FAQ: Everything you need to know about the MacBook Air

What do you get, and give up, if you buy Apple's latest laptop?

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Intel spokeswoman Connie Brown spelled it out, confirming that the chip is a customized member of the Merom family and, thus, a 65nm design. And although Intel made the processor for Apple, the company doesn't have an exclusive. "Apple came to us and asked for aggressive packaging solutions," and Intel was happy to oblige, she said. "[But] we'd make [the processor] available to other [resellers] if they wanted it."

Brown also confirmed x86watch.com's speculation that the TDP (Thermal Design Power), which notes the maximum amount of heat in watts that a computer's cooling system can handle, is 20 watts. That's considerably more efficient than the 35 watts of Intel's standard mobile processors.

Can I add more memory? Nope. Next question.

Why not? Apple isn't saying, but it's safe to assume it's for the same reason the battery can't be swapped out by the user: The laptop's design, in particular the thin mandate, precluded any user access to RAM. In fact, the Air's standard -- and nonexpandable -- 2GB of memory is soldered to the 3-by-6-in. motherboard. Of course, it's only a matter of time before some madman with a soldering iron tries a do-it-yourself upgrade. The usual caveat applies: Don't do this at home (or anywhere else) if you value the warranty.

OK, but what about the battery? Can I replace that myself? Negative there, too. The MacBook Air's power, as Apple cryptically put it on its Web site, comes from an "integrated 37-watt-hour lithium-polymer battery." Emphasis on the word "integrated."

Air owners will have to turn their machines over to Apple for a battery swap. (The battery, by the way, spreads across the entire width of the machine under the palm rest and trackpad.) According to this out-of-warranty battery-replacement page on the Apple site, the dirty deed "normally takes five business days." There's nothing on the page about a loaner -- something Apple provides iPhone owners when they bring their phone in for a battery swap -- and the company makes a point to disclaim any responsibility for lost data. "Apple and its AASPs [Apple-authorized service providers] are not responsible for any damage to or loss of any applications, data, or other information stored on your MacBook Air while performing service," the page reads.

Does that mean I can't take a second battery on the plane with me? You can take a second battery. But not one that fits the Air. Apple rates the Air's power supply at five hours, but unlike other laptops -- including the company's own MacBook and MacBook Pro lines -- when those five hours (or whatever the real-world lifespan turns out to be) are over, you might as well put the Air back in its bag. Unless you've ponied up the $49 for the optional Apple MagSafe Airline Adapter and your seat has a power port.

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