Pharyngula

Droolworthy

Ahhh…in case you hadn’t heard, Apple came out with an new machine yesterday, the MacBook Air. I want. It’s one of those superslim portables, with the usual Apple elegance — this would be a perfect travel machine.

Except for the price: a bit less than $2K for the low end model, over $3K for the high end, all solid state model. I think I’ll have to wait a few years for the price to drop significantly.

Comments

  1. #1 TheJerrylander
    January 16, 2008

    At least you would get the education discount.

    But yes, highly droolworthy, indeed, especially with 64 Gig SSD, but that option adds a whooping $999 to the bill alone.

  2. #2 MAJeff
    January 16, 2008

    I just got a macbook pro a couple months ago and am having so much fun with this machine. Figures something new would immediately come out.

  3. #3 MartinM
    January 16, 2008

    It’s certainly very pretty, but no optical drive? No ethernet port? It’s Apple doing what they do best; selling pretty toys which cost more and do less than their rivals.

  4. #4 Jason
    January 16, 2008

    Just watched the keynote and love the design on the new notebook. I badly need a new one. My 15″ Powerbook from 2003 is on its last leg. However, I think I’m with PZ. I’ll try to hold out and wait for the price to come down. As the cost of those SSD drop so too should the price of the higher end model.

  5. #5 Jason Eyink
    January 16, 2008

    But Martin, it’s so very shiny! You were probably one of those morons who complained when the iphone came out that it was hundreds of dollars overpriced or that they would savagely screw their own customers out of using third party apps.

  6. #6 MartinM
    January 16, 2008

    Hehe…I probably would have been, had I been paying attention. I don’t actually care enough to complain much at present.

  7. #7 gizmo
    January 16, 2008

    Martin: also, only a single USB port and no firewire. I understand the drive to make this thing small, but lack of some of these features, along with the non-user-replaceable battery make it very unappealing to me. I’ll stay with my iBook a bit longer.

  8. #8 HP
    January 16, 2008

    the high end, all solid state model

    I dunno. I think the transistorized computers are a little cold and tinny. For my money, the vacuum tubes in the lower-priced model have a warmer sound and are much closer to acoustic computing.

  9. #9 Stephen
    January 16, 2008

    I dunno, it’s thin but its cross-section from another angle is still large. I’d rather travel with an Eee PC, myself (and I can almost afford one of those, even on a grad students’ pittance).

  10. #10 Bruce
    January 16, 2008

    HP, I totally agree; vacuum tubes are the way to go. I bought an after market power cord with extra shielding for less than $1K that absolutely limits the magnetic field noise; very sweet.

  11. #11 Geoffrey Alexander
    January 16, 2008

    The battery Apple will replace free + cost of battery (and Apple batteries general last about three to four years in my experience); Ethernet is wireless, if you really need a cable connection use the USB-to-Ethernet adapter; for optical drive capability the external USB-powered DVD drive ($99) is handy (if you watch alot of DVDs) but for occasional software installs from shrinkwrapped software, use the Remote Wireless Disk Utility from a Mac or PC’s drive; for backups, use the TimeCapsule/Time Machine combo.

    Remember, this machine is designed and built to be used wirelessly and be easily portable, as perhaps an additional mobile tool for a person who already has a desktop Mac or PC at home or at work. The lack of Firewire is an omission if you do much importing of images from digital cameras; but, for users needing highly connected portability, they make the MacBook and Macbook Pro lines. For certain users, this machine is a perfect fit; for others, they have other machines. That’s what Apple is good about — the trim fit to user needs.

  12. #12 Kcanadensis
    January 16, 2008

    My college issues macbooks to all art students. I’ve got a little 13″ and it weighs less than 5lbs. Quite nice compared to the other students laptops- bulky, malfunctioning IBMs.

  13. #13 SEF
    January 16, 2008

    I think I’ll have to wait a few years for the price to drop significantly.

    By which time there’ll be something else droolworthy but just a bit too pricey. It’s one of those markets which is always going to be slightly out of reach if you have to mind your own money (rather than having paid minions to do all that sort of stuff for you). It’s the set of things you can afford just as long as you don’t actually buy any of them – because they then render you unable to afford them (or their friends and relations).

  14. #14 beardedbeard
    January 16, 2008

    ahhh computer geek jokes brings me back. But as for the MacBook Air, it is very shinny and cool but for the price I can pack a MacBook. It is good for me to carry it up the stairs at work.

  15. #15 Jack
    January 16, 2008

    Jobs has done a fine job of seeing that his followers continue to drink his Kool-Aid.

  16. #16 DaveX
    January 16, 2008

    I run all my e-mail through an original Noakes 300-baud modem, which has phenomenal warmth, and a better home-row reproduction, especially in the ASDF range. My mail alerts from 180 gram vinyl, with a Sumiko Blue Point Special cartridge. Sure, it takes 3 hours for me to find out I have spam, but this is how e-mail should be experienced!

  17. #17 Slippery Pete
    January 16, 2008

    Apple has always pushed the envelop when it comes to discarding outdated drives and interfaces. The original iMac did away with floppy drives, and people thought they were crazy and were doomed to failure. Didn’t turn out like that.

    Wireless is the future. There are popular, feasible, better alternatives to the things Apple “left out” here. They are pushing the market to a better place, with fewer wires, fewer moving parts, less hassle. Good for them. As with the iMac, what’s left out makes it unattractive to people who still really need those things and are unwilling or unable to go wireless. But I don’t think it was designed for those people. But they are beating the path, and we’ll all be there in a few years anyway.

  18. #18 Rick at shrimp and grits
    January 16, 2008

    Honestly, it looks like a poor ripoff of the Thinkpad X series to me. IBM really did the small laptop better than anyone. (And Thinkpads are still the only laptops out there with decent keyboards – Lenovo hasn’t yet managed to screw that up.)

    Still, an odd machine this Apple is. It has the compromised feature set of an ultraportable, yet isn’t actually small enough to be an ultraportable. Heck, it’s actually *bigger* than my Thinkpad X41.

  19. #19 Hans
    January 16, 2008

    I do all my computing on a legal pad, a Rolodex, and a #2 pencil with eraser tip.

  20. #20 DaveX
    January 16, 2008

    Hans– Yeah, but your money’s wasted if you don’t isolate your equipment from the desktop with a leather desk pad. Otherwise, you’ll get crosstalk from the file cabinet.

  21. #21 Armchair Dissident
    January 16, 2008

    I’m going to second Geoffrey Alexander’s thoughts @#11. The argument as to whether Apple have made a duff product are being hashed out over at Slashdot in Slashdot’s own inimitable fashion.

    At the end of the day, it boils down to: Do you want an ultra-light laptop? If it’s not important, this is not aimed at you, and you can get a MacBook Pro, or any other standard laptop on the market.

    If weight is important, then do you want a full-size screen and keyboard? If that’s not important, then this is not the product for you, and you’ll probably be buying an Eeee.

    If a light-weight, ultra-thin laptop with full-size screen and keyboard are what you’re after, then what about the specs. Yes, other companies make similar products. But are they dual-core? Do they come with 2GB as standard? If not, are you more interested in external connectivity? Those are the questions that will determine whether you’re even the type of customer Apple is pitching this at.

    You can buy ultra-lights from other companies and with different specs, but I have yet to see a genuine comparison between (say) a Sony, a Toshiba, an IBM and this new Apple that actually bothers to consider all the factors. Hmmm. Come to think of it, that sounds fun…

  22. #22 Armchair Dissident
    January 16, 2008

    Well, yes. There will always be superficial tossers with more money than sense; a fact that is rather central to Apple’s business model.

    Erm. Does that mean that everyone who buys Apple is a superficial tosser, or only those that buy Apple products that you don’t personally see a market for, beyond – obviously – the “superficial tosser” market?

  23. #23 Theo
    January 16, 2008

    Rick, the Air has considerably less volume than your Thinkpad, despite its slightly larger screen (and considerably more processing power).

    Martin, not everybody works in an office / cube; there are many people out there for whom every once counts. Though I wouldn’t begrudge anybody else for wanting to lighten up their bags a couple pounds….

  24. #24 Keith W. Twombley
    January 16, 2008

    The ultimate in portability:

    Take the $3000 you would have spent on a MacBook Air and instead buy six $500 laptops. You can get a heck of a decent laptop for $500.

    Keep one in your office, one in your living room, one in the bathroom, one in the car, one at work, and you still have a spare you can mail to yourself when you travel.

    This way, you’re never carrying a laptop around. 0lbs! 0x0x0cm! It’s infinity times better!

  25. #25 BlueIndependent
    January 16, 2008

    Another nice addition to the Apple lineup, but for my own sanity I prefer being connected to a line when doing certain personal computing tasks (i.e. checking bank accounts). That, aside from the price, puts me off. I know there’s encrypted wireless, but that isn’t enough for me. Perhaps it’s unwarranted fears, but society is going to have to drag me into that one.

    The SSD version is quite pricey. I’m not sure I’d opt for it even if I had copious cash to blow on depreciating assets such as this. I’d take the extra space. But I’m more of a Powerbook (I never liked the MBP name) buyer. All the latest features in a still-slim if markedly heavier and larger package.

    @ 24:
    Many that have not adopted, that I know, are software developers that are basically almost completely precluded from buying a Mac simply for professional reasons. If there’s one thing the Mac doesn’t have, it’s robust availability of spftware development environments. Ya I know, run Bootcamp and you’re good, but that’s still a bit clunky.

    And, there are still plenty of people who like messing around with and configuring their gadgets. An Apple will never appeal to those people. Also, Apple has really started to become the fashion statement, which turns more people off than you’d think. I have to say, even owning a Mac, I agree. Going to a Mac store used to be a rather fun experience. Now they’re all so packed it’s nearly as annoying as going to Best Buy (sorry Twin Cities).

  26. #26 Graculus
    January 16, 2008

    They prefer NOT loving their crappy OS because it makes them feel (oddly) superior to those of us that do!

    Maybe if you love your OS you should consider meeting more people.

  27. #27 Sarcastro
    January 16, 2008

    Man, it’s like Apple went and introduced an all-in-one computer without a floppy drive and some weird USB thingy instead of a good ‘ole serial port again. And we all know what a colossal failure that was.

  28. #28 Olive
    January 16, 2008

    I really don’t see the objection to no ethernet cable, no optical drive, no firewire, a single USB port, and no replaceable battery. The only thing on that list I’ve used more than maybe twice on my current laptop is the optical drive.

    It’s basically got everything I use on my Macbook. Would I drop an additional $700 to drop two pounds? Well, no. Not even considering some of the other upgrades it’s got, like the LED backlight and lickably-nontoxic manufacturing. But maybe I would if I made more money.

  29. #29 Epistaxis
    January 16, 2008

    the usual Apple elegance

    You mean form over function?

    When I first heard of this, including the lack of modern necessities like a DVD/CD drive, a fast processor, an ethernet jack, a reasonable-sized hard drive, etc. (I like how they sell overpriced externals, and basically recommend you just buy another computer for those things), I thought maybe it was Apple’s answer to the XO-1. Then I found out it costs 20 times more.

    It’s very cute, and kudos to Apple for proving that such a machine can be built. But it sure doesn’t sound like it’s designed to be used.

  30. #30 JD
    January 16, 2008

    Nice, except it’s a Mac…real scientists do not use Macs.

  31. #31 maxi
    January 16, 2008

    What’s all the fuss about these Apple thingamajobs? I have never understood the fascination with them. Yes they are pretty but they are also over-priced and rarely have the same spec as a competitor’s model in the same price-range.

    For the record, I have a lovely Toshiba laptop which I’ve had for nearly a year now. It runs Windows Vista, which I like and while not 5mm thin, is laptop-ish enough for me! It would be very stupid if I got a Mac considering ALL of the university computers run on Windows. In fact, I don’t know anywhere that runs on Mac!

  32. #32 Aaron Lemur Mintz
    January 16, 2008

    @35 JD:

    Aye, and no true Scotsman puts sugar on his porridge.

    I program and do decently-intensive math on my macs at work, and on my macbook at home.

    That being said, I have no real desire for an ultralight laptop in general, so the Air just isn’t relevant to me. But realistically, the number of times I’ve used my optical drives (on either computer) in the past month can be counted on one hand. I see their rationale.

  33. #33 sinned34
    January 16, 2008

    Mac has done it again! Yet another very pretty and reassuringly overpriced niche product for it’s fanbois to coo over.

  34. #34 Rey Fox
    January 16, 2008

    “(And Thinkpads are still the only laptops out there with decent keyboards – Lenovo hasn’t yet managed to screw that up.)”

    Do the Thinkpads still have the Home and End keys? My Lenovo 3000 doesn’t, and it pisses me off to no end. They also switched the positions of the Function and Ctrl keys, which took me some time to get used to.

  35. #35 Theo
    January 16, 2008

    “Thin” doesn’t make the thing any easier to carry – length, width, and weight do. The weight is similar to my Thinkpad (The Apple is a little lighter since I have both an integrated tablet and an extended-life battery, but the Apple is longer and wider than the Thinkpad – making it more cumbersome to hold.)

    ‘Thin’ may indeed make it easier to squeeze into a bag. My bag in particular can handle a 15″ widescreen with aplomb, the only issues that ever arise are weight and how many other books, papers, etc. are packed in it.

    Your contention was that it didn’t qualify as an ultraportable, since it’s “larger” (at under 2/3 the volume, a fair bit less weight and not as ‘long’) than your X41, but I seriously doubt anybody will pick up a MBA and consider it any more cumbersome than your ‘ultraportable’ of choice.

    If you can’t live without some of the features of your heavier stuff, more power to you, but I can see how this would be a compelling mix for a variety of people. I’d personally go with something along the lines of a MacBook Pro, but I wish my laptop were thinner and had an external (or no) optical drive….

  36. #36 Anonymous Coward
    January 16, 2008

    I really can’t understand that slim-fad.
    I’ll rather keep my standard notebook (with GNU/Linux!), carry it around in my backpack and have something I can actually work with.

  37. #37 Rick @ shrimp and grits
    January 16, 2008

    Do the Thinkpads still have the Home and End keys? My Lenovo 3000 doesn’t, and it pisses me off to no end.

    The Lenovo Thinkpads still do. Luckily, Lenovo seems to have left the keyboards alone on the Thinkpad models. I still worry about the build quality, though I’ll admit that’s based less on observed fact than on simple worry.

  38. #38 Diego
    January 16, 2008

    #31
    Sarcastro, you beat me to it! I was going to make the exact same point. They were a few years ahead of the game with the old ibooks and now history seems set to repeat itself.

    #35
    You’ve got to be kidding. I suppose it depends on the field, but most scientists I know (biologists) are mac users.

    Personally, I plan to milk all the years I can out of my old PowerBook before I upgrade, and I would still rather get something like a MacBook Pro, but a robust and energy efficient SSD would be cool, especially for people who do any field work, if the price comes down in the next few years.

  39. #39 Robert Thille
    January 16, 2008

    @35 JD:Nice, except it’s a Mac…real scientists do not use Macs.< .i>

    Excuse Me?

    http://www.apple.com/science/profiles/

  40. #40 Epikt
    January 16, 2008

    JD:

    Nice, except it’s a Mac…real scientists do not use Macs.

    Of course they don’t. At American Physical Society meetings, when I see about a fifty-fifty mix of Macs and PeeCees, I’m clearly delusional. Or maybe physicists aren’t “real scientists.”

    Hey, if a PeeCee floats your boat, by all means, knock yourself out. I’ve known several PeeCee users who have gone on to lead useful and productive lives.

  41. #41 peter
    January 16, 2008

    #29, at the very large and very well known software company I work for, the most popular machine to have a software development platform on right now is a mac running one or more of the following; parallels, boot camp or vmware fusion. for cross platform development it is the only way to go. you can run both (all three) major OS’s in some cases concurrently.

    no precluding at all. and not clunky. boot camp mac is pretty much the fastest windows machine you can buy. (though personally I view it as a crime against nature… mac fanboy that I am)

  42. #42 robbrown
    January 16, 2008

    Amazing all the hostility towards Apple.

    You don’t have to buy one if you can’t afford it. Some people buy $80,000 cars that they spend two hours a day in, so it seems like there are plenty of people for which it wouldn’t be unreasonable to spend $1700 on a computer that they spend a lot more time using and carrying around.

    Apple has always been a leader in pushing things forward. People complained that the imac didn’t have a floppy drive. People complained about lack of serial and parallel ports. If that stuff is important to you, and/or disposable income is tight, don’t buy a Mac (or buy a Mac that has what you need….they have a full line of products). For those who value Apple-style elegance and can afford it, go for it.

    But why the hostility from those who aren’t in the target market? I just don’t get it.

  43. #43 Arnaud
    January 16, 2008

    ANTI-WARD:
    Yep!
    I suppose PZ had a look at the “most active” section and thought : “I bet I can squeeze one more thread in there”…

  44. #44 Steve_C
    January 16, 2008

    PZ is a mac fanboi. Get over it.

  45. #45 sinned34
    January 16, 2008

    But why the hostility from those who aren’t in the target market? I just don’t get it.

    Because it’s fun, and all about the marketing! Mac tries to make PCs look boring, middle-aged, and afraid of change. PC tries to make Mac look like nonfunctional toys. This works in other areas, too. As a heavy metal fan, I love making fun of pop music lovers, but just like Mac and PC, metal and pop are just different versions of the same thing.

    PCs are like metal music – they’re clunky and ugly. Macs are like pop music – pretty and more about image than function. The analogy breaks down though, because PCs have 90% market share and Macs have about 5%, but analogies are rarely perfect. Especially when given by idiots like myself with no real point to make. :P

  46. #46 Steve_C
    January 16, 2008

    But macs are never LESS functional. They look good and work as good or better. They come with MORE standard features.

    They are about image AND function. And now the other pc makers are beginning to understand that.

    And macs are gaining market share. Plus they are the most profitable and successful computer maker in the country.

    So you can compare OS or hardware market share… they’re not the same.

  47. #47 Bert Chadick
    January 16, 2008

    What’s with all the Mac haters? Macs are elegant machines that do the job. If you want to open the hood, install new lifters, headers, and such, a MAC isn’t for you. I’m not a scientist, but didn’t Mac have the only protein sequencing software for the longest time? Astronomers seem to be very fond of Macs also. Wintel machines are cheap, brutally ugly and the choice of corporate IT budget writers. They also do the job. If you need a quart of milk, a Bentley or a Chevelle will get you to the store and back.

  48. #48 Rick @ shrimp and grits
    January 16, 2008

    Your contention was that it didn’t qualify as an ultraportable, since it’s “larger” (at under 2/3 the volume, a fair bit less weight and not as ‘long’) than your X41, but I seriously doubt anybody will pick up a MBA and consider it any more cumbersome than your ‘ultraportable’ of choice.

    It doesn’t really qualify as an ultraportable. For that matter, neither is a Thinkpad X-series laptop.

    I should have probably said “subnotebook” – I’m thinking of notebooks more like these. My contention was that the Apple was feature-limited like an ultraportable,

    After looking at that Dynamism page I linked to just above, I wonder if the new Apple is more an attempt to build something like the Toshiba RX1. (Take a look at that Toshiba – 12 inch screen, built-in DVD drivem abd still less than two pounds! Obscene price tag, though.)

  49. #49 Bert Chadick
    January 16, 2008

    Oh yes. One other thing. I’m sending this entry from my MacBook running XP in a Paralleles window. As far as I can tell it runs any windows software any windows laptop runs, except much faster.

  50. #50 BruceJ
    January 16, 2008

    I know there’s encrypted wireless, but that isn’t enough for me. Perhaps it’s unwarranted fears, but society is going to have to drag me into that one.

    If you’re doing anything financial that doesn’t happen on an HTTPS server, get another bank, seriously.

    Who cares about the wireless encryotion if the signal is already encrypted to a much higher degree?

  51. #51 Fatboy
    January 16, 2008

    Except for the price… I think I’ll have to wait a few years for the price to drop significantly.

    Heh – that’s been my problem with Macs all along.

    If you need a quart of milk, a Bentley or a Chevelle will get you to the store and back.

    I kind of think of it as a Ferrari vs. a Z06. Yes, the Ferrari may be the better sports car, and to some people, a Corvette will never be a real exotic, but it sure is one hell of a bargain.

    What’s with all the Mac haters?

    Because when you hang around in nerd circles, you get tired of all the Mac fanboys. Between computer labs and a computer we had at work running a flight simulator, I’ve used Macs pretty extensively up through OS 9, and I never really saw the huge advantages that Mac fanboys claimed. I had to reboot almost as often after the OS crashed as I did on Windows machines. When it came time to upgrade that simulator computer for a newer version of the software, I wanted to get a new Mac so that I could get experience on OS X, but when I started pricing computers based on the hardware required, Macs were 1 1/2 to 2 times more expensive than similar PCs, and it was hard to justify that cost based on my previous experience with Macs.

    Last time I brought this up on a web forum, someone told me that I really had to try OS X, that it was such a huge improvement over OS 9. Sure, and Behe’s next book is going to be the one that brings down evolution.

    Oh well, if your boss will spring for it, or if you have the money, Macs are nice computers, and they are better for some applications. They’re just overpriced, in my opinion.

  52. #52 Brian W.
    January 16, 2008

    i want one but i can’t even afford one of the Eee PCs at the moment.

  53. #53 Nic
    January 16, 2008

    I’m still using a G3 Pbook which I have upgraded with a faster HDD and extra RAM. It works well for what I need it for and I really like how easy it is to tinker with the internals. I think the Air looks great but I would wait through at least 2 releases for them to work out all the bugs. IBM has always had a great laptop and I haven’t heard any complaints about the Lenovo lines…yet.

  54. #54 Will Von Wizzlepig
    January 16, 2008

    You can get an all-solid state PC laptop for around $1400 now.

    “Mac” just translates as “limited”.

    For example, it’s got 1 usb port and a built-in battery.

  55. #55 Carlie
    January 16, 2008

    I’ll keep my tablet PC, thanks. It’s the first computer I’ve ever really loved. It can do anything.

  56. #56 Nomen Nescio
    January 16, 2008

    But macs are never LESS functional.

    hello? did we not just finish listing all the functionality this shiny new mac does not have?

    granted, for that set of people who do not need any of those features, this shiny new mac may be no less functional. but for the kind of money it commands, i’m in that set of people who would expect my shiny new multikilodollar laptop to come with features sticking out the cooling vents, as standard. i just can’t justify spending that amount of money if i don’t get functionality for it.

    (and seriously, non-replaceable battery, who do they think they’re kidding? i wouldn’t put up with such nonsense even in a cellphone, much less then in a real computer.)

  57. #57 Steve_C
    January 16, 2008

    Fucking hell… this is about the only machine in the past 4 years that doesn’t have plenty of ports. It’s like asking why a Mini Cooper doesn’t have a trailer hitch.

    Compare it to OTHER ultraportables… yes they made compromises
    to be superlight and thin… but you can still use an optical drive and connect to the internet.

    Are you going to whine about it not having a floppy drive too?

  58. #58 fyreflye
    January 16, 2008

    The Air is just another Apple toy. If you need a new laptop get a 5 lb. MacBook and spend any leftover money on additional memory.

  59. #59 Graculus
    January 16, 2008

    PCs are like metal music – they’re clunky and ugly.

    Wait, people think Macs are pretty?

    And don’t you be dissing metal.

  60. #60 Sunny
    January 16, 2008

    “Fucking hell… this is about the only machine in the past 4 years that doesn’t have plenty of ports. It’s like asking why a Mini Cooper doesn’t have a trailer hitch.”

    No, it’s more as if the MiniCooper only came with one door. One USB port is just silly. And, of course, there is no expansion card slot, so you can’t add any. And the USB ethernet adaptor is Base 10/100, so you don’t get fast transfers to your home LAN even if you do wire up. All this because they insisted on tapering the damn thing so it would look thiner even though the maximum thickness is not reduced by such tricks.

  61. #61 GS
    January 16, 2008

    Mac-fanboys are like Christian nutcases/Islamo-fascists/religious bigots with Jobs as their Jesus/Allah/saviour. Jobs promises them the bliss/heaven/72 virgins right here (and delivers ‘air’) – and boy look at them go jihadi-nut on everyone.

  62. #62 Rey Fox
    January 16, 2008

    “I haven’t heard any complaints about the Lenovo lines…yet.”

    No “Home” and “End” keys! Bah!

    Also, mine won’t hibernate by itself even when I have it set to.

  63. #63 Venger
    January 16, 2008

    For laptops yes you pay a premium, and especially for the air, but for the desktop Mac Pros the opposite is true. It’ll cost you the same or more likely more to get a PC that matches specs with the Pro, the latest configuration of the Mac Pro has the same 8 45nm cores that are in the top of the line next round Alienware ALX machines.

    As for functionality, Macs come with better software out of the box, their OS is a lot more stable and secure, and they are more tailored to less technical users. The build quality is generally better if you avoid the first revision of any new platform. My 4 yrs old G4 17 inch Powerbook is something like 5 generations behind now and runs just fine despite hard use, and unlike windows I didn’t need to upgrade my hardware to get the latest OS of which Vista is a pretty blatant rip off.

    But customizing the hardware is pretty much non-existent and prior to parallels or boot camp the game selection was pretty thin. I’m not really that impressed by Apple’s tech support. I’d also like access to a wider variety of video cards.

    I had to get a Mac for work purposes, I’d been a die hard PC user prior to that, and now I don’t think you could get to me go back. Maintenance and security is much easier on Mac, I have pretty much all the applications I routinely used on PC, and I don’t really have to worry about viruses or spyware. My laptop is perfectly adequate for most of the things I need, and I’m considering a Pro for my next machine, something with considerably more power.

  64. #64 Keith
    January 16, 2008

    if you really need a cable connection use the USB-to-Ethernet adapter;

    Good thing I’d never have a laptop hooked up to, oh, I don’t know, a mouse, at the same time I wanted to cruise online. or download pictures from my camera. Or, and this is the funny one, manage my iPod.

    Why yes, you can buy a USB hub. Look, even more peripherals needed!

    And for the record, not everywhere has wireless. In some places you *gasp* actually have to plug in the computer! The horror!

  65. #65 sharon
    January 16, 2008

    The significance of the Air is:

    This is what all laptops will look like in 5 years time.

    Everything we do, local and remote, will be wireless. Storage will be so cheap nearly all your data will be on wireless hard drives. You may need to keep a CD/DVD writer around to import physical discs, but you’ll probably be downloading most of your music and videos, so you won’t use it that often, and it’ll either be USB or wirelessly networked as well.

    (I’m not salivating over the Air, personally, but I do like the look of the Time Capsule.)

  66. #66 Nomen Nescio
    January 16, 2008

    This is what all laptops will look like in 5 years time.
    Everything we do, local and remote, will be wireless.

    well, that’ll keep geeks like me in business then. i know how to secure and maintain a wireless network, but i’m a linux nerd who eats SSL and Radius for dinner, so…

    Storage will be so cheap nearly all your data will be on wireless hard drives.

    if storage will be that very cheap, why not just put a few hundred cheap gigs right in our laptops then? because no matter how fast a wireless connection may get, i guaran-damn-tee you they won’t be outpacing SATA any time soon.

    (by the way, you Apple fans: that wireless disk sharing you’re talking about does sound interesting. any idea where i can find the technical specs on it? i’m interested in which underlying protocol it uses — presumably one of NFS, CIFS or WebDAV — and what encryption is put on the traffic. because i am NOT sharing any disks of mine over unencrypted wireless, not now nor ever.)

  67. #67 Ian
    January 16, 2008

    Way to host a pointless pissing contest PZ!

    It’s just another laptop. People will buy it if they feel they want/need it or get something else if they want something else.

    The success or failure of this enterprise will be decided by people voting with their wallets as in every business endeavor. Apple will probably make a fortune and get an image boost from it, which is their business model. Why is anyone overly moved by any of this?

  68. #68 Rick @ shrimp and grits
    January 16, 2008

    Why yes, you can buy a USB hub. Look, even more peripherals needed!

    That’x the curse of the subnotebook, right there. A while ago, I owned a JVC MiniNote, and even though it had a better assortment of ports than this Apple, I still had to carry around extra crap to each classroom just to make a presentation. So I sold it and got a bigger computer with a proper VGA connector – because you can at least use THAT in most lecture halls and labs.

    Very cool little machine, that JVC – but I wanted less “things” to carry around.

  69. #69 Alan Kellogg
    January 17, 2008

    The MacBook Aire is not a laptop, the MacBook Aire is the prototype for the prototype for Apple’s handheld computer. Which will be about the size of a pad of paper, have an e-paper display, and handwritten input. The latter most likely an easily learned version of shorthand.

  70. #70 wildcardjack
    January 17, 2008

    I’m still waiting for a model with a foldable screen and the words “Don’t Panic” written on the cover.

  71. #71 António Martins-Tuválkin
    January 17, 2008

    Aw, I guess nobody’s perfect. Here’s a lucid atheist, a terrific science communicator, possibly a great teacher and parent… and yet a Mac user. Pity. ;-)

  72. #72 António Martins-Tuválkin
    January 17, 2008

    Aw, I guess nobody’s perfect. Here’s a lucid atheist, a terrific science communicator, possibly a great teacher and parent… and yet a Mac user. Pity. ;-)

  73. #73 António Martins-Tuválkin
    January 17, 2008

    #57:

    MacBook running XP

    Oh, dear: the worst of two worlds, huh? ;-)

  74. #74 Keith W
    January 17, 2008

    Apple user here:

    Lighten up, people. It is not like Apple is saying this is the only computer everyone will want. For people who work mostly on a desktop but want something light to take on the plane, the MB Air is a great option. (Helps if they are flush w/ $$$, too) Folks like me who use their laptop as their only computer will want a more robust machine, and stick w/ the MacBook or MacBook Pro.

    Apple has lots of hits and more than a few misses. It wouldn’t surprise me if this is a miss; another Apple product everyone thinks looks great, but few people need.

    I know some folks are always going to resent the Apple stuff as too flashy by half, too snobby, and also too pricey. The pricey part has been shown to be overstated for most models. And the flashy part – well kinda true. Then again, Dell, Gateway, M$, etc are tripping over themselves to copy Apple designs. Hate on the Mac all you want, rail about how all their “innovations” are actually just refinements of someone else’s stuff, but at the end of the day, Apple has done more to influence the direction of electronics and computers in the past 10 years than anyone else. iPod – not the first MP3 player, but the first to break threw, and a game changer for music. The original Mac in 1984, and the iMac in 1998 – the first all-in-ones. And their is no question OSX has driven op. sys. development, and forced Windows to play catch -up. So even non-Apple consumers have benefited from Mac.

  75. #75 Greg
    January 17, 2008

    I ordered one right away. A traveler’s dream! Sure, this is not a primary computer, but I don’t understand all the negativity about it. In the last 5 years I have never used my optical drive while on the road traveling. I can recall maybe 5 times I’ve used my ethernet port and I have never needed it in the last two years. I’ve never had to plug in more than one thing into the usb port at a time while on the go. This is the perfect machine for me. I can’t wait to get it.

  76. #76 Steve_C
    January 17, 2008

    Macs Rock. OS X Rock.

    PC users are just jealous and bitter.

  77. #77 Rick @ shrimp and grits
    January 17, 2008

    The original Mac in 1984, and the iMac in 1998 – the first all-in-ones.

    You sure about that?

  78. #78 Graculus
    January 17, 2008

    Apple has done more to influence the direction of electronics and computers in the past 10 years than anyone else.

    Actually, Counterstrike has done more than Apple in that regard.

    another Apple product everyone thinks looks great

    Not everyone. I don’t like their designs at all.

    It is not like Apple is saying this is the only computer everyone will want.

    Bingo. Everyone has different needs and wants. Apple has nothing that *I* need or want. The problem with Apple zealots (as opposed to Apple users) is that they think that everyone should be exactly the same… like them.

    It’s a computer, not a lifestyle.

  79. #79 Dave Godfrey
    January 17, 2008

    For my sins I am a PC user I don’t plan to change, simply because I can upgrade and rebuild my computer for less than a new one will cost, and tailor it to my needs at the same time.

    The MBA looks very sleek and modern, and is ideal for those who want a second computer for travelling, or those who won’t use many accessories. But it does mean you need a desktop, or more spec-heavy laptop to get the most out of it. I can see it appealing to photographers and graphics people as a location computer. Light, easy to carry, and if you’re only connecting the digital camera the single usb port is ample. Some people wouldn’t even notice if you took it away.

    However if you think of it as being your only computer then its much less attractive.

  80. #80 Ichthyic
    January 18, 2008

    I can see it appealing to photographers and graphics people as a location computer.

    it’s far too expensive for that.

    there are equivalent devices that we use that cost less than a quarter of that, even if they don’t have quite as big a screen.

  81. #81 MAJeff
    January 18, 2008

    The problem with Apple zealots (as opposed to Apple users) is that they think that everyone should be exactly the same… like them.
    It’s a computer, not a lifestyle.

    Yup. I’m a user. I can pretty much make my way around a windows machine if necessary. I like my machine. That’s enough.

    Others like other machines. If I were more statistically oriented than I am, I’d probably head over to the PC realm–there’s just more software.

    These wars always seem to me to be among the silliest. It’s a machine; it’s doesn’t need proselytizers.

  82. #82 Ichthyic
    January 18, 2008

    You sure about that?

    I hope not, since I saw compaq “suitcases” before that.

  83. #83 Dave Godfrey
    January 18, 2008

    it’s far too expensive for that.

    I wasn’t really thinking of the price, but I take your point. In the UK its £1,200 for the basic one, and £2,000 for the top end machine, which makes it rather more attractive (but still expensive) this side of the pond. (I realise that the current exchange rate makes this comparison somewhat broken).

    Working in photographic retail I regularly see people with more money than sense. Especially with the trend to think that the latest and newest must be the bestest. Too few people realise that £5K of pro kit won’t turn you into the next David Bailey.