I wouldn’t rush out there and buy one just yet.
- It’s using a 1.8” hard drive (most likely the same drive used in the 80 GB iPod Classic). If you thought regular 2.5” laptop hard drives were slow, you haven’t seen anything yet. This thing’s going to crawl. There’s a good reason they’re offering the SSD option, which will scream, but you won’t be able to afford any software to run on it after paying $1000 for the upgrade.
- The battery is not replaceable without sending it away to Apple and paying some yet-unknown fee (my guess: $200). That means when the battery stops holding a meaningful charge in 1-2 years, you have to pay twice as much as you would to replace it compared to a regular laptop, and you have to go without it for a week.
- The MacBook and MacBook Pro will probably be updated to Intel’s mobile Penryn CPU (uses less power, makes less heat) sometime around March. This is not a good time to buy a laptop for the same reason why last month was not a great time to buy a Mac Pro.
- Without a Firewire port, using external hard drives is clumsy and limited, and capturing video from a MiniDV camcorder is impossible. (This one’s minor or irrelevant for most people, but matters a lot for some.)
And finally, there’s the price. Sure, it looks slick. But:
- For $700 less, you can get the same footprint but thicker and white. It’s faster, uses larger and faster hard drives, supports more RAM, has ports for Firewire, Gigabit Ethernet, and audio in, has an internal CD/DVD drive, and has a replaceable battery.
- For $200 more, you can get the incredibly awesome 15” MacBook Pro. It’s much faster, has a larger and higher-resolution screen, uses larger and faster hard drives, supports more RAM, has a dedicated (and quite good) 3D video chip for gaming, has an ExpressCard slot for cellular modems, has ports for Firewire 400, Firewire 800, Gigabit Ethernet, and audio in, can drive a 30” external LCD, has an internal DVD burner, and has a replaceable battery.
The MacBook Air only makes sense if:
- You don’t care about money AND
- You really want to save those 2 pounds AND
- (It won’t be your only computer OR You’re a complete novice and won’t be using it for anything even mildly demanding)
Now, a $1500 MacBook Air with a cheap SSD, an ultra-low-voltage CPU, and a built-in cellular modem will make a great travel companion when it exists… in 2012.