In January, after the release of the MacBook Air, I had issues with the product and was telling people to wait until it was revised a bit before buying. I didn't think it would take over 9 months to update but I think the next release will hit the sweet spot. So let's go back to my January post and see if Apple can improve on any of the ten things I found to be lacking in revision 1.
- The processor. This will be a big difference. Instead of a 65nm processor, the new Air will get a 45nm processor that will be significantly faster per clock cycle and at the same time, squeeze more life out of the battery. Intel's SL9400 (1.8GHz) and the SL9300 (1.6GHz) use a 1066MHz FSB and carry 6MB of L2 cache at 17 Watts. These are the most likely candidates but perhaps Apple will get another custom job from Intel.
- Wireless. Honestly, if Apple doesn't integrate 3G wireless (at least as an option) into this version, I am going to run amok. Three years ago Dell and HP were offering this on their laptops. Is there a laptop on earth better suited to having 3G integrated? Steve Jobs said that it was too difficult (1) to put the 3G components into a computer? I've heard some companies even managed to get these internals into a phone so I am not buying this or his rationale that it would limit carrier choice!
- Rev 1 parts are glitchy. Actually they were pretty reliable - especially compared to the MacBook Pros. Rev 2's are traditionally better. False alarm.
- 80GB Hard Drive is still slower than I would like. It will probably be upgraded to 120Gb just like the iPod Classic that shares the same drive. If Apple could add 3 millimeters of space, the Toshiba 240Gb 1.8 inch drive becomes an option. * wipes drool*
$1000$500 64GB SSD drive will hopefully be updated to an 80Gb (Intel) - 128Gb (Samsung, others) variety. The $500 price cuts about halfway though the cycle helped make it more palatable...but it is still a hefty price to pay for a technology that isn't bearing as many fruits in the performance/power area as originally thought. Snow Leopard might be able to take better advantage of SSDs.
- Docks. Not much has happened in this area - I guess the idea of a dock is a legacy one...Perhaps I was inspired by Apple's patent on a iMac type dock. I am still holding out hope. On a related note, I'd like to see the Air get some beefier integrated graphics. Enough to drive a 30 inch monitor natively would be about right.
- Overall speed. The new processor, faster motherboard FSB and additional RAM should help in this area. Don't expect to model gene splicing on this little guy but you might be able to do some quick Photoshop work if you aren't too picky.
- Expandability. I don't need to get at anything inside this computer as long as it has what I need inside from the get go. RAM and battery issues have been a sore spot for the higher end MacBook Air users. I think (hope!) Apple will double the RAM to 4Gb and throw a better processor and other software and hardware optimizations can get a few more hours out of the battery per charge. Oh, and one guy actually managed to get EVDO into his Air. Apple...hint, hint.
- Size. OK, I was wrong on this. Apple, nice work. Keep it the same. Oh...a little tidbit here. The likely choice of 16:9 screen updates across the line don't come in 13.3 inch sizes. Will we see a 14.1 inch MacBook Air with less wasted space around the side edges of the screen like on MacBook Pros? I hope so!
- Price drops. Apple has already delivered on this largely, dropping the MacBook Air SSD option by $500. I think Apple will up performance rather than drop prices more to avoid competing with regular MacBooks.
After waiting over nine months, I am hoping the MacBook Air can deliver on at last some of these expectations. They aren't a huge stretch for the price premium Apple expects to get for the Air over a redesigned MacBook. Help a fanboy out...
Air does not come with the built-in ability to connect to a speedy wireless data network run by various cellular carriers. Jobs told me last week that Apple considered it but that adding the capability would take up room and restrict consumers to a particular carrier. Through a USB modem, he says, you can still subscribe to wireless broadband with your favorite carrier.