Apple MacBook Air

By Jonathan Spira on 1 March 2008
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Apple Unveils the World’s Thinnest Laptop

MacWorld 2008 heralded the unveiling of what might be the prototype of the laptop of the future for the business traveler: the MacBook Air.  “We’ve built the world’s thinnest notebook, without sacrificing a full-size keyboard or full-size 13” display” Apple CEO Steve Jobs told the assemblage of Apple faithful at the event.

Indeed the Air may very well become a favorite of business travelers as Apple didn’t compromise in areas that other makers of sub-notebooks do (although the lack of a removable battery and built-in DVD drive may be a distinct disadvantage for some).  The Air comes with a built-in iSight video camera for video conferencing on the road, 802.11n Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 2.1 wireless technology.  At its thinnest point, the Air is only 0.16” (the thickest point is 0.76” which is less than most competing notebooks) and weighs only three pounds..

The trackpad supports multi-touch gestures, including tap, scroll, pinch, rotate and swipe, similar to what was introduced on the iPhone and iPod touch devices.

The Air comes with iLife ’08, Apple’s suite of “digital lifestyle” applications including iMovie, and runs on Leopard, the latest release of Apple’s operating system, which includes Time Machine for file backup, a new desktop with Stacks, and enhancements to iChat and Mail.  Mac users can access files on their home computer via .Mac and the Air.  Business travelers will benefit from five hours of battery life with the wireless radio on.

Apple left out slots for cellphone modems (they could have integrated one on the motherboard quite easily) and there’s no RJ45 jack for a wired Ethernet connection (probably due to the thin form factor), which means that MacBook Air users are literally left with air, okay, Wi-Fi, as the only way to connect to the Internet.

With an 80 Mbyte drive and a choice of 1.6 or 1.8 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processors with 4 Mbytes of L2 cache, 2 Gbytes of RAM, and the widescreen 13.3” LED-backlit display, the MacBook Air starts at $1799.

–Jonathan B. Spira is the Editor of Executive Road Warrior and Chief Analyst at Basex, a knowledge economy research firm.

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