MacBook Air with nVidia 9400M and 128GB SSD Review - MacBook Air Review


There are more downsides. The MacBook Air isn’t so much under-featured as it is un-featured. On the right of the chassis is a flap which folds out when needed (with a lovely reassuringly solid click) and houses a single USB port, a mini-DisplayPort and a headphone jack and on the left side is a magsafe charger connector – that’s it. Worse still, the USB port’s placement means it can’t accommodate a number of larger devices. At least Apple has seen sense and now bundles a USB-to-Ethernet adapter with the Air.

The MacBook Air also lacks a DVD drive which Apple says is a side effect of the thin design. Considering Sony has fitted disc drives into much smaller laptops, and Apple is selling an external MacBook Air SuperDrive for a not-inconsiderate £64 cynics might suggest it was a more a cost-saving, money making decision. The Air can use the drive from another PC on a network (Mac OS or Windows) and the times when I find myself needing a disc drive are few and far between, but it’s another example of the compromise Apple is asking buyers to make.

The really frustrating thing about the Air’s lack of connectivity is that there doesn’t seem to be any particular reason for it. Yes, the MacBook Air is a minimalist laptop and yes it’s not targeted at power users – the MacBook Pro is there for them – but it’s not like there isn’t space on the Air for more inputs.

The left edge, for example, could easily have housed a flap akin to the one of the right, with an Ethernet port and maybe a couple more USBs. Again, I must mention that other laptops have managed to be as svelte, but offer good connectivity, so why not this MacBook? It surely has to be assumed, therefore, that Apple consciously made the decision to make the Air this barren and for the life of me I can’t think why.

There are other compromises too. The MacBook Air’s battery is built into the system. Apple claims the Air will last five hours, with Wi-Fi on, and I’m amazed to say that seems pretty realistic. Remember, though: when the power does go, with no option to swap in a second, fully charged battery the end result is either a hunt for a power point, or a large and stylish paper weight.

Further to that, if you want a replacement battery from Apple, you’ll be paying £99 for the privilege. In fairness to Apple, that’s not a particularly bad price, per se, but the inability to self-service will frustrate many. Still, as every MacBook now has the same ‘feature’ it’s not a criticism limited to the Air anymore. Some have criticised the Air for not using the multi-touch button-pad (as I call it) of the newer MacBooks, but I prefer a physical button myself and the Air does support the full array of multi-touch gestures.

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