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Christmas Gift Guide

Designer Macworld Part 1: Apple

Here are things that caught my interest from a design point of view, starting with Apple. The MacBook Air, for one, is really quite breathtaking.

A brief run through Macworld gave two major impressions:

1. It was packed. Even more crowded than CES (though much smaller of course).
2. The signal-to-noise ratio of interesting products was way better than CES.

Let's take a look at some of the things that caught my interest from a design point of view, starting with Apple.

Not just innovation, Thinnovation

The MacBook Air really is quite breathtaking. It feels great in the hand, and the break from pure rectangular geometry makes it more interesting to tumble in your hands. It's sort of a giant iPod, taking on the pillowed look. The corner radii are much larger than previous MacBooks, giving it a softer aesthetic. I had been wondering when Apple's designers would get tired of the strict geometric style and start to branch out--this appears to be it.

Crowds 3 people deep to see MBA

For someone (not unlike myself) who spends quite a bit of time in transit and on planes, the light weight and small size (won't get squished by the airplane seat in front of you crashing back) are perfect. While many have expressed their opinions about where Apple should have left in/cut features, my one quibble is with the exclusion of an ethernet port. Yes, there's a dongle adapter (extra $), but it's one more thing to remember and carry for those still common hotels that don't have wireless. And since it only has one USB connector, it will tie that up, so you'll have a choice of ethernet or, say, USB key. Also, it requires a video out adaptor, but I carry one of those anyway for VGA projectors.

The MBA is another example of Apple pushing the envelope on connectivity and data transfer methods. The original Mac adopted the nascent 3.5" floppy disk, Apple was one of the first to adopt 802.11, it switched to USB and dropped legacy proprietary connectors, and it created the Firewire standard (which made it slow to adopt USB 2...). Every time people have complained that the sky is falling, but each time Apple has judged the timing just right and has hit the adoption curve at the right point, and it all works out.

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