Learn a bit about how to give and take

This is the MacBook Air post. This won't be as funny or as provocative as Wil Shipley's MacBook Air post, but you might like it anyway,

If you've seen the commercial for the MacBook Air (who hasn't?), you might recognize the title for this post. Apple takes such care in their marketing that they even managed to find a cool song with lyrics that fit perfectly with what the MacBook Air is trying to achieve. You know, "new soul", "strange world", "give and take", "felt the joy and the fear". Some would say that the only relevant lyric in the song is "making every possible mistake". So let's take a look at those mistakes.

  • Sealed Battery - Yes, some folks carry around spare batteries and swap them during the day. I'm not one of those folks, and I don't know anyone who is. The only time I need to swap a battery is when it starts to hold less juice than a Florida orange. I buy a new one, swap it, and the old one pretty much sits around hoping the new battery will die and it can live life again. The battery costs $129 (same as the MacBook battery I just bought) and can be replaced with nothing more than a screwdriver. Sounds like this is more accessible than headlights on modern cars. Save weight and space on a battery latch daily, but require a screwdriver once every 1 or 2 years. Sounds like perfect give and take to me.

  • Too thin - Have the people that toss this complaint out ever been on an airplane? Are they the ones with dual rolling carry-ons? I like to travel light. A messenger bag is all that goes with me on the plane unless it is a really short trip and I don't want to check a bag. A nice thin laptop would be fantastic for me.
    Thin means less material. Apple used aluminum rather than plastic for durability. I think aluminum weighs more than plastic, right? (my material engineer friends will certainly tear me up in the comments if not). So Apple kept the screen and keyboard full size, used heavy construction materials, and still kept the weight at 3 pounds. My MacBook weighs 5 pounds. My work Dell weighs over 7. You can absolutely feel 2 pounds when you're travelling all day.

  • 1 USB Port - Who would use an Air? I'm guessing students, travelers, sales people, anyone on the go. How many USB ports do you use on the go? I use none. 1 USB still lets you plug in a thumb drive or a mouse. Any more than that and you can have a mini hub in your bag that you must be carrying to hold all of those USB devices you want to plug-in. I'm also wondering if the 1 USB port is a hardware limitation. We know that the external optical drive requires additional power from the USB port to run it. If they put more than 1 USB port on, they wouldn't know which port you'd plug the drive into, which might drive larger power supply requirements, which drives the whole product larger and heavier. The MacBook has 2 USB ports. I can't recall a time when I've ever used them both at once.

  • No optical drive - I already covered this one in another post. If you want an optical drive and removable battery, buy a MacBook.

  • Slow harddrive - This one gave me pause, but the Air is intended to be a secondary machine. Do the heavy lifting on your main box. The slower harddrive drove smaller size and weight, but it might have also been a cost saving issue. If the Air uses the same drive as iPods, they're saving a buck or more per drive, which translates to 10 bucks or more for you buying it at a price that people already think is too expensive.

  • Price - If $1800 is too much, how much should it cost? For a real rough comparison, let's start with an $1100 MacBook and make it into an Air. Start by doubling the RAM as the Air comes with 2GB. Let's say $50 for that. Lighted keyboard, another $50. LED backlight, another $50. Tight design, $100. Weight savings, $100. No optical -$50. Even smaller power supply $50. Multi-touch trackpad - $50. Aluminum construction - $50. Slower processor - $50. First gen - $100. I gave it $100 for the first gen because today's MacBooks give you a hell of a lot more than the first gen for the same price, so we're comparing a new product vs. an established one. Do the math and that comes to about $1600. Would anyone that wouldn't buy one at $1800 buy one at $1600?

It's obvious I'm a fan of the Air. I think it has a place. It won't be a huge seller, but that doesn't make it a bad product, or a bad investment for Apple.

It's not all good. I do think they made some mistakes. Firewire for one. Give it one FW port. Battery life needs to be better too. Could it be that the battery was limited to meet the aggressive size and weight goals? For as much as they seem to want this thing to be used on the go, it should beat the battery life of the MacBook. Finally, the video out options. Another connector Apple? Really? I've got a drawer full of adapters for the iBook and MacBook that already aren't compatible. If I ever did buy an Air, I wouldn't be happy having even more dongles.


Benjamin P. Glaser said...

Do you know what the name of the artist who sings the song is ?

---ryan said...

Yes, it is Yael Naim. You can find her album on the iTunes store.

Andreya said...
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