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USA Today: MacBook Air 'sexy' but flawed

updated 09:40 am EST, Thu January 24, 2008

USA Today reviews Air

The MacBook Air is an impressive piece of engineering, but suffers from some serious flaws that may reduce its appeal to some, writes USA Today. The newspaper firstly applauds its signature design features, namely its incredibly thin design, which is just over three-quarters of an inch thick at its largest point. Also praised is the backlighting for the keyboard and monitor, as well as the multitouch trackpad, which permits iPhone-like gestures such as pinching and swiping.

The paper notes that while the Air's 1.6 and 1.8GHz Core 2 Duos are the slowest in the MacBook lineup, they should be more than enough for everything except heavy-duty applications, such as video editing. The presence of Bluetooth and 802.11n Wi-Fi are likewise appreciated, though the paper was told by Apple CEO Steve Jobs that cellular wireless was deliberately omitted, since it would both occupy more room and limit people to a single carrier.

It is the obsession with size that causes problems with the Air, primarily in terms of the battery, which can only officially be replaced by Apple. This might be less important except that the tested battery performance was three hours and 40 minutes at best, and an hour less when watching a feature-length movie rented from iTunes. Apple promises as much as five hours in its marketing.

There are also just three ports on the system, divided between stereo, USB and micro-DVI connections. There is no FireWire port, unlike most Macs, and users cannot connect an Ethernet cable without a USB adapter, which may rob some people of other peripherals they want to use.

Lastly, the Air does not have any built-in optical drive, and so must either use an external one or Apple's new Remote Disc feature. USA Today comments that this actually works fairly well, and among other things lets users migrate files via Wi-Fi, and install from DVD drives on both Mac and Windows machines. The main issue is compatibility with third-party firewall software, something Apple says it is trying to resolve.

by MacNN Staff



  1. crevatis

    Joined: Dec 1969


    singer carrier

    "...though the paper was told by Apple CEO Steve Jobs that cellular wireless was deliberately omitted, since it would both occupy more room and limit people to a single carrier."

    like AT&T?

  1. smitch

    Joined: Dec 1969


    forward thinkers...

    the folks at USA Today are not. Similar criticisms were laid at Apple's feet when they abandoned the floppy drive. As to the issue of a built-in battery and battery life, its like everything else... enough is never enough. For those who have strong appeal for the platform, these issues are probably moot since they are primarily interested in form factor and unlike USA Today (and others) have the ability to think outside the norm.

  1. Roehlstation

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Who is going to buy this thing with the INTENSION to use it for Video Editing?

    What everyone needs to do is take a typical day and figure out how much of your day is dedicated to what applications? For me that is 3D modeling and Architecture work. THUS, I have a Mac Pro and a 30" display.

    For most executives, a lot of writers and so forth...most of that day is spent in MS Office, and Email. The MacBook Air does all of that just fine.

    I know as the acting IT in the office, this machine is a blessing in that I no longer have to support my CEO's desire to fill up his work computer with personal stuff.

  1. eggman

    Joined: Dec 1969


    These aren't 'flaws'

    They're engineering trade-offs.

    USAToday, now that's flawed.

  1. vasic

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Video editing?

    I remember editing video on my G4 cube (400MHz, 512MB RAM, 40GB HD) using first iterations of FCP as well as Premiere, as recently as two years ago. Now, can somebody explain to me why it would be a problem to edit video on a machine that is at least four times faster, has four times more RAM and twice the hard drive space? I know, no FireWire, but nowadays, many new camcorders record on solid-state (SDHC or MemoryStick), where USB2 is enough to move files around.

    It's not like you should do your video production workflow around MBA; however, for occasional editing together some youtube or other web-destined video stuff, the laptop's fine.

  1. Durandalus

    Joined: Dec 1969


    iPhone & MBA

    The real flaw is that you can't have cellular internet access with an iPhone and a MBA (or any other Apple laptop).

  1. horvatic

    Joined: Dec 1969


    What flaws?

    No internal DVD? You can buy the external one if you really need it. No firewire? You don't need it, this is not a video editing laptop it's an ultra portable for people on the go. If you want to take your whole desk with you than the Macbook Air isn't for you anyway, just take your desktop computer with you. It's an ultra portable folks, most don't include and internal DVD because of the weight that it adds to it. Dumb review if you ask me.

  1. fritzw1957

    Joined: Dec 1969


    USAToday just doesn't...

    ... get it...

    Walt Mossberg gets it:

  1. dom2cool

    Joined: Dec 1969


    i like the air

    but i wont be buying one. im not really sure what market they are aiming for as the macbook seems to do exactly the same but a bit thiker but had a cd drive and replaceable battery. i dunno prob just a posing thing for another 50cent type video.

  1. Icarust

    Joined: Dec 1969



    This review is only worth something if you know very little about computers and didn't watch the keynote or read the techspecs.

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