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Video confirms ease of MacBook Air battery replacements

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 
With the first review units of the base configuration MacBook Air making their way to a handful of privy publications Thursday, several previously reported details -- such as the ease in which the notebook's battery can be swapped out -- are seeing further corroboration.

In particular, our friends over at Gizmodo wasted no time tearing the bottom cover off their review unit and revealing -- as AppleInsider reported last week -- that the battery is accessible and easily removed with type #0 Phillips screwdriver and a tug on the internal battery cable.

The entire process takes just minutes, requiring the removal of 10 screws (of varying length) to dislodge the bottom cover of the MacBook Air and another 9 screws to free the battery from its chassis. A video of the process is available here made Apple very unhappy and has since been redacted.

Gizmodo seconds the notion raised by AI that the process is so trivial that any intermediate computer user should be able to perform their own battery replacements at home.

That's of course given that owners will be able to purchase a replacement battery from a third party (or Apple) at some point. Apple plans to offer a $129 battery replacement program, but it currently requires that the notebook be forfeited for approximately five business days while it's mailed to one of the company's service depots for the procedure.



Also seeing confirmation is Electronista's report on the MacBook Air's SuperDrive being limited to use with the Air's high-power USB 2.0 port, and that Remote Disc does not work for playing DVD movies or CD audio tracks remotely.



Photos comparing the size of the MacBook Air to several other mainstream notebooks and some initial MacBook vs. MacBook Air benchmarks have also been published.

Meanwhile, Apple has posted a copy of its MacBook Air developer note.
post #2 of 28
Well that explains why there is no externally accessible battery.
post #3 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by CREB View Post

Well that explains why there is no externally accessible battery.

I won't be changing batteries at 30k feet with my #00 Phillips head screwdriver. I also won't be buying one until an external battery pack is sold.


PS: Engadget has in-depth performance comparison using XBench 1.3. Not my first choice for performance benchmarking, but certainly good enough for a one to one comparison. The 16Ghz Air does amazing well against an 8 month old 2.16 CD MBP, even besting it in some HDD tests.
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post #4 of 28
The picture is really telling about how thin it is...
And the battery isn't that hard to replace...
Still, not exactly user friendly.

Steve
20" Aluminum iMac (August 2007) - Snow Leopard 10.6.4
13" MacBook Pro (2.53 Ghz) - Snow Leopard 10.6.4
64 GB iPad Wifi
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20" Aluminum iMac (August 2007) - Snow Leopard 10.6.4
13" MacBook Pro (2.53 Ghz) - Snow Leopard 10.6.4
64 GB iPad Wifi
32 GB iPhone 3GS
8 GB iPhone (Original)
2 iPod Minis (Blue, 4GB)
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post #5 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by iPhone91 View Post

The picture is really telling about how thin it is...

Yes. Especially, how thin the screen is!

It looks paper-thin, in comparison to the other models.
post #6 of 28
I can imagine some enterprising company making replacement bottom cases that give the bottom a hole for replacing the battery (even a bigger battery).
post #7 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Outsider View Post

I can imagine some enterprising company making replacement bottom cases that give the bottom a hole for replacing the battery (even a bigger battery).

I was thinking that too. I wouldn't mind 5lbs and a little thickness if it was an extra two pounds of battery. I think that would be about right for my needs nicely.
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post #8 of 28
...how COMPACT everything is?

And how LARGE the cooling unit is?

I don't think many people have taken these things into account.

Heat transfer between components is a HUGE issue here, so the use of a less powerful, and therefore, less heat conducting, HDD had to be used.
It is certainly understandable, as most people won't consider becoming sterile very convenient. (really meant to be a joke)

I have to admit, I have no idea if a larger SDD would produce heat. I would think not since there are not movable parts, and since I dont notice that jump drives produce any noticeable heat when in use. Does anyone have any idea if I am remotely close, here?

Has anyone else noticed these things?
post #9 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by mmac778 View Post

...how COMPACT everything is?

And how LARGE the cooling unit is?

I don't think many people have taken these things into account.

Heat transfer between components is a HUGE issue here, so the use of a less powerful, and therefore, less heat conducting, HDD had to be used.
It is certainly understandable, as most people won't consider becoming sterile very convenient. (really meant to be a joke)

I have to admit, I have no idea if a larger SDD would produce heat. I would think not since there are not movable parts, and since I dont notice that jump drives produce any noticeable heat when in use. Does anyone have any idea if I am remotely close, here?

Has anyone else noticed these things?

Solid-state drives produce almost no heat compared to hard disk drives.
post #10 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by FuturePastNow View Post

Solid-state drives produce almost no heat compared to hard disk drives.

The difference is only about a third of a watt. I'd be surprised if someone could tell the difference.
post #11 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Also seeing confirmation is Electronista's report on the MacBook Air's SuperDrive being limited to use with the Air's high-power USB 2.0 port,

Why is this a surprise to anybody? Other than 2.5" (and smaller) hard drives, I don't know of any external drives that can operate on bus power on a standard USB port.
post #12 of 28
This article says that mail-in is the only option for battery replacement, but I've read elsewhere that apple plans to offer in-store swaps while you wait.

The more info that comes out about this, the more the whining seems overblown.
post #13 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by minderbinder View Post

The more info that comes out about this, the more the whining seems overblown.

This is not "whining".

It seems like a pretty legitimate complaint to me. what's the point in ultra-portability if you're dead in the water without a place to recharge after only 3-4 hours of use? I ran into this problem with my iPhone while traveling. I want to be able to carry a spare battery and pop it in when I need to. I don't want to have to carry a screwdriver and perform surgery, potentially voiding my warranty, etc.

Remember, this is a premium product from a company that is famous for making things easier, not harder. It's not a toy like the OLPC or a cheapo low-budget computer like the Asus EEE. Is it really such a big compromise in the design of products to have a replaceable battery? Can some designer or engineer explain this for us? Are looks really that important? Is this "thinking different", or just some kind of arrogance?
post #14 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

I won't be changing batteries at 30k feet with my #00 Phillips head screwdriver. I also won't be buying one until an external battery pack is sold...

Fair point, but given the MBA's relatively modest power requirements (as opposed to my lap-scorching MacBook pro), you can just use a 3rd party external power pack, like the XPower PowerSource Mobile 100: http://www.xantrex.com/web/id/233/p/1/pt/30/product.asp

I own one and absolutely love it.
post #15 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by billin View Post

Fair point, but given the MBA's relatively modest power requirements (as opposed to my lap-scorching MacBook pro), you can just use a 3rd party external power pack, like the XPower PowerSource Mobile 100: http://www.xantrex.com/web/id/233/p/1/pt/30/product.asp

I own one and absolutely love it.

Thanks for the link. How much extra time do you get? I think my two extra Batteries may be about the same size and weight and last quite a bit longer since it isn't converting from DC to AC and back to DC again.
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post #16 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

Thanks for the link. How much extra time do you get? I think my two extra Batteries may be about the same size and weight and last quite a bit longer since it isn't converting from DC to AC and back to DC again.

You know, I've never had the opportunity to run it dry, so I can't say what the limit is. But I can say definitively, though perhaps unhelpfully, that it gave me more than 30 minutes runtime on my MacBook Pro Core Duo. If you look at the product page on Amazon, you'll see this review, where a guy with a MBP Core 2 Duo said he got an hour out of it: http://www.amazon.com/review/R2CV8KE...cm_cr_rdp_perm . I imagine that someone will eventually test the XPower with a MBA at some point and report back, but I've gotta believe that the MBA sucks less juice than the MBP and thus should easily last more than an hour on the XPower.

As for your extra batteries, I'm positive you're right, that your batteries are much more efficient than going through the XPower and converting back and forth between DC and AC. But the XPower has the advantage of versatility, which is great if, like me, you routinely carry around a bajillion other gadgets that constantly cry out for power like so many baby chicks. *
post #17 of 28
I don't see why some people claim that a fixed, non-user-replaceable battery is more reliable then a user replaceable battery. When you consider that user replaceable batteries don't require users to pull cables from the logic board, the reliability argument seems more like a weak rationalization than a valid explanation.
post #18 of 28
The only thing I can think of is that when you start making holes in the bottom pan, you start compromising rigidity. Holes like battery compartments and memory installation holes. Add to that the engineering involved in designing a removable battery, while super simple, does add significant height. Think about it. A removable batter would require a plastic casing adding 3-4mm total thickness to the battery. Then you need to glue on some metal so it looks nice when viewed from the outside. I really think it would be at least a 1/4 inch thicker if they engineered it with a removable battery.
post #19 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Haggar View Post

I don't see why some people claim that a fixed, non-user-replaceable battery is more reliable then a user replaceable battery. When you consider that user replaceable batteries don't require users to pull cables from the logic board, the reliability argument seems more like a weak rationalization than a valid explanation.

The connection between the battery and the computer is not as solid when user replaceable. Better to have a real connector than a simple touch connection. better to have one single case with everything in it. It just introduces a lot of points of failure, which do fail. The latch. The battery case. The connection. I have definitely had the battery latch fail on devices. Also I've had batteries where the power connection was unreliable. I'd pick up my laptop, close it, walk to another room and find I need to boot up - must have lost power! A fixed connection would reduce this.

With such a small device there is no space to bulk up these parts. And for what? What % of users carry a second battery? With Lithium Ion that second battery is aging - its not a good tradeoff. Better to use one battery till it needs replacing. If you are not carrying 2 batteries, then the only issue is battery failure. Mine is on its 3rd year. For something you do every 3+ years, no need for latches and user removability. Why treat this differently from the disc drive? I am sure you'll have mail order batteries and over the counter service in the next year -making this a non-issue.

I can see an argument against one usb or no ethernet - I don't agree but they are valid points. The battery issue on the other hand is pure silliness.
post #20 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by junkie View Post

The connection between the battery and the computer is not as solid when user replaceable.

Utter rubbish. In fact, I can even make a better contact be using a product such as DeoxIT® GOLD on my battery contacts, as I do. And replaceable battery contacts are pushed upon and held in place by a locking mechanism holding the battery into position. For the MBA it is simply the battery's form factor that has negated a user replaceable battery; this is understandable.
post #21 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by CREB View Post

Utter rubbish. In fact, I can even make a better contact be using a product such as DeoxIT® GOLD on my battery contacts, as I do. And replaceable battery contacts are pushed upon and held in place by a locking mechanism holding the battery into position. For the MBA it is simply the battery's form factor that has negated a user replaceable battery; this is understandable.

Of course its not rubbish - the very fact that those products exist is an acknowledgement that oxidation can corrode the battery contacts and lead to a loss of conductivity. It is a point of failure that would be lessened by a more fixed connection. Take an older powerbook al, apply some flex and you may lose battery power - I don't think this would be the case with a soldered connector and a little cable that locked into place. Are replaceable batteries workable and reasonable, yes. Would you get a better connection with a fixed connector with cable, of course you would.

Did Apple make this choice for this reason, no, as you state form factor was the issue but it is wrong for people to say that Apple has done some great harm to consumers for this. Its a trade off. For someone who likes to carry two batteries, its a show stopper. For the other 98%, they are arguably better off, better connection, fewer points of failure.

It is also a very clean design. Its nice to turn over that machine and have it be smooth, sealed.
post #22 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by minderbinder View Post

This article says that mail-in is the only option for battery replacement, but I've read elsewhere that apple plans to offer in-store swaps while you wait.

The more info that comes out about this, the more the whining seems overblown.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ravelgrane View Post

This is not "whining".

It seems like a pretty legitimate complaint to me. what's the point in ultra-portability if you're dead in the water without a place to recharge after only 3-4 hours of use? I ran into this problem with my iPhone while traveling. I want to be able to carry a spare battery and pop it in when I need to. I don't want to have to carry a screwdriver and perform surgery, potentially voiding my warranty, etc.

Remember, this is a premium product from a company that is famous for making things easier, not harder. It's not a toy like the OLPC or a cheapo low-budget computer like the Asus EEE. Is it really such a big compromise in the design of products to have a replaceable battery? Can some designer or engineer explain this for us? Are looks really that important? Is this "thinking different", or just some kind of arrogance?

Apple has learnt from the "whining"/legitimate complaints, and as such is better prepared this time, that much I can say, from what I gather...
post #23 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by junkie View Post

...Did Apple make this choice for this reason, no, as you state form factor was the issue but it is wrong for people to say that Apple has done some great harm to consumers for this. Its a trade off. For someone who likes to carry two batteries, its a show stopper. For the other 98%, they are arguably better off, better connection, fewer points of failure.

It is also a very clean design. Its nice to turn over that machine and have it be smooth, sealed.

This I must say is a reasonable view on things. The people that want this will not be carrying around and extra battery. Can you imagine how many sexy handbags will have this thing slipped in without cables etc etc? Career/SuperstarMom/Etc/Women for example are a big target market for the MacBook Air.
post #24 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by junkie View Post

Of course its not rubbish - the very fact that those products exist is an acknowledgement that oxidation can corrode the battery contacts and lead to a loss of conductivity. It is a point of failure that would be lessened by a more fixed connection. Take an older powerbook al, apply some flex and you may lose battery power - I don't think this would be the case with a soldered connector and a little cable that locked into place. Are replaceable batteries workable and reasonable, yes. Would you get a better connection with a fixed connector with cable, of course you would.

Did Apple make this choice for this reason, no, as you state form factor was the issue but it is wrong for people to say that Apple has done some great harm to consumers for this. Its a trade off. For someone who likes to carry two batteries, its a show stopper. For the other 98%, they are arguably better off, better connection, fewer points of failure.

It is also a very clean design. Its nice to turn over that machine and have it be smooth, sealed.

You have precluded many other factors that lead to corrosion, such as resistance, and other factors, for an overly simplistic view as a means of justification that is simply false on so many levels. Face it, Apple did this as a result of the battery's form factor. Your hypothesis not only overlooks, what I briefly adverted to, but also introduces another factor of having someone who is supposedly skilled at replacing these batteries without inducing what you use as your argument!
post #25 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by nvidia2008 View Post

This I must say is a reasonable view on things. The people that want this will not be carrying around and extra battery. Can you imagine how many sexy handbags will have this thing slipped in without cables etc etc? Career/SuperstarMom/Etc/Women for example are a big target market for the MacBook Air.

Gawd sakes, my wife is an exec at one of the world's largest tech company, and believe me her handbags all cost over a grand apiecenone will fit an MBA, and if they could she is not even remotely interested in carrying an MBA in them. She uses a rolling business case for her computer, and important paperwork.

Man, are people watching too much television or movies these days or what? Or is it simply those watching TV or movies on an iPod who brains are affected?
post #26 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by junkie View Post

Of course its not rubbish - the very fact that those products exist is an acknowledgement that oxidation can corrode the battery contacts and lead to a loss of conductivity. It is a point of failure that would be lessened by a more fixed connection. Take an older powerbook al, apply some flex and you may lose battery power - I don't think this would be the case with a soldered connector and a little cable that locked into place. Are replaceable batteries workable and reasonable, yes. Would you get a better connection with a fixed connector with cable, of course you would.

Have you really had this happen? Does it really solve a common problem?

Maybe the flex in the powerbook is a design flaw on the part of Apple? I've never seen that happen with any notebook that I've handled. The two non-Apple notebooks I've had were nearly as thin as the Apple equivalent at the time they were made and they didn't have any contact corrosion or disconnects. I've had more trouble with one of Apple's MagSafe connectors than I've had battery contact problems on four notebooks. Which is more prone to failure than any other power connector that I remember using. That's kind of what to expect when contacts are really micro springs pusing tiny pins. Any pins that break won't push the pins out so you don't get a charge. So I'm not really buying that Apple is necessarily out to improve reliability.
post #27 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by CREB View Post

Gawd sakes, my wife is an exec at one of the world's largest tech company, and believe me her handbags all cost over a grand apiecenone will fit an MBA, and if they could she is not even remotely interested in carrying an MBA in them. She uses a rolling business case for her computer, and important paperwork.

Man, are people watching too much television or movies these days or what? Or is it simply those watching TV or movies on an iPod who brains are affected?

With all due respect to your wife, just because she may not be interested in a MBA doesn't mean other women may not like it. Have you seen such other women who carry around their Sony Vaios? The precedent has been established.

And no, I don't actually own an iPod myself.
post #28 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post

Have you really had this happen? Does it really solve a common problem?

I have no idea how common it is but it does happen to me. I close my laptop, it goes to sleep, go to another room and it has shutdown on its own. Maybe there is another explanation but my sense is that it had a momentary lose of power.

I have no idea about corrosion, my point was that if the commenter is going to such trouble to assure the connection by adding that conductivity stuff, then its an acknowledgement that the connection to the battery is a point of failure.

My point is that hardwiring would be more reliable than something that is removable, if the case is not super tight, you might lose that connection. And that a fixed connection battery could be done with less material than is needed for a removable battery. So you get 2 benefits - a better connection and its thinner, lighter.

I have seen the same effect where a removable battery is a problem with cell phones too. I had an LG which when it was old the point of failure was the connection to the battery. The little teeth holding the battery on got worn and were loose just enough for the battery to momentarily lose contact with the device. My solution was to super glue the battery to the rest of the device. It struck me though that this supposed feature of being able to replace a battery nearly killed the device. I never got to the point to replace the original battery, so there was no need for this sort of removability in my opinion.

I am not saying there is not a downside, yes replacing a battery would not be as easy and it does not work for someone who carries multiple batteries but my point is that these cases are not as common, in my opinion, as people make them out to be. I know very few people who today carry an extra battery - it was more common in the past. And I think the LIon batteries seem to have enough longevity that its not that much of an issue.

When I see this big furor over losing the removable battery, it seems like a lot of noise to me. We heard the same thing on the iPhone and the iPods. Most people will never replace a battery, even if its easy, but anyone can enjoy a small thin device. In the last 3 laptops I have replaced one battery, and this may have been due to a bad ac adaptor. I bought the replacement from Apple, I can't see what the difference would have been to have them replace it, especially if it were by over the counter service, than for me to buy it and put it in myself. If anything, its more expensive for them to do the service than for the battery to be just handed to me.

I just think when people see something change they get all angry like they have been robbed, its just silliness. No one forces anyone to buy the product. In general I think geeks get much more worked up on stuff than is warranted. And again, this product has not shipped yet, so why get worked up over it. Lets see how it works first.
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