January 18, 2008 10:00 AM PST

Week in review: Apple goes into thin 'Air'

After months of rumor and speculation, Apple kicked off Macworld by clearing the air about its new laptop.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs wowed the crowd during his Macworld keynote address by introducing an ultrathin laptop called the MacBook Air, which the company touts as the world's thinnest notebook.

The MacBook Air features a 13.3-inch LED-backlit screen and a full-size keyboard, and measures 0.76 inch at its thickest and 0.16 inch at its thinnest.

The MacBook Air weighs about 3 pounds, comes with 2GB of standard memory, an 80GB standard hard drive, and 802.11n wireless connectivity. It will cost $1,799 in that configuration, and shipments are expected to start in two weeks.

However, as CNET News.com's Tom Krazit points out, most people will have to make too many compromises with the MacBook Air, from lacking an optical drive, FireWire, and an Ethernet jack to the battery, which, like those in the iPhone and iPod, can't be replaced by the user.

And as News.com's Michael Kanellos points out, we've seen thinner laptops before.

Jobs also announced iTunes movie rentals, which he said has the support of all major Hollywood studios. Films cost $2.99 for library titles and $3.99 for new releases. They can be watched on any device, instantly. Renters have 30 days to watch a movie after it's downloaded, but only 24 hours to watch it after it starts playing.

News.com readers were on the fence as to whether the movie rental service would be an attractive option, with some accusing Apple of being "greedy" and others defending the convenience of the move.

"Why would I want to pay that much to download a movie that's not even fully high-def?" wrote one reader to the News.com TalkBack forum. "I can go to the nearest video store for the same price or less, and that's for a full-fidelity movie.

In addition, Jobs announced Time Capsule--a "backup appliance" that looks much like the Mac Mini or Apple TV. It's basically a wireless access point with a hard drive, enabling consumers to back up their notebooks wirelessly.

The iPhone also got some new features, including an application called Maps, which you can use to approximate your location. Users can also now customize their home screen and send text messages to multiple people.

Go-go green machine
Toyota Motor surprised many by unveiling a plug-in hybrid Prius on the floor at the 2008 Detroit auto show after previously resisting the plug-in hybrid movement. But there has been quite a bit of interest in plug-in hybrids from individuals and even power companies.

Plug-in proponents claim to get 100 mpg by modifying Priuses and recharging the batteries when the cars aren't being used. Toyota seems to have finally given into the plug-in pressure, starting up its own plug-in program and handing over a couple of prototype plug-in Priuses to the University of California.

Ford Motor also got into the game, showing off a plug-in Escape Hybrid. Ford is working on the plug-in technology in conjunction with Southern California Edison. The plug-in Ford Escape Hybrid uses lithium ion batteries, giving it fuel economy of 120 mpg, according to Ford.

CONTINUED: An eye on Microsoft…
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24 comments

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hardmanb
"...However, as CNET News.com's Tom Krazit points out, most people will have to make too many compromises with the MacBook Air"

Sure, but the MacBook Air was not designed for "most folks". "Most folks" should buy a Macbook or Macbook Pro.

The MBA is a premium-price, special-use, prestige product to showcase design, technology and perhaps push present products toward the future. just like a "concept car"...expect people can actually buy one.

Don't plan on buying one myself, but it is unfair to criticize it for not being something that it was never intended to be.
Posted by hardmanb (39 comments )
Reply Link Flag
you CAN replace the battery
There's no latch for it, but if you turn the Air over and unscrew the bottom, you will see the battery. Then, you can unplug it from the motherboard and unscrew it.

Simple!
Posted by Mac OS XP (116 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Yup... here's link
Link to AppleInsider article on how easy it is to replace the battery:

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://*******.com/2fvnok" target="_newWindow">http://*******.com/2fvnok</a>
Posted by ssmiroldo (53 comments )
Link Flag
As so many of the Mac faithful are..
...fond of opining, "Who is going to go searching for precision screwdriver and go digging inside the machine?" It should just be (in this case) easily user-serviceable.

In the decade of being in the tech industry, going to hundreds of meetings, conferences, etc. I have seen exactly 2 people sporting ultra-lights. One of those was a deputy CIO who pecked on his IBM during a meeting (trying to look important) while his own presenter carried his Ultra-light mated to its deck, essentially turning it into a regular ThinkPad, plugged into our (still non-WiFi) network and ran our projector without a hitch.

The other time was an agent whom we met with every couple of years, who had one to show it off but the next year he had a regular notebook because he got tired lugging around all the separate bits. Most people have the lightest unit they can manage with them needing all the extra external toys.

Yes there places where ultralights have a purpose, but I fail to see when someone wants to be flexible enough to carry a PC instead of actual pen and stationery, but so in-flexible that carrying something akin to a oversized calculator/PDA makes sense, especially when ultra-lights cost more (not Less) than the standard before adding in all the necessary peripherals.

Add to that, the fact that other companies already manage to produce ultralights just thin, almost as light and still have all the ports, an optical drive, and user serviceable 6hour+ batteries.
Posted by GreyClaw (81 comments )
Link Flag
....Also I would be concerned...
...about voiding the warrantee, cracking it open.

I think this is simply in line with Apple's "why let them do it for free when you can charge them to do for it them?" strategy
Posted by GreyClaw (81 comments )
Link Flag
I thought it was soldered in?
My understanding was that one had to return it to Apple for it's replacement at the end of battery life at a cost of $179 (or such) plus S/H.

The whole thing is just too "geek toy" for me. Who wants and ultra, with 1 usb, no optical, restricted possibilities for use, and at an $1,800.00 price???

Just doesn't make sense nor fit my laptop budget.

NOW, if they would have come out with a NEW iPhone, I would have been more impressed and it would have assisted my work and leisure time MUCH MORE! I would have purchased it "on the spot"!

I have a great laptop already, anyway!

Ron
Posted by rcossebo (38 comments )
Link Flag
Not so simple
It requires the use of a screwdriver and opening the case. Won't that void the warranty? Also ask yourself why every other mobile device (cell phone, cordless phone, pda, mp3 player, walkman, laptop) has batteries you can pop out and replace without the use of a screwdriver. There is a reason why.
Posted by Seaspray0 (9714 comments )
Link Flag
why replace
I understand that in the PC world, batteries die quickly. I had a thinkpad once that the battery lasted maybe 15 minutes to get me from one ethernet port to another for a meeting.

However, I have never ever had to replace a Mac battery. I have an old wallstreet laptop from 1997 who's battery is fine. My orignial iBook from 2002 is fine. All my laptops are fine.


As far as the usefulness of the "air" I think it goes back to the original notebooks, a replacement for a paper notebook basically. These days most laptops have replaced desktops and do everything, but maybe someone just wants something for meetings and to lug on business trips, small thin and light.
Posted by kxmmxk (320 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Same thing was said when...
... the floppy drive was deleted. The whole basis of the comment about the loss of the optical drive is, the LOSS of something. Reality will show that it isn't needed by most Users.
Posted by Bronzit (22 comments )
Reply Link Flag
THIN AIR
yep that's what the Apple customers are paying for : THIN AIR. That's Job's humour, he is really saying "You Suckers!" Why can't the Mac ppl get it? Job's obsession with "thin thin thin" is NOT "beautiful" design (which sucks anyway) but to use obsolete components, omit components and now to get their customers to pay for a fancy case and "THIN AIR"! Next the keyboard will be removed (but it will be available for 199.99) then the screen goes too. Finally, Grinning TurtleNeck walks on the stage carrying a Beautiful Thin USB cable behind a Beautiful Smooth Black background proclaiming, "this is all you need!" And the Mac faithful will ooh and ahh at the simplicity and brilliance of it. Just plug it up your usb folks!

But people will protest "but but but there's nothing!" and the Mac fanbois will scream them down - as usual.
Posted by koslow1977 (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Firewire not USB
just to correct your flaming here it would be a Firewire cable, not a USB cable.
Posted by DrtyDogg (3084 comments )
Link Flag
Apple Software is Thinest!
Apple's software is "thinest". is it correct to just compare hardware
between thin laptops as hardware without software is nothing. Take
bott time, OSX is 4 times faster. Take all other functionality needed
for computer user. If you take everything into account it is possible
that Apple has thinest solution that any other company. Very
elegant.
Posted by keyringwest (17 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Thick or thin crust pizza?
"Take all other functionality needed for computer user."

That is a matter of personal requirements. What is more than acceptable for one person isn't always suitable for someone else... just like pizza. Thick or thin crust? There is no one best solution.
Posted by Seaspray0 (9714 comments )
Link Flag
How about the Levono X300?
This apple laptop is just hot air. Google the specs and it is not just a crippled laptop like this apple air.
Posted by pugster (649 comments )
Link Flag
This sucks
I am an Apple computer fan and a shareholder.
Message to Apple:
You REALLY screwed the pooch, Steve! The loss in stock price
to date is going to be nothing compared to the end of the year
if you don't turn this one around! (I personally have already
lost thousands in share value).
When will you learn, Steve, that YOU are not the person driving
the innovation, it is the Apple customers. They wanted better
notebooks, you gave it to them, they bought them. They
wanted video on the iPod, you gave it to them (grudgingly I will
add) and they bought it. They wanted a smartphone, you
fought it for years, gave in and gave them a crappy product
(Rocr), then finally gave them what they wanted, they bought it.
You have put out nothing spectacular here. People are
clamoring for a touchpad portable, a DVR, a PDA, game
machines, UPGRADE-ABLE and REPAIRABLE products. GIVE IT
TO THEM!
I beg you as a shareholder and customer, give the people what
they want! Or do you just not hear them? Or do you just think
you are smarter than them and think you have to tell them
what they want?
I am almost done with you and Apple. I am not sure where to
turn at this point, because MS doesn't seem to get it either!
Linux is sounding better and better...I will just build my own
machines if you don't get off your high horse and make the
equipment I know you can.
Posted by bignumone (24 comments )
Reply Link Flag
wow..
You should simply sell your apple stock and invest in linux
companies.

You think you are driving the innovation.. great.. nice way to
take credit for someone else's work. What have you achieved in
real life??

If you think the stock price has something to do with the price
drops in AAPL share, think again..

Why don't you sell the stock and make the money that you can
as the stock price is going to drop further because Apple is not
going to withdraw this product from the market.

Don't let too much of your ignorance get exposed.
Posted by S R (85 comments )
Link Flag
Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose
ipod was a win. Apple TV was a lose. Who knows what this one will be. No optical drive certainly isn't going to help. Everyone else has failed in the ultra thin laptop without the inclusion of an optical drive.
Posted by Seaspray0 (9714 comments )
Link Flag
how did you...
manage to lose money with apple's stock?
Posted by alstatr (53 comments )
Link Flag
I am a shareholder TOO
and as much as there are times Steve Jobs makes decisions differently than I
would, it is STEVE JOBS that saved Apples stock when it was... oh... let's see...
between $14 to $16 a share...

Consumers wanting innovation don't create products... if it DID, we would
have had great cell phones from companies like Motorola and Nokia (which we
don't), and great software from companies like Microsoft (which I don't think
EVER will happen). And when I say great I mean cell phones that do what WE
want... not with crippled features and with a lousy interface so we can be
gouged for more money later...

Without a Steve Jobs in the mix (someone who can realistically visualize how
to create products that truely fit consumers needs) you get nothing. People
didn't clammor for an iPod and Apple made it, BTW. Apple made it and
stunned people. That's why they bought it. People didn't say "Make us a fast,
easy to use operating system and built it over the security and robustness of
UNIX" so Apple did... I was in the audience for the keynote that announced the
original OS X... total surprise by even THOSE geeky people.

So it's Steve Jobs whose understanding of what people want that's taken their
stock from $14/$16 to the $160ish that it is today... splitting at least once
along the way. Thank you Steve.

BTW... the MB Air is not a product that I would buy. but that doesn't mean it
doesn't fill a need for a different group of people.
Posted by lauwersp (4 comments )
Link Flag
People are quick to judge a product that isn't available
Until it is out in the hands of end users, I think we are a bit quick to judge what the real demand would be.

Apple thought the iPhone would sell 10 million units by this time and it would be a hit in Europe. They missed on both marks.

I thought the iPhone would be too limited of a device and the service contract locked to AT&#38;T would make it a product without a market. I missed on that one. People still bought it.

The AppleTV was stillborn from the outset. Hopefully the new version will help revive the flagging product.

It's a hard market to guess. Sure there have been ultrathin laptops before, thinner and ligher than the Air. Even now, there are several laptops out that have all the features the Air is lacking, plus being lighter (See the Toshiba Portege R500 for example), but none of those have the infamous Apple logo. There is something to be said for people who buy by brand name only.

I don't know how well this will do. It definitely have a market, but I'm not sure that it will be big enough for Apple to keep producing it. If they can't make their money back on the design and production work on it due to slow/poor sales, then it might get pulled purely for financial reasons. It might also do very well and they will release new models.

People might also want to wait two months before buying it to see if there will be a price drop or new improvements to the base model. People are a bit more wary after the iPhone debacle.

Of all the comments I have read here defending the Air, the general concensus is that it's a great product, it has a market, but no, they won't be buying one. I haven't seen any posts from someone who intends to buy one yet. That has me worried about its future.
Posted by Vegaman_Dan (6683 comments )
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