The Macbook Air is pretty and dumb


I was listening to the Webcomics Weekly Podcast and Scott Kurtz mentioned that he read a review of the Macbook Air where the reviewer described it as a “great fourth computer for a really rich person.” That pretty much sums up how I feel about the device. It’s a beautiful piece of technology, to be sure, but for all intents and purposes it’s basically useless. I’m not hating. This is not hatred you’re reading. It’s really just…meh. Once the “OMFG it’s thin and pretty!” wares off, there’s no real substance. Kind of like [insert hollywood rehab starlet du jour].

It’s a crippled (or crappled) Macbook. 1 USB port, No Firewire, no Mic/Line in, no Express Card slot, no upgradable memory, mono sound (speaker under the keyboard keys), and no optical drive. “It does’t need an optical drive,” you may say. “Why?” I would counter. “Because Steve said it doesn’t,” you point out. “Oh right,” I mumble. Then I back into a corner and weep. I love how Steve can do that. Just make something reality because he wills it so. “Optical drives are for assholes and pedophiles. You don’t need one. Hell, you don’t even want one.” Suddenly millions of Macboys rip their DVD drives and CD burners from their computer chassis like they were malignant and gangrenous.

I think I like it better if I imagine the Air, not as the world’s thinest laptop, but instead as the world’s biggest PDA, or most expensive, internet browsing cheese slicer. ZDNet says the Macbook Air is perfect for people who get $300 hair cuts… but they say that in a GOOD way. Like, “If you don’t get why this product is perfect, go shove your $40 hair cut up your ass!” TUAW gives a fair assessment stating that the Air is a second computer only and not a replacement for your main machine. I wouldnt consider it a replacement for my…shit, I already used cheese slicer…ok, something else thin and shiny. The only reason I would purchase one would be to put it in the AirMail sleeve and…shaving razor! I should have compared it to a… no, wait. I used that in the comic.

The best thing to come from the Air’s release so far is this post from Fake Steve Jobs.

It’s a no-compromise laptop that has the fastest processor ever invented, the most RAM available on any computer in the world, the best keyboard, the best screen, and the longest battery life of any laptop ever made, plus it’s thinner and lighter than any computer ever created in all of history.

Maybe I’m wrong about the Air. Tell you what. Purchase one and mail it to me with the receipt and I will give it an honest review. While you’re at it, throw in an iPhone. Mine has lost that “new iPhone” smell.

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44 Comments

  1. “Optical drives are for assholes and pedophiles. You don’t need one. Hell, you don’t even want one.” Suddenly millions of Macboys rip their DVD drives and CD burners from their computer chassis like they were malignant and gangrenous.”

    That gave me a great laugh. Clever and witty, this is one of the best webcomics I’ve read. I, myself, have never experienced a Macboy’s smugness and superiority, but when that day comes, I will be prepared.

    • Glad you liked it (glad someone is reading the posts too). Dont underestimate MacFan smugness. You can power a small city with the ego of just 3 Leopard users.

  2. I like this one. The writing is very Penny Arcade (and I mean that in the best possible way).
    The MacBook Pro can get quite hot, I’ll admit. The downside of the aluminum casing, unfortunately.

  3. A great fourth computer for a rich person is right! I can’t afford a new $200 PC from walmart, let alone something that costs nine times that.

    And shit, even if I were to win the lottery, I doubt I’d buy one. A macbook, sure, but not the Air.

  4. Heh.. classic. I’m pretty much in agreement in that I only know 1 person that an MBA might make sense: my mom. She does the bulk of her computing on a desktop and doesn’t need (nor want) a full powered MacBook (or pro)… but occasionally does use my dad’s MBP to read something online. An Air could make sense for her because it’s small, light, etc.

    Of course the price needs to come down a ton.

  5. Most of my beefs with Apple design is that everything just seems so damned breakable. Don’t get me wrong, I’m rather fond of my iMac, but it’s two years old and I still feel like I should wrap it in six layers of bubble wrap every night. I worry constantly about the little scratch on my ipod screen, and I’ve already smashed two pairs of ear buds by, like, wearing them.

    Yet I go back every time, don’t I?

    Still, when the iPhones came out, I was like, oh hells no! One good clatter on the sidewalk and you could kiss your last few paychecks goodbye! Apple doesn’t service acts of idiocy, as my roommate constantly reminds me.

    (That’s why I have a phone that you can throw off a mountain. Or at least that’s what the ad implies and I believe it.)

    So until they make a MacBook Pelican Case edition, I’m sticking with what I have, thanks. I don’t want to carry around a thirteen-and-a-half inch ostrich egg. I don’t care the shell is made out of the hull of a Stealth bomber. One good whack and I’m guessing the Air will snap in half with a sound much like a Ritz cracker with a slight undertone of a plate shattering in a microwave. You know the sound.

    Plus: using another computer to upload software or other disc media is gay.

    • I dont think they are more breakable than other electronics. I think we want them to stay perfect forever. A few scratches on a Dell Laptop or a Creative MP3 player wouldnt make you feel that bad. On an Apple its devastating because the aesthetic is a big part of the experience.

      The good news is the glass screen of the iphone is basically indestructible, as opposed to every plastic iPod screen that would rub itself raw if you looked at it wrong.

  6. Great comic and all, and I agree that the Macbook Air is not a particularly appealing machine, but the only Jobsian argument that seems even slightly compelling to me is the one about the optical drive. It seems like a silly idea, leaving it out, but then again, when they introduced the iMac, without a floppy drive, it seemed like the biggest blunder in the history of the computer industry. I wouldn’t be surprised if the world starts shifting away from optical media in favor of direct download or solid state memory devices. Or something other than CDs and DVDs.

    Still though. The Air may be the first computer to move in this direction, but I still don’t want one. It’s just not worth it.

    • Oh no, he’s right about the optical drive just like he was about the floppy. But in both cases he’s about 2 years too soon.

  7. “more heat than a thousand suns”
    “liquid cooled robot pants”
    “Apple fanboy smugness and superiority”

    Excellent. Excellent. And still more excellent.

    “Caress this shorn badger.”

    Priceless.

    No mere t-shirt could do the phrase justice; I’m thinking a redub of “300” is called for, with Leonidas’ cry becoming “Caress this shorn badger!!!” Yes. That just might do it.

  8. I’ve read a couple of the blogs related to the new Air Book, and the people defending the over priced and under powered machine crack me up.

    Just like with the iPhone, the Air Book appeals to the same people who can find themselves entertained for hours by looking at shiny dangling keys! If they only made the book in glitter, those people would be in heaven!

    • Whoah whoah…back up. The Air is for people with WAY too much money and 10 other computers. The iPhone however is the earthly embodiment of he that knows no beginning and no end. It is alpha and omega. It is mustard and mayonnaise.

  9. I just don’t get the macbook air bashing everywhere. I’m not a fanboy, in fact I only own one apple product: an outdated ipod nano. It’s perfect for what I want a laptop for. Something super portable that I can do a few workish things like spread sheets and documents and watch movies and play music. (I’ve ripped my DVD collection to digital files, shh.. don’t tell the mpaa that I’m using the media I paid for how I want.) I can put a few movies (actually they’re about a gig a piece so lots of movies) on and take it where ever.

    I just don’t know why everyone seems to think apple should have crammed a macbook pro into the air’s size. And for you extra battery packing people. How much you wanna bet that within a week of it’s actual release that there are battery packs o’ plenty that plug in to the power port?

    I just don’t get why so many people are upset about it. WTF?

    • Hal,

      First I must ask you to close the pod bay doors.
      As a non Mac fanboy, this will make absolutely no sense, but here goes: We expect, nay insist, that Steve Jobs piss excellence with absolutely every product offering. The problem for us is that he succeeds at doing just that so often, we get confused and scared when our expectations are not met.

      Since Steve returned, he’s rebuilt Apple’s image into “We make computers that everyone can use for the stuff they want to do.” My biggest issue with the air is that its SUPER elite. Its not for everybody. Its not for me. It might as well be an Xserve for all I care. i just dont have any use for it in the real world. It has uses. it has an audience. But its rare that Mac releases anything that doesnt make every single one of us pull out our wallets and starting blindly handing money to people in black t-shirts.

      I wanted to be blown away and jealous of those that got an Air. Instead Im just really glad that my Pro isnt compeltely obsolete yet because its still the best thing they have to offer. I guess we were hoping for another game changer like the iphone.

      We Macboys are all just fragile, insecure technophiles and we startle easily. Dont pay any attention to our whining.

  10. I’m not gonna bother reading all these other replies. The cartoon was funny, yes, but the low end macbook air is 1.6 ghz.

    My 4 year old g5 ppc tower is 1.6 ghz.

    4 years old.

    Nice comic, I stumbled here, will leave you a thumbs up so other stumblers can enjoy it.

    • hey thanks, Phil. I broke the bank buying 2 Macbook Pros (macbooks pro?) when they first came out so I opted for the 1.8ghz proc. Now Im starting to which for that 2.2ghz upgrade that was available at the time.

  11. Steve is mortal after all. Bummer hey? This was an expensive mistake. And everything was going so well for Mac. Steve must pay……..

    One bad year now and then is inevitable and Steve will pay where he keeps his ideal$…..

    BTW – Only the edges of Air are thin. It’s ass still looks big if you turn it over. OOOWPHF!!!!

    • Yeah, I love that math. “Its the thinnest laptop EVER (at the farthest edges). PAY NO ATTENTION TO THE STANDARD SIZED BULGE IN THE MIDDLE!”

  12. I suppose you could use it as a meat clever when it becomes redundant which of course it will in a short – very short time. . That is progress – the clever is regress……(?)
    I expect to be able to shave with its replacement.

    • No joke, as I pulled up this comment to reply, a Macbook Air commercial came on. I had some sort of witty retort but that little bit of coincidence made me forget it.

      Fail.

  13. I must say that I agree with your review. The MBA is designed purely for those with a large disposable income, and is nothing more than an over-sized blackberry and fashion accessory.

    That being said, it would have its uses if it was a very cheap computer. Some people (Wife, i’m thinking here) don’t use their computers for much more than a bit of browsing, email, and word processing. A light, semi-computer is ideal for them.

    However, at that price, the average consumer should be ashamed for not getting something with some actual computing power and design behind it.

    • “However, at that price, the average consumer should be ashamed for not getting something with some actual computing power and design behind it.”

      EXACTLY!

      Its an awesome piece of EXTREMELY EXPENSIVE hardware.

  14. OK, been busy & got behind, so forgive the late entry, but damn! that second panel – my eyes kept fighting, trying to make it stop being blurry. My eyes are still vibrating..

  15. We might be complete strangers, but I read your comic obsessively, and usually laugh so hard I wake up roommates, nearby sleeping cats, and occasionally, the horrifying sea monster that resides in a nearby lake. Thank you, dear friendstranger, for all the glee you have brought into my geeky, geeky life.

    • forthesun,

      I really do appreciate the kind words and your enthusiasm for HE. Im not kidding when I say that reading comments like this makes that late nights and self imposed deadlines worth it. Congrats on the impending graduation. The world is a terrifying and horrible place…oh wait, you’re in Canada. I’m sure you’ll be fine.

      -Joel

  16. Best. Comic. Ever.

    Seriously, it's one of my all time favorites. I was just re-reading it after purchasing my iPhone this weekend just past and I only just noticed the 'new iPhone' smell! I don't know what it is, but I like it.

    How on earth do you notice that a phone has a smell. Perhaps I don't want to know.

    • Keith,

      Welcome to the fold! Expect your cloak and decoder ring in the mail shortly. Im glad you enjoyed this comic. Im sure it too has lost its new comic smell, so i suggest you read a newer one.

      PS
      What you dont want to know is how familiar I am with the new iPhone taste.

  17. yes, optical drives are dumb, I don’t need one… apparently. If I did, the one that came with my macbook pro wouldn’t have died 5.5months after I bought it… right? But the new one worked fine. For about 5.5months (new I should have bought the extended warranty). The air looks nice, but I think I’ll buy a car instead.

    This comic is really great. But you guys need a joke about Soy Lattes from BarSucks because all web designers would die without them. And that’s funny.

    :o|

  18. Call me crazy, but I LIKE my hand-cobbled Frankenstein's Monster style computers. A few new bits here and there, toss on some Linux and we're golden.

    Not hatin' Macs at all … just … poverty.

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