MacBook Air flash-only rivals are few, fading
The new Air is unique for Apple, being its first flash-only MacBook. But most rivals offering ultraportable lines with solid-state-only storage are few and those lines are not exactly thriving.
Apple's newis the first flash-only MacBook. So, how does it stack up against the handful of laptop lines out there that offer only solid-state drives?
Well, it's actually not a very pretty picture for other laptop lines based on flash memory only, or more commonly referred to as solid-state drives (SSDs). A few previously prominent laptops have either been phased out or are languishing.
Dell Adamo: This line of 0.65-inch thick aluminum-clad ultraportables from Dell have been SSD-only from day one. So, Dell actually beat Apple to the punch in this respect. But the line has been reduced to a single $999 model with a 128GB SSD--the higher-end Adamo with a 256GB SSD and faster processor is no longer available from Dell. And the novel Adamo XPS is no longer available for sale on Dell's Web site--this was SSD only too.
Dell Latitude E4200: Announced in August 2008, this line of pricey business ultraportables is still available and comes standard with only 128GB SSDs. Prices start at $1,729.
Lenovo ThinkPad X300/X301: The venerable this line has been discontinued. Lenovo still offers comparable X series Thinkpads and IdeaPads but none are SSD only.was from its inception SSD only. Alas,
Sony Z series: Theis alive and well, thank you. Z laptops come with 128GB, 256GB, or 512GB options, with prices ranging from about $1,800 to well over $3,000.
Toshiba R500/R600: The Toshiba R500, now quite dated (first announced in June 2007), features only flash storage but the specs are a little long in the tooth, namely its older U7600 Intel processor and Windows Vista operating system. The R600, essentially a newer version of the R500, is SSD-centric--models are featured on Toshiba's Web site with a 512GB SSD for a whopping $3,499 --but not exclusively flash anymore. Cheaper models based on traditional spinning hard disk drives can be found at online retailers.
So, with the exception of Apple and a few others, is the future of flash-storage-only laptops bleak? Well, it depends on how you look at it. Flash storage, in fact, is expected to be used in most laptops in the coming years, according to. But these will be hybrid drives composed of traditional spinning disks and a small amount of flash. That, of course, is only a forecast. If SSDs ever get close to parity with traditional HDDs on a cost-per-gigabyte basis, that would likely change. But that seems unlikely for the foreseeable future.