Hands-on With The Next Generation of Macbooks

By James Mowery

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We here at Maciverse have already had some hands-on time with the Macbook Air, but I’m about to toss in my two cents in as well. After spending some time with Apple’s latest and greatest, I can definitely say that I have my fascinations and reservations about it. So let’s drive right in.

The first thing I noticed about the new Macbook Air, as anyone would, is how incredibly thin it is. You really do have to see it and feel it to get a true understanding of how amazing it really is. It just looks absolutely tiny when compared to every other laptop. I can’t help but smile when I notice that someone looks at this device with eyes growing wide and whispers the proverbial “wow” under their breath.

But not only is the new Macbook Air incredibly thin, it is also very light. I’m sure you’ve seen that advertisement from Apple: while I didn’t try holding the Air by the grip of only two fingers (not recommended), I am now confident that it could be done. It almost seems like it shouldn’t be real; it’s surreal. But this is what Apple does, and I am mighty impressed.

The screen on the 11-inch model is, admittedly, small, but that is the point. It is an ultra-mobile computer for those who are on the move, and if that is what you are after, the Macbook Air is the perfect device. I can’t possibly name something else that I’d want to take with me on a long trip than this device; not even the iPad or my regular Macbook.

As thin and light as the Air is, though, it still looks beautiful. In fact, this device is a personality statement. Forget introductions: the Macbook Air says that the owner is a classy, elegant, adaptable, different, and mobile person — so take your chunky self elsewhere! There really is no other way to explain it.

But does it actually perform?

After admiring the aesthetics of the Macbook Air for nearly 20 minutes (yes, I’m serious) and wanting to kiss Steve Jobs (not serious) for creating such a beautiful product, I had to get my hands on it and see if it could handle the things I needed it to do. Web browsing? Check. Video editing? Check. Photo editing? Check. Music producing? Check. Oh, yes, it performs!

Depending on the model, you’ll get spectacular performance. The higher-end Macbook Air models aren’t that far off from performing at a level similar of the 15-inch Macbook Pros. I also believe that the Macbook Air would be more than satisfactory for most people’s needs today. It is only if you are going to be doing some editing in Final Cut Pro or Photoshop that you might want to stick to an iMac or Macbook Pro. Still, yours truly, as a journalist/writer, thinks it would be great.

But, as with all great things, there is a price.

Making the Commitment

The Macbook Air is $999, but that is only for the base model. Just like you see with cars, the base model is always acceptable, but you would most likely prefer to have a few extras. If you do, that $999 price will seem like nothing more than an unbelievable tease. If you go all out on the upgrades, you’ll end up paying similar prices for a base-level Macbook Pro. Those in this for value and performance should probably think long and hard about the decision, as not only are you going to be paying for it, but you also won’t be able to upgrade the Macbook Air later on.

And that’s my main reservation about the Macbook Air. Once you make the purchase, there is no way to upgrade; at least with traditional Macbooks and Macbook Pros, you can beef up the RAM and add some extra storage, if necessary. You don’t have that option here. This, of course, might not be an issue for you, but I am certainly not ready to relinquish the freedom of upgrade potential quite yet (after all, Apple products are not cheap).

The size options offer a bit of a head scratcher, too. The 11-inch model does feature a noticeably small screen, particularly in the vertical spacing, which could be somewhat problematic. The 13-inch model, however, features a much improved screen with more vertical and horizontal resolution. Unfortunately, the 13-inch model starts at $100 more expensive than the base Macbook Pro at $1299. So then the question over value, power, and portability become huge decisions. This is strange because most Apple fanatics rarely experience this type of conflict with the company’s products; I’m sure many will have some inner turmoil when attempting to decide just which Macbook Air to purchase (or if they should go ahead and purchase a Macbook Pro instead).

The King of Portability

Make no doubt about it, though: if portability is what you seek, the new Macbook Air is the solution. It just might take a bit more time to figure out which options are better suited for your own personal needs.

Regardless, every other brand of netbook on the market should be concerned. Not only do they have to fend off the attacks from the iPad, they also have to heed the size, beauty, and elegance of the Macbook Air. Good job, Apple.

About James Mowery
James Mowery is a passionate technology journalist, entrepreneur, and Apple enthusiast who has written for various top-tier publications like Mashable, Techi, and CMSWire. Follow him on Twitter: @JMowery.

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