MacBook Air comes of age
My first-generation MacBook Air with the 64GB solid-state drive is now one year old. After being sidelined for a month or two, following the arrival of big-brother MacBook Pro in November, the Air has now come into its own as a "netbook". When I first added it to the stable I tried to make it my main computer and carted it to and fro between London and Athens. I soon realised it has some limitations which have been well chewed over in Mac circles: the single USB port, no Ethernet port (except with an adaptor) and no internal DVD drive. As a result, I had to carry a powered USB hub and I wasn't happy to go abroad without packing the external USB drive in case I had to reinstall OS X or other software. So my travel weight, including the lightweight 3lb Air, was almost the same as carrying a MacBook or even a MacBook Pro. There had to be some compromises, too, in what software to load and what data to carry. I made a good fist of minimising the OS (for instance, dropping unneeded printer and language support) and stripping languages and legacy pre-Intel code from applications. For the latter I used XSlimmer, an excellent, easy to use and reliable way of reducing program file sizes.
Now I have the Pro, I've taken to using the Air purely as a portable web browser and find it light enough to pack in my Crumpler messenger bag and carry around with me. Using my Vodafone 3G data card, I'm able to get on the web from almost anywhere. I don't carry any sensitive data on the Air and I use Dropbox to store data files in daily use, including my MoneyDance financial file. Dropbox makes an excellent job of synchronising data with all my computers and is much faster than MobileMe. I'm now very happy with my Air and will use it until something better comes along. I haven't overlooked the increasingly strong rumours of a 10-in Mac netbook which many commentators believe is scheduled for later this year.