On Tuesday, Steve Jobs took the stage at the Moscone Center in San Francisco to introduce the Time Capsule backup device, new iPhone features, the arrival of movie rentals on iTunes along with an updated Apple TV, and the headliner of Macworld, the MacBook Air. In this slide show, we'll take a closer look at Apple's latest and sleekest laptop.
Steve Jobs stands in front of a giant MacBook Air, his latest creation. Surprisingly, Apple's long-awaited ultraportable laptop doesn't mark a return of some form of the 12-inch PowerBook. Instead, the MacBook Air features a 13.3-inch screen and a full-size keyboard.
An intrepid journalist tests the touchpad's multitouch ability to resize and move photos. Hey, give me the two-finger scroll functionality on the trusted MacBook (Solid?), and I'm happy. Still, I'm sure I'd grow to embrace the multitouch touchpad.
According to Apple's measurements, the MacBook Air weighs 3 pounds even and measures 0.16 inche thick at its thinnest and only 0.76 inch thick at its portliest. Jobs called it "the world's thinnest notebook," and he may be right. We measured Toshiba's R500 at 0.77 inch and Sony's VAIO TZ at 0.8 inch. Of course, we may have rounded up when looking at the VAIO TZ. Still, we can certainly call the MacBook Air a remarkably thin laptop.
While you don't sacrifice screen size or keyboard comfort with Apple's ultraportable, you will have to do without an optical drive. Also, when Apple says "Air," it means it. With no Ethernet port, you'll need to connect to your network and the Internet wirelessly. Or buy a USB-to-Ethernet adapter.
What did Apple manage to pack inside the MacBook Air? For $1,799, you get a custom-built 1.6GHz Core 2 Duo processor, 2GB of RAM, an 80GB (spinning) hard drive, and 802.11n Wi-Fi. Upgrading the hard drive to a 64GB solid state drive adds, gulp, $999 to the price. Still, it's nice to see that 2GB of memory comes standard.
Along the right side of the MacBook Air, you'll find but three ports: a headphone jack, a USB 2.0 port, and a Micro-DVI port. Absent are Ethernet and FireWire connections. Apple will sell you a USB-to-Ethernet adapter, but the lack of FireWire is a surprise in any Mac computer, no matter the design.
While brushed aluminum case creates a lovely exterior, the MacBook Air is also beautiful on the inside. Apple has eliminated mercury and arsenic from display components, and PVCs from the circuit boards. Packaging sizes were reduced, as well.
The power cord is about the only cord you'll need. Apple does include VGA and DVI video adapters, and it sells an optional $99 external SuperDrive. As far as battery life, Apple estimates the MacBook Air will run for 5 hours on a single charge.
While the MacBook Air may draw you in with its sleek looks, you may be dismayed to discover that its battery is apparently not user replaceable. That means an overly complicated and pricey battery replacement procedure when it begins to slowly slip in holding a charge.
The benefit of having an ultraportable with a larger screen--aside from the additional screen space--is having a full-size keyboard. Upon first glance, the keyboard would appear to the same as that found on the standard MacBook.