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Air on a Theme February 24, 2009

Posted by antimeme in Apple, Switcher.

Ok, first impressions of the Macbook Air.

  • Fit and finish: Mostly excellent. There is a slight bow on the left side that is noticeable when you close the lid. That  is the only noticeable defect I can see. There are no scratches, dings, smudges, or blemishes anywhere.
  • Screen: Bright, crisp. Viewable in almost any light.  No dead pixels. 13 inches is a perfect size for me.  I am perfectly comfortable using this thing outside at midday or basking in the evening glow of the tv.
  • Keyboard: Full size, quiet and responsive keys. Best part – backlit keys let me work in the dark. Worst part – full size does not mean full keyboard. I’m not talking about a numeric keypad – I’ve never had a laptop that had those keys.  But coming from a Windows world, I miss the Page Up/Page Down, Insert/Delete and Home/End keys. I don’t know if those keys are on any other Apple product, but I  used those keyboard navigation keys a lot. I miss them.
  • Trackpad: Wow. Since I already have an iPhone, the trackpad  was immediately understandable. It’s funny –  the motions are exactly backwards from what happens on an iPhone. On an iPhone, you flick up to move to the bottom of the page. On the Air, you slide down. What’s weird is that both ways feel natural, and I never scroll the wrong way on either machine. The size of the trackpad is plenty big, but I could have done without the button. One of the options for the trackpad is to have a tap work like a mouse click – a two-finger tap works as a right-click. If it worked that way from startup, I could live without that button. The only complaint I have is that I sometimes inadvertently hit the trackpad with my palm while typing, which means I sometimes type stuff into the middle of other stuff I typed.
  • Battery life: about 3 hours of normal usage – mostly typing, some browsing, including the occasional YouTube video.
  • Heat: yes. It gets HOT. This happens when you do processor-intensive tasks. The thing gets pretty warm sitting in my lap.
  • Hinges: I’ve seen a lot of reports that the hinges break rather quickly. It seems to happen after repeatedly opening the Air all the way back. And really, all the way back is about the only way the screen feels right. In fact, I’d be happy if it opened a few degrees farther. I find myself often wishing I could tilt the screen back just a little bit more.
  • MagSafe power connector. How cool is that? Having broken one laptop already because I tripped over the power cord and pulled the whole thing onto the floor, using the MagSafe makes me wonder why nobody thought of this before.
  • Ports: Ok, there’s only three. So what? The Micro-DVI works fine. Actually, it works GREAT. I connected my 22″ LCD Monitor, and it looked beautiful. I ran Keynote, and had the presentation on the monitor, and the notes, timer and next slide all showed on the Air – really nice. One USB. So what? Apple has bluetooth mice and keyboards, so you don’t need the USB for them. I use it for my backup hard drive and for charging/synching my iPhone. Well, sort of. My music is on an external drive, so synching music is … interesting.  I’ll be writing more about that later, so stay tuned. The headphones that work on my iPhone also work really well on my Air. The fit of devices into the ports – especially the USB port – is really tight. It takes some effort to remove anything plugged in. This worries me some, because I a afraid I am eventually going to pull something too hard, and break the port door or something. And maybe it is just that I haven’t got the hang of it yet, but I have to lift the whole thing up and look under it whenever I want to plug something in. It is a little annoying.

Overall, I am very happy. Apple does all of the little things right, and the Macbook Air is one sweet machine.



1. Greg - February 25, 2009

thanks for the review of macbook air. What do you mean there was a bow on the left side? Thanks.

antimeme - February 25, 2009

Greg, I mean this:
When you close the lid and look at the right side, the top and bottom meet in a nice straight line from the front to the back. On the left side, however, there is a slight curve in the metal near the front, like a ripple in the metal. The gap is small, but it is there.

2. Greg - February 25, 2009

I’m glad to hear it had no scratches or dents or any other cosmetic flaws. I went to an apple store and the sales rep told me all refurbished macbook airs get a new aluminium case.

3. LCD - February 26, 2009

thanks, your article is very informative.

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