Which is sturdier, a MacBook Air or an HP business laptop?

The MacBook Air versus a 2003 Hewlett-Packard corporate notebook

I finally got my hands on a MacBook Air. Though I'm sure I'm repeating what some others have said already, I needed to state one thing before I do a more extensive evaluation: this unbelievably thin notebook is rock solid.

NOTE: This is not an official CNET review. And is not by any means a full review. Just a quick first-look. Official CNET product review is here.

One of the concerns I had--and I'm sure I'm not alone--is whether a notebook this thin will be flimsy and overly delicate. The answer is a resounding no. It feels more solid in my hands than the rugged, well-built, 1.6-inch-thick HP Compaq nc8000 I have used for many years (since 2003).

2003 HP business notebook and MacBook Air
2003 HP business notebook and MacBook Air Brooke Crothers

The reason for this is the Air's aluminum construction and light weight. In other words, when you pick up the Air, you sense an almost perfect balance of sturdiness and weight--despite the fact that the Air exceeds the dimensions of a typical, more-compact subnotebook.

Update: One other quick impression. No excessive heat to speak of. Another challenge for designers of ultra-thin notebooks is how to effectively dissipate the heat that is generated by the core electronics, including the main processor, the graphics silicon, and hard drive. Apple has succeeded admirably. Admittedly, I am using the solid state drive (flash memory) version of the Air so there's no hard drive heat to worry about and I don't play games (some gamers have cited heat issues). Impressive nonetheless. More later.

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About the author

Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.

 

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