste came from the price drop just a few weeks after release. Bad move Apple... Despite the refunds Apple gave, it made me feel, as a consumer, like a complete idiot. Not to mention the razzing I received from colleagues and non-tech folks alike. From that experience, I learned to wait before I buy a new Apple product. Although, there is something about them that makes me want these things I hardly need! That is Apple's draw. Me, a sensible person, who tries to be as fiscally responsible as I can, just wants many of these products. Example, iPod Touch, I want one. Why the hell would I need one? I have an iPhone and an iPod Nano 3G, still I want that slick little device. I will probably get one too...
The new MacBook Air (MBA) is a sweet little laptop, and little is the operative word. For those who have not heard, the MacBook Air is the smallest ultra-portable laptop ever released to consumers. The strides to make it a skinny as an anorexic supermodel are the same that will mark it a 'dud'.
I can understand the lack of an optical drive. I rarely use the optical drive in my MacBook Pro, but for $1,800.00 the MBA better come with a USB model (sans $99.00). The wireless shared drive I see not working as desired, and becoming a pin-cushion for hackers. If Apple was smart, they engineered a recovery option into flash memory to allow a user to restore OS X without the need of ANY optical drive. My Dell Axim PDA has that capability as does the iPhone and iPod.
No Ethernet port = Non-Starter (for me). Wireless networking is slower and much less reliable than an old-fashioned 100Base-T connection. I wired my house because wireless is so unreliable. The idea of a USB, Ethernet port taking up the only USB port on the device sucks. I do not see how the inclusion of an Ethernet port or FireWire port would have made the MBA any thicker. Not too many people have used an MBA yet and even fewer people have seen the device inside, so I am not in the best position to state how easy it would be to add/remove the extra and very necessary ports. Some nut will take one apart and post the autopsy online, just wait...
The non-replaceable battery is a bit of a concern, but not as much as others may think. I buy AppleCare with every laptop and iPod I own, and every time I have needed it, the cost was justified. Most folks would do the same with the MBA, and if it came to swapping out a dead battery AppleCare would help tremendously. A new battery would cost a user $99.00 to $129.99 anyway, the downer is the user has to bring it back to Apple. Flights on aircraft would require a user to buy the Mag-Safe airline adapter. Good luck taking the battery out for the TSA folks to inspect...
My biggest gripe is with the 4200rpm iPod hard drive. Yes, it is the same HDD that is placed in the iPod Classic. 4200rpm, c'mon Apple! My laptop from three laptops ago had a 4200rpm HDD. Unless, Apple tweaked how Leopard will run, users may be in for a slow time... The price point for the 64GB SSD will keep it out of most purchases, and then the OS can only load so fast. I don't think the SSD will make the overall experience faster by much.
In close, the MacBook Air is novelty item for a consumer with a healthy taste for Apple products and money to burn. I would recommend the MBA for users who want to get things done. For that get a MacBook Pro for the extra $500.00.