Does Size Matter?
By Anthony CARUANA
I attended an Apple product briefing yesterday where some representatives of Apple Australia did a show and tell of the latest products from Cupertino. Obviously, the centrepiece of this display was the "world's thinnest notebook" - the MacBook Air.
Like many, I'm wary of the single USB port, lack of internal optical drive, slow hard disk and limited memory. However, it's hard to not covet one when you star using ut. The screen is crisp and bright (although I'm not a fan of glossy screens), performance was slick (although this was demo unit so it wasn't weighed down with lots of extra apps) and it looked so pretty. As the marketing spiel goes - it does seem to be "impossibly thin".
However, there's already a challenger to Apple's crown - the Lenovo X300. It includes an optical drive, removable battery, three USB ports, and a wired Ethernet port. As well as Wi-Fi there are options for a built-in HSDPA modem and GPS receiver. It'll only come with a 64GB SSD and pricing is likely to be somewhere between Apple's two MacBook Air models.
My question is - is there really a worthwhile market for ultra-thin notebooks? Once the footprint (length by width) reaches a certain size you still need a large bag. In Apple's case, the same carry bag can be used for an Air or a regular MacBook. I know that the MacBook Air and Lenovo X300 are being pitched a particular market (mobile executive, more interested in "show" than "go") but is that market large enough to be really profitable?
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Thin is better than small (unless the device is pocket sized), because the other things you need to pack - file folders, books, magazines, etc - can fit on top of the notebook. Trimming an inch or two off the footprint doesn't give more usable space in a bag, and all my hand luggage is large enough for a 14in notebook anyway.
I've never carried a spare battery, so the Air's internal battery doesn't bother me.
You can see how much thicker the X300 is, just for the sake of including an optical drive that I'd hardly ever use away from my desk.
And you can't (legally) run Mac OS X on the Lenovo!
The Air might not be everyone's ideal notebook, but for some it hits the spot. Remember what people originally said about the iPod mini vs the full sized model?