What can we expect for the MacBook Air?

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited January 2014
My first thought was, where are the ports? That's so crippled. My second thought was where is the 3G mobile connectivity and associated contract with AT&T?



1. On the first thought, actually the ports Apple provides are quite satisfactory for purpose which the MBA fulfils. Much like the first iBook was low on ports I'm sure the next revision will address this to a certain degree including the lack of optical audio out. It would have been nice if the USB was doubled up and a little more accessible (unlikely to change). HDMI would have been the obvious choice for me as a small display connection. Micro DVI was disappointing. I can't see Apple doing this. They like users to have 1001 hub, cables and connectors in a laptop bag.



2. I think that lack of any cellular connectivity was what surprised me most. Now that Apple has the technology in house, and with features like Back To My Mac enabled it just seemed obvious nowadays that I would want to use the Internet anywhere and especially with the low storage capacity on a SSD the ability to access files remotely is more important. I wonder if the 3G networks aren't up to the amount of data a laptop user would use over say and iPhone user. It says on the Apple web site:



Quote:
Originally Posted by http://www.apple.com/macbookair/wireless.html


It all starts with the fastest-available, next-generation 802.11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR built in. And that?s just the beginning of the unprecedented wireless capabilities of MacBook Air.



Well there is nothing else wireless outside the WiFi and BT (unless you count IR) on the MBA, let alone nothing unprecedented.



Personally I like the MBA but think it needs a couple of revisions until it's a true great Apple laptop.



cheers



mrtotes

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 19
    bergermeisterbergermeister Posts: 6,784member
    Owner of an MBA here.



    I love it as it is and do not in any way feel it is crippled and I am a pro user, but do see some room for improvement. As Apple uses its sales to suggest, lots of people are very happy with the Air.



    Firstly, as a pro user, I must say the MBA does not, repeat not, again: not need any more USB ports. One is fine. I have now been using my Air for two months and have not once needed a second port. I work in audio and video.



    Needed in the future:

    - HDMI

    - an external (ie, on the case) battery meter



    If you need the extra memory, take along an iPod. It is faster than cellular. On second thought, then some people would demand a third USB port.
  • Reply 2 of 19
    coreycorey Posts: 165member
    80gb is unacceptable or I would own one.



    Firewire 800 was needed as well.



    IMHO
  • Reply 3 of 19
    tailpipetailpipe Posts: 345member
    Am i correct in thinking that USB 3.0 will allow video signals to be transmitted effectively? If this is the case, then Apple could forego the DVI slot and allow an external monitor to be attached via a USB port. in other words the MacBook Air could have two USB ports without major design changes. Just a thought.



    Whether this happens or not, I have to agree that the MacBook Air is already an exceptional machine. With the first revision due in September, when Intel launches the Penryn ULV chip, running at 1.86 Ghz but drawing less power to deliver slightly more power, we should a slight increase in performance with a corresponding slight increase in battery life. But the really important development will be a larger capacity SSD, from 128 to 160 Gb, depending on supplier. Once the MBA gets 100 Gb plus of hard drive capacity it starts to become more viable.



    By this time, the new MacBook and MacBook Pro should be with us, so it is going to be very interesting to compare specs. A slimmer MacBook Pro (i.e. thinner than existing model) would make a very compelling case versus the MBA if it has lots of ports and an inbuilt DVD player.
  • Reply 4 of 19
    how about a 64GB SSD in the low end model @ September. Hopefully 1400x900 displays will be relatively common-place by then too.
  • Reply 5 of 19
    mjteixmjteix Posts: 563member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Tailpipe View Post


    Am i correct in thinking that USB 3.0 will allow video signals to be transmitted effectively? If this is the case, then Apple could forego the DVI slot and allow an external monitor to be attached via a USB port. in other words the MacBook Air could have two USB ports without major design changes. Just a thought.



    Whether this happens or not, I have to agree that the MacBook Air is already an exceptional machine. With the first revision due in September, when Intel launches the Penryn ULV chip, running at 1.86 Ghz but drawing less power to deliver slightly more power, we should a slight increase in performance with a corresponding slight increase in battery life. But the really important development will be a larger capacity SSD, from 128 to 160 Gb, depending on supplier. Once the MBA gets 100 Gb plus of hard drive capacity it starts to become more viable.



    By this time, the new MacBook and MacBook Pro should be with us, so it is going to be very interesting to compare specs. A slimmer MacBook Pro (i.e. thinner than existing model) would make a very compelling case versus the MBA if it has lots of ports and an inbuilt DVD player.



    I don't believe the 15" MBP will be that much slimmer and lighter that it could make a compelling case versus the MBA.



    Apart from a little more oomph and better battery life from the Montevina cpus/chipset, the main concern will be storage:

    - will a 100-160GB 5mm 1.8" HDD be available?

    - what will be the price of newer 64-160GB SSD?



    IMO, is offering 1.60/1.86GHz cpu choice relevant since the price will be similar ($284-316)?

    Why not offer only the faster one and offer more storage choices:

    - 100-160GB HDD

    - 64-160 SSD



    USB 3 is not yet mature and I hope that it will never be used as the only video out on any computer.
  • Reply 6 of 19
    mrtotesmrtotes Posts: 759member
    I actually maintain that the only thing really missing from the MBA is the 3G wireless connectivity. Sure I'd like a second USB and a HDMI port but they aren't deal breakers.....
  • Reply 7 of 19
    tailpipetailpipe Posts: 345member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mjteix View Post


    USB 3 is not yet mature and I hope that it will never be used as the only video out on any computer.



    Please explain.
  • Reply 8 of 19
    samnuvasamnuva Posts: 225member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Corey View Post


    80gb is unacceptable or I would own one.



    Firewire 800 was needed as well.



    IMHO



    By an 160 GB Classic. Problem solved.
  • Reply 9 of 19
    gongon Posts: 2,437member
    I'm not interested in MBA personally for exactly two reasons: too big, and no ethernet. 12" was good for me, just a tad smaller would be perfect. As it stands I have no reason to switch from a low end Macbook to a MBA, other than weight.



    But I don't really expect these things to change, as going back on ethernet would admit failure in the original design, and Apple is stubborn on form factor as well. If you don't subscribe to their idea of exactly what *one* form factor serves *everybody* best at a given time, screw you.



    I think they, once again, sacrificed usability and added points of failure to pay for their idea of what looks cool. MBA doesn't fit anywhere it would not also fit if it was less of a flattened shovel shape and more of a wedge or sloped block of the same maximum thickness and weight. That would have allowed a more normal assortment of ports, including ethernet, while not requiring a gimmicky mechanical part to reach the ports.



    What to reasonably expect: ultra low voltage processor (which a lot of their competition offered years before the MBA came out), maybe builtin wireless data for the US, longer battery life.
  • Reply 10 of 19
    fishyesquefishyesque Posts: 725member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Samnuva View Post


    By an 160 GB Classic. Problem solved.



    Awesome.
  • Reply 11 of 19
    bergermeisterbergermeister Posts: 6,784member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Gon View Post


    I'm not interested in MBA personally for exactly two reasons: too big, and no ethernet. 12" was good for me, just a tad smaller would be perfect. As it stands I have no reason to switch from a low end Macbook to a MBA, other than weight.



    But I don't really expect these things to change, as going back on ethernet would admit failure in the original design, and Apple is stubborn on form factor as well. If you don't subscribe to their idea of exactly what *one* form factor serves *everybody* best at a given time, screw you.



    I think they, once again, sacrificed usability and added points of failure to pay for their idea of what looks cool. MBA doesn't fit anywhere it would not also fit if it was less of a flattened shovel shape and more of a wedge or sloped block of the same maximum thickness and weight. That would have allowed a more normal assortment of ports, including ethernet, while not requiring a gimmicky mechanical part to reach the ports.



    What to reasonably expect: ultra low voltage processor (which a lot of their competition offered years before the MBA came out), maybe builtin wireless data for the US, longer battery life.



    Then why is it selling so well?
  • Reply 12 of 19
    gongon Posts: 2,437member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Bergermeister View Post


    Then why is it selling so well?



    Being the smallest laptop that runs OS X probably helps. How should I know?
  • Reply 13 of 19
    fishyesquefishyesque Posts: 725member
    How much effort is REALLY being put into finding a new solution to batteries?



    When it comes to battery life, it seems like no progress has been made for quite some time.
  • Reply 14 of 19
    coreycorey Posts: 165member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Samnuva View Post


    By an 160 GB Classic. Problem solved.



    I have a 350GB MacBook Pro. I would just like the smaller Air. But 80GB in todays age is WAY too small and w/o firewire 800 externals are slow.



    I'm hoping Apple gets my $ on the next round. Or better yet makes something even smaller.
  • Reply 15 of 19
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,695member
    It is interesting that the MBA came out just about the time I started to look seriously at the purchase of a laptop. Let me say right off the overall form factor impresses but for me the device died an ugly death over the details.



    The first detail is that built in battery. Sorry folks but if you keep your hardware for more than a couple of years that is simply a big negative.



    Second is the lack of ports, here I see some amazing stupidity on Apples part. For example no Audio in. Granted the space is limited but they could have standardized around the connector used on iPhone. Since one of the desired features is to be able to easily support things like Skype, especially in an ultra portable, this seems like a huge mistake. Then we have the lack of a real Ethernet port to deal with



    The issue of storage is a weak third. The reason I say weak is that that is something that can be upgraded as technology improves. It does kill the platform at the moment though as I've already used 100GB on my MBP and have only had that for 3 months now. The machine might be fine right now as a platform that you use as a second machine but I find the storage limitation to be too severe for a primary machine. By the way NO an external device does not change the equation.



    If Apple could address the issues of the battery, Ethernet and storage I'd be more inclined to buy into the platform. Right now it just doesn't do it for me.



    The expense of the unit is also an issue. It does bother me to pay so much for so little. The messed up value equations still has me believing that we will see a lot of Mac Book Air's on the market cheap in a years time. Mainly because I suspect Apple will address some of the complaints and with in a year we should see some dramatic changes in technology.



    Dave
  • Reply 16 of 19
    Macbook Air... I have a love hate relationship with that thing. When you boil it down and think about what you're actually paying for, it doesn't come out that great. Here's how I look at it. If you compare the entry level MBA directly to the entry level MacBook and compare prices and specs. you get a better understanding of what it is that you're exactly paying for. So I'm going to forget that the MBA has a (marginally) slower processor and lacks an ethernet jack, and optical drive (Apple believes these aren't necessary, so we'll assume the same pretense for arguments sake).



    The price difference is $700- (not including tax) between the entry level macbook and the entry level MBA. So what are you getting when you pay that extra $700? You get a slimmer notebook and 1GB of RAM. Thats pretty much it. You also get a smaller Hard Drive and slower processor. But those two are basically what you're paying for. That really helped me put things in perspective.



    What would really make me think twice about a MBA is if it had a smaller footprint (Take the thick bezel away from the monitor and make the edge of the computer begin at the edge of the keyboard), and if it had the option of coming preloaded with software. I know that you can use another optical drive, or plug one in... yadda yadda yadda... but Apple is all about simplicity, right? Right now, I just see a luxury laptop that applies to a niche market.... but not my next purchase. Nope.
  • Reply 17 of 19
    retroneoretroneo Posts: 240member
    Next up is the Montevina platform - which brings the GMA X4500, which should offer improved graphics performance, and the Penryn LV processor at a similar clock speed which should improve battery life marginally.



    We may see integrated 3G (HSPA) now too - it can fit and now Apple has carrier arrangements for 35 countries. These partners would love Apple to add HSPA. Apple has learned their lesson and with the iPhone and built-in HSPA won't be network locked. The MacBook Air would be much more appealing with built in HSPA.



    Expect a halving of price of the SSD option in its next iteration. And a larger 128GB or 160GB option as well. Montevina means the SSD will have to use SATA as the interface.



    I would expect a refresh in the September-October timeframe when the Intel SL9400 and SL9300 become available.



    Battery Life Improvements:

    45nm Penryn LV Processor

    65nm Montevina Chipset

    Cheaper SSD Option



    Performance Improvements:

    GMA X4500 Integrated Graphics

    1067MHz System Bus

    6MB L2 Cache

    SSE4 Instructions

    Higher Performance SSD Drive

    Hopefully Built-in HSPA



    Apple should be able to boost the performance slightly, offer longer battery life and built-in HSPA means the MacBook Air would be more useful to an even wider audience. Don't expect any more external ports apart from a SIM card slot.
  • Reply 18 of 19
    and that 1400x900 13.3" screen please?
  • Reply 19 of 19
    tailpipetailpipe Posts: 345member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by retroneo View Post


    Next up is the Montevina platform - which brings the GMA X4500, which should offer improved graphics performance, and the Penryn LV processor at a similar clock speed which should improve battery life marginally.



    We may see integrated 3G (HSPA) now too - it can fit and now Apple has carrier arrangements for 35 countries. These partners would love Apple to add HSPA. Apple has learned their lesson and with the iPhone and built-in HSPA won't be network locked. The MacBook Air would be much more appealing with built in HSPA.



    Expect a halving of price of the SSD option in its next iteration. And a larger 128GB or 160GB option as well. Montevina means the SSD will have to use SATA as the interface.



    I would expect a refresh in the September-October timeframe when the Intel SL9400 and SL9300 become available.



    Battery Life Improvements:

    45nm Penryn LV Processor

    65nm Montevina Chipset

    Cheaper SSD Option



    Performance Improvements:

    GMA X4500 Integrated Graphics

    1067MHz System Bus

    6MB L2 Cache

    SSE4 Instructions

    Higher Performance SSD Drive

    Hopefully Built-in HSPA



    Apple should be able to boost the performance slightly, offer longer battery life and built-in HSPA means the MacBook Air would be more useful to an even wider audience. Don't expect any more external ports apart from a SIM card slot.



    Nice post. I think you are spot on.
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