Feeds
80%

Apple MacBook Air Early 2008

Style over substance - and thank God too

Build a business case: developing custom apps

A final complaint is the non-removable battery. We've never been too bothered by this in a phone or a music player, but here it's a concern. Apple has had its fair share of battery recalls, but with the Air there's no mailing out replacement power packs - it's a back-to-the-shop job. While the battery life is very good - yes, we got more than six hours out of ours with the screen backlight turned down low - lots of people like the reassurance of a spare battery.

This isn't a deal-breaker for us, but it is a disappointment and Apple will lose some customers because of it. Ditto the port limitations, though again we found ourselves not bemoaning the absence of Firewire and Ethernet anywhere as much as we'd anticipated we would.

Apple MacBook Air

It's the form-factor, stupid

We have a cheap no-name external DVD drive that we bought to install Windows on our Eee PC, and that works just fine with the Air for installing apps more quickly than Apple's clever over-the-network drive sharing software can. We tried it nonetheless, and it works, though CD and DVD playback's impossible. Some early reviewers rightly pointed out that copying a drive full of data over the WLAN and onto the Air is very slow, but then who'd have expected it to be otherwise? Use a cheap USB hard drive instead - that's what we did, and it was much quicker.

We didn't notice any particular wireless issues beyond the general fact that MacBook Pro and Air speeds are below the laptop par, a result of the metal casing and slim window used to lets signals pass in and out. We had no problems connecting and staying connected to a variety of access points. The experience was no different from connecting using either our old MacBook Pro or a Windows XP-equipped Eee, and certainly superior to networking a Vista-running Vaio.

Verdict

The Air is a 'love it or loathe it' machine, but don't let the naysayers put you off if it offers the form factor you prefer. Of course it's not going to be the laptop to suit everyone - you can buy cheaper or more capable Macs and PCs - so it's not a must have for the price-conscious buyer or the power-hungry. It's pricey, but with the exception of the tiny, basic Eee, the Air's no more expensive than other slim'n'light laptops.

If form-factor is your prime concern, then the Air provides a good computing experience, and if our time with it is anything to go by, its port and optical disc limitations proved no handicap at all. Again, if you think they're going to be, there are plenty of other laptops out there that'll meet your needs instead. Of course, if you want to run Mac OS X on a thin'n'light machine, this is really your only option. If you don't then you're not going to chose the Air no matter how smart it is.

For us, price notwithstanding, the Air hits the mark. It's effectively as portable as our Eee, but with a much better battery life, a bigger screen, and a much more usable keyboard and touchpad. It's got the performance for a wide range of mainstream apps, but put it in your backpack and you'll forget it's there.

This is style over substance in the very best possible way.

The essential guide to IT transformation

80%

Apple MacBook Air Early 2008

We can see the stickers already: 'My other computer is a MacBook Air'.
Price: £1199 RRP

More from The Register

next story
Reg man looks through a Glass, darkly: Google's toy ploy or killer tech specs?
Tip: Put the shades on and you'll look less of a spanner
So, Apple won't sell cheap kit? Prepare the iOS garden wall WRECKING BALL
It can throw the low cost race if it looks to the cloud
One step closer to ROBOT BUTLERS: Dyson flashes vid of VACUUM SUCKER bot
Latest cleaner available for world+dog in September
Samsung Gear S: Quick, LAUNCH IT – before Apple straps on iWatch
Full specs for wrist-mounted device here ... but who'll buy it?
Apple promises to lift Curse of the Drained iPhone 5 Battery
Have you tried turning it off and...? Never mind, here's a replacement
Now that's FIRE WIRE: HP recalls 6 MILLION burn-risk laptop cables
Right in the middle of Burning Mains Man week
Apple's iWatch? They cannae do it ... they don't have the POWER
Analyst predicts fanbois will have to wait until next year
Tim Cook in Applerexia fears: New MacBook THINNER THAN EVER
'Supply chain sources' give up the goss on new iLappy
HUGE iPAD? Maybe. HUGE ADVERTS? That's for SURE
Noo! Hand not big enough! Don't look at meee!
prev story

Whitepapers

Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up distributed data
Eliminating the redundant use of bandwidth and storage capacity and application consolidation in the modern data center.
The essential guide to IT transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIOs automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.