MacBook Air intended use sounds familiar… UMPCs anyone?


Mbair_2er2ef23f235Hats off to Matt Lu at The Unofficial Apple Weblog for nailing the concept of what the MacBook Air is for. Well, I only say he nailed it because I’m in agreement with his understanding of the need(s) filled by the Air:

“So what is the Air? I think the Air is, and is really intended to be, a secondary computer. It’s serious enough to get real work done on while you’re away from home or office, but it’s not a primary production machine in my view. Looked at in this light, however, the sacrifices Apple has made don’t seem so bad. If you’ve ever lugged a 5-6 lbs laptop (plus accessories!) on your back all day, you know exactly what I mean. What’s the upshot? Well, if you’re only going to have one Mac, it shouldn’t be the Air.”

We’ve run through this debate before, and not just with the Air. The original UMPC concept went through this same process and while some folks choose to extend their UMPCs into full-purpose, ultra-mobile notebooks, the vast majority of owners don’t use them as their primary device.Sounds like Matt is applying the same, sound logic to the Air. Yes, you could certainly use the Air as your primary notebook, provided it can handle your daily tasks and you can work around some of the compromises made in the design. At $1,799, I’m still not buying and I don’t plan to… of course, I haven’t seen one in the flesh and had to fight off the temptation either. ;)



and people said the foleo was expensive for its intended use :P


Palm shouldn’t have cancelled the Foleo.
UMPC suddenly doesn’t seems expensive any more. Oh, right. UMPC doesn’t have a keyboard, so MBA all the way.

Seriously, unless you are a loyal Mac user who has been looking for a lightweight Mac laptop, MBA doesn’t seem to have much appeal. I doubt MBA will convert many Windows laptop users to Mac and rather share the same current Mac user base.


Besides being a Mac, being thinner, and having a very expensive SSD option, I’m not really sure what the Air gives you beyond the Sony Vaio SZ series notebooks. The SZ has a DVD drive onboard, a 5400 RPM HD, integrated WWAN and weighs about a pound more than the Air. The base Sony is actually *cheaper* than the base Air, which as a long-suffering Sony fan, blows my mind. Apple even decided to go for the iPod’s sluggish 4200 RPM hard drive, which is great for portable media players, but isn’t so hot for a full O/S (as owners of the TR/T/TX/TZ, X, and U/UX Series Vaios know).

I guess if the compromises don’t outweigh needing the thinnest notebook on the planet, the Air is worth it. I’m more used to making these sorts of compromises with UMPCs or other devices that give me a computing experience that I can’t get with a traditional-size notebook or tablet PC.

Ben Drawbaugh

I couldn’t agree more, but the reason why the Air makes more sense for ME, is because there aren’t many thing in life I dislike more than entering text with a pen like device. I type much faster, and although I’d love for a cord like device to enter text or even a capacitive touch screen with on screen keyboard. Until then, I’ll have to stick to the old boring laptop form factor.

Big Wes

I’m a technology junkie, don’t get me wrong. However, it’s clear that the largest segment of consumers is not looking for companion machines. That’s why UMPCs never took off. When the mainstream buyer pays $1000 for a computer, they are looking for something to do pretty much everything they need because $1,000 is quite an investment for most households.

Wide spread wireless internet access will spur the adoption of ultra-portable devices because it unlocks the true potential of the concept. However, these services need to be much cheaper than current prices through cellular companies to make it palatable to many households. Until ultraportable companion devices are as cheap as an MP3 player and have access to reasonably-priced wireless connectivity, they will remain in the realm of “niche product”.

Of course, the MBA isn’t marketed to the mainstream consumer per se.


I believe that the air is the future of mobile computing. You really have to play with one to see what it is and what it does, I did. True, it doesn’t have a lot of ports, just one USB, that’s it, no optical drive or ethernet.
It may be a little steep for $1800, but it is a look into the future of what Macbooks will look like and how thin and small and COOL they are (temp wise, not style wise).


The MacBook Air is a niche device, not unlike UMPCs. (Yes, it’s more expensive than most UMPCs.) Lots of people look at UMPCs and decide that it’s not for them. Lots of people will look at the MacBook Air and decide it’s not for them. I suspect, for any given device, lots of people will look at it and decide it’s not for them.

The MacBook Air weighs as little as most UMPCs. But, it’s more computationally powerful than most UMPCs, has a longer battery life than most UMPCs, and has a full size screen and keyboard. If your primary concern is weight, and not that the device be not quite small enough to fit in your pocket, I can see why some business professional might find the MacBook Air compelling, at least compared to a UMPC.

I won’t be buying one though. Like I said, the MacBook Air is very much a niche product, and I’m not in that niche.


I’m waiting until I can get my hands on one. Not everyone has to process video for a living. I think this computer my function just fine as my primary computer away from the office.


Perfectly right. If only MBA came with a way to wirelessly (and/or wired) sync your apps/settings/data on the MBA to the Desktop, it would be the ultimate portable..

or .. had the price been around $1500 (including APP) ..

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