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Style Over Everything

While I'm on the subject of connections, a big surprise was the lack of a FireWire port. Considering that Apple has been pushing FireWire harder than almost any other manufacturer for years, this came as something of a shock, especially since so many Apple peripherals favour FireWire connection. The lack of FireWire also means that anyone with a DV camcorder isn't going to be able to transfer their footage to a MacBook Air, thus rendering the excellent iMovie application somewhat useless.

Then there's the battery issue. Now, when Apple first started producing iPods with sealed batteries there were a few consumer concerns, but honestly, how many people would really want to carry a spare battery around for their music player? Notebooks are very different beasts though, and the fact that the Air has a sealed battery is, quite simply mad. If I know I'm going to be out and about all day and I need to work, I will always carry a spare notebook battery in my bag, as does Andy who recently accompanied me to CES. Apple is claiming five hours battery life for the Air, but that would have lasted about half the flight to Las Vegas. Not only does the Air not allow you to carry spare power with you, but if you ever want your battery replaced, you'll have to send the machine back to Apple. At least Apple won't charge you for the fitting, only for the battery itself.

I'm sure that all you Apple fans out there have been shouting "multi-touch" at the screen while reading this, and yes, you're right, multi-touch is very cool indeed. In fact the TrustedReviews team gave multi-touch the Best Technology of 2007 award recently, but I just can't see this being enough to make up for the obvious inadequacies of the Air. In fact, whereas multi-touch was completely revolutionary on the iPhone and iPod touch, on a notebook I can't help but see it as something of a gimmick, but I'm sure that there are some out there who would have me nailed to a cross for simply suggesting such a thing.
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The Sony TZ series remains the (very high) benchmark in the ultra-portable arena.

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Obviously I haven't actually used a MacBook Air yet, and after writing this editorial, my chances of getting a review sample out of Apple are probably slim. However, I have no doubt that it's a beautiful device, and probably a joy to use in most cases due to the obvious superiority of Mac OS. But I don't have to physically use one to know that it's missing some fundamental features that I need from a notebook. For me the Sony VAIO TZ range still represents the pinnacle of ultra-portable notebook technology. Despite being smaller and lighter than the MacBook Air, it sports considerably more features.

I absolutely loved the Sony VAIO X505VP back in 2004, but if Sony was still pushing that product today, it would have a tough time standing up to the competition. You see the X505VP was a design statement and a technology showcase at the time, whereas as the MacBook Air is simply a design statement. This is a real shame, because even though Apple has always been a company that led the way in terms of product design, those products also tended to incorporate new and innovative technology. Why Apple has chosen to create a notebook with such obvious limitations is beyond me, but nonetheless I'm sure there are queues forming around the Apple store as I write…

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