MacBook Air 18-months on: perfect travel companion

Posted on by Mike Evans

Never one to be knowingly left behind by technology, I was one of the first in line at London's first Apple Store in Regent Street when the first-generation MacBook Air went on sale.

I had been wooed by Steve Jobs' presentation and the sight of the wonderfully slim computer being slid out of a yellow envelope. I had to have one; and I had to have the relatively untried SSD model at vast expense: over £2,000 at the time. I even went to Rymans and bought a yellow legal envelope with pretty string ties. This served me well but soon became dog-eared.Product-air

The Air has not been a disappointment and, for non-power users, it is a great computer and wonderful travel companion. The slimness and light weight (1.3kg, 3 lbs) makes it a no-brainer to pick it up and stuff it in the Crumpler day bag.

While the latest Air hasn't changed in appearance, it is faster, runs cooler and is much cheaper. And the niggardly 64GB solid-state disk has grown to 128GB for less money.

I'm not planning to change just yet because my original Air does everything I want in an ultra-portable. For a few months I used it as my main computer but became frustrated by the hot running (which resulted often in one core shutting down) when doing processor-intensive tasks. This is still occasionally a major problem when viewing TV or videos. The single USB port is also a little frustrating.

Since I bought my MacBook Pro, though, the little Air has settled down into its true role: that of a very portable, light and usable  computer. Unlike the current crop of netbooks, the Air's keyboard is full-size. Over the summer I had to set up two netbooks for friends--one HP and one LG--and both (the computers, that is) suffered from cramped keyboards and wayward touchpads. With the Air, you get the full Mac experience. 

The 64GB disk has proved to be less of a problem than I anticipated. I did reinstall OS X and cut out most of the language options and printer drivers. I also deleted Garage Band which I have never used. This saved a few gigabytes of disk space. But even after 18 months, without too much worrying about data storage, I still have 28GB of free space.

My Air has proved sturdy and hasn't suffered the sloppy or broken hinge problems reported on early machines, but I do treat it well as I do all my computers. They are all cosseted with an eye eBay and resale values. 

I'll stick with this Air until I see what the tablet announcement brings. If I don't take to that new product I will consider replacing the Air with a 13-in MacBook Pro. While it offers a lot more, it is also 50% heavier. After my experience with the Air, I don't know whether or not I could handle that. Who knows? I might end up with another Air, since it is so hard to fault.

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