Tuesday, November 30, 2010

11" MacBook Air or iPad?

I got the chance to play with an 11" MacBook Air during a recent visit to Westfield's Apple Store. It is beautiful to look at, very slim, and very, very light (1kg). My iPad, in its Apple case, weighs 875g. The 11" Air is only 50mm longer, and 23mm wider than the iPad. And the Air's screen gives you an extra 262,656 pixels (count 'em) to play. Plus a full-size, 'proper' keyboard.

On the negative side, it's not cheap (starting at £849, ramping up to £1250 if you max out the storage and buy an external dvd drive... iPads start at £429). And the battery life is half that of the iPad's (5 vs 10 hours).

I can imagine it being an excellent machine for a 'mobile' professional, it is the perfect platform for typing, blogging, emailing and web-browsing.

The lack of a SIM slot surprises me, as it means that all mobile browsing will require access to WiFi, or the addition of an (ugly) 3G USB dongle. Anyone who has used a 3G-enabled iPad will tell you how enjoyable it is to be 'nearly-always-online' (3G networks permitting!).

For many people it will have too little storage (128GB) to work as a primary computer, and the iPad is still a much better sofa-browsing/bung-in-a-bag machine. However, if it packed 3G capability and 512GB of storage, I can imagine a lot of people using it as a main computer/iPad replacement, with their iPhone (other smart phones are available) joining the bag-free 'key, currency, communicator' kit.

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