One week on: Five criticisms of the new MacBook Air

One week on: Five criticisms of the new MacBook Air

Summary: After a week of owning and using my new MacBook Air, the experience has been vastly positive. That is, however, bar five minor (but significant) issues.

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I have taken to my new MacBook like a Perlow to a restaurant, or a Kendrick to a... well, any gadget really.

But it does not go without caution. For though I have fallen head over heels with my new MacBook Air, it is not immune to some objective criticism. Granted, from the selection of five 'issues' I have with the updated line of Air products, you may view them as somewhat frivolous, pithy or too picky.

That is because, dear reader, and this is to be kept strictly between you and I, it was difficult finding flaws with it. I could literally only find five physical flaws.

On with the show.

(Image via Flickr)

1. My wrists dig into the front sharp edge of the device. Sat in the perfect typing position with the outward edges of each hand resting gently on the aluminium casing each side of the trackpad, the bottom edge of the device is near razor sharp.

Though only a few millimeters thick, after no more than five minutes of typing the above paragraph, it has left two slightly sore red patches and a thin indented groove from where the edge has imprinted itself into my wrist.

I wonder if the AppleCare Plan covers extensive self-inflicted typing injuries?

2. The fully clickable trackpad isn't very clickable. Though the Air is advertised as a MacBook with a fully clickable trackpad, it requires a stronger tap to press towards the top of the trackpad than the bottom. As this seems to be relatively inconsequential to aforementioned damage to my hands, I can probably overlook this one if push came to shove.

3. The screen is surprisingly tricky to clean. Every half hour or so, I have to wipe the semi-glossy screen of the collected crud and -- let's all be mature about this -- bits of spittle for when one shouts at his new MacBook because it doesn't do what one expects.

But other touch-based Apple products -- such as those running iOS -- are protected, or designed to be protected, against extreme smudges and fingerprint oils. Without specialised glass cleaner, getting all the smudges off the screen is surprisingly tricky.

4. The battery can't possibly last five hours; can it? After discussing this with further afield CBSi colleagues on Twitter, apparently it can. But to date, with a screen on medium brightness and Wi-Fi enabled internet, I have only been able to squeeze out about two and a half hours. Without Wi-Fi and with a dim screen and no backlit keyboard, I suppose it is possible but still nevertheless still a difficult feat to achieve.

5. There are only two USB ports. I know, it is a minor thing in the grand scheme of world troubles, revolutions and patent disputes. But, as someone with a bajillion thumb drives and other peripherals which could be plugged into the Air for reasons of data transfer or charging, I feel constricted by only two ports.

It's a good job that most of Apple's external devices -- like keyboards, mice and other fancy gadgetry -- are wireless. That is, unless you are an iOS device, where cannot escape the necessity to keep one port spare at all times in case you need to panic sync your iPhone.

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Topics: Apple, Hardware, Laptops, Mobility

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31 comments
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  • What do you think?

    If you could highlight the best and worst features/issues with the new MacBook Air (or any other new MacBook/iMac product) released last week, why not give it a go? How are you getting on with your new Apple product one week on? <b>Have your say.</b>
    zwhittaker
    • RE: One week on: Five criticisms of the new MacBook Air

      @zwhittaker Don't need to click, just enable tap to click.
      JamesKendrick
      • RE: One week on: Five criticisms of the new MacBook Air

        @JamesKendrick Oh good God... OK, though #2 still applies, my Mac experience has just gained about a bajillion Zack points.
        zwhittaker
      • RE: One week on: Five criticisms of the new MacBook Air

        @JamesKendrick ...it will kill your ba<a href="http://www.tran33m.com/vb/">t</a>tery. Disable flash in chrome and you should see a dra<a href="http://vb.maas1.com/">m</a>atic increase in battery life.
        alasiri
    • RE: One week on: Five criticisms of the new MacBook Air

      @zwhittaker I don't know the exact amount of hours I get but I know it is quite a bit more than 2.5... Of course I haven't done much with it yet beyond installing Office 2008, Pages and a few other apps.
      slickjim
    • RE: One week on: Five criticisms of the new MacBook Air

      @zwhittaker Pet peeve: operating systems where you have to enable tap to click. :-) (I'm talking about you too, most Linux distros!)
      jgm@...
  • regarding touchpad click

    I personally never like 'clicking' the touchpad, I enabled 'tap-to-click' in System Preferences.
    iravgupta
  • RE: One week on: Five criticisms of the new MacBook Air

    Two and a half hours of battery life? That's TERRIBLE! I guess that's how Apple got rid of most of the weight and bulk. Trouble is, an Ultra-portable is kind of worthless if the battery doesn't last for very long. I should know; my old-school netbook from '08 lasts about an hour. Needless to say it barely ever leaves the house!
    Imrhien
    • RE: One week on: Five criticisms of the new MacBook Air

      @Imrhien If I'm honest, if I were to take a laptop/netbook with me on a trans-Atlantic flight, I'd take my Windows-running Toshiba NB250. Battery life runs way beyond 5 hours. But, truthfully, I'd use my MacBook Air until the battery died -- simply for the cool factor.
      zwhittaker
      • There are cooler systems out there

        @zwhittaker
        It really all depends on what you mean by "cool"
        The fact it does something that makes you sat "cool" or the one where you want other people to look at you and say "cool".
        :)
        William Farrell
      • RE: One week on: Five criticisms of the new MacBook Air

        @zwhittaker - why do Mac users feel that using an Apple product makes them feel "cool" ... especially if they're hunting around for a power outlet within 2 hours? Back when they were first introduced, Mac laptops were pretty cool because they were relatively rare. But today? They're two a penny. Using a MacBook doesn't make a fat middle aged balding guy, 20-something student or a middle-aged Mom look cool.

        Personally, I MUCH prefer my Sony Vaio Z Series which easily lasts for 5-6 hours under continual use vs. my 17" MacBook Pro.
        bitcrazed
      • Toshiba NB250

        @zwhittaker

        before my first macbook, I bought a Toshiba Satellite in Beijing for around $800, because my first notebook was "hibernating". To make a long story short, the unit was a lemon with Vista Basic.

        What a way to treat a customer.
        samliu0207@...
    • RE: One week on: Five criticisms of the new MacBook Air

      @Imrhien
      Don't own one. Went and played with one at Best Buy.
      Nice form factor. But that minimal of battery life? My mega pound brick AW 51 gets better than that playing games!! :(

      Wonder what it runs like with OSX gone and running Win7? :)
      rhonin
      • RE: One week on: Five criticisms of the new MacBook Air

        @rhonin
        of course a giant laptop with a giant battery can get more battery life... my Macbook Pro 17" can pull 7 to 8 hours... my 13" can pull around 8 to 9
        doh123
    • RE: One week on: Five criticisms of the new MacBook Air

      @Imrhien

      I have an ACER convertible tablet and it lasts 8 hours at a minimum with a modern OS. 2.5 hours is a joke, especially since this thing is supposed to be made for portability.
      tonymcs@...
  • Number 5 will be corrected when iOS 5 debuts shortly

    All iOS 5 devices will cut the wired ties (if one wishes) to any compatible computer system for required file synching.

    I think you will have a very short wait until iOS 5 is released.
    kenosha77a
  • RE: One week on: Five criticisms of the new MacBook Air

    Two and a half hours of battery!? Ouch.
    The one and only, Cylon Centurion
  • Item number one has been a common theme among all Apple unibody notebooks

    Apparently Jonathan Ive likes sharp edges in his unibody designs.

    Personally, during the time I spent with a second gen MBA, I never had a problem with any sharp edge issues. However, many persons have.

    I wonder if an optional silicone based protective sleeve might help to alleviate this condition for you?
    kenosha77a
    • RE: One week on: Five criticisms of the new MacBook Air

      @kenosha7777

      Yep it's the usual solution to an iToy - buy a case or a rubber (in this case silicon) band. Why not build the things correctly in the first place?
      tonymcs@...
  • Finally, about that &quot;clean screen&quot; observation

    I don't have a permanent solution to this problem that I can suggest.

    But your experiences would tend to imply that having multi-touch gestures enabled on a desk top system monitor or on an "all-in-one" desktop system (like the iMac) might not be the optimal way to implement multi-touch gestures.

    Even having a notebook screen capable of multi-touch input would prove the point, in short order, that multi-touch gestures are best left to trackpads or mouse surfaces.

    (PS .. Actually, I do have a suggestion. Pretend that you are an enlightened citizen of Japan and adopt the practice of wearing a surgical mask in public. Hey .. it's a neat way of guarding against infections and, at the same time, keeping a new MBA screen clean! Grin.)
    kenosha77a