The new MacBook Air is the original iMac of laptop computers

I was wrong about the new MacBook Air. I called them too small, too underpowered and basically too netbooky to be useful as anything more than a secondary computer.

Man, was I wrong. I was so, so wrong. After handling both an 11.6″ MBA (base model, two gigs of ram) and an upgrade 13″ MBA (1.83 ghz processor, four gigs of ram) are an absolutely joy to use. As someone whose favorite computer of all time was the last 12″ Powerbook, I’ve been hoping for a worthy replacement ever since I bought both a 13″ MB and MBP.

The 11.6 inch MBA on top of my 13 inch MBP. It's MUCH smaller.
If I was a full-time writer, or could convince myself to use Katie’s mini or buy an iMac for the 20% of the AV work I do, the MBA would be my next purchase. And hot damn, that 11.6″ MBA looks 12″ Powerbook level of sexy.

1. The 11.6″ MBA is almost a one-handed computer
Not that you can use it one handed, but it’s quickly picked up, shared, tossed into a bag or even held while being quickly typed on. It’s almost a foldable iPad with a real keyboard.

2. The MBA feels SOLID
Unlike the previous MBA and really any unibody laptop not made this year, either MBA feels like one solid piece of aluminum. No flexing when picked up, no squeaking when passed around and no uneven weight distribution.

USB port and the mini display port.
3. Instant-on is AWESOME
While my 2.4 ghz MBP with four gigs of ram takes 3-4 seconds to wake from sleep, the MBA wakes up before the keyboard is even fully extended. It feels like it was awake the entire time, though it does take a few more seconds to find a wireless network.

4. Storage capacity is far less of an issue than most people think
I own multiple external hard drives, all with at least two different ways to connect (Firewire 400/800 and USB). They are connected wirelessly to my current laptop, of which I’m using less than half of its available space, and that’s with a 60 gig iTunes collection and another 80 gigs of video clips from a recent event. If I needed to, I could easily offload at least the 80 gigs to a terabyte hard drive I bought for less than $150 (probably much less) and still access my media seamlessly 99% of the time. And the upgrade to 128 or 256 gig SSDs ain’t that expensive. Simply put, the SSDs that make the MBAs fast but also short on storage capacity will not matter for most people.

MagSafe, USB and headphone port. The 13-inch version as card slot, too.
5. Any MBP over 13″ is overkill for many who buy them
Seriously, the i5 and i7 chips in the 15″ and 17″ line allow for mobile supercomputing. Professional-level, portable and fast workstations are something most internet users in no way need. I’d go as far to say that most 15″ MBP owners bought it for the screen, not for the speed and power. They wasted their money and are just realizing that.

The 11.6″ MBA is the first WOW computer I’ve seen in years. More so than the iPad, and just as much as the G4 iMac and my first personal Mac, the 400Mhz, slot-loading Grape iMac.

Apple is BACK, baby.