Uh Oh, Steve Ballmer Likes the MacBook Air’s Chances

Ballmer_MacBookAirMicrosoft’s (s msft) Steve Ballmer has an unimpressive track record at predictions, which is why his latest comments should be of concern to Apple (s aapl) and, especially, MacBook Air fans:

Those new ultra-thin PCs, the first of which will be coming later this year and, presumably running Windows 7, won’t be as cheap as $299 or $399 netbooks, Ballmer admitted, but they will combine netbooks’ portability, with some unnamed but higher-sounding prices.

Though the MacBook Air won’t be running Windows 7 any time soon, the rest of the quote is a pretty good description of it. Ballmer had earlier defined this “new” class of PC when speaking at the kick-off presentation for Microsoft’s Financial Analyst Meeting:

Ballmer told analysts there would be a new class of “ultra-thin” PCs” — or high-end netbooks –coming this year that would combine the light weight of netbooks with high-power and high-performance of traditional PCs.

Yep, that’s the MacBook Air alright. Read More about Uh Oh, Steve Ballmer Likes the MacBook Air’s Chances

The MacBook Air Is Doomed

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What Apple (s aapl) fan of small-and-light computing doesn’t remember that Macworld Expo Keynote? The one where, uncovering Apple’s then-latest laptop and holding it aloft, Steve Jobs declared it “the smallest full-featured notebook in the world.” By the self-satisfied smile on his face, you knew Apple was back in the ultra-portable market for good.

Two years and change later, it was canceled.

That would be the 12” PowerBook G4 of 2003 that met its demise in 2005, but what happened then seems eerily familiar in 2009. Since the manila-envelope unveiling at Macworld Expo 2008, the MacBook Air has gotten less Apple Event love than the time it takes Yael Naïm to sing “New Soul.” Phil Schiller spent about 30 seconds detailing a spec bump and a price drop at WWDC 2009, the same event at which the MacBook Pros saw major redesign. It was that seeming indifference to the Air that led me to ponder the history of the smallest PowerBook in relation to the fate of the thinnest MacBook. Read More about The MacBook Air Is Doomed

MacBook Air is the Apple Netbook, End of Story

Apple Announces Netbook! That’s the headline you wanted to see, right? That’s the headline that industry analysts and so-called experts believe Apple must have to remain relevant in today’s economic climate. That’s also the headline you’re not likely to come across unless it happens to be April 1st.

The truth is, Apple already has a netbook on the market, which they’ve been selling for over a year now. It’s called the MacBook Air.

New MacBook Air Lighter On the Wallet

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Despite an incremental speed increase, the biggest update to the MacBook Air at WWDC was the price. The low-end model is now $1,499, down $300, while the high-end model with a solid-state drive now sells for $1,799, a jaw-dropping $700 price drop.

Available in two models, the low-end version now features a 1.86 GHz Intel Core Duo, formerly 1.6 GHz, along with a 120 GB hard drive. The high-end now runs at 2.13 GHz, but more importantly has a 128GB solid-state drive. This is a huge improvement over the low-end model, not in capacity but speed. The problem with the 120GB mechanical hard drive is that it spins at 4200 RPM, resulting in a noticeable performance bottleneck. While the MacBook Air 128GB SSD is no Intel X-25M SSD, it’s still a big leap up from the mechanical hard drive. Apple is clearly addressing a major flaw with the MacBook Air by lowering the price on the SSD model. Unfortunately, that’s the only flaw being addressed. Read More about New MacBook Air Lighter On the Wallet

A New 3G MacBook Air On the Horizon?

Siliconrumors has posted a news item claiming that its “sources” have indicated Apple (s aapl) is preparing some new additions to its MacBook Air family of laptops.

In short, the rumors talk of an integrated 3G radio assembly, allowing connectivity to high-speed cell networks. Also touted is a solid-state drive (SSD) as standard (currently the SSD is an expensive additional option when buying a MacBook Air). Finally, they suggest a price point of between $1,300 and $1,500.

I wouldn’t ordinarily have given this much credence except for the recent apparent consensus in tech journalism reporting (Gene Munster has a LOT to answer for!) that agrees Apple’s much-discussed tablet device won’t see the light of day until 2010.

If Munster’s prediction is correct, it means that Apple must fare another year in an uncertain economic climate. Even with the anticipated next-generation iPhone due to be released this summer, a little more product diversification couldn’t hurt their bottom line. Particularly if Apple tips its hat a little more warmly in the direction of the growing netbook market. Read More about A New 3G MacBook Air On the Horizon?

My MacBook Air’s New Best Friend: Apple 24-Inch LED Cinema Display

macbookairleddisplay1MacBook Air, the skinniest of all the Apple (s aapl) machines, has been my computer of choice since the day I bought it. Rarely have I regretted owning the featherweight laptop, but when those regrets do crop up, they’re typically around the lack of storage space — for at times, the 128 GB SSD isn’t enough. My other big complaint: The 13-inch screen isn’t big enough for optimal productivity. Well, Apple has silenced me by releasing a new 24-inch LED display monitor.
The $899 device takes its design and performance cues from the newly redesigned line-up of unibody MacBooks. Apple says that the 24-inch glossy, widescreen, LED-backlit display is the first to be designed to work exclusively with Apple laptops, part of the company’s move to whittle down its desktop line and increase the emphasis on its portable products. From that perspective, the new display makes perfect sense.
When I first got this monitor to review, I didn’t much care about it. After all, monitor is a monitor, right? But once I hooked it up with my MacBook Air, my opinion changed. In less a minute it turned a skinny MacBook Air into a devil of a machine. Read More about My MacBook Air’s New Best Friend: Apple 24-Inch LED Cinema Display

Fix MacBook Air Streaming Video and Overheating Problems

I’ve been having a lot of trouble streaming video on my MacBook Air recently. No matter which site I’m on, YouTube, Hulu, or Netflix, within a few minutes the video becomes choppy and unwatchable. Fed up with my computer’s inability to complete a task it should be able to handle no problem, I brought her into the Apple (s aapl) store on 14th street in NYC to get repaired…which did not happen.

After I described my problem, and offered up screenshots of the activity monitor showing one of my cores shut down with just Firefox or Safari open, the “genius” looked a my computer for a total of about five minutes before informing me that MacBook Airs were built to be ultraportable and therefore cannot do everything a regular MacBook can, like watch YouTube videos. I was steaming… Read More about Fix MacBook Air Streaming Video and Overheating Problems

Dell’s Adamo Takes a Page From the Apple Playbook

Dell has released the Adamo notebook PC, its entry into the high-end ultra-thin market currently dominated by Apple’s Macbook Air. But while bringing out a $2,000 ”fashion” laptop in the middle of a difficult economy may seem like a mistake, two main things will keep it from being a dud: The trend toward design as a major factor in purchases and Dell’s long-term customer loyalty initiatives.

Apple to Produce 15″ MacBook Air, Continue Missing the Point?

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A number of blogs are reporting on the possibility that Apple might be working on a new, 15-inch model MacBook Air.

The news is based on reports from the hit-and-miss Chinese blog Apple.pro. Apple.pro’s track record, as described by AppleInsider, puts their accuracy in predicting new products at around 50 percent, which is actually fairly high when you look at it in the context of the wider Apple news and rumor community. Leading up to the October Apple notebook event, they produced both real, and fake photos and videos of the aluminum unibody MacBooks, indicating that at least some of their sources are dependable.
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MacBook Air Acting Up, Just in Time for Holidays

The launch of Apple’s new unibody aluminum Macs hasn’t been the smoothest ride, for both the company and its loyal customers. There was disappointment over what didn’t (Firewire) and what did (HDCP) make it into the new machines. The innovative new trackpad design nearly underwhelmed thanks to a glitch that resulted in it failing to recognize clicks every so often. Finally, two graphics-related issues began cropping up in MacBooks and MacBook Pros, problems which Apple is currently investigating.

Click image to see detail

Apparently, the MacBook Air was tired of its bulkier cousins getting all the negative attention. Recent reports from users indicated Apple’s ultra-portable is also experiencing problems associated with graphics output. Machines are being returned to Apple because of “laid” displays, a problem in which faint, horizontal or slightly angled gray lines appear, spanning the entire width of the notebook’s screen. Luckily (or maybe unluckily, depending on your perspective), the lines are said to appear immediately after booting, so you’ll know right away if your machine’s affected. The photo to the right shows what to look for if you’re unsure about your own Air.
Read More about MacBook Air Acting Up, Just in Time for Holidays