Apple MacBook Air – Fascination and disappointment

MacBook Air

As a lot of the rumours over the past weeks indicated, Apple did realease a new Macbook at MacWorld this week.
I was really looking forward to it, and was actually ready in buying one, since I am actually looking for a small size factor portable.

On a first view, the MacBook Air (MBA) is really fascinating and exciting! The design is just wonderful, it is incredibly thin, great keyboard, innovative touchpad (using multitouch gestures) and so on…

But unfortunately, it all ends there. Let me explain why I am currently clearly not convinced in buying one:

  • No Ethernet port
    Yes, I could probably live with out it. I have wireless at my place, even the printer is using Wifi, so no real issue there, and I could probably get used to it. Although I am not convinced that the speed of wireless will be good enough to really enjoy everything. Transferring large files will be a nightmare.
    Providing an optional USB dongle to add an Ethernet port is also not convincing, for two reasons: It is only a 10/100 port, and will use up one USB port, which leads directly to the next issue.
  • It only has ONE single USB port!
    What a disappointment! Even more for a portable device I want to have the flexibility of being able to connect more then a single external device to it, without having to use a USB hub each time.
  • Poor graphics card performance.
    The MBA “only” has an integrated graphics chip. CLearly not good enough for a high end (look at the price) ultra portable.
  • Build-in Battery
    The battery is build-in and can not be relaced by teh end-user. Not really a suprise, but not a good choice in my eyes. Especially with my past experiences with MacBook batteries. Just thinking about the fact that I would have to send my MBA to Apple to get the Battery replace is driving me crazy.
  • No Firewire port
    I use my current MacBook Pro on a regular basis to capture videos from my Digital camera, which need the Firewire port.

So where does that leave me? I still like the look and feel of the MBA. A really desirable little beast! But I think for now at least, I am too disappointed by teh above mentionned issues to convince myself and buy it.
The guys at Gizmodo have created a nice comparison showing the alternatives. And one device really shines in that list. It is the Dell XPS M1330. Slightly cheaper, same screen estate, slightly thicker and heavier. Shorter battery life, but replaceable battery. And it goes on: Faster Processor, better graphics, faster and larger (and future proof) SATA HDD, more memory, firewire port, ethernet ports….

And to be honest, it is looking also surprisingly good! Yes, it doesn’t have the “Wow-effect” off the MBA, but still. And if you want to, you can also get it with a Solid State Harddrive up to 64GB, same as the MBA.
CNET did a short video review of it , which shows mainly focuses on the design, giving you a good idea of it.
Where does that leave me? I guess, I really haven’t made up my mind yet. I will do a Hand-on comparison of both devices the coming weekend in the shops here in London, which will hopefully help me to take the right decision.

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