$999 MacBook Air Receives Mixed Reviews

Dennis Faas's picture

Two weeks ago Apple unveiled an 11.6-inch MacBook Air for under $999. The news attracted plenty of attention, but early reviews of the device have not been particularly positive, with critics citing generally underwhelming performance as a reason to pass on Apple's first foray into the sub-$1,000 laptop market.

Techies will remember that it's been over two years now since the first MacBook Air shipped to retailers. In a way, it was an attempt by Apple to provide an ultra-premium, ultra-portable device for the growing netbook market.

Like most netbooks, the MacBook was lightweight, somewhat underpowered, and suffered from a short battery life. Unfortunately, most netbooks retailed for less than $500, while the MacBook Air sold for a pretty staggering $1,800.

The New MacBook Air: A Netbook in Disguise

But Apple CEO Steve Jobs has been very clear that the company isn't interested in producing netbooks. Jobs slammed the tiny laptops early this year, characterizing them as a fad consumers will soon overcome.

"The problem is, netbooks aren't better at anything," Jobs noted, perhaps ignoring their incredible lightweight design and, no matter how you slice it, very impressive price tags. (Source: yahoo.com)

Despite Jobs' position, it has become clear that netbooks aren't going away. And although he may not admit it, the newest MacBook Air, with an 11.6-inch display, extremely thin body weighing 2.3 pounds, 64GB solid state drive and 1.4 GHz Core 2 Duo processor, has a lot in common with many newer PC netbooks.

Style Over Function

According to early reviews of this new MacBook Air, this device gives up a whole lot of power for portability.

The 11.6-inch version has been criticized thus far for a slow processor, limited storage space, no backlit keyboard, or external battery life display (traditionally included with other MacBooks). And while critics admit the Core 2 Duo processor is faster than most netbooks, no one seems sure that, as a package, the Air is worth twice (or, in some cases, three times) the cost of an HP or Samsung netbook.

"The Air models still represent a victory of style over function," says Peter Svensson, of the Associated Press. (Source: yahoo.com)

But not everyone is so down on the new Air. Venture Beat reporter Dean Takahashi has referred to the device as a major improvement over the previous Air, citing the incorporation of Apple's FaceTime video camera functionality as an example.

"By taking its time, Apple has done a great job," Takahashi writes. "It has taken the art of designing the hybrid computer -- the kind that blends work and play -- and moved it forward by leaps and bounds." (Source: venturebeat.com)

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