On Wednesday, Apple unveiled a range of new products: a new operating system called Lion, an App Store for Mac OS X widgets, and FaceTime on the Mac. But perhaps the most hotly-followed announcement concerns an update to the MacBook Air laptop, which had remained relatively unchanged since its launch in 2008. So what are critics saying about the new MacBook Air?
Good things, mostly. Over at TechCrunch, MG Siegler confesses that the latest iteration of Air fulfills his every need. "After using it pretty much non-stop for the past 7 hours or so, I’m happy to report that I couldn’t find one task in my regular routine that the Air wasn’t able to handle with ease," Siegler writes. "I did some work, I did some regular browsing, I edited some pictures, I played some videos, etc."
"To be honest, it makes me feel a little silly," Siegler continued. "Why on Earth have I been lugging around a machine that’s twice as heavy if I didn’t need it? I’m not sure. The lure of the 2.8 GHz i7 chip, 8GB of RAM, and dual graphics cards got to me, I guess. But I really don’t need that. And I’m sure most people don’t either."
The staff at Electronista – which posted an unboxing and a quick round of "first impressions" – also likes the rejiggered MacBook Air. Still, they have a few reservations: "The only aspects that are somewhat disappointing are the lack of keyboard backlighting, and the fact that it doesn't use Intel's latest generation of Core i series chips, but a previous generation CULV Core 2 Duo."
"Though, as already noted, performance is more than adequate; it's just nice to have more processing grunt than one needs. Then again, Apple would have had to sacrifice on graphics performance and increase the asking price," Electronista writes.
Meanwhile, Jason Snell of PC World takes stock of the impressively sleek dimensions of the MacBook Air. "I love small Mac laptops. The smaller, the better. That's why I embraced the 12-inch PowerBook (and before it, the iBook)," Snell writes. "But the 11-inch MacBook Air puts that venerated system to shame." (As we noted yesterday, the MacBook Air will come in two dimensions: 13.3-inch and 11.6-inch.)
"It's got roughly the same width and depth as the paragon of tiny Mac laptops (the 11-inch Air is almost an inch wider, but is an inch less deep), but of course the Air is also only seven-tenths of an inch thick at its thickest point, while the old PowerBook was a full half-inch thick. And that old standard was twice as heavy (at 4.6 pounds, compared with the 11-inch Air's 2.3 pounds)," Snell continues.
And what about the "instant on" functionality on the MacBook Air, which allows users to rapidly pick up where they left off? CNET's Ina Fried, for one, says "instant on" could be big trouble for competitors such as Microsoft. "Although Apple touts this as 'instant on,' it's really instant resume," Fried writes. "But because the product can stay asleep for weeks at a time, it is essentially the same thing."
"Windows 7, which turned one year old this week, represents a vast improvement in resume time, but even the best Windows PCs can't match this new Mac feature – at least from my initial use of the new MacBook Air," Fried adds.
Over to you. Have you purchased a new MacBook Air? Drop us a line in the comments section.