So, what to make of the new MacBook Air just introduced by Steve Jobs last week? Is it just a jazzed up ipad or a more serious laptop? Perhaps at $1000 an overpriced netbook, although Jobs would apparently spit on more than your tie if he heard you suggest that.
Bench test results for the two new Air models are starting to arrive and they seem to be saying that size does matter. In this case 2 inches of extra screen seems to change a lot of things. The 11 inch version of Air now sells for $1000 which is down $500 from the previous Air model. The more powerful 13.5 inch screen sized model sells for $1300 but packs quite a bit more tech wallop for the extra 300 bucks.
The 13 incher is large enough to sport a full size keyboard of Apple feel good keys. The screen is a very sharp high res 1366-by-768 pixels vs. only 1024-by-768 pixels for most netbooks. Reports say that the 11 inch screen version is better than a netbook but is still a strain on the old eyeballs to do serious work on for a long period of time. The Air is also almost noiseless in its operation. It’s flash memory also makes for very fast boot ups and application start up.
The Air is only about half the weight of a MacBook Pro but you’re only talking about 2 pounds difference here folks. Neither of the Air models pack the processor horsepower of the Pro … but that may not be so important to those who don’t want to create video and do other stand alone stuff that a primary work horse computer does.
The Air is packaged in a more durable aluminum shell than the previous one and possesses wickedly fast solid state flash memory in place of a hard drive. It’s also suppose to be able to run Windows but without a disc I guess it’s a bit tricky to get installed.
Apple it appears seems to be treading delicately on the user niches here. They don’t want the Air to impede ipad sales or Pro sales. The 11 inch Air runs faster than an ipad but only about 60% as fast as a Pro. A Pro will also out leg the 13 Inch Air by a margin of 20% or so. Apple makes a lot of money selling hardware for a lot more than their competitors do and so they need to be careful not to cannibalize their upper end products for these new cheaper products.
So who is the Air aimed at? This seems to be Apple’s pecking order. The ipad is cool for low end Internet cruising. The 11 inch Air is pricey competition for netbooks. The 13 inch Air is aimed as laptop replacements for medium duty applications, which leaves the Pro for higher end power users.