More on Why The Apple Air Doesn’t Work for Me

Ars Technica has a pretty good review of the Apple Air and its strong and weak points. For me, the things that don’t work, out weight those that do.

For example, it can’t be used as a primary PC unless you buy the accessory external optical drive and maybe the external Ethernet dongle. Otherwise, getting data into and out of it with WiFi may be problematic.

Secondly, the hard drive is too slow. Whenever any background task occurs, the foreground task may stop. This is the deal breaker for me because I need a business class laptop that can be used for presentations that include displaying video. Said videos must smoothly play while I also run other programs in background, such as a word processor where my notes may be and/or a spreadsheet where my numbers may be. Hence, anytime the hard drive is accessed could cause the playback to stutter or pause. This is just not acceptable. Hence, until Apple includes a faster drive (and faster processor) this won’t work for me.

The review also notes the short battery life (a little over two hours) but that doesn’t matter to me because I would always be tied to A/C.

Still, if the Air is not your primary PC and you can live with stutters and stops as you surf the web (and don’t mind paying hundreds more for an Apple than [insert name here]), Apple’s latest laptop might work for you. YMMV. Insert disclaimer here.

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13 responses to “More on Why The Apple Air Doesn’t Work for Me

  1. You know, I have never seen so many postings about a computer that doesn’t work for people!

    I hope you realize that for just US$3,100 your problem is solved with the solid state memory version. The instant awakening from sleep (compared to the lesser version which takes a second or two) is a great conversation piece. It feels almost like a giant iPhone, which I think was exactly the idea.

    But there is a less expensive solution you might like. Obtain an Air (perhaps by trying it out in the Apple Store) and download the video. Once downloaded, start it in QuickTime. Play it through once, and then rewind it to the front. At that point most of the video will be in RAM and you will be able to play it without stuttering on your HDD Air. Try before you buy, of course, but I’m pretty sure that would work fine.

    Since you have 2gb RAM I don’t think you’d have any trouble running both Word and a video player at the same time without stuttering. Word doesn’t access the disk much and 2gb is more than ample to have both running at once. Try it in an Apple store and see for yourself.

    I would recommend shutting down Mail and all programs other than your word processor and Keynote (or PowerPoint, if you must) or other presentation software.

    I get the feeling that this machine has an enormous emotional impact on people and they are trying to use rational reasons not to buy it. I wouldn’t be surprised if you wind up in an Apple store within a month, pick one up and start defending it to all your friends!

    (See my web site for more on MacBook Air.)

    D

  2. Don’t buy one, plain and simple. You may want to read additional reviews rather then base your findings on one review. Two hours of battery life? C’mon… a review I just read stated the battery was pushing 5 hours easy. Spending hundreds more for a Mac? That’s old… check the specs across the board on the iMac, MacBook, MacBook Pro, and Mac Pro, and a comparable PC will run about the same, even more in some cases. The old fall-backs that Macs don’t have as much software and that they’re much more expensive don’t work any more.

    You might want to climb out of the bomb shelter and visit an Apple store, read more then one review on Apple’s offerings before you bang down the gavel and pronounce judgement for all time. Obviously the MacBook Air isn’t for everyone… it wasn’t designed to be. Quit whining about the shortcomings that weren’t designed in for specific reasons… to create a light, small, decent laptop as an adjunct to a desktop computer for those that need the mobility.

  3. You miss the point – the MBA is not intended to be a primary computer. It is basically for the road warrior. I think the MBA is getting too much bad press from pundits like you, because they expect to have the power of an 8-core processor in a laptop that literally fits in an envelope!

  4. Have you tried it, Dan? Why just repeat what Ars Technica says? They’re no friend of Apple.Unless of course you have an agenda to discredit Apple too-in which case disregard my comment.

  5. Your resons are bogus: I cannot remember the last time I used the optical drive in my MacBook, which I use as my main work computer. Second, the drive is plenty fast for a “businees class laptop”, including presentations with videos. You should try it out before jumping to conclusions.

    It’s pretty clear from your comments that you know very little about Macs.

  6. David:

    Thanks for your comments.

    Although a short video may be able to stay in RAM, I’m not so sure a longer one would/could. I mean, even with 2GB of RAM, some of which is taken up by the operating system and the viewer program itself, there would be a point where the average 4GB DVD would overwhelm RAM.

    As to trying the Air itself, I was at our local Apple store yesterday but did not try running multiple applications. In any case, Ars Technica has already done that for me and reports stuttering caused by the slow 4,200RPM drive. A drive the writer will try to replace himself with something faster. However, this may be problematic give the non-standard size of the drive (picked, I assume, because it was smaller than other drives) and perhaps voiding his warranty.

    In any case, the title of my post makes it clear the Air is not the right laptop for me. That does not mean it is not the right one for you or millions of others.

    If I were to get an Apple, the Macbook or Macbook Pro would make more sense. The problem with those is the higher weight.

    Aloha,

    Dan

  7. NightWriter927:

    I am taking your advice and not buying one. Not because it is a bad laptop, but because it doesn’t do what I need it to. That is not a knock on the design just as it is not a knock on a Buick because it can’t run as fast as a Porsche. Two different cars with two different missions.

    That said, I did configure and order a Dell XPS M1330, with a faster CPU, more RAM, bigger and faster hard drive, faster video, and extended warranty, all for less money that the Air. So, sometimes there is still a difference in cost.

    By the way, I dropped by the local Apple store yesterday and I will say as I have said before, it is a beautiful laptop. It is just not the right one for me. Perhaps in the future Apple will upgrade the drive and CPU.

    Aloha,

    Dan

  8. Robert:

    I agree that each product comparison must be made in the context of the product’s purpose. So, if it is not a primary PC, which it is not, then it must be reviewed in that context.

    If so, how many people are going to pay $1,700 (or $3,000!) for a
    *_second_* PC. I mean, most people get a cheaper second PC for use for limited purposes and, as such, are okay with lower performance.

    But if you are going to spend $1,700, I would think you would expect something better than your main PC (probably a desktop). To get less performance while spending more is, I think, a trade-off I do not wish to make.

    Not being rich, I configured a Dell XPS M1330 at a lower price with a faster CPU, more RAM, larger and faster hard drive. That said, it is one pound heavier.

    In any case, the Air is not for everyone and all I’m saying is why it isn’t for me.

    Aloha,

    Dan

  9. Zato:

    Hmmm, I’m not trying to discredit anyone. The title of my post was why the Air didn’t work for me. That is not the same as saying it’s not right for you or others. Did you buy one?

    In any case, yes, I was at our local Apple store yesterday and the Air is an amazing achievement. But for my needs, the design compromises outweigh (no pun intended) its light weight. And yes, all design are compromises. But it is where and how the compromises are made that determines its utility to the individual.

    Aloha,

    Dan

  10. Germ:

    As the title of my post indicates, the Air doesn’t work for me. That
    doesn’t mean it doesn’t for you.

    I do presentations using a laptop. Some of those presentations include 20 to 30 minute commercial quality video clips stored either on DVD, CD, or on the hard drive.

    As Ars Technia pointed out, and it appears the person writing the review actually owns an Air and is satisfied, overall with it, video stutters when background processes access the hard drive. In fact, it seems anytime the drive is accessed, whatever that is running in the foreground slows. For most purposes, this doesn’t matter. But for displaying video, it does.

    This is not a knock on the Air alone. Any laptop configured with that slow a hard drive will probably have problems and that has been my experience with a Dell laptop that I borrowed once. Since then, I have never used a laptop with anything other than a 7,200 rpm hard drive.

    Regards,

    Dan

  11. I admire your politeness to the commenters as much as I am shocked by their rudeness. Typical believers reaction.

    If I needed a new laptop I would not get an Air either. There are three reason.
    Price is the first one, unless they bring it out much cheaper in Europe. I am not willing to spend over 1000€ on a limited box for occasional use. And with just a 13″ screen it’s no candidate to be my main box.
    Second is the battery life. Apple claims 5 hours but I haven’t seen a review getting that much time out of it. Most manufacturers exagerate battery time but never as much a Apple does this time. Low weight is OK but I would gladly pack an extra pound if it was a pound of battery.
    Thirs is the size. Yes it is flat. But most bags are capable of carying something a bit fatter without problem. But the footprint is the same as an average small notebook so you gain nothing there. the main issue here is that by going for a 13″screen they got a screen almost big enough for regular work but not quite. I am used to 19″of larger scxreens. 13 looks like a compromise that misses out both ways. To small for real work, to big for ultra portability. A 9″ or 10″ screen would have been much better. That leaves anough space for a usable keyboard and reduces the footprint to real anywhere portability.

    No I don’t mention perfrormance. Cause I don’t care much for that. Almost anything up from a 486-100 is fast enough for me. All I do is text and program-code editing.

  12. Sjon:

    I agree that people should be able to disagree without being disagreeable.
    But with the anonymous Internet, that seems to have disappeared.

    Anyway, the Air is a compromise like any other laptop and all I was saying
    is that it didn’t work for me. I guess some people can’t seem to get the
    idea that my comments don’t mean it might not be right for someone else.

    Aloha – Dan

    > Comment:

  13. f you want to compare value, compare the MBA with the TZ Vaio’s which cost $2400-3600 and have a smaller screen (11 in), slower CPU and much thicker form factor (although they are 4/10 of a pound lighter).

    http://www.sonystyle.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/CategoryDisplay?catalogId=10551&storeId=10151&langId=-1&categoryId=567&parentCategoryId=16154

    From what I can tell, the MBA is selling very well, based on stock analysts reports. It is the number one seller on the Apple Store site and in the Top 20 for notebooks on Amazon.

    Typically laptops are not as powerful as a desktop and usually more expensive.

    The MBA is basically a MacBook without a DVD/CD in a much more pleasant and expensive form factor.

    So basically I agree with you. The MBA is a great second computer for rich people (or first computer for those that don’t need a DVD player or gobs of power).

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