Apple MacBook Air Review @ DH

Discussion in 'Reviews & Articles Discussion' started by HardwareHeaven, Aug 24, 2008.

  1. HardwareHeaven

    HardwareHeaven Administrator Staff Member

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    Read The Review Here
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    It is not often we review a Macintosh product on DriverHeaven and although we are late to the table we felt it would be an interesting novelty for our readers to have a look at probably the sexiest laptop ever made, the MacBook Air.
     
  2. Falstaff

    Falstaff Old Codger

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    dont know about sexy, I didnt sport wood when I tried one out, but I guess a small chub is a concession. LOL
     
  3. HardwareHeaven

    HardwareHeaven Administrator Staff Member

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    you mean you didn't get aroused? dear god man, i thought you were a designer. Nicest piece of hardware ive tested in a few years. I think it has reaquainted me with OSX as well which I always loved and left alone for a year or so. What a brilliant OS that is.

    I loved it so much I am actually going to get one, can't say that happens often in this job.
     
  4. Falstaff

    Falstaff Old Codger

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    Just had my eyes on the Mac Book Pro, the demo we had at the store was cute enough, but I just wanted more of a footprint, nothng against the air like quality of the baby Mac.
    I'm in pre-viagra right now, wieghing my options, so for good measure I just wanted something that would play DVDs for four hours (unlike my Dell or Toshiba) without burning my lap in the airport when my flight is delayed. LOL
    If Mac had an ebony version that might push the envelope of commitment for me, but until then..
    sigh.....
    I wonder if you could paint the darn thing black and then reasemble it.
    hmmmmmm
     
  5. HardwareHeaven

    HardwareHeaven Administrator Staff Member

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    Yeah, everyone will have different tastes and requirements. Personally I love something small so I can take it onboard an airplane in cabin luggage and not know im carrying it. Most of the connectivity the air is "missing" I never use on the move anyway so its not important.

    I played with an Asus EEE for quite a while but i found I couldn't live with it, its just too small and fiddly, perhaps my hands are too big. I also didn't like the screen. the 10 inch version is better but I am not sure if I am still sold.

    The Macbook air, has the benefits of having a 13+ inch screen, with full sized keyboard so you can type at full pelt, but it is also so extremely thin and light that you can slip it into a shoulder pack without even knowing you are carrying a laptop. It may not be an issue for a lot of people who use laptops at home, but when you start moving around it becomes important.

    When you combine the weight, the styling with the screen quality and battery life it is hard not to be impressed. Obviously the price point will put a lot of people off, however the fact is has OSx is a huge selling point for me. I love playing with operating systems and I had marginally forgotten just how nice OSx is. Installed all my business apps on it such as office 2008, Photoshop, dreamweaver as well as ftp, newsgroups, par, rar clients. Its very versatile if you spend some time.

    I have a lovely little sony as well, however the sony feels massive now, even though its around the same screen size.
     
  6. Trusteft

    Trusteft HH's Asteroids' Dominator

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    First the bad things, too few connections, no optical drive, impossible to change the battery on your own.

    The good, just look at it! LED screen, good specs for what it is.

    If I could afford to buy one just for fun, I would. As main notebook, while not too expensive, there is not enough hardware for me.
     
  7. Lowfat

    Lowfat Xtreme

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    Very good review. After reading this review I keep glancing at my MacBook Pro and noticing how damn thick it is :rofl: (Although it is still tiny compared to most other notebooks out there) . I think the Air is a damn sexy notebook, and if I were in the market for an semi-powerful ultra-portable, I would have no problem buying one in a heartbeat.

    It seems the Air gets a horrible wrap on most techie sites, but most people don't realize that the Air isn't meant for someone who only owns one computer. It is meant for a professional who needs a computer on the go, and one that doesn't weigh 5+ pounds.

    As for the optical drive? I can count the number of times on one hand (all for Handbrake) I've used the optical drive in my MBP.
     
  8. Customgamer1

    Customgamer1 Fell off the tech wagon

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    Yeah nice review, but am kind of surprised you liked it.


    Yeah it looks nice, but is it something I could see myself buying for $1,700 US not a chance.

    For the basic traveling I guess it would work, but for even the slight "power" user it would be wasted money. can't even hook up a mouse and Ipod together without a usb hub...

    IMO I would get a lenovo. Around the same price, but with an optical drive, memory card reader, more usb ports etc.

    I guess if you buy this laptop the 1 and ONLY reason you are doing it is because it is small. I mean come on if you want anything else out of this laptop it will let you down and let you down bad lol.

    Again other than it's looks the lenovo is thin as heck and with more features makes it a better buy along with the other companies that are starting to come out with thin laptops.
     
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2008
  9. Lowfat

    Lowfat Xtreme

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    The Lenovo X300 starts a hell of a lot more expensive than the Air, and comes with significantly less. The X300 starts @ $2050, and it doesn't even have an optical drive. To get one with an optical drive it starts @ $2125. The Lenovo has more features? Guess again. Less ram stock, 400MHz slower CPU clock.

    Why would an Air let you down? It is more powerful than the X300, and a 1.6GHz C2D is plenty powerful enough. It is NOT A desktop replacement, which is what most peoples arguments are about.
     
  10. HardwareHeaven

    HardwareHeaven Administrator Staff Member

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    Did you read the whole thing? I think I made it clear enough exactly why I like it. Unfortunately like a lot of things on the net, there are many "review" sites misplacing this unit. It is not meant to be a primary computer for a user. As an ultraportable I stand by the fact that it is the single most desirable unit I have used for computing on the go.

    Many people think the same thing, and am i certainly not trying to change anyones' opinion. That said, I think a lot of opinions on this laptop are clearly misguided. It is a very specific market and it just so happens it targets myself perfectly.

    This is noted in the review. You merely need a bluetooth mouse which are widely available from Apple and even PC manufacturers. Let's be honest, if you are sitting in an airport or on the move, how many times would you realistically need more than a mouse? Even if you needed to use the superdrive or an external hard drive and you use a bluetooth mouse, you need no hubs etc. As for the power I don't agree, it has a dual core intel 1.6ghz processor. I know many businessmen who use IBM thinkpads with much weaker processors and I have used this unit extensively in testing and I never found it had a problem with surfing, office work, or even photoshop use for image editing on the move.

    Really? I have a lenovo here and I prefer something like the Sony TZ (by a long shot). Obviously this is your personal taste and I can't really argue it.

    Again, read the review thoroughly and come back to me if you still think the same thing. I think this laptop, like windows vista is getting some pretty unfair criticism from reviewers who really should know better. For what it is designed to do, it does wonderfully well.

    Of course other companies are coming out with thin laptops. I have three or four upcoming models in here for testing right now. If you said to me "pick one of these" I would still pick the Air. As an overall package in the ultraportable environment I don't think there is anything to touch it. Even if you MUST use windows, it is easy enough to install bootcamp on it and run vista.

    At least the review has people talking and hopefully some agree with me that the Macbook Air hasn't fully deserved the criticism it has received. To properly review a product you have to be aware of the exact position in the market the unit is designed for.
     
  11. LukeK

    LukeK New Member

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    Lenovo? Christ its slow as hell, ive got one - those ultra low voltage CPU's are useless for most tasks (very little L2 cache either - does the 1.6ghz in the air have a few meg of L2 Z?). Wouldnt recommend the Lenovo :( I like the look of the mac, not sure I would like OSX though im too used to Windows. 1.6ghz dual core is ideal for mobile work, won't drain a battery that quick but as enough power to tackle most jobs. Its cool the way the Air has a special version of the CPU, didnt know that. Impressive.
     
  12. HardwareHeaven

    HardwareHeaven Administrator Staff Member

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    Yes 4MB of shared L2 cache.
     
  13. IvanV

    IvanV HH Assassin Guild Member

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    Uhhh... It's beautiful! And thin... and so light too... but I guess I'm more an engineer than a designer type and some things just get to me.

    Usually, it's a bad thing when USB ports on a laptop are so close that they sometimes can't be used at the same time. Here, we have only one USB port, and still it can't be used at all times, i.e. with all devices (what is it with Apple and inconvenient connectors?!). Four external drives aren't much of a sample, but if it's anything to go by, for around 25% of devices, one will need some sort of extension cord. Also, as the reviewer said: "the £65 superdrive is not just an optional extra, I feel it is a necessary addition". That being the case and considering that this isn't a cheap device like Eee, why wasn't it bundled with the laptop? It seems to me that although the product itself isn't, the company is a little cheap. Yet, it's still a very appealing machine.

    That brings me to the point where I more or less agree with almost everyone about Air's being the perfect second laptop, but alas, from my monetary perspective, I can't help but wonder how many $1700 laptops one needs? I guess I'm just not a part of the target audience. Keep everything inside as it is, but don't solder the memory, add a couple of more connectors (even if most of them won't be used most of the time, once in awhile I'll need them, and I'll be really glad they aren't missing, or, better yet, I shan't, as the thought of laptops without connectors won't even be on my mind) and slap an internal DVD drive even at the cost of making the device a few mm thicker and a couple of hundred grams heavier (which would still make it a reasonably small and light device) and you'll make me happy. Well, I suppose that I have just described something like the 13" MacBook or a nice PC laptop.

    P.S. I liked the review a lot, the attention to details was very nice and it was well pointed out what the device was meant to do, so that people could easily say if this was a laptop they'd be happy with or should they look elsewhere. :)
     
  14. Alex

    Alex Driverheaven Lover

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    Im curious, do you not feel as an engineer, the fact that Apple have produced something so thin as this is a plus point (a feat of engineering even?) I mean I understand your points about connectivity and I agree with them, however i mean if you look at this product they even have a physically scaled down CPU so it fits into this tiny chassis. I am sure keeping everything cool wasn't easy... wasn't there talk about the pure aluminum casing being a virtual heatsink?
     
  15. IvanV

    IvanV HH Assassin Guild Member

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    Well pointed out and yes I do and it was my first impression about it when it came out. :) But the form was a much greater priority than function. And what I probably don't like even more is that the machine feels artificially limited to the use of a luxurious netbook/status symbol, instead of being a really, really beautiful and practical little thing it could have been. The inaccessible battery and soldered RAM (there may have been some engeneering reason for this - the desire to achieve the right form, but a bit of cleverness they displayed shrinking the thing could have probably avoided this without too much sacrifice to the looks) are not the peak of practicality. If at least Apple gave it two normal USB ports and an Ethernet port, I'd more or less be ok with the connectivity it offers. (Bundle the external drive with the machine and I'll even stop calling them cheap! :D)

    So Air is really close to something I'd have little objection to, something that I'd be thrilled by how well made and beautiful it is. Yet, they created a computer whose primary purpose seems to be to just look pretty and so, as an engineer, or simply a guy that would limit himself to owning only one laptop at a time, I'm not that impressed.
     
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2008
  16. macbiter

    macbiter New Member

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    Actually I strongly disagree with Ivan's views. I actually work for Macintosh inside one of their labs and this laptop was one of the most difficult products any company has ever had to design. This is why there have been no laptops to this point as thin as the Macbook Air. And yes before someone "corrects" me there have indeed been a few similar machines in the past, but not on 800 fsb with powerful processors like the Core 2 duo at regular volts. When Apple designed this machine there were compromises to make, such as connectivity, it was impossible to include everything in a shrunken motherboard (the length of a pencil!) as it was. Most laptops would have ultra low voltage processors which compromises the power. (its also easy to include an Atom with something like this, but the team sees this as a much too easy route to take). This machine can handle 720p or 1080p video and has DVI out to a monitor or Television (with correction circuitry for enhanced image).

    What a lot of people dont know is the solid aluminum unit actually acts as a heatsink to help the exhaust system keep things under control (the machine is much quieter than any competiting product on the market, still). The reason for the soldiered ram is two fold. 2Gb on OSX for the foreseeable future is more than enough in a mobile environment and two, everything on board is propreitary in some way due to the nature of the size. Nothing was an "ordinary" product by any means, even the processor is a special version that intel worked with Macintosh to produce just for the Air.

    All throughout this machine are testiments to the creativity and design ethic that apple ensure that reaches their end product. The design team felt that with bluetooth support, one USB2 connection was more than enough (research has proved that businessmen or enthusiasts on the move rarely use more than a mouse or optical drive - with a bluetooth mouse both are possible without hubs etc). This was never intended as a single "main" machine, but an ultra portable with no usability compromises in regards to performance, keyboard design, and screen quality and size.

    Anyone who says it isn't impressive on an engineering level are clearly just biased against the product, there is no other explanation. There is far too much focus on "one usb port", most people who buy these machines don't need 4 USB ports, a CD drive (to add more weight and size) etc. Its a specific market, and its good to see this site getting the review done correctly. Some of the reviews of this product are so massively wrong I find it baffling. I read one site comparing the performance to a 2.8ghz extreme edition cpu! Funny thing is, that most people assume because its a macintosh that its underpowered, it is actually considerably faster than the Sony TZ, lenovo and other ultra portables available.
     
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2008
  17. swissfondue

    swissfondue New Member

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    I agree. I wrote a review a while back from the view point of a user. The MBA is a beautifully engineered notebook. I'm still very happy with mine and carry it to and from work everyday in a shoulder bag.
    Here is a link to the review: MacBook Air: User Review | notebooks.com
     
  18. HardwareHeaven

    HardwareHeaven Administrator Staff Member

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    Very well written indeed, if you would like to do some freelance work for us, drop me an email.
     
  19. IvanV

    IvanV HH Assassin Guild Member

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    Macbiter, I appreciate what you're saying. As I wrote in my first post in this thread, I'm obviously not a part of the target audience, being more into something like the 13" MacBook (which could do as one's only laptop) and Air is a different product, so I was mostly just stating why Air isn't for me.

    As you know, it's a very appealing product, and you've managed to make it comparable to full size and weight laptops with the fully clocked CPU and other essential components, but that's exactly why one can't but feel frustrated upon finding out that such trivial (yet useful) things like connectors are missing, even if there were reasons for the sacrifice. In a way, it diminishes the engineering success in my eyes, as it feels like the success where almost everyone else fails is accompanied by a failure in what is universally done right. It also makes me wonder if someone just gave the team the miniature case already finalized and told them "Let's see what you can stuff into this!", which would make this a truly great feat, but one achieved following the wrong* philosophy.

    *A matter of personal preference, I'm aware.
     
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2008
  20. swimtech

    swimtech Well-Known Member

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    Great review, and I totally agree with the perspective - it's obviously for a computer dependent professional on the go as a second (or even third...) machine - designed specifically to get work done and stay in touch with/work with the office.

    One thing this machine is helping to do, and the effect is subtle. It is helping to drive adoption and implementation of wireless networking. Those who travel and use other organizations' internal wired networks know what a pain they are to set up and use - for many reasons. Wireless networks are generally easier and much quicker to set up and use by visiting business contacts. And, the type of individual who carries and uses the Air is likely to be someone worth impressing by having a decent wireless network available.

    Oh, and they'll likely have an Iphone or Ipod Touch too - they'll like it if that works too - and be frustrated (even if they don't show it...) if they don't.
     

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