Laptops

Cracking Open the Apple MacBook Air

Hard drive

The hard drive is wrapped in rubber and foam to reduce shock to the drive.

About

Mark Kaelin is a CBS Interactive Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He is the host for the Microsoft Windows and Office blog, the Google in the Enterprise blog, the Five Apps blog and the Big Data Analytics blog.

126 comments
vitec
vitec

Question? Where can I get the tool that apple uses to undo the screws? Please reply to vitec@hamilton.edu Thank You. Jim

harry
harry

Seem to remember Sony doing this a few years ago.

Slvrknght
Slvrknght

I find it curious that as soon as someone mentions Mac, or Apple, that there instantly erupts a "Mac Sucks" vs "PC Sucks" vs "No one is forcing you" argument. Why can't we all just get along?

hchun
hchun

Apple's MacBook Air contains a Silego clock chip! Herbe Chun, Silego hchun@silego.com

greg
greg

Still reading, but the tripping over the chord thing... that's cool. I have that happen all the time. Apparently the Author either has a better battery then me, or relies on it more. I always plug in when I can and there are kids running around or other people in the coffee shop, etc. so I think, next to wireless power, this is the next best thing & very cool!

kumar.sachin05
kumar.sachin05

Bye it for looks but not for excellent performance, notice: it has short battry backup.

street-199
street-199

It would be really good if you could view the series of photos without having to scroll down after every photo loads!!!

Master G
Master G

I tested drive this machine - you can only browse internet, listen to music watch movies and check your emails. That's it! very simple for a simple non-IT person to have one- a very genuine product like other Apple products. One thing that they could've add was an SD card reader since that hardware could fit in a case that thin. P.S. I don't own one but the product is top of the line.

evansuz
evansuz

How do I get one of those kool Tech Republic Coffee mugs...?

doramius
doramius

The trace ribbon from the board to the Hard Drive gives me a strong indication that this drive can only be connected to this style of notebook. If this is true, then it could be a nightmare to retrieve data if the PC craps out.

DNSB
DNSB

I've been present on several occasions when a laptop has been pulled off a table by someone pulling on the power cord. Not sure how much good the magnetic power cord would but nice to see that some attempt is being made to prevent such accidents.

dddavids
dddavids

Did you try to put it back together?

macbill
macbill

You had to take a cheap shot about Apple power cords being tripped over all the time. Stupid remark. I've never been in a plane crash, but they happen. You probably don't run anti-virus software on your computer, because you'd rather remove a virus than prevent it. Truly dumb thinking, but it's the kind of plodding, mind-mumbingly boring traditional thought processes I expect from Winblows users.

yourvoffice
yourvoffice

I have never had an Apple computer. I really don't know anything about them but this one makes me want to run out and buy one! Very sleek looking.

ExCorpGuy
ExCorpGuy

The whole PC vs. Mac debate is IMHO just like the debate of automobile makers. The Ford vs. Chevy or BMW vs. Mercedes is best for reason X, Y and Z. Really, in computers, automobiles and almost every other product made, there are advantages and disadvantages to each. I personally started out many years ago earning a living selling, using and supporting Windows PCs and Servers. I still use XP in a VM on my Mac Pro. I use what I need to get the job done. I had to use XP in my laser business because the vendor only supplied the print driver (as of now) for Windows. I have spent literally countless hours supporting Windows environments over the years. Today I use a Mac as my main system. I use both because in my circumstance it works best for me. Others, however, may find that they are better suited with Windows, Linux, UNIX, OS/2 or an abacus. I suggest using what works for you and leaving all the X is better than Y FUD out of the discussion. You likely will not convince anyone unless they try other options with an open mind anyway no matter what the OS or machine.

Network_Gremlin
Network_Gremlin

That is because everyone is stubborn and feels their way is always the best. Each is their own...and too childish to give kudos to either side. PS, I perfer PC's over Macs any day, but I have to admit the Air is a nice consept on what they need to do, they just now need to fix the flaws.

support
support

As usual many folks have missed the point of this product - IT'S NOT FOR EVERYONE! It's NOT a desktop replacement. It IS an ultralight, ultra thin, notebook computer that is very competitively priced with other notebooks of this sort. See here for more details - http://www.appleinsider.com/articles/08/01/22/how_the_macbo ok_air_stacks_up_against_other_ultra_light_notebooks.html Some other details - 1. The case is aluminum, not plastic. 2. The hard drive is the same one used in the iPod. Because if the size of the drive, 5mm high, the manufacturer limits the capacity to 80 GB. 3. If you need more ports, bigger hard drives, and more weight, select another notebook computer. 4. If you absolutely feel you need a CD/DVD, Apple sells an external for the Macbook Air. Most people don't. To install software you use the Remote Disk function - see here: http://www.apple.com/macbookair/wireless.html

wrnewman
wrnewman

Amen! I'm an expert scroller but I'd rather not. :-) Seems a little web page innovation could remove this annoyance. Pop-ups anyone?

CCBluebird
CCBluebird

I tend to agree. It seems to me it's more of a R&D exercise than a serious bit of kit. If it was a motor car it would have the word 'concept' firmly attached :0)

phorst
phorst

If I had the money, this would be my notebook. I love the portability! I do, however, have a few concerns... How long does the battery last? What is the boot up speed? How on earth do you install new apps? Did Apple make all of the accessories that we need to plug into that one USB? (Things like a CD/DVD drive) I guess that wasn't the point of the article, but I would love to know!

d.sinfield
d.sinfield

I got a bit 'over-excited' at cracking a recalcitrant but and kicked a very expensive HP laptop across the room. Trashed it totally.

golncor
golncor

do you not have a deep fryer with such a connection. doesn't take alot of pressure to make it disconnect. It has enough strength to handle some movement while connected but if enough force ( a yank or more ) were applied it just comes off the pad. As long as you have a battery in the unit, it will not disrupt your work as you can just re-attach it but it will definitely keep someone from yanking your machine to the floor.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin moderator

It is all back together and working fine. It is sitting on my desk waiting for me to give it something to do.

manuel_roman
manuel_roman

LOL the problem is mac guys cant take a joke. No one really believes that mac people trip more than windows people. or do they? lol... Maybe he is right and that is why you are so angry and bitter. lol.

Another Canadian
Another Canadian

Not it is not the windows user, you?re the one that attack us with hey what happen to you ?PC? and ?PC? answer well someone pass just beside me trip in my power cord and "PC" said and you the benevolent (Mac) answer well actually I don?t because I have been built to prevent that and you of course don?t mean (better faster stronger and smarter and more beautiful). How is that for a none attack, none smearing toward us the poor user of "PC" you that have reinvented the design to a point that we the PC user must said wow how beautiful and functional you are, and how wow when I grow up I want to be free of my windows OS just like you the "Mac". How well no sense of humour when it is time to make a small point, I see from your part loll good thing that Mac is not a religion because the author would have been call a ?blasphemator?.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin moderator

But I am not the one that advertised that the Mac is "better" than the PC because of this magnetic connection -- implying that it will prevent damage because someone trips over the power cable. The idea that I would be persuaded to spend $1000 more on a laptop to prevent the inevitable tripping over the cord problem is silly. The real benefit of the magnetic connector is that is is less likely to wear out with the continuous plugging and unplugging we do to our laptops. That is what Apple should have advertised in their Mac vs. PC TV spot. Lighten up - I like the Apple Air - I just think it is too expensive.

golncor
golncor

Don't lump all 'winblows' users into the same basket. How do you know the user wasn't a *NIX user? I am sure that many other types of users have had their laptop yanked as well. Apple is not the first manufacturer to apply magnetic connectors to their product. Just the first that I'm aware of to apply it to their computers. I can foresee, as well as I'm sure you can, that you will see more of them starting to do so.

jonf
jonf

Anybody who buys this based on how it looks is falling for the classic Apple business model and marketing. It's trendy, it's pretty but will be useless in a year when it breaks (by design). Apples service, QA, product lifespan and durability have a poor track record. Components will die right after your warranty expores. Apple will charge an arm and a leg to fix it or bandaid it. They will charge you double or triple for a PC part that has an apple logo on it and a proprietary connection and some fools will continue to support apple. I'm all about function over form and have never been swayed by Apple marketing. Sony has some really light and small laptops but you never see people going ape @#$% over them. But if Apple has something, wow they are geniuses.

PCTS4YOU
PCTS4YOU

Are you okay? Hopefully your day will get better. Warm Regards, CWS

tronman
tronman

Heh, I've given a few computers flying lessons too, in what could be described as 'not my finest hour' for keeping my temper in check ;-) But back to the topic, you have to hand it to Apple. This thing can't cost very much money to make. It's downright dinky, with very few connectors and really, a very low parts count. I bet the profit margin on this thing is absolutely immense! Plus, there are no really replaceable parts on it, so you just throw the board away and get a new one if it fails-easy repairs. But by that time the case will be trashed anyhow (most likely, if it's actually used as the portable it is intended to be) so probably the intended market segment will just buy a new one instead. Apple can't lose with this one! Not that I'm going to get one, my toddler could kill this thing in about 36 seconds ;-)

wturbyfill
wturbyfill

You are right! There should not even be any other type of connection. The pooh poohers have obviously never had a 100 lb golden rip the cord out of their laptop completely destroying the laptop in the process........ It's kind of like the volvo or other cars where it is impossible to lock your keys in the car cause you need a key to LOCK the car..... DUH Form plus function..... what a novel idea!!!

mfargano
mfargano

I've got a hackintosh I've built that boots with ubuntu and vista. Though I can appreciate how great apple software is. I can see not justification in spending the amount of money they ask for their hardware. 1800 for the base model is way too much. I find it funny that a lot of people I've talked to about the Mac Air want it because it's sleek and portable. Then I tell them about the Asus eeePc and they shy away from it like it's a crazy idea. This bias has come based mostly on the looks, but at the same time if you just want something to surf the net on because you are that casual of a user or need the portability. Why would you spend nearly 2 grand on a Mac air? Plus if I have to carry around an external drive that costs an additional $100 (Should be included IMO) just so i can watch movies or install software on the go, does that not defeat the purpose of having a highly portable device? If I were to get a Mac Laptop I'd go with the Mac Book pro for the same price and actually be able to do something with it.

Tig2
Tig2

I saw it running Leopard with my own eyes. The only downside is that I want one!

sw1968
sw1968

can we have that one again, but in English?

alfarinola
alfarinola

I agree with your statement and had to wanted to elaborate. In my experience the main reason that I have stopped using a particular laptop has usually been that the power connection either wears out, becomes loose on the motherboard or otherwise intermittent. At this point you are usually looking at an expensive repair ($150 or so) or a replacement motherboard. I think that "banana" jacks would be a good, though possibly unstylish and somewhat cumbersome, solution to this problem. Anyway, I never saw one of those wear out!

jk
jk

Jonf you unsubstantiated and unqualified comments about Apple suggest you're a very loyal PC user. I fess up: I'm a mac user have been for over 15 years - in small design consultancies and at larger corporate institutions etc. No idea about iTech or hi tech. Generally I use things till they wear out. I do have a cheap PC laptop and I frequently endure windoze when working at a client's office. So I'm not blinded by 'mac marketing'. I am convinced that macs (as many industry reports substantiate) require significantly less IT attention than their Windoze counterparts. What's more when you own a mac you don't need an IT department to link one to a PC network or to install anything. It all works very easily and very reliably. And the operating system is very classy too. Jonf, I suggest your remarks are way outside 'editorial puff'. Misleading in fact. Yes mac stuff wears out. Eventually. But it also doesn't breakdown quickly - or the minute the warranty runs out as you suggest. And I don't just mean my stuff, I refer to hundreds of macs and users and tens of installations. And as for looks - it's a presentation world. UGLY always comes second. Sorry Jonf. In Apple's case it truly is form that follows function. Right out of the box. Right from the word Go! and it simply gets better from there. Apple software (iworks for example) way outstrips Windoze every way. Any novice can quickly and 'intuitively' produce great looking work. Stuff people want to read. Memorable stuff. Any novice can upload pics from Iphoto to a .mac website in just five clicks. And it looks really great. Apple pro software creates possibilities that simply beggars belief. Let's consider the value of great design, and not just the price. For in apple's case it really is form that follows function. In my extensive user experience I'd suggest the marketing under sells the brand by a lot (USA advertising isn't always the best). I agree Sony make some great stuff. Just not mind-grabbingly memorable, windows-breaking breaking, ground-breaking stuff. The Sony Alpha is another classic example Like the Viao range very, very lovely but no gold medal for innovation. Remember the first time you saw a blue imac?) Okay the outside isn't what makes the inside good. But unlike the book, the way most dumb users (like me) judge Hi Tech - really is by looking at the outside - and reading reviews of course. With Apple the outside is simply an overture to a great 'user experience'. Form follows function every time . _ Play with an iTouch for example, it's addictive. Oh and by-the-way, I cracked the screen on my shiny new expensive top-of-the-range Macbook pro last November. I took it in to the apple authorised repair shop, naturally, expecting to have my wallet emptied with a very expensive fix. A week later I picked up the repaired laptop. They suggested the original screen might have been faulty - oh yea and they didn't like the faint scraping sound the DVD writer occasionally made - so they replaced that too. All for no charge. The MBA is a single minded solution that recognises that installing software is a tiny fraction of the requirement. In that context the 'burner is just dead weight. Don't forget - Apple already make a wireless back up device. Apple have simply taken a good hard look at PC peripherals and decided they're, well... peripheral. Please amend your view Jonf. It's apple that's dragging the PC world into the 21st Century. By innovating. And that has to be good. Even if it's like crossing your arms the wrong way sometimes. JK Graphic Design, etc..

Captain Slog
Captain Slog

Best solution is to not let your toddler touch it!

ralph.wahrlich
ralph.wahrlich

> I find it funny that a lot of people I've talked to about > the Mac Air want it because it's sleek and portable. > Then I tell them about the Asus eeePc and they shy > away from it like it's a crazy idea. The eeePc appears to have its own limitations - two obvious ones are a much smaller screen and keyboard. Plus the CPU clock rate is 900 MHz (and according to Wikipedia is factory underclocked to 600 MHz). If you're into 'net surfing - sure, the eeepC might be reasonable, but on its 800 x 480 display, a lot of today's websites might fall a bit short. (Haven't tried one myself though). > This bias has come based mostly on the looks Really? What about the overall package? Ease of use, reliability, good software, etc. Anyway... why *not* have something that looks cool? Or, just simply tidy and well-laid out? I've got a white 17- inch 2006 iMac at home, and it fits in well with the rest of our living room. Who wants a horrid PC tower/pizza box, with a gazillion wires everywhere? (The cable modem box is bad enough, but luckily it tucks away nicely behind a shelf). Apple may cost a little more than the rest, but perhaps a purchaser should look at the whole package. Judging by the quality of the numerous Macs I've worked with over the last 5-6 years, there's some good, solid R&D behind them - and, just maybe, that *is* worth paying for. I'm not claiming they're perfect - but they're pretty good, and it would take a lot of work to get to that point. IMHO the price is much more competitive these days, and the computer and OS just keep getting better. I wouldn't go anywhere near a Windoze laptop, but would consider a Linux one. > Plus if I have to carry around an external drive that > costs an additional $100 (Should be included IMO > just so i can watch movies or install software on > the go does that not defeat the purpose of having a > highly portable device? Installing software? Seems like a rather unproductive way to spend your computing time on the go. How about just using the software? Movies? Ditto. In any case, couldn't they be downloaded and watched in iTunes? Or what about a iPod? Backing up over wireless would probably be a bit slow, but I think users would get used to that, and arrange their workflow accordingly. Hopefully Apple have got a good set of tools to help. But I could see myself buying the extra drive for making backups to DVD. I commend Apple for once again pushing the envelope, in style. The only thing I'd like to see would be wired ethernet; here in New Zealand wireless doesn't seem as well established and widespread as the U.S. But it's you can see that Apple are looking to the time when wireless becomes the norm, and that's probably a good strategy. Just my two cents worth! :-) Ralph.

larry
larry

No need to drag around the external drive - play the movies with iTunes. I download my DVD's using VisualHub, a 3rd party program that will import store- bought DVD's to the format necessary. I use TuneRanger to sync the iTunes libraries between my computers. TuneRanger is cross platform. Eventually you should be able to rent the video you want and have it wirelessly transfer to the MacBook Air. It's like an iPod Video.

DNSB
DNSB

You can tell the techs from the boys by the price of their toys.

Capt. Karl C. Helo Agathon (BSG-2003)
Capt. Karl C. Helo Agathon (BSG-2003)

Which is true about Windoze, OSX AND *nix. There are some scenarios where I'd ONLY recommend a win system, and the same is true about OSX and *nix. I use a Mac because most of the things I do I can do easier on a Mac, and yes, I have WinXP on there as well for things that Windoze does better. The fact is that you can't just bag OSX or *nix and say windows does it better, because in some situations, that's true, but in others, it's not even remotely close to the truth...

lucien86
lucien86

Lets be brutally honest, you can play games on your Mac because its really a PC with a Mac logo stuck on it. I remember the old Mac's and they were slow slow slow - unless you had a stupendous amount of money. I agree about IDE's though but I loath Linux too - if only for it's bizarre filing systems, horrible syntax and labyrinthine complexity. A few years ago I experimented with being a Direct X programmer and that was a complete nightmare. The Mac version I remember as a toy that tried to stop you doing anything serious but its over ten years since I even touched it. Lets face it their all bad.

Capt. Karl C. Helo Agathon (BSG-2003)
Capt. Karl C. Helo Agathon (BSG-2003)

http://pcworld.about.com/news/Jun302003id111397.htm There are a few things about the Sharp that was good, but it god bad reviews all over the place. Your post is not only ill-thought-out, but if you were marketing it, it'd be classed as False Advertising. Here's the truth: 1) Weight Mac: 3lbs Sharp: 2.1lbs (2.6lbs with battery upgrade. 2) Battery (Average use according to vendor) Mac: 5hrs (Realistically, a bit over 3.5) Sharp: 2.9hrs (up to 9 with 1/2lbs $200 upgrade) 3) Looks) Mac: Everyone agrees the macs are flashy Sharp: Just like a sharp Laptop, but smaller. There's just no way you can compare the two. As for gaming, I've already said I play games on my mac. I've installed XP and run games from windows while on OSX V.10.5 and, because OSX doesn't bottleneck its processes and uses its resources more efficiently, they run better than on a simarly specced Windoze based PC. As for programming, most serious programmers do it on Linux, and both Windows and MacOS get a back seat.

Capt. Karl C. Helo Agathon (BSG-2003)
Capt. Karl C. Helo Agathon (BSG-2003)

I agree, for the MOST part, with what you have said here rm3sweet. there's not a whole lot that's "Groundbreaking" about the MBA's hardware itself. It's the way apple has applied already existing hardware to fit a specific purpose, as they have a habit of doing, that's amazing. The 120GB drive had a vibration issue that Apple's engineers didn't like, even with the padding. The 80GB didn't encounter that prob, and the space limited them to 120GB as the max. And yes, it is cool. It's a very good peice of hardware with a very small market. you ask what good it is? With the good battery life and lightweight portability, it's perfect for Businessmen/Execs/Lawyers and people in those kinds of Professional industries who need light, powerful and with a battery that's not going to die just after the lid has been opened. They don't need all these extra bells and whistles when it means they're going to be lugging around close to a Desktop anyway when they want something easy to use on the go. I have already sold over thirty of these to professionals in these industries alone, which is my primary business focus. "Bottom line, it's cool. Not for me, but cool..." Truer words were never spoken! It is a cool piece of technology, but it's not for many people in this discussion, if any at all. It has a purpose, so people, please stop saying "It's crap! I'd never use it!" because that's not the point. You might not, but in other situations/professions, it's a God-Sent.

lucien86
lucien86

Of course the mac is more elegant and beautiful, it is but a toy. A toy for executives to sit on their nice polished desks yes?. The pc is ugly and clumsy but its a much stronger development environment, and besides PCs have become so much better since XP. I use my machine for games as well, how many games on the mac? how well do they run?. Universe at War, Bioshock, Stalker, Supreme Commander, Half Life, Crysis, Unreal Tournament III, the Experiment, - even the odd game that you can get on mac gets no where near the support its PC version gets - and more support = better game. As for small glitzy notebooks what about the Sharp Transmeta Crusoe range of a few years back? They beat the mac Air hands down on size looks and quality - and the battery lasts about 8 - 11 hours between charges.

rm3sweet
rm3sweet

It's funny how forums such as this always turns into "MAC is superior", "PC's rule". My questions are on the merits of design and function. What good is something that looks cool but doesn't get the job done. Much like a fake television in a furniture store. Not exactly High Definition. I'm sure the "Air" will have it's place in the market but for who? This will be decided by the consumer not the die hard MAC fan. If it works for you great if it don't, don't buy it. I am a bit perplexed as to why they would state that the 80gb 4200rpm drive was choosen because of space limitations. It's the same 2.5" drive in my Toshiba! Which has a 120gb 7200rpm drive. One last note there was a question as to the form factor of the drive because of the ribbon connection. It's a serial drive with the connector reduced to a flat ribbon. Which is basically current drive technology not ground breaking future tech as some have lead on to be. Bottom line, it's cool. Not for me, but cool. Can't bring myself to spend hundreds of extra dollars just for cool.