Improving the MacBook Air

by Tanner Godarzi Jan 21, 2008

I previously railed against the newly announced MacBook Air, and with good reason: too high of a price point and lack of anything that sets it as a pro machine. The MacBook Air is a great concept, but the shipping product in my mind doesn’t line up with a finished one.

The Price!
In most cases, a price reduction either signals a sale or lacking something compared to their more expensive counterparts. Apple did the exact opposite with the MacBook Air; well, they did make it really freaking thin, I’ll give them that. But on the other hand, the specs are horrible for the outrageous price Apple slapped on. For $200 I can sacrifice a thin form factor and gain a beast of a machine, one that would eat the Air for breakfast and demand some puny Vaio for seconds. Even then I can save a couple hundred dollars and get a baseline MacBook with comparable specs.

Obviously this isn’t the Mac for everyone, which is what I think as well. To make it work, the price should be lower than the baseline MacBook or at least the same.

The Specs!
Short of changing the price, what could Apple have done better? A ultra portable has been in demand for a while, and some thought Apple delivered on that with the Air, but before that the PowerBook of old was dominant. Once that line was scrapped and replaced by the MacBook/Pro, the demise of the lower end 12-inch PowerBook was lamented by many road warriors. It was a great machine that took everything great about its bulkier brethren and put it in a small package. Power, storage, processing, it was all there.

Why Apple couldn’t have shrunken down the 15-inch MacBook Pro into a 12-inch form factor sort of seems absurd, but heat output gets to be tricky in laptops. Surely that shouldn’t have been a problem for Apple, as they managed to get a custom made chip from Intel specifically for the MacBook Air. Why couldn’t they have used the newly available Penrynn chips to offer the same power of the pro in a smaller size? For the same price point that it is now, the Air could’ve been the perfect blend of power and portability if it was offered in a 12-inch form factor. It seems to me that the main problems with the MacBook Air are confusion as a Pro machine priced laptop while under spec’d, and its high price for a limited function portable.


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