photo Mike Oldham
Spanish Fork, Utah

I'll Take My Mac To Go

At Macworld Apple released the MacBook Air. If you live under a rock you can learn more about it at This computer reminds me a lot of my current on the go setup. I have a 12" Powerbook with a broken DVD drive. Since I have a nice iMac at home I never use the firewire port. I use a bluetooth Apple Mouse (not mighty mouse). The only port that is missing that I use on an infrequent basis, is the ethernet port. We often do LAN starcraft parties and if someone doesn't have a computer I let them use my Powerbook. I don't think I'd trust the wireless for a LAN game so i'd probably have to buy the USB to ethernet dongle. Once my budget puts me in the market for a new laptop i'll seriously consider a MacBook Air.

I've been following the post Macworld roundup on quite a few sites and most of them think the MBA is neat but not really a good value and they wouldn't get one. Most of these people use a laptop as their primary machine. The MBA is clearly not for them. The mere fact that Apple expects you to use the optical drive on another machine with your MBA shows they don't intend it as a primary machine. While many of them understand this they don't understand why you shouldn't just get a MacBook Pro instead of the two machine setup. I'll tell you why I didn't.

First off I have a large iTunes library. Between a few seasons of TV shows and a bunch of ripped DVD's I store most of my media in iTunes. I have a 160GB Firewire drive that I store my library on and it is just about full. Throw in a couple dozen games, a large iPhoto library and a growing iMovie library and my internal 250 GB drive is also almost full. There is no mac laptop on the market today that can meet my storage needs. I think packing an extra HD defeats the purpose of carrying a laptop so thats out of the question.

Secondly my on the go needs are small. I have a small sampling of my iTunes library on my Powerbook and find that quite suitable. Give me NetNewsWire, Transmit, Textmate, iTunes and Safari and I can do 90% of what I need when I'm not at home. SSH gives me access to any files I may have left at home, but most of my on the go needs are satisfied with those 5 apps.

Finally my wife is a stay at home mom. She uses the iMac every day. If I just had a MacBook Pro she'd have no computer till I got home from work and school. Give us both MacBooks and we are still stuck with not having enough space for what we need.

A desktop and a laptop suit our needs very well. Now to the big question in everyones mind. Why not just buy a MacBook as your secondary computer since it's faster and cheaper. We shouldn't forget the backlit keyboard and and multi-touch. I expect both of these features will stay out of the MacBook line. The multi-touch will probably go Pro soon enough, but I don't think they will end up in the MacBook for a few years. Factor the value of those features as well as the extra ram and you are still several hundred dollars more expensive than the low end MacBook which has a faster processor and HD. I think the Black MacBook is the perfect example that there is a market for this computer. You pay $200 for black. I'm sure the white MacBook sells more, but I know several people who own black MacBooks. People will pay a premium for pretty. And 3 pounds of ultra thin aluminum laptop is very pretty.

The Killer App. Regardless of which laptop you choose I think there is one way Apple could really raise the laptop using experience. Fraser Speirs hits a point that I've been thinking about for a while now. Synching your laptop like an iPod to your desktop mac. iTunes already syncs my music, calendar, contacts and photos with my iPod. If my laptop truly is just a secondary machine why can't I truly treat it as one. Add the Documents folder and bookmarks to that sync and I have everything I need. No need to transfer anything when I get home, I just sync it. I think this feature would remove 90% of the drawbacks of the MBA's smaller drive.

Posted on January 16, 2008 at 3:21 pm
tags: mac apple

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