Almost no hard drive

January 16, 2008

Well, Steve Jobs has done it again … I should warn you that there is a certain amount of Apple fan-boy quality to all of this, so read at your peril.  The MacWorld keynote address has become quite an event in the technology calendar and once again it was well done (actually, it’s masterful …  those who hate Apple find it difficult to see this, but the marketing here is unmatched by anyone).  Mr. Jobs gets up there and with his “reality distortion field” at full power, he causes a shift in whatever people thought was normal to that point.  Last year the iPhone announcement overshadowed the entire CES proceedings, which is quite an accomplishment, and the product itself has changed the landscape of the cell phone market (really, it has … things are different now, and much of that can be traced back to the iPhone).

This year, nobody knew what was coming although there were a few rumors out there. Apple is remarkably good at keeping secrets, largely due to the fact that people seem to like working there and being the source of a leak is punishable by death. The big splash this year is the MacBook Air and once again Apple has caused many to say “is this more than just a pretty, shiny thing?  What’s the idea here?” The machine is meant to be the ultra-portable that we all want and for me, it looks like it will do the job.  Remarkably, the  reality distortion field has made me want to pay more money for less computer … while it is remarkably thin (really, really thin), it has a smaller, slower hard drive, less processor speed, and way less ports than a cheaper MacBook.  It does have, however, the new display technology (and Apple displays have always been superior … this one is even better), the backlit keyboard (and, yes, I type many things in dimly lit places … you have to possess the backlit keyboard to understand how wonderful it is), as well as the trackpad that incorporates Apple’s new gesture recognition (the pinch to make things smaller, the three-finger swipe to turn a page, etc).  Add those features to looking really great, and I’m basically sold, but I’m an easy sell.

The Air has no ethernet port, no firewire, no optical drive, no audio in port … this is so very Apple. They love to take things away and see what happens.  This works quite well on things like the iPod, where Apple said “no buttons, we’re taking away all of the buttons” … ha!  The iPod Touch is the ultimate Apple thingy for this … no tactile controls whatsoever.  I actually enjoy when Apple does this because I know that they’ve put some thought into it. Why no ethernet?  It’s called “Air” … it’s supposed to be portable and wireless.  If you’re attached to something for your internet, it’s not “Air” anymore.  In fact, that’s clearly the concept for the entire thing.  You should have nothing that holds you down … don’t plug in a peripheral, a drive, an audio source … you have the ‘Net … everything you need is there. As I mentioned in my last post, I’m ready to live that way … so I pre-ordered an Air like a crazy person (by the way, this also means that I can keep owning nice silver aluminum notebooks … until now, I had to go up a level to the Powerbook to get silver).

People will look at this as some kind of downgrade of the laptop line, and a silly piece of experimentation. (and they already are)  As usual, they’ll be missing the point.  First, looking cool is important, like it or not, and this machine will score huge coolness points. Second, people (like me) are now ready to use machines that don’t focus on local storage and hauling around big hard drives. I really didn’t care how big the hard-drive on this thing is, because my plan is to not store things there.  It looks like everything  I’ve been looking for … note: I did make a point of getting the extended warranty … one thing I’m not so thrilled about is being an early adopter … when we find out the fatal flaw in this device, I will need free repairs.


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