Gadgets and Games

Apple's New Polish: How I Fell in Love With Air



On Wednesday, Apple pulled its newest laptop out of a game-changing (and slightly thinner) manila envelope. The ultrathin Macbook Air is back -- and better than ever.

There are 13- and 11-inch versions of the slim new laptop, and I've been using the 11-inch version for a few days now. You can color me impressed.

The new design is impressive -- and dare I say sexy? As Tracy Byrnes of the Fox Business Network said when she first saw the new Air, "That's hot!"

And that's coming from someone willing to confess that the original MacBook Air didn't make much sense to me. The notebooks were overpriced and underpowered. In fact the Air was the only product in Apple's catalog I couldn't recommend. Steve Jobs changed that on Wednesday by combining design elements of the iPad and a laptop. 

"We wondered," Jobs said at the keynote event. "What would happen if an iPad and a MacBook hooked up?"

What happened was an iPad-like aluminum unibody design with one edge that's a tenth of an inch thick. What also happened is "instant on" functionality like that in the iPad: Open the lid and the screen instantly turns on, ready for work. My most recent Windows 7 machine takes significantly longer to resume working from sleep.

Apple changed the game by creating a laptop that's always ready to work, ready to jump on the Internet, ready send an e-mail -- all in the blink of an eye. Here's a few reasons to like it:

Price: The cost is also a game changer. At $999 the 11-inch version could be sitting under a lot of Christmas trees this season.

Display: The screen is gorgeous for viewing photos despite its small size. It boasts 1,366 x 768 resolution. What does that mean? Your photos and videos will look bright, sharp, and colorful.

Weight: I can't imagine ever buying a heavier laptop again. At 2.3 pounds it's the perfect travel companion. No more carrying a 6 pound laptop. I carried it to and from work over the past few days and I didn't even notice it in my man bag. Yes I carry a man bag, it's New York.

Speed: Fast is my thing, and this Air puts the old Air to shame. The 11-inch model sports a Core 2 duo processor and an Nvidia graphics card; I opened and used multiple, processor-intensive applications and still surfed the web with ease. And I did so with much of its 5-hour battery juice left to spare. 

Yes there are faster cheaper Windows PCs out there, but nothing this solid and intelligently designed. As my Dad always says, you pay for what you get.

The new MacBook Air isn't for everyone, however. If you need a DVD burner you won't find it here. If you need tons of storage for your iTunes library or photo collection, this isn't the machine for you either. Sure, it has the iLife suite of applications -- Garageband, iMovie, iPhoto and more -- but if you're a serious video editor, you'll laugh at the Air's storage space and processor speed. 

If you want that stuff, this machine is not for you. Each week I edit a video podcast, or large audio files, and that's something I'd never do on an 11-inch MacBook Air. But for the vast majority of tasks, this machine fulfills all of my needs, and more.

What about an iPad? Should you buy this instead of an iPad?

The MacBook Air and iPad are different devices, and they aren't mutually exclusive. I still prefer my iPad for reading websites and books, and playing games. So far, nothing beats leaning back in the recliner with my touch-screen iPad and reading a newspaper or watching Netflix. 

I thought the release of the iPad would kill the MacBook Air. I was wrong. This week Apple saved the MacBook Air -- and made the laptop more than just relevant. Apple made the Air great.

Clayton Morris is a Fox and Friends host and the tech guru behind the Gadgets and Games show -- and is much thicker than the MacBook Air. Follow Clayton's adventures online on Twitter @ClaytonMorris and by reading his daily updates at his blog.