Impressions of Air

I got a Macbook Air yesterday. It was a refurbished model from the first generation: 1.8ghz, 64gb SSD (a solid-state drive, instead of the 80gb hard disk option). It cost 45% of the original price (it debuted a year ago): down to $1,299 from $2,899.

My rationale for buying it — once the price got so low — was to have a lightweight computer for travel. I know it may sound like a useless extravagance, but there’s a big difference between 5.5 lbs. and 3 lbs. when you’re on the road.

First impressions:

Man, this thing is light and thin. My IT guy said it feels like it’s half a laptop, as if the monitor had fallen off or something.

I don’t have a case for it yet, so I put it in a 10″ x 13″ Tyvek envelope when I left the office yesterday.

It runs pretty cool. I haven’t tried playing a video on it yet, but just doing my standard internettery (Firefox, NetNewsWire) generates a lot less heat than my Macbook Pro does.

The screen is insanely bright. I maxed out the brightness last night and had to look away because the whites were so glaring. The screen also doesn’t have to warm up; it reaches regular brightness instantly when you wake it up or start.

Because there’s no optical drive and no platters for the hard drive, it was difficult to tell whether the laptop had turned on when I hit the power button. I accidentally shut it off twice while trying to get it to start. It’s really weird, not hearing any of the minute clicks-and-whirrs of a hard drive.

The audio is tinny.

My USB drive feels a little snug in the flip-down USB port, but my Verizon 3G antenna fits in there just fine, as does my Flip video. The port does snap shut a little too easily when I’m trying to get a USB item in there. I’ll probably need to bring a USB-extender cable along when I travel (since I’m a big Boy Scout).

The long, narrow button of the trackpad is a little less responsive than the one on my main laptop.

It seems to boot up faster than my Pro, but I’ll have to test that sometime.

I felt a little weird about getting a computer that only has 64gb of memory, but that limit has made me think about what I actually need to keep on a laptop, and how much space I’m wasting on that Macbook Pro.

In fact, the Air may become my primary laptop, as I reassess what I need/use a laptop for. Since I do all my layout work on my desktop computer (a 24″, 2.8ghz, 4gb RAM iMac), as well as most of my photo-tweaking, I don’t need a  laptop with a crazy-fast processor, tons of memory or a big screen. As long as playing a 2-hour movie doesn’t cause the computer to overheat and shut off, it should be just fine for travel.

It’s early days; I’ll try to update this if I have any more impressions.

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