Blog Post

Is MacBook Air good enough to be your only computer?

Mac-erati are busy debating about the virtues of the supermodel skinny. John Gruber, who was a bit lukewarm earlier, compares MacBook Air to a convertible coupe and writes, “it’s a secondary car, but for anyone without kids and with no need for significant storage space, it works just fine as their only car.”

David Heinemeier Hansson, the brains behind Ruby on Rails is impressed as well. “Dismissing it as merely a 3rd computer vanity accessory, as I’ve seen many do, is misguided and not based on actually using one for a longer period of time,” he writes.

macbook smallOf course, there is the other view. Being less of a web-app zealot as others, I am still on the fence on this one, and even after using the Macbook Air for close to two weeks, I still can’t make up my mind – whether to keep using it as my only machine or pair it with the MacBook.

61 Responses to “Is MacBook Air good enough to be your only computer?”

  1. I have used my hp laptop for almost 5 years now as my only computer and it perfectly fine. (Yes, I do work at home full time so it’s not just something I turn on once or twice a week).

    A mac book air (assuming your applications run on it that you need), should be more than capable of doing what you need to do with it as an only computer.

    I think ANY new computer on the market should be fine in my opinion.

  2. hhart99

    Got my MacBook Air on 2/14/08 and haven’t let it go since. As a consultant on the go the combination of lightweight and ergonomics are just perfect. It pairs with my MacBook just fine and makes my consulting activities very effective. Sure would I like a bigger hard drive and ethernet? Sure, but so far I haven’t found a “need” for either. Also, who can ignore the “wow” factor when I show up at a client’s facility.

  3. wagner

    If you think that the communication device you have is the best then you are yet to see this . Its great and amazing the features and functions are outstanding , it is better seen and than ANY . the New MacBook Air & New MacBook Pros is Apple’s newest 13.3″ ultra-thin notebook, World’s Thinnest Notebook, offering cutting edge design in a remarkably thin package. models now available with Intel’s newest generation of Core 2 Duo processors in Gold colour.

    If you are serious and need to lay your hand on it then feel free to inform via [email protected]

  4. Lenovo makes oustanding laptops, but they are NOT Macs. Apple hardware is excellent, but most of the time compromises function for form. Even the regular MacBook, which happens to be my primary computer, clearly sacrifices function as it lacks the ability to dock, a swappable drive bay and hardware switch for wifi. Of course the benefits of those omissions are a smooth case that doesn’t snag on anything, a slot loading drive that won’t break off and a very clean and simple appearance.

    I’ve had ThinkPads for years and can honestly say that in terms of hardware, they are about the best designed laptops on the market. The problem is software. For all its dockable, swappable, long-running-battery goodness (I got 7 hours, compared to 5 on the MacBook), it is stuck running some version of Windows (unstable) or *nix (Ubergeek-complicated).

    Until Microsoft gave us a REAL Exchange client for the Mac in Entourage 2008, I was stuck in Windows hell on a very nice ThinkPad T60p, but once I found out that Entourage 2008 would display shared Exchange calendars (2004 would not), my ThinkPad was immediately put on eBay and I bought a new MacBook.

  5. Looks like there are only two stupid remarks regarding the X300 / Air comparison.

    ron <<< Wrong, wrong, wrong…see below.
    “the X300 is slower, heavier, thicker, having less RAM, being made of cheap plastic, more expensive (base models), uglier, but oh, it has an optical drive.”

    Jim Green – “inspect the X300, its bigger” <<< Very slightly. X300 is .92″ thick, Air is 0.76″. The footprint is almost identical. Air is 8.94 x 12.8 inches, X300 is 9.1 x 12.5 which is slightly smaller than the Air.
    “and with standard Thinkpad lines” <<< Yes it does, thankfully.

    The straight skinny on both products:
    The difference in weight is extremely small, especially if you sacrifice the DVD like Apple did. At least with the Thinkpad you have a choice.
    You can’t compare “base models” since there isn’t an X300 with an IDE drive.
    Uglier? The Thinkpad is in the Smithsonian as an example of perfect industrial design. The matte black finish is ideal for a laptop.
    Also…
    X300 screen is 1440×900 backlit LCD; Air is only 1280×800 backlit LCD.
    X300 holds 4GB of memory; Air only 2GB.
    X300 has 3 USB ports & ethernet; Air only 1 USB.
    X300 supports WiMAX, UWB, WWAN(+GPS), BT, 802.11N; Air only “N” wireless & BT.
    X300 has a removeable battery; Air…forget it.
    X300 is Energy Star Compliance 4.0; Air ???
    X300 has optional modular battery for up to 10 hours unplugged; Air 5 hrs on it’s single battery.
    X300 LCD cover is Carbon Fiber Reinforced Plastic, base is Magnesium making it very solid; Air…who knows.
    X300 has Vista (not exactly a plus) but can run open source OS; Air has OSX.

    So if you like shiny, buy an Air. If you like function, buy the X300. Simple choice for me.

    Links to the info above:
    http://mossblog.allthingsd.com/20080213/x300/
    http://gizmodo.com/346797/ultralight-lenovo-x300-series-thinkpad-leaked
    http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/08_08/b4072042350389.htm

  6. This argument is kinda convoluted. People in the market for the Macbook Air wouldn’t be buying it to be their only computer – It’d be a fancy device to bring down to the local Starbucks and surf the web on. Apple makes plenty of other models that could be your only computer, the Air is just a steep model for those that prefer optimal portability over high-functionality.

  7. I ordered one the day they were announced and received it a couple of weeks ago.
    (video review here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CPIMrvggyok)

    Personally I don’t see this ever being my only computer. Totally anecdotal example – today I wanted to install some software that I only have on CD, I literally didn’t even think about it until I tried to prod the CD into…nothing…the solid front end of the Macbook Air. I had totally forgot that this thing doesn’t have a CD drive. Not that it bothers me greatly – I know I can just go home and piggyback my iMac to use the CD drive, but still. Small things like that would add up and make this computer unusable as a sole machine, for me.

    As a mobile partner to a bigger workstation though, it’s flipping brilliant. I can do 99% of what I want to do (I really don’t need to install software via CD that much) and I’m willing to give up that 1% of utility for less weight and a sleeker package. I’m a pretentious mac fanboy like that.

  8. Jim Green

    The MacBook Air is better than the X300. Pick up a Macbook Air and then inspect the X300, its bigger, and with standard Thinkpad lines. Thinkpads are nice machines, but I before you decide a thing, just literally pick up a MacBook Air. I think MBA does have a chance of making inroads into the business market, because thin is a big, big deal for a biz traveler.

  9. No.

    The memory is not expandable. When the machine starts to be a little too slow for my enormous collection of photographs, the “just upgrade the memory” call will fall on deaf ears.

  10. I m better off with a power book, there are simply so many compromises!

    Pro’s of Mac Book Air:
    1) Light Weight
    2) Small & Light

    Con’s of Mac Book Air:
    1) Costly! for the price of Air with SSD, I could get 2 Power book’s instead!
    2) ONE USB Port
    3) NO Optical Drive

    Size Wise, here is how they compare
    12-inch MacBook Air
    * Height: 0.16-0.76 inch (0.4-1.94 cm)
    * Width: 12.8 inches (32.5 cm)
    * Depth: 8.94 inches (22.7 cm)
    * Weight: 3.0 pounds (1.36 kg) – (No optical drive, 1 USB port, 80 GB)

    15-inch MacBook Pro
    * Height: 1.0 inch (2.59 cm)
    * Width: 14.1 inches (35.7 cm)
    * Depth: 9.6 inches (24.3 cm)
    * Weight: 5.4 pounds (2.45 kg) with battery and optical drive installed – (Optical Drive, Two FireWire Ports, Two 480-Mbps USB 2.0 ports, 250GB 5400-rpm HDD… Fully Loaded!)

    More Air Specs: http://www.apple.com/macbookair/specs.html
    More Pro Specs: http://www.apple.com/macbookpro/specs.html

    To me Mac Book Pro is just a better choice. I can live with 2.4 extra pounds and .24 of an inch!… but cannot have compromises on performance.

    Having Carry ‘extra’ add-on’s with Air to get what is needed means more wires, more weight and in-efficient way to carry a computer.

    With MacBook Pro the only thing I carry is power adapter! battery life is not bad at all…. 6 hours solid with fully loaded machine….

    With MacBook Air I will need extra hard disk, extra optical disk and a few more things such as USB hub etc….total weight might be even more than the Pro and not to forget lots of WIRES!…

  11. Has anyone tried running any flavor of Linux on the Air yet? (And hush on the OS X raving, I need to run Linux for both my classes and my job.)

    If it runs Linux without a hitch, sprouts a built-in Ethernet port and drops $700 off the price before the Next Big Thing comes out, I’d consider it as my next laptop.

    That list of demands looks improbable, but after the iPhone’s price drop and iPod touch’s growing feature-set, I wouldn’t put it past Apple to mightily screw the Air’s early adopters as well.

  12. macdad614

    Money being no matter, then the MBA would be a nice traveling computer. I would not expect it to be able to perform as my desktop.

    It is really obvious who the brainwashed M$ are, for they like to use the term minions which might be an apt description of THEM! Do they really make themselves feel more important by all of their trash-talk?

  13. Me? Apple? You must have been smoking something else than tobacco… As for Lenovo, if that X300 is better in quality than IBM Thinkpads T4x series, I will buy. And please leave HDD clean and bill bottom line thinner: no MS tax, I prefer Ubuntu.

  14. it plays music and runs web apps well… that’s what i’m hearing… i don’t know what the specs of the lenovo are, but the mac book air’s pricing point didn’t have me looking at a purchase even though it is a nice design. apple designs cool stuff. this one is good for web surfing.

  15. I am so torn between the Sony Vaio ultra-portable that I have and getting my hands on a Macbook Air, that I actually made a parody video which you can see on YouTube here:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HyHu9-IUB4k.

    My biggest challenges are the lack of Ethernet, DVD and the battery life – when compared to the Vaio I have now.

    Just last week I was stuck in a hotel that did not have wi-fi. The thought of having a Macbook Air and not being able to go online while travelling is a showstopper for me at this point.