MacBook Air Lacks Power for Heavy-Duty Applications

By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2010-11-05 Print this article Print


I didn't test the SuperDrive, but I did use another computer's disc drive and that worked flawlessly. I simply arranged to share my Mac Pro's DVD drive, and it worked in seconds with my MacBook Air. Using another computer's DVD drive might seem like a major hassle, but it really wasn't a bad experience. 

As another workaround to the lack of a disc drive, the MacBook Air has two USB ports on either side. In addition, the 13.3-inch model comes with an SD card slot, which is quite handy when needing to transfer content quickly to the computer. So users can use a USB flash drive to download files to the MacBook Air.

Yet another issue with the MacBook Air is that while it comes with WiFi, it lacks 3G connectivity. It's a rather unfortunate omission, since the MacBook Air is designed for mobility and so there is a definite need to have access to the Web while away from a WiFi connection. 


The MacBook Air has somewhat outdated components. As mentioned, my 13.3-inch model comes with a 1.86GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, which most enthusiasts of the latest CPUs would probably laugh at. 

But I found no issues with the MacBook Air when surfing the Web, checking e-mail and performing some basic photo editing. In fact, it held up quite well. 

Video editing was a different story. The MacBook Air comes with iLife '11, which includes iMovie '11. After loading it up and adding video to the computer, it quickly became clear to me that the MacBook Air wasn't up to snuff. Admittedly, that was to be expected. The device is designed for mobile customers, not for heavy video editing. Nonetheless, unless users want to engage in the simplest video editing, the MacBook Air isn't the best solution. 

The MacBook Air I tested includes a 128GB solid-state drive-which becomes immediately apparent when opening the computer from sleep. Rather than wait a few seconds-as with a typical notebook-for a hard drive to start spinning, the solid-state drive in the MacBook Air gets users up and running almost immediately. I tested the wake-up time next to my iPad and was shocked to find that it's just about as fast. 

The MacBook Air boasts similarly fast boot-up times and easily bests hard drive notebooks, although there is still some wait time. But the bottom line is: It won't take long for users to be able to get to work.

Apple claims the 13.3-inch version of the MacBook Air will offer 7 hours of battery life, which in my testing I found to be true. That kind of battery life is extremely important to road warriors and enterprise customers. However, those folks would also like to see a removable battery, and the MacBook Air doesn't have one. 

Don Reisinger is a freelance technology columnist. He started writing about technology for Ziff-Davis' Since then, he has written extremely popular columns for, Computerworld, InformationWeek, and others. He has appeared numerous times on national television to share his expertise with viewers. You can follow his every move at

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