Thoughts on the MacBook Air

Apple released the MacBook Air today. It is the world’s thinnest laptop. At it’s thickest, it is thinner than any other laptop’s thinnest. It is a nice boon for the executive traveller who is tired of lugging around extra batteries and a heavy laptop. The MacBook Air weighs only 3 lbs. and has a battery that lasts 5 hours. That’s a long battery life, really. My work laptop (not a Mac) has a 30 minute battery life and weighs 10 lbs. The MacBook Air has a full-size keyboard and a bright, clear 13.4” LCD screen.

The downside: it has no Ethernet port, the battery is internal and not user-changeable, and the laptop does not have a DVD or CD-ROM drive. Let’s look at each of these “shortcomings” and how they might affect a road warrior:

  1. The lack of DVD drive is not a big deal. The road warrior can leave home his stack of movies. Instead, simply download or rent (yes, rent) any movies to watch directly to the laptop via iTunes. Watching movies from the hard drive is more battery-conserving than watching a DVD.

  2. The internal, unchangeable battery is slightly annoying. I really prefer to be able to switch out a battery if I want to. But, of course, I’ve never had a battery that lasted 5 hours. That kind of battery life means I can use my laptop constantly on a flight from New York to LA. Road warriors who wanted to do that before had to either plug into the airplane power or bring extra batteries. Extra batteries are no longer required.

  3. Not having an Ethernet port is sort of disappointing. Not every office or hotel is going to have wireless connectivity. For example, at my work you have to have a certificate on your Active Directory account to gain wireless access. No certificate, no access. No Active Directory account, no certificate. So all visitors at “the firm” have to plug in to Ethernet. Obviously, with no Ethernet port, the MacBook Air would be a no go in this environment.

But other than that, it’s outstanding. I could almost stick it into my coat pocket…