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on March 3, 2008
I've had my Macbook Air for over two weeks now and it continues to amaze me. I bought it to replace an almost 5 year old 17" Powerbook and the first thing that struck me was how light it felt on my lap. It's almost like it isn't even there. I bought the 64 gig SSD version and the second thing that struck me was how cool the computer felt. Literally. My Powerbook would become uncomfortably hot after a while but the MBA remains cool the whole time I use it. This may be a function of the SSD not having any moving parts but it certainly is welcome, especially for prolonged web-browsing on the couch.

Several other things make this my best laptop. First, it wakes up in a snap when I open the lid, although it does take a few seconds to find the wireless network. As others have mentioned, the screen is bright and absolutely gorgeous. I was a little nervous about these 52 year old eyes reading on the small screen but no problem at all so far. Watching downloaded movies and TV shows is a pleasure. The computer is plenty powerful for my needs. I use a laptop for web-surfing, watching videos, Office type applications and making presentations and the MBA is just fine for this. I have an Imac for heavier duty applications like Photoshop and video creation.

Last week I flew with my MBA on commuter planes, the ultimate test for any laptop. It was great replacing my heavy Powerbook with something so light and easy to handle. I didn't do any work on the plane (I find it hard to work while flying) but I did watch videos and the computer opened up sufficiently to allow me to enjoy what I was watching. Plus it was easy to store under the seat for takeoff and landing. And as an added benefit, two flight attendants came up to me to ogle my MBA and chat with me. That never happened when I had a Dell!

I bought the external DVD drive and used it to load some software. The lack of a built-in drive is no issue for me. Neither is the port "shortage". I've never had more than one USB device hooked up to a laptop at a time anyway and I don't need Firewire. So Apple's compromise is no compromise at all for me.

So if your needs are like mine I'd urge you to strongly consider the MBA. It's pricey in my configuration- although I did get the 10% education discount available through Apple- but if you plan to keep it for years like I do it's less of an issue. It's light, stylish, highly functional and fun to use. What more can you ask for?
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on April 3, 2008
This is a very in-depth review, so if you want to get to the point I suggest skipping to the last paragraph.

I might not have much to say that hasn't already been said several times over, but I wanted to give my take on this laptop as it's can be a difficult choice to make and perhaps I can be of some help. When the Air was released I thought it was the height of frivolity for Apple, but I've since come to understand it better. I spent eight days getting to know it in the standard 1.8Ghz/64GB SSD configuration and I'm still wavering on whether or not I want to keep it. I'm writing this review on a MacBook Pro that has been configured to be almost the exact opposite of what you'd get with the Air. When I bought the Air I wanted to see if I could handle such immense limitations, being so used to the freedom of maxed out laptops and desktops. As I'm writing this, the answer is "kind of."

The MacBook Air, in my opinion, is ridiculously expensive. It's also ridiculously cool, especially when it's closed. In fact, every time I found something I didn't like and soon closed it to let it sleep, I had difficulty hating the thing because it's just so cool when it collapses to be a thin sheet of metal. Every little nuance of the outer design is elegant and perfect--visually, that is. There are a some hardware flaws that may or may not upset the user, and one that, in my opinion, throws the machine's worth into question. Let's deal with that first.

As someone who thought he used several USB devices, I found that I really do not. I might use two at a time, namely when importing footage from a video camera into the computer and saving it to an external hard drive. An important thing to note is that while the Air is certainly not made for video editing, it manages nonetheless. It can be done and it's not as horrible as one would imagine. Having one USB port also works just fine in pretty much every other case. I did get a tiny hub to use with the Air, but as it's tiny it's not a nuisance to carry and generally doesn't get carried around anyhow. If I'm editing, I'll usually edit at a home (not mine, as I'd use a desktop machine at home). Although it can get by, I would never recommend the air as a video editing machine. This probably goes without saying. Still, it's good to know that it can if it has to (even with Final Cut Studio's lack of support for it's integrated graphics processor).

Many people conclude that the Air is impractical as the machine does not have an optical drive. If you live by CDs and/or DVDs, then yes, it probably isn't practical for you. I never use my optical drive in my MacBook Pro. If I want to watch a movie, I rip it first. Most people do the same with their music so I don't think it's fair to cite this as a reason you'd need an optical drive. This does assume, of course, that you have another machine with an optical drive. If you don't and you want the Air as a primary machine then you will absolutely need to purchase the optional Super Drive Apple offers. You might think of going with a cheaper drive, such as the ones Lacie makes (which are good), but I wouldn't as even the Air, with it's added USB power, cannot power them. The one Apple offers doesn't cost much more and is worth it if you have no other machine. But if you do and you don't want to travel around with a drive (like me), there's another nice solution that I found worked very well. I bought a few 8GB flash drives, which are comparable to the speed of a DVD (if not faster) and hardly cost anything these days. I loaded the MacBook Air's installation media on one drive and made it bootable so I could restore the operating system or boot from the media while traveling should the need arise. I used one drive to hold a few movies I wanted to watch and another for any vital software I would need to install should I need to ever wipe the Air's drive while traveling. I bought four 8GB drives but only used three to do all of this. For less than the size of three fingers you can easily prepare for the worst and bring along some entertainment. If you want to bring along several more movies and music, an iPod is a good choice. You can always hook it up to the Air and play the movies/music through the machine.

I wanted to save it for last, but it makes sense to address the biggest flaw of the machine now. As I've said, this is not a video machine. It can be a video machine under very specific circumstances, but it is not, apparently, designed for use with any video at all whatsoever. I say this because of how the Air handles heat. The graphics processor (GPU) warms up rather quickly, even if you're just browsing the web. Watching video on the Internet, or even on your hard drive (perhaps something you downloaded from iTunes, generates quite a bit of heat. When the machine grows too hot, the first thing it does is underclock the GPU. Imagine watching a movie at about 1 or 2 frames per second. This is what you can expect when the Air gets too hot. If this wasn't the case, I wouldn't be so conflicted over the machine. I can let go of doing any heavy media work with it, but I can't let go of being able to watch a TV show without it skipping. You can work around this terrible design flaw by giving the air vent plenty of room to breathe. What I did is put the sleeve I purchased under the Air and then rested most of the air on it. I let the back section, with the air vent, hang off the edge so it had space to vent. This worked perfectly when the Air wasn't hooked up to external power. When it was, it became a problem. It was an issue on an airplane, though, and the short power available on the flight may have been feeding more power into the Air than it should have. The Air exhibited some strange behavior when plugged into the power port on the airplane, rendering the trackpad pretty much useless. The Air seemed to hold up just fine, when it had breathing room, when plugged into a normal outlet. Nonetheless, this trick is annoying and is even required when the Air is on a desk or table (though you'd get through a sitcom without any trouble if it's on a desk). The computer should be able to play back an MPEG4 or H.264 file without skipping, throughout the duration, without special treatment. If you have no interest in doing anything with video, watching or otherwise, this won't be a problem for you. I just can't imagine anyone using their laptop these days without watching some sort of video online or on their machine. I see this as an enormous drawback and will be the main reason I return the machine, if I decide to do so (and it is what I'm leaning towards).

But moving on...

Perhaps disk space is a drawback? I thought it would be for me, but I found that I only used about 25GB once I loaded on everything I felt I needed, including my entire music collection (which is only about 9GB and not the norm, I'll admit) and photo library. I also loaded about 3GB of e-mail, Final Cut Pro, Final Draft, Adobe CS3 (without Illustrator and InDesign), Episode, VisualHub, and several other pieces of software. I installed almost every piece of software I have on my MacBook Pro and left off the things I've either never used or used so rarely I forgot I had them. I didn't miss a single thing. I certainly use the majority of my MacBook Pro's 250GB disk and have so much data on external drives, at home, that it would scare you (I never throw anything away), but in terms of what you actually use I'd bet you'll find you can fit it on a 64GB or 80GB drive very easily. You did a few years ago, right? Perhaps you're still doing it. Either way, there's an easy solution. Buy an external hard drive. Some might argue that this is sort of counter-intuitive as the point of the air is to be pretty much non-existent. Adding things goes against that mantra. Well, yes, but again you can leave this drive at home or where you're staying. When you're walking around with the Air you don't need it. When you go back to your hotel, your friend's house, or wherever you're staying, you can pull it out of your other bag (the one you used for clothing, etc.). If you're at home, well, then you certainly have somewhere to put it. Rarely will you have to take it with you and it's not like it's that big if you do. I have a couple of Western Digital 250GB Passport drives (in black, if you're wondering) and they're great. I don't see drive space as a drawback at all. It's a problem easily solved.

There may be questions for some if the SSD is faster than a standard hard drive. For random tasks, yes, very much. OS X is good with caching common tasks, such as launching applications you use often, so while application performance is definitely faster via SSD the crappy little 1.8" iPod hard drive the standard model has will not slow you down too much once the Air gets to know your habits. Startup isn't as instant as everyone says, but you can immediately use the machine after startup. I'd much rather have an SSD over a hard drive as the speed increase is very noticeable, but my main draw to the SSD version of the Air was for data security. It's just less likely to die and that is very appealing to me.

Speaking of death, battery life is what you'd expect from an Apple Laptop. In fact, I might call it both better and worse. During my tests, I went to a coffee shop to write for a few hours. I left with about 30 minutes left on the battery, having used it for two and a half hours (give or take ten minutes). I wasn't playing music, browsing the web, or anything at all. I had the wireless off. The only issue is that I was in direct sunlight and countered it with the display at full brightness (which is completely and wonderfully visible). For a battery rated for five hours under wireless use with the screen not much dimmer than full brightness I was a little disappointed that it only made it what I assume would have been three hours without wireless. Nonetheless, I rarely use my laptop without plugging it in so it's good enough for me. Still, I fully intend to use the battery more once they figure out how to make it last a full day. Imagine that...

The power cord is so small you can easily take it with you. Actually, it's really not that small if you think back a few years when we used to have G4s. It's terribly small compared to the existing adapters and the way the mag safe attaches is so much nicer than it is on any of Apple's other laptops. It doesn't fall out by accident, still comes off easily, and doesn't get pushed out of the way by your knee/leg when the machine is on your lap. I hope this is how all Apple laptops are powered in the future.

I have nothing to say about the micro DVI port because I haven't used it. I suppose I could, but I assume it works fine. There's not much to screw up. One thing to note about the ports, though, is that despite the beautiful little hatch they're housed in they are a bit difficult to use. It requires slightly more concentration than the average port when plugging something in. It's not a big deal, but it might be a bother at times.

The built-in speaker is awful, but everyone knows that by now. It's a single channel speaker. If you're the type who watches movies with friends on a 13" laptop this might be a problem. I don't know any people like that who don't do so at home and plug in a pair of speakers they have lying around. If you're by yourself, you have headphones. I wish the speakers were better but I don't see this as a drawback.

The keyboard is a pleasure to type on and the backlight is far more effective on the Air than it is on the Pro. The keyboard also seems to be better-crafted than both the standard MacBook and the the wired/wireless keyboards (I'm typing on a wireless now). I don't know how that could be, but it is. Maybe it's just because it's new and I'm now used to typing on the "chiclet" keys.

While a little heavier than you'd expect, the Air is fairly light. I think the main thing to look at, when considering weight, is if you can safely hold it when gripping with one hand (without fear for your wrist or the laptop's safety, or both). The Air has no problem in a single-handed tweezer grip and your wrist will be fine as well. It is as minimal as they say it is and will pretty much fit into any bag you've got. I thought I was going to need a new bag but found that it fit into an old one I usually carried when deciding NOT to bring a computer. That was a very pleasant surprise.

Still, despite the fun of it and all the nice little benefits it has I cannot get over the situation with the heat and the GPU. It really ruins the machine for me. I think that, regardless of whether or not this will be a second computer you can make the determination of whether or not to buy fairly easily. If you were once a boy scout (meaning you always like to be prepared) and/or you've recently told yourself that you need to clean, get rid of stuff, or simplify your life, you will have trouble with this machine. There will be things you won't like, perhaps to the end that you won't keep the machine. But if your life, in terms of technology and other things (literal), is already simple and you don't dwell on preparedness too often, you'll probably enjoy this machine very much. If all I did was write, or all I did was write code, or all I did was write school papers and surf the web this would be an overpriced but very capable machine. I kind of saw it as the writer's dream machine, which is why I got it (I'm moving into that field primarily, now), but I have too many interests for the Air to handle. I might just keep it because I'm currently overpaid and I wouldn't mind it as a backup/travel machine, but I'm mostly feeling it was the wrong purchase and I'd be better suited by a cheaper, standard MacBook for a backup laptop (especially since I can mirror the data and I love the black MacBook). While I absolutely hated it when it came out, I've since found that it really is a machine well-suited for certain kinds of people. If you've got the money and intend to be gentle, it's probably a good choice for you. If your laptop is a third arm, I'd suggest holding your breath for a year or two.

I have good news. I decided to keep it and turns out that I had a bad machine ("had" being the good news). I took it in because the trackpad clicker button didn't work very well and they gave me a brand new machine (very, very nice of them). Not only did that resolve the problem I took it in for, but I no longer get horrible choppy graphics when using the computer on my lap/in bed/when the vents are partially blocked. While I've heard gaming won't survive under those conditions, this is a MAJOR improvement for me. If I could, I would change my rating to four stars. The Air pretty much does everything I'd want it to at this point and the solid-state disk makes the majority of things I do much faster than the standard 5400RPM hard drive I have in my MacBook Pro. I judged the machine too harshly in the review because I thought I had a model that worked properly :). I am very pleased with it now that it can do what it should be able to do. I'm looking forward to finding out if it can even handle some light video editing.

Also, I got a Transcend 32GB flash drive as a supplement. So far I haven't used it for anything than taking a bunch of movies and TV shows along with me, but it's a nice alternative to a traditional hard drive if you don't want the bulk but are concerned about the spacial limitations of an SSD.
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on February 19, 2008
Let's start with the negatives.

This laptop is not for everyone.

Obligatory Disclaimer to the savvy consumer: this laptop is a don't buy. First of all, it's a first generation product. NEVER buy a first generation product. The only people who should buy this laptop are the people who can shrug if they lose the thing.

* There are limited ports. In fact, there's only one.
* The battery is not replaceable.
* There is no integrated Wi-Max.
* The battery life is on par with current generation Apple laptops.
* It's "underpowered" in this generation of overpowered desktop-replacements.

Consumers who worry about the above, but still want to run a variation of OS X may purchase this: Apple MacBook MB063LL/B 13.3" Laptop (2.2 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo Processor, 1 GB RAM, 160 GB Hard Drive, 8x Super Drive) Black Or this:Apple MacBook Pro MA896LL/A 15" Laptop (2.4 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, 2 GB RAM, 160 GB Hard Drive, DVD/CD SuperDrive).

Or simply get the Thinkpad X300 and run it on a last generation OS.

But I gave this 5 stars, why?

* It's beautiful.
* The build is solid.
* I can carry it in one hand with no effort.

And here's the thing about the lack of ports.

* Peripherals will eventually all be wireless.

Bluetooth peripherals are already in the marketplace (obviously where Apple hedges its bets on). Products like Eye-Fi Card, Wireless 2 GB SD Memory Card will become the norm. Laser Printers can be run on wireless networks.

And why pay $1000 more for a lower memory Drive?

If you can't afford it, then don't! But consider this in two years:

* SSD will be the standard for all future laptops.

This price will definitely go down in future renditions of the laptop and will no doubt be the standard in 2 - 3 years. Not only will the price fall, but the speed and quality will undoubtedly increase too.

I've had every laptop hard drive fail on me throughout the past 5 years. No more. The reason why the military invests in SSD is in their stability. I "needed" stability in my laptop HDs, and I "wanted" it now.

This laptop is ahead of its time. People shouldn't kid themselves. It's the equivalent of having the option to own either a Ferrari or a Toyota pickup (Apple apparently recommends both i.e. wireless CD access). They accomplish the same thing, but the former's capacity is limited by legal speed limits. Not only that, the former is vastly expensive to maintain and has limited applicability.

Both is better, but if you had to choose?

This laptop is the same thing. And I love it.
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on August 5, 2008
While it is true that the MacBook Air is not for everyone, this is the best computer I have owned. Mine is the SSD version and it is my work computer, used for Web development, occasional graphics work in Creative Suite, and bookkeeping using QuickBooks for Windows via Parallels.

After reading all the debate about the relative performance compared to more powerful machines as well as complaints about lack of ports and other "features", I have found that the actual daily ease-of-use is incredible. It is quiet and very portable, the screen is fantastic, the trackpad is highly responsive, waking from sleep is instantaneous, and the speed for regular work using a variety of applications is very fast.

My existing peripherals work with the Air. The only accessories I purchased are the USB Ethernet adapter and a neoprene sleeve. I do not own a SuperDrive, Airport Extreme router, or Time Capsule backup. I was able to reinstall OS X Leopard without many of the extras and saved a significant amount of disk space. With all my applications and files, there is still 29 GB of available space on the 64 GB drive.

Customizing the set up was surprisingly easy. Using a typical non-Apple wireless router and the USB Ethernet adapter, I plugged in to the wired ports and used Remote Disc to reinstall Leopard and several third-party applications. After the initial set up, Remote Disc then works over any wireless network. For backing up, I use a 2.5-inch, SATA hard drive in a USB enclosure. The USB port on the Air delivers enough power out of the single connection (no two-wired connections necessary).

Compared to my former machine, a MacBook Pro with 4GB of memory, the two caveats are that I cannot have a ton of application open at once, and intensive Photoshop work takes a performance hit. But these two negatives are far outweighed by the positives.

Since prices are coming down for SSDs in general, the price is coming down on the Air with SSD. I purchased mine for just slightly more than my former MacBook Pro. And for me, it was definitely worth it.
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on May 27, 2008
I have been a user of Apple for over 18 months having lost my cool with the endless crashes and poor launch of Vista proving to me Gates & Co were losing it. I started with the Mini Mac, buying a Mac Book and an i Mac in a short period afterwards and I cannot get my kids off them now at home!

All that kept me going with a Windows system was I needed an ultra-portable laptop given my travel by air a lot and the Sony Vaio I had was fine for this purpose. With the launch of the Air I at last had the missing piece.

After 6 weeks using with the 1.8 Ghz upgrade, I am very satisfied and suspect I will never be going back to Windows based laptops. I do not propose to repeat others comments on its features but would comment on a few aspects that any buyer should consider:

1. The item as with all Apple models is beautifully designed. Be prepared to invest in a safety sleeve for travel and avoid scratching the aluminum cover - I found the Huzzk range the best for the job with their "open up and zip around" and rubber stud design cover design perfect for this model.

2. The case being aluminum does get very heated especially when resting on top of your knees! Another reason for buying a travel sleeve and investing in one which is thick enough to help on this point - again a reason why the Huzzk range was my choice.

3. The many comments on battery replacement are lacking in understanding that when traveling a lot the key is being able to carry and insert a spare battery. However technology moves on and I have offset this problem by investing in the portable Power Monkey kit which is both small and light plus provides several hours power if a mains supply is not available.

4. On battery life the personal experience and many of the Apple magazine reviews are now also stating the same point, that the Apple batteries seem to take some time to build up to their maximum life/charge, so expect only just over a few hours in early days of portable usage. Whether it makes the 5 hours target remains to be seen but again the Power Monkey option addresses if needed.

5. However much people rave about the looks and the great Leopard OS, be prepared to accept this is an ultra portable and so speed, performance and storage will not be as great as larger Macs (including the Mac Books at cheaper prices) - that is not a criticism just the reality. The beautiful screen and excellent size and feel keyboard however leave all other ultra portables (including Sony Vaio range) in the shade.

Overall I am thus very satisfied and would strongly recommend this model long as you are happy with the above compromises - I just wish Apple in their publicity and claims would accept that in terms of comparability it cannot match the rest of their laptop range but as an ultra portable it is King versus the competition (hence my "mistress" title to this review!)
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on July 11, 2008
Bought 3 of these laptops. This review is for all 3. Very good laptop. But you would not expect less from Apple. Packaged in a very nice black box. Very small and light. Although very thin its keys are made from solid material and one will enjoy using them. Many people maybe not accustomed to Apple's operating system but its more reliable than Microsoft's. Also fancy gui. When you switch it on for the first time you have to complete a series of forms and settings so that it can adjust everything automatically. It found my wireless network without trouble and logged into the internet.
It only has one usb. 2 would have been nice. But the real disapointment is that does not have an optical drive. One has to get an external one.
Except only 1 usb and no dvd writer I do not think that there are bad things about this laptop. It is very recommended for those that travel a lot and do not want too much power out of the laptop.
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on July 2, 2008
It had to take the wonder kid of my generation to think of an untralightweight laptop that you can carry with you anytime. I did not have to consider other smaller units like the hp mininotebook which is miles behind in speed and capacity, etc.

The single usb port should not be a prob. I bought more expensive laptop units in the past and and all pale in comparison with my MBA. I am certain a 2.0 or 2.4 ghz will be in the market soon, but i cannot wait.
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on May 15, 2008
I love this computer. It works, and that was about all I needed. I returned a Dell that made me miserable and I'm much happier. I think it is a little slow for watching movies, but other than that, no complaint.
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on October 19, 2010
I have been looking at this machine for the past week, everyday reading reviews from this site and others. Today I logged on to Mr. Amazon and seen the price went up $500 over night. I kid you not.

Dear Mr. Amazon,

What the hell are you thinking?


21 Oct 10
update: price is back down to $2500ish from $3099
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on June 7, 2012
I own several apple products (mac mini, macbook) and since one year macbook air late 2010-2011. After the first month I was very happy with my computer. After a while several problems occured:

1) The noise of the running fan is loud, independent from the number of the applications. There are internet several discussion forums which deal with this issue.

2) The performance of the computer is not sufficient, my computer has a Dual-Core processor and 4 Gb Ram and 256 SSD HD memory.

3) The display cracked suddenly two months ago. The frame around the display is not a protection of the display, it is adhered on the display. Very small pressures on the monitor or the back cover could cause damages of the display. Also there are several complains according pixel mistakes realized by the mac air computers. Here two links to these forums:


Important is the response of mac support to these complaints: no problems with the displays, the computers were not correctly treated.

Several people (like me) have an apple care package, which should provide better protection and extended guarantees of the computer. Unfortuneately display issues are not part of this protection plan.

Several people pay added money (compared to PCs) in order to get best support and quality. Some of them had to learn that at least for mac air products this is not the case.

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