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MacBook Air unboxing: notes and high-quality photos

post #1 of 46
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The MacBook Air just began shipping in limited quantities that quickly sold out of the retail stores that had any units available for purchase. All stores received a small number units for window dressing and hands-on display purposes, but only select stores received enough to have any extra available for sale. We snatched the final remaining unit at the store we visited, as Apple public relations representatives congratulated the first few buyers and took promotional photos.

We took some pictures of our own. Here's a photographic look at the MacBook Air's iPhone-inspired packaging, its thin aluminum shell reflecting the design of the new iMac keyboards, and its proportions and construction compared to its big brother, the existing MacBook Pro.

The Incredibly Shrinking Box

The new MacBook Air gets the same matching tote treatment as the iPhone, and actually ships in a thinner box than the iPhone, about as deep as a board game.







The Air's packaging is considerably thinner than than the suitcase sized Powerbook box and incrementally thinner and smaller overall than the one used by existing MacBook Pro, which is slightly thicker than the iPhone's box.





The Thinking Inside the Box

Rather than folding open, the Air's box top lifts up much like the case used by the iPhone and iPod Touch. The plastic wrapped Air lays in a thin black plastic tray just like the Touch.



Underneath the tray is its MagSafe power adapter, a white envelope containing a VGA and a DVI breakout box (but no composite/S-Video TV video output dongle), and a thin black carton containing an introductory booklet labeled "Everything Mac" and another folder titled "Everything else" holding two installer DVDs, Apple stickers, a cloth for cleaning the screen, and regulatory docs.









Really Thin Air

The MacBook Air has a thinner outside edge than the impossibly thin aluminum Bluetooth Wireless Keyboard that appeared last year next to the new iMac. When closed, the entire Air is only slightly thicker than the thin part of the keyboard. The AA battery compartment of the Bluetooth Keyboard is about the same size as the back end of the Air.











Air and the MacBook Pro

The front edge of the Air looks as thin as the LCD lid of a MacBook Pro (below top, the two units with their front edges facing the camera). Its thicker backend sits up nearly as high as the MacBook Pro, but part of that height comes from its rubber high heels that lift it off the ground and make it appear to be levitating (below bottom, the two units with rear edges touching, viewed from the side).





The Air is compact enough to neatly fit inside the MacBook Pro.



The Air's body is about as wide as a 15" MacBook Pro's display, giving it a very similar outline to the standard MacBooks. There are no physical latches that hold the lid shut. It appears to have a magnetic attraction that keeps the lid closed, so there's no release button like the MacBook Pro.



It has similar proportions overall, but a very subtle power button as opposed to the Mac Book Pro's prominent polished metal circle, a much larger trackpad surface than the Pro, and a much thinner trackpad button that feels harder to target for fingers used to the Pro's trackpad.

It also has a long thin IR receiver (below, barely visible along the front right edge). Its sleep indicator light, adjacent to the left of the IR window, is a long thin LED that hides behind the aluminum finish. When off, the LED is invisible and appears to just be solid aluminum; when it turns on it shines through the perforated metal finish like crazy magic.





The Air has a display resolution of 1280x800, compared to the latest 15" MacBook Pro, which is 1440x900. The MacBooks use the same resolution screen as the Air. Compared to the Pro, the Air has a wider bezel around the display in order to allow the top edge to ramp down into a sharply thin edge. The Pro's display is housed in a thicker frame with rounded corners.







Part of the reason the Air feels so thin is its rounded backside just like the iPods, which gives it a far more compact feel than the rounded box shape of of the MacBook Pro. The Air uses a new style of hinge, which exposes a tiny opening when the top is fully opened.





Fewer Ports

That rounded edge also has a side effect of limiting the number of ports on the Air. It only has a stereo headphone jack, a single USB port, and a micro-DVI jack for use with the included DVI and VGA dongles and the optional S-video and composite video output dongle. All three hide behind a flip down panel on the right edge. A MagSafe power connector on the other side accepts a standard adapter designed for other MacBook laptops, but is designed to use a smaller 45 watt adapter with an angled MagSafe connector that allows the unit to lie flat while plugged in. There's no ExpressCard expansion slot, no audio input, no FireWire, and no Ethernet connector. An option Ethernet adapter using USB is available. The Air also lacks a security cable connector.







The Air doesn't ship with an Apple Remote, but does have an IR receiver to use with one. It has the same sleep light indicator as other MacBooks, an iSight camera, and on either side of the camera eye, an ambient light sensor for adjusting the keyboard backlighting to the left, a microphone to the right, and another invisible until lit LED status light for the camera, which hides behind the display's aluminum shell much like the front sleep indicator or the hidden LED on the Bluetooth Keyboard.

Also invisible is its speaker, positioned under the keyboard, which while no match for headphones when playing music, sounds great for speech functions such as Voice Over and Leopard's Alex voice synthesis.

A Full Sized, Backlit Keyboard

The display and hinging mechanism are both more compact than the MacBook Pro, and its body thickness is has a fraction of the heft. It uses a keyboard similar to the MacBooks and identical to the aluminum iMac keyboards, except that it is also backlit, and therefore assigns F5 and F6 to backlit controls. The other F-keys are mapped to the same revised layout as those that appeared on the new iMac external keyboards, including Exposé and Dashboard assignments and media playback buttons. The Air also lacks an Apple logo on the command key, and replaces it with the word "command." How Apple Keyboards Lost a Logo and Windows PCs Gained One explains why.





In contrast to the iMac's white Bluetooth Keyboard, the Air sports black keys that automatically light up in dim conditions.





The keyboard size is very similar to the MacBook Pro, but has the same key spacing of the MacBooks and the new external keyboards.





No Removable Battery

The Air is considerably thinner than the MacBook Pro's removable battery, in large part because it is not designed to accommodate a removable battery pack.





We will be taking a closer look at the Air's features, performance, battery life, and unique software in an in-depth review. As noted in What's Wrong with the MacBook Air?, you can comment on any questions you'd like to see answered in our upcoming review.
post #2 of 46
Fantastic pictures. Thanks.
post #3 of 46
Excellent pictures! This is the first time I've seen pics that put the lissome Air into perspective.
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post #4 of 46
Brilliantly taken pictures. Really shows how thin the Air is. Cheers
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post #5 of 46
Why does this keep getting compared to the MacBook Pro? Surely its specs dictate that the only machine it can be compared with is the MacBook.
post #6 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by neiltc13 View Post

Why does this keep getting compared to the MacBook Pro? Surely its specs dictate that the only machine it can be compared with is the MacBook.

These are only images not spec comaprisons. Basing a comparison solely on peripheral support doesn't need images, it's needs a chart. Since these images are comparing size, mostly thinness, and the Pro is 10% thinner than the MacBook it's a good comparison. Plus, it appears that Prince MeLean only hasa MBP to compare it to.

Honestly, there is nothing that it can be compared to. Machines with larger screens and full sized keyboards are cheaper, faster and weigh more, while all the machines that are light-weight don't have near the computing power, display size or comfort in usability. It's a new category.
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post #7 of 46
I agree, great pictures. Thank you for the comparison pics. Should have thrown a macbook in the comparison pics as well.
post #8 of 46
Thanks for the the photos. You have just convinced us to buy a Mac Pro server and swap out our MB and MBP for two MBAs. That machine is THIN.

The comparison photos really did the trick...
post #9 of 46
The reviewer said, "It has the same sleep light indicator as other MacBooks" but that's not entirely true. The MacBook Air has a much cooler sleep light indicator than has been on any mac before. I was playing with one at an Apple store and I noticed that the sleep indicator is invisible until you close the lid (just like Apple has done withe the iSight indicators and the new aluminum Bluetooth keyboard). On all of the other MacBooks and MacBook Pros, as well as the Mac mini and even the Cinema Displays, there is either a plastic covered sleep light or a little hole for the sleep light indicator. I hope Apple integrates this new sleep light into all of their Macs (especially the new iMacs as they are completely void of a sleep light at this point in time) because it really adds an even more refined look when you can only see the indicators when their in use and then they're invisible when they're not in use.
post #10 of 46
OMGGGGG! WHY HASN'T ANYONE THOUGHT OF THIS?!

a Macbook Pro... case!
an aluminum casing that mimics the design of the macbook pro [maybe a tad bigger for padding/protection], open it up and it's holding your air!

i would pay $50 for that.



I REAAAAAALY hope someone sees this and decides to market it. there aren't really any good cases for the air yet. and i'm not keeping my $2000 laptop in an envelope, i need some real protection!
post #11 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tannerozzy View Post

OMGGGGG! WHY HASN'T ANYONE THOUGHT OF THIS?!

a Macbook Pro... case!
an aluminum casing that mimics the design of the macbook pro [maybe a tad bigger for padding/protection], open it up and it's holding your air!

i would pay $50 for that.



I REAAAAAALY hope someone sees this and decides to market it. there aren't really any good cases for the air yet. and i'm not keeping my $2000 laptop in an envelope, i need some real protection!

TechShell makes poly-carb cases. I love mine. I through my MB around like a rag doll and it's still pristine when I remove the case.

I would prefer to see a larger bottom to the MBA that will increase the battery size to allow for 12 hours with wi-fi on, since it appears with 12-18 months every major airline will be offering it inflight.
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post #12 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by MacBookBoy View Post

Thanks for the the photos. You have just convinced us to buy a Mac Pro server and swap out our MB and MBP for two MBAs. That machine is THIN.

The comparison photos really did the trick...

Would it really help you or is this sarcastic? I don't think it makes sense to completely rework your home or small business's computer setup to accomodate these things.
post #13 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post

Would it really help you or is this sarcastic? I don't think it makes sense to completely rework your home or small business's computer setup to accomodate these things.

I don't think it's sarcasm. It seems like he wants to have a powerful machine at home and a light machine for traveling. I will have the same setup once an external battery or larger battery and case is provided for the MBA.
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post #14 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

I don't think it's sarcasm. It seems like he wants to have a powerful machine at home and a light machine for traveling. I will have the same setup once an external battery or larger battery and case is provided for the MBA.

Maybe. But the problem I have is that if you already have machines that do the job, why replace them, spending as much as $6500 in the process (2x Air, 1x Mac Pro)?

I like the Air, really. I think it makes sense if you've been using a G4 notebook that's wearing out or broken and need a new machine, but I wouldn't suggest replacing reasonably new notebooks, unless maybe if you're on your feet for hours a day.
post #15 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post

Maybe. But the problem I have is that if you already have machines that do the job, why replace them, spending as much as $6500 in the process (2x Air, 1x Mac Pro)?

I like the Air, really. I think it makes sense if you've been using a G4 notebook that's wearing out or broken and need a new machine, but I wouldn't suggest replacing reasonably new notebooks, unless maybe if you're on your feet for hours a day.

I've already purchased my Mac Pro but would like to lighten my MB a few pounds and get rid of the two extra batteries I carry for one additional one that gives me 2x the duration as my current setup. With Back To My Mac in full effect I can now do transfers of files that I may or may not need.

PS: Getting rid of printer drivers, languages, bulky apps that are never used (e.g.: GarageBand), language localizations, and unneeded PPC code you can reduce your installation quite a bit. A reinstall takes care of the first 3, while Monolingual will take care of the last two.
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post #16 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

I would prefer to see a larger bottom to the MBA that will increase the battery size to allow for 12 hours with wi-fi on, since it appears with 12-18 months every major airline will be offering it inflight.

I am curious to see if broader Wi-Fi availability - along with the TSA's battery restrictions - will encourage the airlines (and hopefully, airports) to increase the number of power outlets available, especially for aircraft used for long-haul.
post #17 of 46
Very clean look to it but I don't see anyway to lock it down to a table.
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post #18 of 46
How many goddamn photos of this overpriced laptop do we need to see?
post #19 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by mdriftmeyer View Post

How many goddamn photos of this overpriced laptop do we need to see?

Zero. Don't click on articles labeled "MacBook Air", especially ones that say "photos" in the heading.
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post #20 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by mdriftmeyer View Post

How many goddamn photos of this overpriced laptop do we need to see?

May I respectfully suggest that you find a better use for your time.... unless the opportunity cost of your time is zero.
post #21 of 46
Is it wrong that I am getting wood looking at these photos?
post #22 of 46
It looks like the black keys on the Air now have a slightly concave surface. I think this is a great design decision by Apple because it gives your fingertips just that little extra bit of sensory information about hand position when typing. The slimline keyboards on the Macbook and iMac are lovely to use but their entirely flat keys always felt a little quirky to my 12"-Powerbook-accustomed fingers.

I expect that apple will ship similar black keyboards with the iMac when it is next refreshed, if only to match the black bezel (which I believe was changed from white at the last minute). Or maybe it won't if steve is having difficulty saying sayoonara to the old white iMac design!

I initially thought the Air was a bit of a let down but I can see it has it's place. I think it's clearly designed to be the portable partner to an iMac rather than a standalone computer in it's own right. For that purpose i'm sure those who can afford it will find it a delightful addition to the Mac family.

Now Steve please hurry your merry worker elves to bring the iPhone to Australia. And when you do resist the evil clutches of Telstra.

Optus good. Telstra bad.
post #23 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by nvidia2008 View Post

Is it wrong that I am getting wood looking at these photos?

Not wrong, just creepy.
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post #24 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by mdriftmeyer View Post

How many goddamn photos of this overpriced laptop do we need to see?


Why does God need to 'damn' any photos of any overpriced laptop?

Can you not 'damn' the multitude of photos of this product yourself?

I know there is "Freedom of Speech" but some people may take 'offense' with the callous choice of verbiage in your post.

I am sure the English language has an abundance of adjectives for you to use to show your disdain.

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post #25 of 46
You all need to get to the gym if you can't lift a laptop the weighs 5 lbs!
post #26 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by teckstud View Post

You all need to get to the gym if you can't lift a laptop the weighs 5 lbs!

I'm sure a 10lb Dellienware is making you studly.
post #27 of 46
Good one, Dunks! Well observed .. looks like the perfect unit for academia people to tote around the uni and take on the conference trail... leaving the desktop in the office.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dunks View Post

Now Steve please hurry your merry worker elves to bring the iPhone to Australia. And when you do resist the evil clutches of Telstra.

Optus good. Telstra bad.

For Fiji that should read: Vodaphone bad, Vodaphone BAD!
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post #28 of 46
makes me wonder what the next macbook pro will look like...

I wonder if there will be a generational lineage between the mba and the next mbp

both are aluminum. that keyboard looks great, much more legible than the current mbp - why not use it?

that screen, its very thin, nice curves, nice new hinge style, why not use that? Maybe all future metal macbooks will get similar treatment.

of course we'd expect the bottom case to be thicker, to have a optical drive, and to hold a 2.5" hdd but but why not smoother lines? a softer shape is nice.
post #29 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by junkie View Post

makes me wonder what the next macbook pro will look like...

I wonder if there will be a generational lineage between the mba and the next mbp

both are aluminum. that keyboard looks great, much more legible than the current mbp - why not use it?

that screen, its very thin, nice curves, nice new hinge style, why not use that? Maybe all future metal macbooks will get similar treatment.

of course we'd expect the bottom case to be thicker, to have a optical drive, and to hold a 2.5" hdd but but why not smoother lines? a softer shape is nice.

I saw a MBA at the Apple Store, I couldn't wait to get mine from FEDEX, so I took a trip to see one personally. Surprisingly, though it is thinner, it actually looked bigger than a Macbook. Next to the Macbook, I swear it looked a 14 or 15 inch. It was easy to make such an assumption because there was a Macbook right next to it! It is insanely thin, but from some reason, the foot print appears to be slightly larger than the Macbook, and so does the screen. I can't explain it, but it does!
post #30 of 46
There is a difference between high-quality photos and high resolution photos.

These are high resolution but very badly taken pictures.

In my opinion, at least.
post #31 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by abrooks View Post

There is a difference between high-quality photos and high resolution photos.

These are high resolution but very badly taken pictures.

In my opinion, at least.

Other than some of them being a little less sharp than they could have been (many seem a bit out of focus, nothing is sharp), I don't see any major issues. At least they don't have such a harsh short depth of field that they had of the MacWorld photos.
post #32 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post

I'm sure a 10lb Dellienware is making you studly.

No-Jeff(DMF), a 5lb MacBook ,which has more power and more functionality, suffices just nicely -thank you.
post #33 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by teckstud View Post

No-Jeff(DMF), a 5lb MacBook ,which has more power and more functionality, suffices just nicely -thank you.

If it "suffices nicely," why are you repeatedly posting about the MBA, which, by definition must add nothing more?
post #34 of 46
Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of a rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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post #35 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post

Other than some of them being a little less sharp than they could have been (many seem a bit out of focus, nothing is sharp), I don't see any major issues. At least they don't have such a harsh short depth of field that they had of the MacWorld photos.

Agreed, in that respect they do the job but the harsh use of flash causes erratic colours and a general garish look to lots of the photos.
post #36 of 46
Quote:
You all need to get to the gym if you can't lift a laptop the weighs 5 lbs!

Picking it up isn't the problem. Carrying it around for long periods of time is the problem. Its not necessarily based on physical strength. Irrespective of your strength carrying extra weight for long periods causes fatigue and stress on your body. Particularly the trapezius muscle in the shoulders and the vertebrae down the spine.
post #37 of 46
My MBA SuperDrive and USB Ethernet Adapter arrived today, pity my MBA has not arrived yet
The MBA was due in 2 days before the the others, but held up in international transit
SuperDrive looks great, can not wait to use it.
post #38 of 46
That Macbook Air screen is amazing, even looking at the photos. I can't believe what a difference the LED display makes.
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post #39 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by mdriftmeyer View Post

How many goddamn photos of this overpriced laptop do we need to see?

Close your eyes and stop looking, then, if it bothers you that much.
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post #40 of 46
Check out this list:

http://tech.msn.com/products/Top5Ult...leLaptops.aspx

And tell me that the Macbook Air is overpriced. The number one seller on this list doesn't have an optical drive, either.
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