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Frontpage Slideshow | Copyright © 2006-2010 orks, a business unit of Nuevvo Webware Ltd.
Thursday, 15 May 2008 10:11

Air Jobs on the rebound - 2. Input devices and Ergonomics

Written by Nermin Hajdarbegovic

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Review: Call Apple for Anorexia



Keyboard and Touchpad


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By default, the Air uses its Webcam to regulate backlight intensity and turn on the keyboard illumination. This, coupled with the power efficient LED backlit screen improves battery life. The keyboard is very spacious and you should have no trouble coming to grips with it. Its separated, black keys feel great, velvet-like, yet the whole keyboard feels incredibly solid if you consider the weight and size of the Air. A single mono speaker is installed underneath the right half of the keyboard.

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You've probably noticed the oversized touchpad by now. It measures 13cm (5.1in) across, and like the iPhone, it recognizes multi finger input. You can use two fingers to rotate your images, pinch to zoom in or out, and navigate in Safari with three fingers. Due to its size, these actions are much easier to perform than on the 3.5-inch iPhone, but their usefulness is still a bit dubious.

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It's a nice addition, but on the iPhone it makes a lot more sense than on a notebook. Hopefully, Apple will expand support to other apps, allowing users to make full use of this innovative feature.

Although the keyboard and touchpad are first class, this doesn't mean you'll cherish each moment with your Air. Apple did a good job with the 802.11n wireless, we had no trouble with it, but there's no regular LAN connector. This might be an issue for some users, and it's a pity Apple didn't include a USB Ethernet dongle in the package.

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There's just one USB, so you'll need some cable/hub juggling if you want to use the Air as a desktop machine from time to time. Connecting it to a monitor shouldn't be an issue thanks to the micro-DVI out, and if the mono sound isn't enough you can count on the audio out. The battery can't be replaced, so you shouldn't stray far off without the power adapter. Luckily, it's very compact and light. The trouble is you end up with a lot of accessories to carry around. If you need Ethernet, more USBs or if you need to connect it to a monitor, you need a dongle. If you need to backup frequently, or handle optical media, you also need to get a USB SuperDrive.

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Obviously, the Air isn't meant to replace your desktop, it's conceived as a second or even third computer. In any case, 64 or 80GB of storage aren't much by today's standards, so an extra USB would come in handy for external hard drives or the SuperDrive.

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Of course, none of these things, not even the power adapter, will fit into the Crumpler pouch shipped with the Air. Although the Air is slim and light, it has a rather sizable footprint, measuring 32.5x22.7cm, a bit more than most 13.3-inch notebooks on the market. None of those notebooks can boast 0.4-1.94cm thickness, though.

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Last modified on Thursday, 15 May 2008 17:35
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