The Speculist: The MacBook Air Compromise


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The MacBook Air Compromise

A few days ago I described a laptop for "end-of-year 2009."

Closed it's impossibly thin - maybe a quarter inch thick. You open it up and the upper half is entirely screen. The lower half is keyboard and touchpad...

Ten days later it now looks like I was describing the MacBook Air:

This really is a thing of beauty. But to make the device this thin a couple of compromises were made. It has no optical drive. They argue, somewhat convincingly, that you won't miss it. You can get an external drive if you like, but they are pushing the idea that you can use the optical drive of other computers wirelessly.

The other compromise is that there are no built-in stereo speakers. There's a mono speaker. But Apple really envisions you using earbuds or plugging into a stereo.

In a way, this is what I'm already doing with my latest laptop. The stereo quality of my new machine is less than my last because the thinner profile meant smaller speakers. The MacBook Air just takes this compromise to the ultimate end. Why bother with built-in stereo if the quality is bad?

Maybe the next generation MacBook Air will incorporate stereo into the screen with SurfaceSound technology.

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