“Yes, it’s a MacBook Air,” I explain to people who’ve heard of it, and “No, it’s a notebook computer, not a paper notebook,” I am forced to tell the Ageing Parent. I could sit and stare at this thing for hours, so I don’t have any objections to spending the month with it...
I can’t get over how thin and light the Air is—in my hand, it feels as thick as one of our anniversary issues, and just a tad heavier. I can carry it around with me for hours and not feel the weight! The brushed aluminium is beautiful, the glossy screen is beautiful, the touchpad is the size of a football field and the MacBook-like keyboard is a dream to type on. I’m just gushing all over.
I’ve spent all this time playing with the multi-touch trackpad, which, incidentally, is the largest I’ve seen on any laptop. Ever. With older MacBooks and MacBook Pros, using two fingers to scroll was a dream—on the Air, I can now use two fingers to zoom and rotate as well! Swiping the touchpad with three fingers lets me go to the next or previous item—be it a photo or document. This isn’t, however, as snappy as the iPhone or the iPod touch.
The mono speaker under the keyboard is tinny, soft, and, well, mono—but at least it’s clear.
After playing with OS X Leopard for so long, I’ve finally started to get some bits of work done. The 1.8-inch 80 GB, 4200 rpm PATA hard disk that our model came with is plain awful. You can actually tell the difference between it and other laptop drives even for the smallest amount of data. I wanted to hook up my external hard disk to it, but that meant I had to disconnect my USB mouse—the single USB port begets multiple profanities. My normal-sized headphone jack fits into the recessed connector rather uncomfortably too.
The model I’m holding has clearly been used before—there was a host of software installed when we got it, and I’ve installed more—I suspect that this is contributing to its recent unnatural slowness. Perhaps if I were to format the disk and re-install the OS... Cue in the painful realisation that this blasted device has no DVD drive.
So I install the DVD drive sharing software (no, just sharing the drive using Windows doesn’t work) from Apple’s installation disks on to my Windows PC, turn on DHCP on my wireless router (I hate doing that) and start the over-the-air installation procedure. Not much clicking required, but this I didn’t take too kindly to—“Estimated time: about 4 hours”. Good heavens.
Thankfully, after an hour, the estimated time falls to an hour and a half. Or so I thought. The installation freezes midway, and I have to start it all over again! Finally, it’s 3 a.m., and I’m working on a clean install of Leopard—definitely more responsive than before, but there’s really no escaping that slow hard disk.
It all boils down to one question—if I had the money, would I spend it on the Air? Of course not. It’s wonderfully slim and light, but that’s only because it’s wonderfully empty—no wired Ethernet, only one USB port, that pathetic hard drive—where do I begin? Even if I had a lakh to throw away, I’d probably throw it at the MacBook (and have some left over, too)—it’ll give me all the OS X goodness I desire, and qualifies as a real computer as well.