A Third Kind of Notebook

By Steven Vaughan-Nichols  |  Posted 2008-01-15 Print this article Print

Finally, there's the news Jobs announced Jan. 15. No, not the iPhone news, although that's pretty nifty. I'm talking about the MacBook Air, which Jobs called "a third kind of notebook." Now, first let me say that when it comes to serious notebook use, I'm a big fan of ThinkPads. Yes, they're more expensive, but they're built like little tanks, and, better still from where I sit, Lenovo is finally selling models with preinstalled Novell SLED (SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop) 10.

But, oh me, oh my, that MacBook Air also has some of the features I love in notebooks. It's tiny. It's about 3 pounds-bringing back fond memories of my long-gone NEC UltraLite-and not quite ??Ñ of an inch thick at its thickest. But, and this is a big one, it has a full-size keyboard and a 13.3-inch display.

Now, much as I like the Linux-powered UMPC (ultramobile PCs) such as the ASUS Eee PC 4G and the forthcoming Everex CloudBook, their screens and keyboards are on the small side. Of course, they're also much cheaper.

The Air, which comes with 2GB of RAM, an 80GB standard hard drive and 802.11n Wi-Fi, will cost $1,799. If you go for what Job called the--gulp--"pricey" 64GB SSD (solid-state drive), it will cost more. How much more? Try $999, according to the Apple Store--yes, you can pre-order one now.

Check out images of the ultraslim MacBook Air here. 

On the other hand, can you imagine what the battery life must be like on this system? It has no moving parts whatsoever. No, it doesn't even have a CD or DVD drive. For that you can either get an exterior one or use Remote Disk to borrow a nearby PC's optical drive.

To me, Remote Disk will be enough. Lately, I find that I use optical drives about as much as I ever did floppy drives on my notebooks, which is another way of saying, I don't use them at all. If I need to manually move data from place to place I use a USB drive.

Taken all-in-all, I look at the MacBook Air and I see the future of business notebook computing. Come to think of it, my corporate laptop is about five years old now. If someone in Ziff Davis Enterprise IT thinks I could use a new one, I have a suggestion for them.

Add all this together and what do you get? I get a vision of offices integrating Macs into both the office desktop and in the server room. I see executives with MacBook Air laptops inside their briefcases. Indeed, I see enterprises moving to superior Apple and Linux products in place of the moribund Windows ecosystem.

Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols is editor at large for Ziff Davis Enterprise. Prior to becoming a technology journalist, Vaughan-Nichols worked at NASA and the Department of Defense on numerous major technological projects. Since then, he's focused on covering the technology and business issues that make a real difference to the people in the industry.

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