back to article Apple MacBook Air June 2009

Now in its third generation, the MacBook Air hasn’t had the same sort of overhaul as the rest of the MacBook range has had in recent months. Even so, Apple’s super-slim laptop has received a welcome price and performance tweak that should help broaden its appeal in more ways than one. Apple MacBook Air Apple’s MacBook Air: …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What, Apple are still beating that dead horse?

    2007: Netbook revolution really takes off, people start wanting small laptops.

    2008: Apple jump into the market attempting to be cool but er, fail miserably because they missed the point that people want small laptops, not thin laptops. They also missed the point that the small laptops in question were £100 - £300 and sold for like 4 times that.

    MacBook Air = Ultimate fail product, bringing nothing to the table because no one gives a shit how thin your laptop is, especially when it's between 2 and 4 times more expensive as a result.

    Netbooks did well amongst many people, they have quite a good female following because they fit in their handbags.

    What niche did Apple think they were going to fill exactly? The "people who have to squeeze down small alleyways whilst using a Macbook" niche or something? It's not as if the thing works right even because of various overheating issues, screen problems and it lacks important ports like you know, Firewire.

  2. Jesse Dorland
    Thumb Down

    Not worth it

    Expensive books like these have few major problems...

    #1 Glossy screen, you might as well use it for shaving

    #2 Battery can not be change --- big downers (same goes for HD, Rams)..

  3. Thomas Davie
    Jobs Halo

    Vaio and LifeBook Comparisons are nonsense

    Saying that it's competitive with similar machines from sony and lifebook is a bit of a nonsense. Both the machine's you compare it to are thicker than the MacBook Air's bigger brother, the 13" MacBook Pro, which is significantly cheeper than them.

  4. bex

    why ?

    I can't for the life of me think why anyone would buy one of these , unless they are a style victim with too much money.

  5. Richard 102
    Thumb Up

    Air owner

    ... and I love it. I got a previous model when the new models were announced, so I got a pretty good deal on it. It's not meant to replace my workstation, but as my mobile machine. It is very light and surprisingly well-built; certainly, it's more sturdy and less flimsy than the think slab of HP EliteBook I have to use at work.

    The whole idea of the Air is complete mobility. Reduce weight, keep out the things you don't need, and make it a computer that is useful three years from now. Hence, no ethernet. With WiFi so common these days, do you really need that? I have yet to use the USB port on mine once after half a year of ownership, so that's no issue. And I was surprised how little I missed the optical drive. After an install initially, using the drive on my G5 tower, I haven't needed this once.

    Apple has something of a history of this. Remember when the original iMac came out? Two of the biffest negatives were: it didn't have a floppy drive, and it used USB for everything. One year later, USB was everywhere (thanks largely to the iMac; there's a reason all those USB devices at the time were blue and white). And people realized that the floppy was not really needed, unless you had to make a boot disc for some cheap hacked-up ... anyway.

    As I said, it's been a great machine: light, sturdy, reliable, and very quiet. In my life, I will take all the quiet I can get.

  6. Oliver Smith
    Jobs Halo

    @Anonymous Coward

    The niche of people who are fed up of lugging a heavy fully-featured laptop everywhere and need something they can actually work on when they reach their destination, rather than a £200 toy laptop with no performance, no storage and a screen the size of a postage stamp.

    Back when I was spending my life travelling around the country on the train visiting various research associates, I would've given my left leg for an Air rather than the weapons-grade Dell that I'd been lumbered with...

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Best computer I've ever bought

    I bought the MacBook Air last summer and I've loved it ever since - an absolutely amazing piece of gadgetery!

    I regularly travel between Birmingham and London and Birmingham and The Hague.

    I code on it, surf the web, listen to music, watch movies, email and word process.

    One word - BRILLIANT!!!

  8. Cameron Colley

    RE: What, Apple are still beating that dead horse?

    Of course people want them thin -- how else will they be able to send them through internal mail?

  9. Steven Raith

    I'd keep flogging a dead horse...

    @AC 1219 [ie the first post]

    I'd continue to flog a dead horse if, instead of just giving me blood, it was pumping out hard cash.

    Clearly people are buying it, so they keep making it. It's like saying that a BMW 3 series does everything a Lotus Elise does, and more, and costs less than some of the more interesting examples of the Lotus - but some people will still buy the Lotus, regardless of it's percieved failures, such as not having five seats, or space for two sets of golf clubs.

    Horses [flogged or not] for courses.

    Steven R

  10. Kerberos


    Thing still not got ethernet or are you reliant on the dog-slow wifi to back anything up across a network?

  11. Matt 13

    getting there!

    the MBA is getting there! more powerful, but still only one USB! it wouldnt be too hard to fit another on that chassis...

    my mobile computing is catered for with a Vaio UX1XN so I wouldnt buy one... but if I was in the market for a £1400 smallish laptop, hmm... nope it would be a Vaio TT :)

  12. RichyS
    Jobs Halo

    Not a dead horse, but a rare thoroughbread...

    @AC 12:19: this isn't a netbook, and it's not trying to be a netbook.

    Maybe people who want a small cheap computer to catch up on some email and surf the web will find the MacBook Air too expensive. For people who want a small and light laptop to use for traditional business applications (so, no games, no intensive media applications -- just a bit of word processing, spreadsheeting [if that's a word!) and presenting), it's perfect.

    I'm not a lady (even in my free time) so don't have a handbag. Neither do I work in meedja, so don't have a manbag. Instead, I carry a laptop, some papers, a few white papers and the odd glossy brochure. All the latter have one thing in common -- they're A4. So, on the basis that I already need to carry something A4 sized, I might as well have a laptop of the same footprint. And get the advantage of a useable keyboard and screen (which cannot be said for the vast majority of netbooks). I currently carry a ThinkPad X61. It's pretty light and does the job. It's also fairly low powered, but suites me fine. It doesn't have a DVD drive, and that's never been an issue. I also have never needed a spare battery (though the battery life of an X61 is pretty crappy). While I have 3 USB ports, I only ever really used 1 (USB thumb drive). My mouse uses Bluetooth.

    Personally, I'd love to have a MacBook Air -- it fits my needs perfectly. And I bet there are thousands of people out there whose needs are similar to mine.

    Just because you can't tell the difference between two marketing segments, doesn't make this a 'fail'. On a final note, I bet Apple make more money on the external DVD drive than Asus, Acer, etc. make on a single netbook. That's why Apple isn't in the business of selling to the low end.

  13. Tony Smith (Written by Reg staff)


    I suspect rather a lot of folk (at home) have to rely on Wi-Fi to back-up (or whatever) even when they're using a machine that has Ethernet.

    Most people I know use Wi-Fi. Most have PCs or Macs with Ethernet ports. None connect by cable because they like the ability to connect anywhere in the house, not just in the room where the router is.

    I do have an Air, but I'd still connect exclusively by wireless even if I didn't.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Richard 102

    "With WiFi so common these days, do you really need [ethernet]?"

    I think they call that sort of attitude "post-decision rationalisation" - the attempt to justify a choice having already bought into the product.

  15. Anonymous Coward

    Cue the usual antiairtard comments

    Wonder if we'll hear any new arguments this time?

    Can we take the follow as read, and come up with some new "I'm not jealous, honest" rumblings?

    - Sealed battery

    - Non-upgradeable ram

    - 1 USB port only

    - no External DVD

    - low power

    That better-than-the-sony is bound to generate a few bleatings; especially on the "...but I can buy a PC laptop with the same spec for £xxxx" front. Whiney, childish tone optional.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    "and make it a computer that is useful three years from now. Hence, no ethernet. With WiFi so "

    If its still useful after 3 years why have you upgraded from the previous model then? Or am I talking to a fanboi in which case all rational discussion is off the table?

    "common these days, do you really need that? I have yet to use the USB port on mine once after "

    Yes. Wired ethernet is faster and a damn site more secure when doing online transactions.

  17. David Webb


    "With WiFi so common these days, do you really need [ethernet]?"

    Yes. I've moved to a new build house, and even though my router is basically in the room next to me, I cannot use Wi-Fi, I have to use powerline adapters to connect my PC to my router, the same with my laptop, no Wi-Fi signal. I believe the reason for this is that new build houses are starting to have aluminium placed into the walls, this blocks the signal.

    So if you're in a new build house with aluminium in the walls, and can only get a Wi-Fi signal in the same room as the router, then yes, you really need ethernet and a powerline adapter. Sure, I could add a router and use that to bounce the wi-fi signal, but in bigger houses, the cost is going to go up with the number of routers you need.

    Of course, if you use a Mac you go for that Open Plan living stuff where your bedroom in your studio apartment is also your kitchen and whatever, so you can put your double late faux creme swirly choco mocca coffee next to your shiny toy (Mac's are toys for fanboyz)

  18. Alastair 7


    I'll defend richard102 if he'll let me...

    Er, he never said he upgraded from the previous model. He said he bought the old model when the new one came out, i.e. got a cheap refurbished one. And like it or not, 95% of people exclusively use wifi- I do, and my router is just over there -->.

    And please, people. If you don't want it, don't buy it.

  19. Peter Kay

    @Thinkpad X61

    Are you using the same Thinkpad X61 as I am, because mine's nothing like that.

    Low powered? Well.. it went up to 2.5GHz - more than the Macbook Air. Mine's 2GHz.

    Supports up to 8GB memory, rather than 2GB. Upgrading to 4GB is dirt cheap. 8GB is (was?) sadly four times the price. You can stick an SSD in there if you want. I've switched from the less than amazing 80GB drive to an Hitachi 5K500.B 500GB drive - faster and lower power.

    It has a nice form factor, proper wired LAN, 802.11n, firewire and cardbus.

    Plus, if you use the extended life battery - six hours battery life or so. I'll grant that maximum battery life will impact on performance.

    The only things it arguably sucks at is the 1024x768 screen (12" panel) unless you have the rather expensive touchscreen version, and the less than optimal X3100 graphics chipset. Still, it's not a gaming machine. The latest Vista drivers take the Vista graphics score up from 1.0 to 3.5, and the Win 7 drivers take OpenGL/DirectX performance from 'unforgivably slow in some apps' to 'wading through light syrup'.

  20. Coyote
    Paris Hilton

    White MacBook? Heavy??

    At what, 4 or 5 lbs? My cheapo Dell Inspiron 14 is almost 6 and that's light compared to the boat anchors I used to lug around, ESPECIALLY the corporate slab o' Latitude I have for remote access.

    For years, I've thought the MacBooks/PowerBooks were slim and lighter than most. The Air seems like a ludicrous expense and trade-off of functionality for a little less weight (and a lot more style, admittedly) Don't get me wrong, there's plenty of Apple kit worth the price. Most of the time I find myself not even needing a laptop 'cause I can do it all from my iPhone.

    Paris, because she's thin and light but short on features for the price.

  21. Coyote


    boltar - if you are relying on wired ethernet vs. wireless for your data security, you have bigger things to worry about.

    No medium is secure, use good crypto.

  22. Ted

    The MacBook Air is SWEET!

    Love my MBA, it's wonderful having so much power in a lightweight machine. The thing is so darn fast and the screen is incredible. Best machine Apple has for people on modern networks. Sweet!

  23. Ted

    MacBook Air battery can be changed...

    It still seems there are a few people out there that don't know the MacBook Battery, along with ALL MacBook batteries can easily be changed.

    The cost for a new MacBook Air battery is $66 on eBay, so please give it a rest that it can't be changed. That's a lie and you know it...

    So in 3 or 4 years when it needs changing, just do it, quit complaining about something you know nothing about.

  24. Ted

    If you still need ethernet, add it!

    Not sure why anyone would need ethernet with fast 802.11n speeds, but if you are an old timer, you can easily add ethernet to any MacBook Air for $20. Backups and everything else is plenty fast over wireless, it's just the old "cable people" haven't kept up with modern wireless. 802.11n is just as fast as 100mbps cabled ethernet. So what is the problem? You have slow wireless network that's all... quit living in the past...

  25. Michael C


    Many of you claim this machine failed miserably, that noone wants them, that they missed the market.

    1) they missed the market YOU think they were aiming at, which is actually NOt the market they were choosing. The market for the air is people who want FULL SIZE light and portable machines... People who want a simlg slim briefcase or bag to contain ALL their business work, not to have a briefcase AND a laptop bag. These are peopole who want portabilitiy, but the ability to still work with video and graphiucs on a limited basis, and who don't want to have a magnifying glass to read the screen.

    2) Apple has sold a TON of these machines. I see one leaving my local BestBuy in the hands of a happy copnsumer every time I'm there... In fact, my understanding is they outsell 13" pro machine...

    3) External DVD is an option... no it's not included, but most of the competing ultra-thins don;t include one either.

    4) Having a removable battery completely defeats the idea of portable. not only would it dramatically increase the size, but also you;d have to carry that extra battery. It runs 5-7 hours on a charge, and charges in 30 minutes to 80%. Tell me where you'll be for 5 hours where you can't find an outlet and where the notebook will be under constant use and I'll show you somewhere else you could be using it. Besides, most of the machines with removable batteries only have 2-3 hour charges anyway, so 2 batteries in your machine is the equivalent of my internal. Also, how do you charge 2-3 batteries??? I've had several notebook sin the past where I've been convinced to get a second battery. In most cases I rarely used it, in others, the second one was never charged as i dodn't have the time to babysit it for 2 hours while it charged so I could swap out the battery!

    5) 1 USB, I agree, a bummer, but when have you needed more than 1 USB port when on the run where it was not also convenient to bring a 2 oz 4 port adapter? Yes, I'd like to see a 2nd port built to me that's not important for a presentation and lightweight portable machine. Even when i need both a mouse and a USB stick, I can unplug the mouse, copy files, and plug it back in (of course, a bluetooth mouse solves that problem).

    6) 2GB of RAm an issue? expect a 4GB option shortly. But really, it's a Mac, it needs half the RAM of a Windows machine, and it;s intended purpose is presentations, basic photo management, word processing, and the web... if you need more than the equivalent of 4GB of ram, suck it up and carry 1.5 extra pounds... Adding a doot to access memory modules, or the HDD, would add thickness. It;s not required.

    7) this is NOT meant to be your only PC, but it IS meant to be a lot more than a netbook... Apple is NOT entering the NetBook market, give up on it, they will NOT be releasing a ultra CHEAP ultra portable any time soon. They have no interest in the 9-10" market. Their OS is designed for usabiltiy, and that's basically impossible on a 1024x700 screen... Also, this is a PRESENTATION machine, targeted in a large part at business professionals. It needs to SMOOTHLY play music and video during a presentation while running dual display, and support web conferencine without jitter or stutter, you;re simply not going to do that on a cheapo celeron or budget machine, and making a budget machine smaller without firther depreciating it's performance costs more, not less. Start with a $900 business notebook, cut the weight in half and size ot a 3rd, and you have a macbook air.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    I got one.

    And it's fab. I need a light laptop that looks swish and can run "non real work" things (such as powerpoint etc not coding) and doesn't need lots of processor power.

    The June 09 Macbook Air does that brilliantly. When you lump a laptop around the world, every kg counts!

    Very quick compared to my previous "light" laptop - A Dell XPS with Vista. The boot time is a factor of three quicker!

  27. Wibble

    @@Thinkpad X61

    X61: XGA screen - how 1990's. Bit of a small trackpad, oh, there isn't one. And it's a bit of a minger in the looks department - what's the old saying about ugly people having nice personalities! As for Vista... Just Say No.

    Then compare it to the MacBook Air; sleek, light, superb looking and postively oooozing quality with its beautifully crafted solid metal case. Even the port door flap feels rock solid. Just what's required for a lightweight meeting machine. And it runs OSX extremely well with it's proper graphics card.

    When one's out and about do you really need DVDs, wired network connections, and multiple USB connectors? After all you could just unplug the iPhone to write to a memory stick, or just shove in a small adapter.

    The only thing really lacking is memory. 4Gb would be great for when you have to run a VM for the odd bit of development or Vista testing.

    As for those who think that a £300-400 netbook is equivalent, please think before you type. The MBA, X61 and Vaeieios are in a completely different market segment occupied by people who earn enough money to buy a decent second machine when they want/need. They don't want/need horrid plastic slow machines with tiny screens.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    LOL @ the weight argument

    So the niche for the air is people who are too weak and feeble to carry a negligible amount of extra weight and are willing to sacrifice performance, durability, features and a massive wad of cash for that?

    Apple only shifts 4 to 4.5 million laptops a year, and out of those only 15% - 20% are Airs. Even with the most favourable figures that's 0.9 million sold, but using more realistic figures around 0.6mill.

    Regarding comments about the battery, whilst that was no big deal IMO in the iPod etc. it is a big deal in a laptop, a laptop is useless for business if you can only get 5hrs out of it and no more, that wont even get you across the Atlantic. Being able to swap batteries is a requirement for all serious business use. You wouldn't use something like this for gaming either, because, well, it's a Mac.

    As hardware/gadgets go, that's a hell of a flop. Presumably Apple are just scraping to try and get back their R&D costs then will scrap it.

  29. sleepy

    No wired ethernet

    You'd need to carry a cable to plug into ethernet. What's the problem with carrying a cable with a tiny USB ethernet adapter attached to one end? Apple's dongle appears to be highly rated by users.

  30. Ned Ludd

    Let's review...

    So... everyone who has an MBA thinks they're great and everyone who doesn't thinks they're crap?

    Carry on!

  31. Mark 65 Silver badge


    "Not sure why anyone would need ethernet with fast 802.11n speeds, but if you are an old timer, you can easily add ethernet to any MacBook Air for $20. Backups and everything else is plenty fast over wireless, it's just the old "cable people" haven't kept up with modern wireless. 802.11n is just as fast as 100mbps cabled ethernet. So what is the problem? You have slow wireless network that's all... quit living in the past..."

    Hmmm, I'll take the bait on this.

    1. Wi-fi is shit when compared to ethernet for things that count - speed, reliability etc

    2. Encryption on it has been problematic - WEP is crap WPA a little better and WPA2 not universally standard until more recently.

    3. 802.11<b/g/n> broadcasts in the free-for-all section of the spectrum occupied by cordless phones, microwave ovens etc and, in my experience, is highly prone to interference and connection drop-outs if it even gives the range in a solid built dwelling.

    4. "802.11n is just as fast as 100mbps cabled ethernet" which is utter gash when you've been using gigabit ethernet for the last 5+ years and can make the most out of your storage device's speed. HD streams a lot better too.

    5. "it's just the old "cable people" haven't kept up with modern wireless" - not really, some of us just recognise the latest fanboi fad and prefer to stick with tried, tested and un-hijacked sonny.

    In it's defence it's more convenient than cable, but then cheap credit was convenient until the housing market blew up as a result.

  32. Stacy
    Thumb Down

    Saw the price and though hmm...

    Maybe something to look at when updating my TZ21. Then saw the screen size and lack of ports, and lack of optical drive and thought 'Bugger! Maybe not...'

    Nice and shiny as it is my office (as I would expect of 90%) does not have a wireless connection, whilst thin is nice the actual size of it is too big for me to be ultra portable (the TZ21 is netbook size with real world performance and screen res).

    What's the deal with not fitting an optical drive anyway? If they can fit it in the footprint of the TZ21, why not in a 13.3" case? If I am going to watch movines on the way home I want a DVD drive...

    And I so wanted to like it as well...

    Maybe they'll make a useful one (for me) for me in the future...

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Flying over the Atlantic

    If you're flying economy you won't have an Air. If you're flying business you can recharge it at your seat. The battery is fine.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Amazed by how many people don't get it

    To the people wanting an Air with an optical drive, ethernet, firewire, extra USB ports etc: that machine already exists. It's called the MacBook Pro.

  35. cliff 2

    MacBook Air battery can be changed...

    No, Ted, the MBA battery can't be easily changed. It can only be done if you whip out a screwdriver and dismantle the entire base of the unit, removing no less than 10 tiny - and easily lost - screws in the process.

    Try doing that when you're on a plane and just want to swap in a new battery so you can finish watching a film on the machine.

  36. Stacy
    Thumb Down

    @Amazed by how many people don't get it

    You know I hadn't thought of that...

    Go to Apples site and what do you know:

    For the same footprint, only 650g more in weight I can have a 'proper' machine, with a 7 hour battery and full connectivity. And I save a couple of hundred Euros into the bargain...

    Now I am confused - just what am I paying for with the air? It's slightly thinner, slightly lighter - but has the same footprint as a regular MBP with less power, battery life and connection options. It is a complete failure isn't it?

    On the bright side, price doesn't seem to be an issue for buying an MBP anymore... So I may look at one of those next time I need a machine.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    dont worry, battery is absolutley fine

    I love to travel 1st class when going to America or the Maldives - its so much nicer! I plug my MacBook Air in after take off. The taxi/limo/chopper and the waiting lounge are the times when I use battery so, really, its an absolute pleasure travelling with an air.

  38. Giles Jones Gold badge

    @David Webb

    >(Mac's are toys for fanboyz)

    For some people yes. But there are some extremely affordable and powerful creativity tools available for OSX.

    The likes of Kraftwerk, Nine Inch Nails and Depeche Mode are Mac users.

    Have a read:

    Many hollywood films are edited with Final Cut Studio, are these all edited by fanboys too?

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Useless junk

    I'm sorry but at least 50% of the reason I have a notebook is I use it to watch movies while traveling. The other 50% of my time is spent online, either gaming or surfing. No I can't be fucked to download movies or waste 100s of hours copying all my movies to another form of media.

    The Macbook Pro is a far more capable piece of equipment, it comes with what 99% of people need in a notebook.

    External drive? Fuck off. I want portability not some klutzy shite that means I have to carry multiple pieces of equipment, dangling something over the edge of a tray table or hanging to the side when I use put the notebook in my lap.

    I've never understood how the same company that came up with something as good as the Macbook Pro could come up with something as shit as the Macbook Air.

  40. Anonymous Coward


    I have love how people get so defensive over products like this. It's only "shit" because you can't afford it (me neither for that matter).

  41. Sunny Guy

    Apple Airbook

    '> Ive never understood how the same company that came up with something as good as

    > the Macbook Pro could come up with something as shit as the Macbook Air.

    Maybe ... they're targeted at different markets. Maybe ... you're not in the target market. ...

    Just a thought. :-)

    One of these days, Apple will announce the Airbook (imo), less graphics, RAM, and CPU,

    but with an Expresscard slot, and they'll sell them like hot cakes.

    Sunny Guy

  42. Aaron 10

    @cliff 2

    Yeah, of course I want to disassemble my machine on an airplane because they don't have airplane power adapters for the Air... (hint: they do)

    FWIW: I use a Dell Mini 9 running Mac OS X and I love it.

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