MacBook Air Review

on Mar 20, 2008

macbook airThe MacBook Air is the latest laptop from Apple, and one that has caused a division of opinion from customers and experts alike. There is a lot of praise for this product and a lot of favorable reviews. There has also been a lot of negative opinion on the forums and blogs around the web. Who is right? Is the Air a worthy addition to the strong Mac lineup?Macbook airI’m sure you’ve already seen the product, or at least have read about it — it’s the world’s thinnest laptop that comes in a sleek and beautiful aluminum case — a distinctive design from Apple. I won’t bore you by listing the specs, all of that can be found on the Apple website; instead I wish to describe just how it feels to use the MacBook Air and whether it is actually any good.I’ve bought the Air because it has everything I use, but in addition to that, it hasn’t got anything I don’t use.MacBook Air doesn’t have an optical drive — however, I don’t actually use CDs or DVDs anymore. Quite literally, all of the software I use can be downloaded (legally, through the websites of the developers themselves), music can be downloaded through iTunes or other services, and movies can also be streamed or downloaded online. I do my backups online or to an external hard-drive. The only thing I need an optical drive for is to install the operating system — and for that I can simply use the drive sharing feature the Air has, which lets me use the drive from another Mac or PC.The Air also has no built-in ethernet port, but I don’t really use ethernet either. I’ve got a wireless router, and pretty much everywhere you go you can find a wireless connection. Indeed, it would actually be more difficult to find physical ethernet cables in public places than a wireless connection.There is only one USB port. Well… I don’t find that much of an issue either. I use the port to plug in an external mouse. I can unplug the mouse if I need to use a printer, an external drive or download some photos from a camera — that’s not a big issue.I really like the fact that the Air drops a lot of unnecessary baggage and so becomes much leaner and lighter. There are people who need all the features this laptop doesn’t have, but for many I really think it’s unnecessary weight and Apple have done a good job at cutting it.macbook air closingPerformance wise, MacBook Air is no screamer. It’s slower than the MacBook Pro or the MacBook. The biggest performance drop I’ve noticed compared to my MacBook Pro is in the operating system 3D effects — effects like Expose, Spaces and dock zooming — these animations feel a little choppy and rough.However, it’s not too slow to work on — I’m working with Photoshop for design work, TextMate for coding (while running MySQL and Mongrel Rails servers), Apple Mail for email, Safari for web browsing and so on — and it all runs adequately. There are 2 gigs of RAM in the Air and the dual processors are fast enough to handle everyday work. It’s not going to replace a Mac Pro desktop for something like heavy movie editing or 3D animation, but then again, nobody is going to be doing that kind of work on a laptop anyway.The best thing about the Air is the form factor. It’s simply the best looking laptop I’ve ever seen. It also feels solid and durable. The build quality is excellent — better than that of the MacBook Pro. The whole outer case is aluminum — the only plastic bits can be found inside, a little rubber strip around the screen to hold it in place and cushion it when it’s closed, a little plastic area on the hinge, and of course the plastic keys. The way the metal is assembled also makes it feel more durable than the MacBook Pro — for example, the Pro had a little plastic strip around the edges — not the Air, with it’s solid metal case.macbook air keyboardLike the MacBook Pro, the Air has a backlit keyboard. The Pro had silver plastic keys however, which didn’t give much contrast to the actual letters and symbols on the keyboard. MacBook Air has a black keyboard — this provides better contrast for the symbols, especially when the keys are backlit. It’s also a great keyboard to use — very slim and satisfying to type on.The Air is also very light — just 1.36kg. The difference can really be felt and it makes this little laptop really mobile. You can drop it in your bag and go wherever you want without feeling any burden. Many people said they want a smaller form factor, but I think Apple made a great choice in that they didn’t squash it down — they didn’t sacrifice on the keyboard or the screen, which makes the Air just as usable as your standard workstation.macbook air


I think the main attraction of the Air isn’t necessarily it’s mobility — it’s just the fact that it’s such a great package. It’s very well made, it looks great and it’s very good to use. If you spend most of your day in-front a computer, then why use something that’s clunky and not fun to use? Surely it’s better to use something beautiful and satisfying that allows for an enjoyable experience — which is why I believe the MacBook Air is a solid product, even if it doesn’t deliver the world. If you need a good portable and have the money then I will certainly recommend the MacBook Air.You can see more reviews and (slightly cheaper than from the Apple Store) pricing here:


  1. Comment by Alexis — Apr 27, 2008 @ 3:34 pm

    How about the multitouch?

  2. Comment by Dmitry Fadeev — Apr 27, 2008 @ 5:22 pm

    Multi-touch features are great :) I keep wanting to swipe the trackpad to go back in Safari on my MBP now — it’s very intuitive. The image rotation and zoom helps a lot too.

  3. Comment by Alexis — May 3, 2008 @ 11:48 pm

    I think the only thing missing for me would be an ethernet port.. It just feels sorta crippled without that. not every place has wireless, and wireless isn’t as fast as ethernet. How dumb would you feel going to a place with your shiny macbook air, and not being able to connect to the internet, while everyone else with their crappy dells are online? I’m not asking for a 56k port, but ethernet is still very widespread and essential..

  4. Comment by Dmitry Fadeev — May 4, 2008 @ 9:18 am

    You can get a USB ethernet adapter for under $30 (

    It’s a compromise, though not a huge one considering that thing isn’t big — should fit ok in your bag with your Air :)

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