Supplied by: IT Computers Sarajevo
Apple and Microsoft have a lot in common, but one thing comes to mind first: everybody loves to hate them. On most tech sites you'll find a myriad of puns and rants aimed at the fruit-themed cappuccino-drinking outfit from Cupertino. In spite of that you still have to respect the man in the black turtleneck and admire his vision.
Apple's iPhone took the world by storm last summer, despite the doom forecasts from analysts, tech gurus and IT hacks alike. Sure, it's overpriced, it fails miserably at some basic phone functions, but it still has an aura about it. It looks great, it's overhyped, fashionable, everybody wants one and most importantly, it made Apple a pretty penny. The MacBook Air will no doubt do the same, using Apple's tried and tested tactic: make a good looking product, so attractive it will make the consumer forget about its shortcomings, create some nice ads and controversies to raise dust and smile all the way to the bank.
The MacBook Air is by no means revolutionary, but neither was the iPhone. Lets face it, it's just an ultraportable 13.3-inch notebook powered by an Intel CPU. Weighing in at a mere 1.36kg, it's skinny, less than 2cm thick at its thickest point.
Apple managed to squeeze an 45nm Intel Penryn dual-core, a 1.8-inch hard drive, a great keyboard and a 13.3-inch LED backlit screen into the ultra thin package. Not only did it manage, but it did it in style, lots of style. Unfortunately, something had to give, and the connectors made the ultimate sacrifice for good looks, but we'll get to that later on.
Anyway, let's get the hardware out of the way as there's more interesting stuff to talk about. We got the cheapest Air available, powered by a 1.6GHz CPU and with an 80GB hard drive, not the 1.8GHz with SSD. The 1.8-inch PATA hard drive spins at 4200rpm, slower than 2.5-inch devices found on regular notebooks. If you want something better, you have to spit out a lot of cash for the SSD version.
Frankly, looking at the prices, the HDD seems like a much better deal, in spite of everything. The 1.8GHz Air with SSD costs about €1000 more than this one, and it's next to impossible to justify such a premium for just 200MHz more and faster storage. It's an ultraportable notebook, so performance does not come first and the 1.6GHz CPU will suffice. The SSD ? Would be nice, but I still don't think it worth the extra investment, not even close.
On the catwalk
With Apple, you can always be sure of one thing: it's all about the looks.
The Air's design is not something we have the privilege to comment every day. From any angle, and I mean any angle, the Air is a stunner. Personally, I was never a huge fan of Apple's design. Sure, they had some great stuff, but they also messed up more than once. I never grew to love the look of their notebooks. They did look good, but in my mind they were nothing exceptional. The Air doesn't look just good, it looks exquisite. It's probably the best looking notebook out there, and it raises the bar to a whole new level.
When closed, the streamlined Air looks classy. As if it weren't thin enough, the gentle, sloping edges further enhance the illusion of a paper thin notebook. This is especially true on the sides, where most notebooks sport a bunch of ugly connectors. On the Air, you'll find just one visible port on the left, the MagSafe power connector.
The right-hand side hides three connectors in a sturdy feeling swivel door: the lone USB, a micro-DVI port and the heaphone connector. That's all, the only thing left to mess up its good looks are the unavoidable cooling slots at the back.
One might even say it's bottom side is better looking than the lid on most notebooks. There's a downside, too, the battery is hidden under the skin, and you can't change it on the road. Not that it's bad, you should manage to squeeze out upwards of three hours of light usage out of it. Also, the cooling isn't all that great. It works, but the metal chassis tends to get quite hot while under load.
Its LED backlit 13.3" 1280x800 screen is probably the best small notebook screen I've ever seen. Contrast and light intensity are excellent, it's very bright and the LEDs are more power efficient than traditional CCFL backlit screens. The colors are vivid, almost too vivid and oversaturated at times. Just one thing messes it up: the glare finish. It's an ultra portable machine and a fashionable gadget which will no doubt see a lot of sunlight in cafes while the owners are showing off in front of an envious crowd. In spite of its immense brightness, contrast and exceptional image quality, the screen, like all glossy screens, does not cope well with sunlight. Unfortunately, you can't choose between a glare or matte screen like on a 15.4-inch MacBook, and I know I'd go for the matte on this particular machine.
The lid feels great, the joints are sturdy, yet the screen glides smoothly. Due to the lid design you can't extend the screen to more than 120 degrees, but this is no big deal. Of course, the top of the lid is adorned by a translucent Apple logo. The bezel is wide, and under the sloping lid edge there's enough space for the Webcam, microphones and a thin rubber band, running the length of the screen.
Apple always pays a lot of attention to detail and we've all learned to expect top build quality from everything that comes out of Cupertino, or its factories in mainland China, to be exact. Even the tiny screws, measuring just 2mm in diameter, have minuscule circular grooves in them, to give them that brushed metal look. Typical for Apple, but still worth mentioning.