MacBook Air: Thinning My Expectations
As many fellow gadget nerds might know, Apple released their new ultra-thin notebook this morning at the 2008 MacWorld Keynote. Rumors ran wild the weeks before the show as usual, and not surprisingly a lot of them came true.
The MacBook Air boasts as the "world's thinnest notebook," and certainly lives up to that mark. When I first saw the pictures of the slim computer, I was impressed. I've always thought my MacBook Pro was thin, but this really blew it out of the water. However, it was soon that my excitement would begin to fade.
Only did my disappointment begin once the big Steve started explaining the specs of this beauty. Running on a 1.6 or 1.8gHz Intel chip, with 2GB of RAM standard, the computer runs on an 80GB hard drive transplanted out of the iPod. An "optional" solid state 64GB drive was available, which Steve assured was "expensive, but fast." Hardly impressive.
That brings me to my main point; the price of the MacBook Air. Well, with the same screen size as the current ~$1000 MacBook, less expandability, less external ports to hook things up with, no optical drive, significantly less space, and slower, the MBA starts the bidding at $1799. That's almost double the price of the chubby (in comparison) MacBook.
And that solid state drive I mentioned? Remember Steve himself called it expensive, but just how expensive? Try $999. For a drive. With less space. So your choice as a consumer is to purchase the MBA with the larger 80GB HDD, and then you can either spend your extra $1000 on an additional MacBook, or a drive with less storage space (but faster!). Thanks, Apple.
The higher-end MBA with the 64-gig SSD and the "faster" (I use that term loosely) 1.8gHz chip begins at over $3000. So the choice is yours: a thin, slow, somewhat uncapable loaded MacBook Air, or for the same price, the top of the line desktop rocket Mac Pro which can power a small country.
I would be remotely interested in the MacBook Air if it replaced the MacBook, or started below or close to the same price. But this seems to be the growing trend of Apple where a new product, regardless of place in the market, hogs the headlines, while the true heroes of the lineup remain virtually untouched for years. Where's my revolutionary Mac Pro (aside from the slight update a week ago)? Where's the missing link that falls between the woefully underspec'd Mac Mini, and the completely overkill Mac Pro (and don't tell me about the iMac, the decision to kill the matte screen dashed all hopes of that being useful in the graphics industry). Where's my new, bigger, cheaper, Cinema Display? Apparently those hopes have vanished into thin air.