After one month with the Macbook Air as my main computer for work I must say I’m just amazed by the machine. In the beginning I had a few complaints about it and had to figure out some stuff and configure it properly and limit the fan to 4500 rpm. However once these have been taken care of, I began to feel really happy about my Macbook Air.
By no means it’s a perfect machine. Nothing’s perfect. But indeed it’s not very far from perfection. Actually I can’t understand why other PC notebook manufacturers simply “don’t get it” and although this machine has been almost a year on the market and other manufacturers claim to have a “Macbook Air killer”, they fail to understand what makes this machine so great.
1. Great Design. It’s all about curves.
Ask any man on the planet: what makes a woman sexy? It’s the curves! Marylin Monroe, Bridget Bardot, Salma Hayek… the sexiest women on the planet have curves. What makes a notebook computer sexy? You guessed it - the same thing - the curves! Just have a look at the Macbook Air, have a look at its curves and touch them… Macbook Air is sexy and looks stunning. It’s thin, but it’s actually not THAT thin… It’s the curves that make it appear so thin. PC notebook manufacturers don’t get it. They continue to manufacture “plastic bricks”. Bricks are very useful and solid… but they are not sexy. Just like Volvo cars.
Just have a look at Toshiba R500 (the lightest laptop ever made) and HP Envy… nice, but still typical laptop bricks. Not sexy.
2. Magsafe. Power cord that doesn’t kill.
OK, this one is not Macbook Air specific. It’s in all of the Macbooks. And it’s brilliant. And I can’t understand why nobody ever thought about it before. With so many $$$ going into research and development, none of the big laptop companies like Dell, IBM Lenovo, HP or Toshiba thought about something that simple. Just before Christmas I had my “Magsafe moment”. I was helping my wife clean our house and prepare for the festive days… while charging my Macbook Air on my desk… and then I accidently stepped on the power cord of my beautiful laptop… and nothing happened. My Air just stopped charging, but it didn’t fly out of my desk. A “normal” PC laptop would. Just like in the PC vs Mac ad:
As far as I know, Magsafe is patented by Apple (filed in 2005), but does that mean noone can now produce a similar solution? It’s been more than 20 years laptops have been on the market… and noone thought about it before?
3. Backlit keyboard. Typing in the dark.
Again, not only in Macbook Airs, Macbook Pros and the new high-end Macbook have it, too. Backlit keyboard. How brilliant is that? And it actually adjusts its light to the ambience in the room! How many times did I find myself with a PC laptop in a dark room… and couldn’t type because of the dark keyboard (and I do touch-type!) and with the Air… I see my keyboard in any environment.
PC notebook manufacturers thought about this problem in the past… and all they came up with is the lamp in the Lenovo Laptops… A lamp? How lame is that?!
4. Big Trackpad with gestures. Fun without mouse.
I got a Logitech Cordless Mouse (bluetooth) for Christmas and it’s a great piece of hardware… and very useful when I have my external monitor plugged in as a secondary display for my Macbook Air. However, without the mouse, working on the Macbook Air with the built in BIG Touchpad is just fun. Again, why nobody thought about it before? Why are the trackpads so tiny on the laptops? Why my previous TabletPC, Lenovo X60 had this stupid trackpoint? Why some Dells have both trackpoint and trackpad? And it has** gestures**. My old Toshiba M200 had the “scrolling” gesture on the trackpad and it was great… and it was it. Nothing more. My Macbook Air has great two-finger, three finger and four-finger gestures. (I have a first-generation MBA so I had to use this hack to enable four fingers on my machine). Really? It only Apple could come up with this? They had to invent the iPhone to think about the gestures?
5. Few hidden Ports. Why do we need so many holes?
Many will disagree with me on this one, but hear me out. I bought my first laptop in 2000 and it was a Compaq Armada. I’ve owned 8 laptops since. 3 x Fujitsu P series (my wife still has her p1610) and the rest where from different manufacturers so I’ve tried totally different approaches to mobile computing. I just know what I use in the laptop and what I don’t use. And I love my elegant “almost-no-ports” Macbook Air solution.
External display. I use it all the time. I use the Mini-dvi to DVI adapter to connect to my external monitor on my desk and I carry the mini-dvi to VGA adapter with me in my gadget bag so that when I need to connect to a projector to show a presentation or something, I can do it quickly. This way I have great quality digital output on my desk and my Air works with all the projectors when I’m on the road.
One USB port. Brilliant. I bought a pretty Belkin 7-port USB hub I use on my desk as my ultimate “port replicator” solution. I have my LAN to USB adapter connected to it, external drives, pen-drives, USB headset… and more… and all of this can be connected to my Air with just single plug-in. (I don’t need a USB mouse anymore since I use a bluetooth mouse now). I also carry a very tiny 4-port USB hub in my gadget bag just in case I need more ports when on the road. I don’t remember myself using it though.
DVD Superdrive. I have it and when I need it (one or two times a year) I use it. Other than that I find myself using USB pen-drives more often and in my home-office I borrow the DVD drive from my “home server” machine.
Really. Your mileage may vary but I don’t find myself using so many ports and I can’t understand why you’d need them. OK, when you have a PC laptop you need to use a USB mouse because either your touchpad is small and sucks… or you don’t have bluetooth built in :-) **
Conclusion - why don’t they get it?
I consider myself an advanced notebook owner. I’ve been a strong TabletPC envagelist with my Toshiba M200 and Lenovo X60T. A Toshiba M200 is still my home-server actually (I have all the external disks and printers connected to it). I didn’t want to change to Macbook Air because I loved the TabletPC features… but I wanted to learn the OSX platform.
Between 1990 and 2000 I had traditional PC computers. In 2000 I bought my first laptop and have never had a “normal” computer since. Laptops are my main machines so I think I know a great deal about them. I’ve owned Compaq, Fujitsu, Toshiba and IBM Lenovo… and as most of them where TabletPCs, they were all pretty high-end machines.
At this moment, after owning Macbook Air for more than a month now, I can sefely say that this piece of engineering is the closest to a perfect laptop. It’s not perfect. It has some design-flaws and some issues. But the above 5 reasons why it’s so superior to any other previous notebook I’ve owned just make me think… why oh why with all the R&D at hand, none of the PC manufacturers came up with these simple solutions.
Do they really not understand? Is it so difficult to “get it”? Is only Apple capable of this kind of innovation?