Once upon a 2009 I owned a Sony Vaio mini laptop. The screen was about 8 inches across and the mini keyboard folded over neatly into something resembling a large billfold.
As a journalist, I occasionally cover trade shows, conferences, or meetings where the Sony might have come in handy, especially with the ability to email a story or send tweets in the middle of the show, or from a seat in an auditorium with the Sony on your lap. In fact, the works practically fit in the palm of a hand.
The only problem was that Vaio didn’t work. It took forever, or more like ten minutes to boot, through a series of introductory screens, and even when the home screen finally appeared it was not yet ready to venture into the World Wide Web. Multitasking was out of the question and the poor Vaio even had trouble shutting down so it prompted the user to force shutdowns of various programs, all the while updating itself every few minutes or so.
So, it was with some curiosity when I saw Apple had reintroduced its MacBook Air for 2012. Hadn’t we all already moved on to iPads and tablets? Is anyone looking for a no touch screen laptop at this stage in the game?
I raise my hand. This is the product the Sony Vaio promised and then some. It’s powerful enough to be one’s every day computer, but I’m using it as a portable around the house and for those on site reporting duties.
The first test of a laptop is whether you can work with it on your lap. The MacBook Air passes easily, and the full size keyboard won’t cramp anyone’s typing style. The 11.6 inch screen is just large enough so that it doesn’t feel much different from my “base station,” a 13.3 inch MacBook.
Features include a 1.7GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 engine with 4GB of onboard memory and either 64 or 128 GB of flash storage. There are 2 USB 3 ports, but no CD drive. Whether this is still a necessity is debatable, but external drives can be used to download audio CDs or other programs. The built in speakers are adequate to the task, but with so many options in outboard speakers and headphones, I doubt the onboard speakers will get much use. The only other hookup is a Thunderbolt port that provides support for high-speed I/O and mini-display/port devices.
Musicians will want to note that the MacBook Air comes with a full-featured version of Garage Band. At 2.38 pounds, that’s a whole lot of recording studio in something that can be thrown into a messenger bag.
The backlit keyboard rocks late night jam sessions or term paper all nighters where you don’t want to turn on an overhead light.
In short, with the myriad of devices out there promising touch screen freedom, the best all-in-one solution for writing, surfing and banging out a symphony might be a new fashioned laptop.