updated 01:25 am EST, Thu January 24, 2008
Mossberg reviews MB Air
Apple's new MacBook Air has received plenty of critique, both positive and negative, since its unveiling at the keynote during Macworld Expo. The Wallstreet Journal's own Walt Mossberg had a chance recently to review the new ultraportable, and while he agrees the laptop definitely has a place in the bags of road warriors, some users may not care for some of the features that Mossberg finds lacking.
Mossberg's initial impressions were those of surprise, saying "it's impossible to convey in words just how pleasing and surprising this computer feels in the hand." He continues, "it's so svelte when closed that it's a real shock to discover the big screen and keyboard inside." The larger screen has a small downside; Mossberg notes that it could easily bump against a reclined chair on an airplane.
The lack of a removable battery seems to be among the largest of setbacks, requiring users to be near power should the battery run dry. He also says that this could impact users negatively should the battery need servicing, since the work will have to be performed by Apple itself.
Mossberg is also concerned at the lack of ports readily available on the chassis; users are required to buy a $30 adaptor should they require Ethernet connectivity. The lack of an optical drive in the unit means that users who entertain themselves with movies on long flights will require the external DVD drive, which is available for $100.
Battery life was favorable, as Mossberg was able to get over three hours of battery life while making the computer as inefficient as possible, by disabling any power management, turning on WiFi, and several other power-hungry tasks.
He feels that the MacBook Air executes remote installs rather well; Mossberg was able to install several applications without effort, but came with the minor inconvenience of having to disable the firewall on a Windows PC.
The Air's screen and keyboard were well received, and he says for the price, the entry-level model is rather competitively priced. Mossberg was less emphatic about the price for the deluxe model, which is almost double the price, thanks to the solid-state hard drive.
Overall, Mossberg cautions users that routinely watch movies or carry extra laptop batteries with them, as well as those who require advanced connectivity. He welcomes the physical presentation of the device, and says that anyone who requires a small computing platform and that don't have any of the above concerns should enjoy the MacBook Air.