By Shadoe Huard

October 29th 2010

In Case You Needed More Convincing   

John Gruber, circa February 2008:

“In my initial Macworld Expo coverage, I asked for email from readers who had pre-ordered Airs, asking why they bought one. Responses (and there were many) ran nearly 50-50 between those who bought the Air as a secondary machine and those who bought it as their “fast enough for me and I never use FireWire anyway” main machine. Given the nerd-skewed demographics of the DF audience, I suspect the Air-as-secondary-Mac group is way overrepresented in the responses I received. My money says most people buying an Air will be using it as their one and only computer. Those critics predicting a sales flop seemingly aren’t aware that this second group even exists.

The smartest thing I’ve read about the MacBook Air is this piece by David Galbraith, wherein he points out that the Air’s CPU is several hundred times more powerful than an original Intel Pentium, and most people still use computers for the same sort of tasks. ”

“”What struck me regarding Macworld’s MacBook Air benchmarks wasn’t how much worse the Air performed than the standard MacBook or MacBook Pro, but how much better it performed than their baseline notebook, a 1.67 GHz 15-inch PowerBook G4 — the fastest Mac notebook you could buy two years ago, and the very computer I still use every day. That the Air isn’t as fast as a regular MacBook does not matter because the Air — for most people and most tasks — is clearly fast enough.”

I’d say the same thing can be said about today’s Macbook Airs.

Posted at 12:18pm and tagged with: macbook air, daring fireball, john, gruber,.

October 28th 2010

Living in a Netbook World   

On the new 11” Macbook Air living in a netbook world:

Ben Brooks:

“Here is a scenario that keeps popping into my head, and seems to make a lot of sense. A stay at home mom wants to get a computer that she can use when the kids are gone, and when she is waiting for them and working on her various projects – in other words, light computing needs in short spurts. She has been turned off by the iPad because she has been told it is not a ‘full’ or ‘real’ computer, so instead she has been looking at a cheap Net book. Most likely playing with them at Costco and Best Buy, but the MacBooks keep catching her eye. Now she sees there is a Net book sized MacBook, that, while more expensive than all other Net books, really looks good. So she walks over and starts playing with the 11 and talking with the Apple Rep about it. She eventually says forget it – the price is way too high, and she just doesn’t need it.

Now what happens when she goes back to the Net books? She is going to find herself waiting for things to open. All of a sudden the 11 doesn’t just look like a sexy little over priced Net book, but instead a really, really, small computer. That is powerful, being able to draw a consumer in that would not normally look at your computers (in this scenario a stay at home mom) and give the a compelling reason that is hard for competitors to compete with – flash storage.”

Anand Lal Shimpi & Vivek Gowri :

Apple won’t call it a netbook, but that’s exactly what the 11.6 inch MacBook Air is: a netbook with much better hardware. You get a full sized keyboard, an old but faster-than-Atom processor and a great screen. If you’re a writer, the 11-inch MacBook Air is the perfect tool just at an imperfect price.”

It doesn’t matter whether you consider to new 11” MBA to be a netbook or not.  It matters that for many consumers, that’s what they’ll be comparing it with.   It must be a scary time if your a netbook maker not named Apple.

Posted at 5:45pm and tagged with: netbook, apple, macbook, macbook air, mac, review,.

October 27th 2010

How are you supposed to pick?   

With benchmarks for the new Macbook Air quickly making the rounds, it’s becoming quickly apparent that for alot of people, it can be their goto machine( At least in the case of the 13 inch MBA). 

If your shopping for a entry level mac notebook right now, your choices are:

1. 11” Entry model Macbook Air: $999

2. 13” Entry model Macbook: $999

3. 13” Entry model Macbook Pro: $1199

4. 13” Entry model Macbook Air: $1299

With performance being relatively equal across the whole bunch (Save perhaps the 11” if you need to do anything more than browsing/writing), how are you supposed to pick?  If you don’t care for expandability, firewire or storage, then really, how are you supposed to choose?  Sure, you might need a DVD drive, but probably not.  About the only software people still buy on a DVD are anti-virus softwares and Office.  Either model of the Air offers so much advantage in size and battery life with so little compromise on power and price that unless you have a real specific need that only the Macbook/Macbook Pro can solve, there’s never any reason to pick anything but the new Airs everytime.  

As a photographer, I need the firewire port my 13”inch Macbook Pro has, and I’ll appreciate the ability to max out at 8 gigs of ram or have dual SSDs (removing the DVD drive).  And even still, if I was purchasing a laptop today, I’d have to seriously consider getting an Air, and adapting to it.  

The Macbook lineup, for all intents and purposes, should be either:

a. 11”/13? Macbook Air

b. 15”/17” Macbook Pro

It begs the questions: how long before they just drop the Air moniker?  Why even keep the white Macbook or the 13” Pro?

I’d be curious to find out just who specifically Apple thinks these four Macbook models cater to that justifies keeping all four SKUs.

Posted at 11:53pm and tagged with: macbook, macbook air, macbook pro, apple, benchmarks, mac, mac,.

October 22nd 2010

The Ipad Pro   

What’s most amusing about Apple releasing what amounts to a Mac netbook isn’t that they had ridiculed the entire notion of a netbook back when they announced the Ipad. It’s rather that they’ve given consumers better reasons than ever to want to buy a netbook type device.  One might assume that most people purchased netbooks for the portability, weighing whether or not the reduced computing power was worth it. The presence of the Ipad changes that.  After having my Ipad for the better of two months before going back to my laptop, I would conclude that Ipad owners at some point come to one of 3 realizations:

It’s the only computing device they’ll ever need from this point on to get their work done.

-  It’s great a great companion to a desktop/laptop, because they still need those to get most, if not all, of their work done.

-  It’s perfect for most every situation they encounter, but sometimes a traditional computer is still needed to get some work done.

 It’s the customers in the third category that the 11 inch Air, to me, is targeting. The 13 inch is redefining idea of a modern laptop in terms of portability and size.  It’s smaller brother is for, presumably, Ipad owners who need a little more computing maneuverability.  The Ipad has popularized the notion that you don’t need the fastest processor to get through the day in a way that was never communicated by netbooks.  Ipads created a need for something in between itself and regular laptops and desktops.  An Ipad Pro, so to speak.  When people usually think of netbooks, it’s mostly about their size, not how it suits their computing needs.

Although Apple will never call it so, the 11 inch Air rightly belongs in the netbook class of mobile devices. For comparison:

What does the higher price tag of the Air net you?

-  Better Design & Construction: From the unibody casing to the new battery design to the high resolution LED display, the new Macbook Air simply outshines the other models I’ve outlined here in terms of build and component quality.  The performance difference between the flash storage and regular Hard Disks must be worth it alone to lots of people.

-  IOS-esque influences: This was the crux of the Back to the Mac Event, bridging the gap between IOS devices and Mac OS devices: instant on, desktop app store, battery life…

That’s where, to me, the price difference is justified.  So why release it after the Ipad? 

Even though it seems backwards, the idea might be  that the Air completes or complements your experience of using IOS devices, hence the new IOS like features shown in the Air and the preview of Mac OS 10.7.  

Macbooks compete in the high end laptop market, where they are competitive in pricing and specs,  inline with their competition. On it’s own, the 999$ Air isn’t even in the high end netbook segment, it’s stratospherically above it.  However, if you consider the Air as the high end Ipad so to speak, it makes much more sense.  Only need email and internet? Go Ipad/Iphone.  Need a little more, get an Air that turns on nearly just as fast, and thanks to the mac app store, feels similar to other IOS devices. Or both.  


Posted at 9:31pm and tagged with: ipad,, macbook, apple, macbook air, computers, IOS, netbooks,.