Video confirms ease of MacBook Air battery replacements

Posted:
in Current Mac Hardware edited January 2014
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.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 27
    crebcreb Posts: 276member
    Well that explains why there is no externally accessible battery.
  • Reply 2 of 27
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    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.
  • Reply 3 of 27
    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
  • Reply 4 of 27
    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.
  • Reply 5 of 27
    outsideroutsider Posts: 6,008member
    I can imagine some enterprising company making replacement bottom cases that give the bottom a hole for replacing the battery (even a bigger battery).
  • Reply 6 of 27
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    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.
  • Reply 7 of 27
    ...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?
  • Reply 8 of 27
    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.
  • Reply 9 of 27
    jeffdmjeffdm Posts: 12,946member
    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.
  • Reply 10 of 27
    kolchakkolchak Posts: 1,398member
    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.
  • Reply 11 of 27
    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.
  • Reply 12 of 27
    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?
  • Reply 13 of 27
    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.
  • Reply 14 of 27
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    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.
  • Reply 15 of 27
    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. *
  • Reply 16 of 27
    haggarhaggar Posts: 1,568member
    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.
  • Reply 17 of 27
    outsideroutsider Posts: 6,008member
    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.
  • Reply 18 of 27
    junkiejunkie Posts: 122member
    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.
  • Reply 19 of 27
    crebcreb Posts: 276member
    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.
  • Reply 20 of 27
    junkiejunkie Posts: 122member
    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.
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