MacBook Air: thinnest but not lightest (Updated 2x)

Summary:When Steve Jobs introduced the world to the new MacBook Air here on Tuesday he accurately referred to it as "the world's thinnest notebook." While that statement is true, it comes with a small caveat–it's the world's thinnest currently shipping notebook.

When Steve Jobs introduced the world to the new MacBook Air here on Tuesday he accurately referred to it as "the world's thinnest notebook." While that statement is true, it comes with a small caveat–it's the world's thinnest currently shipping notebook.

MacBook Air: thinnest but not lightest

In his keynote address Jobs showed the graphic above comparing the MBA to the previously thinnest notebook, the Sony Vaio 505 TZ91. The TZ91 (pictured below) is the 10th anniversary edition of the original Vaio 505 and is actually 1.17 inches thin with the normal (six hour) battery and 0.88 inches thin with the light weight (three hour) battery.

Sony Vaio TZ91 Notebook

Update: According to a PC World review the Sony Vaio 505 Extreme (pictured below) was not thinner than the Macbook Air. The measurement I used (9.7 mm / 0.37 inch) is for the thinnest part of the Vaio. The notebook is wedge shaped and increases to 21 mm or 0.8 inches.

"One of the first things noticeable about the computer is its thickness, which is .4 inches at the front growing to .8 inches at the back where the body and display are hinged together."

Sony Vaio 505 Extreme

More of the "who's thinner" debate after the jump...

The Toshiba Portege 2010 notebook (pictured below) was 0.01 of an inch thinner than the MacBook Air at 0.75-inch. But it also is discontinued.

Toshiba Portege 2010 notebook

There's no doubt in my mind as I write this (flying high above the Bay Bridge on my way back east) that Sony's engineers are actively working on a new, even thinner notebook to unseat Apple. It's a pride thing. How long do you think Apple will be able to hold the "world's thinnest" title? Will it become an arms race?

As a story by Michelle Kessler in USA Today deftly points out there are several Wintel notebooks that are lighter than the MacBook Air:

Toshiba, Lenovo, Fujitsu and Sony are just some of the companies already making laptops that weigh less than the 3-pound Air. Toshiba's Portege R500 starts at 1.72 pounds, while Lenovo's ThinkPad X61 is 2.7 pounds.

But then again, Apple's not claiming that the MBA is the world's lightest notebook, just the thinnest.

Sony's Senior Vice President Mike Abary took the opportunity to take a cheap shot at the MBA, calling it "really similar to a product that we came out with four years ago."

Ouch.

No matter how you look at it, these "world's best" titles are just marketing. They give Apple bragging rights for a little while, allow them to increase their coolness cachet which ultimately sells units to rich executives, trustafarians and (ahem) bloggers. But at the end of the day a notebook computer is just a tool and what you do with it matters more than how you look with it. Or at least it should.

What's your take? Can your notebook computer ever be too thin or too light?

(Special thanks to Nobuyuki 'Nobi' Hayashi for the graphics)

Topics: Apple, Hardware, Laptops, Mobility

About

Jason D. O'Grady developed an affinity for Apple computers after using the original Lisa, and this affinity turned into a bona-fide obsession when he got the original 128 KB Macintosh in 1984. He started writing one of the first Web sites about Apple (O'Grady's PowerPage) in 1995 and is considered to be one of the fathers of blogging.... Full Bio

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