Sunday, February 03, 2008

MacBook Air: Lightweight for Lightweight Use

Apple's new MacBook Air has garnered much praise for styling, small size, and lack of heft. That's a boon to mobile computing—but a bust for students.

I recommend the MacBook "Standard" over the Air model for students for the following reasons:
The MacBook standard has 2 USB ports and 1 FireWire; 2.0 GHz processor; CD burner/DVD drive; 120 or 160 GB hard drive; 1 Ethernet port built in; and costs about $1100.

Beyond the coolness factor, the sole advantage of the MacBook Air is the weight at 3 pounds. The MacBook standard is two pounds heavier.

In my view of the world. students will be disappointed with the lack of hard-nosed practicality in the Air, and we don't yet know how rugged it is. The Air is probably best used by professionals who want to shed two pounds while needing little more than Web, e-mail, and light usage of word processing and spreadsheets.

To students, the MacBook Air is a prime opportunity to learn a valuable lesson about marketing. The Air is the Nike of the laptop world, only missing the Michael Jordon endorsement. Think, high price for a great deal of hot air. The name is apporpirate. Slick marketing.

The MacBook Air has a narrow useful niche. If you must lose two pounds, don't need substantial file storage, don't need Ethernet, don't have any FireWire devices (e.g., camera or backup drive), and don't mind a slow processor, the Air is for you.

Computing Lite: Shiny, airy thing that is less fulfilling; more dough.

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