Buyer Beware Of The Macbook Air

29Jun08

My wife had a Powerbook G4 which she loved for years.  She refused to upgrade because the Macbook and Macbook Pro designs had too big of a footprint for her.  When the Macbook Air came out, she hesitated, but decided the Air was close enough to what she wanted to warrant an upgrade.  Months later, she really regrets this.

Most people complain about the lack of large harddrive or optical media reader, but on these topics I think Apple’s product decisions make some sense.  Here are some lesser known issues.

The Macbook Air is back heavy.

If you sit it open on a flat surface, most of the weight is in the rear.  This is terrible for a laptop.  My wife finds that everytime she removes her hands the whole thing almost tumbles off her lap.  It would have been better to have the thick part in the front, but I suppose this doesn’t make for as nice of a demo.

Apple apparently does not have any parts in stock.

If your Macbook Air breaks, you are looking at a long wait for a repair.  In my experience, typical turnaround times for Apple on laptop repairs are less than a week, usually around 4-5 days.  The wait time for the Air appears to be somewhere north of 2 weeks.

My wife’s machine’s video card went haywire, and she dropped it off at the local Apple store for repair on June 12.  It has still not come back, although the status indicator finally claims it is now fixed.  A friend who works at Apple told me her co-worker’s Air broke and they experience similar wait times, even though Apple fast-tracks employee repairs.

Four or five days without a machine is liveable for most, but two weeks is a deal breaker.  Mac hardware has a good reputation, but it still breaks.  Every Apple laptop I’ve owned has been repaired at least once during its lifetime, and all the iBooks I had went in multiple times.  The only exception is my wife’s Powerbook G4, which still hums along perfectly.

So if you plan for the Air to be your primary machine, you best keep your old machine around as a backup.

Updated: Corrected the date the Air was dropped off for repair.

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3 Responses to “Buyer Beware Of The Macbook Air”

  1. 1 swissfondue

    If those are the only two gripes, then the MBA doesn’t sound that bad. I wonder how they compare to the positive aspects of your wife’s MBA.

    To read my take on this (I soly my 12″ PowerBook to buy the MacBook Air): http://www.notebooks.com/2008/05/29/macbook-air-user-review/

  2. 2 Al

    I bought a Dell once and it was Dead On Arrival. I sent it back and 3 days later I got a new replacement with a smaller HD and a cheaper battery. I sent it back and 3 days later I got another new Dell with the right configuration back.

    Don’t get me started on the Windows Me OS that was on that Dell. At least you know your MBA will work once it is repaired.

    I would love a MBA but I would not use one as my primary computer. You need something like an iMac desktop, at least, to borrow it’s optical drive and it’s HD storage capabilities. Unless, of course, you bought the external optical drive. But that, I would think, defeats the purpose of the sleek, light MBA, doesn’t it?

  3. 3 metajack

    @swissfondue: If not being able to be used much on your lap sounds ‘not that bad’. To my wife, she’s about ready to sell it at a loss and buy a Macbook Pro even though it is bigger (she can’t stand the sharp edge on the normal Macbook; the Air has a similar sharp edge, but it is not quite as bad).

    @al: That’s true, although if it is like my iBooks, the video card wil be a continual source of problems every year or so. As far as I know, Apple never did fix the iBook video issues in any revision. It was probably just rare enough not to warrant it, and with AppleCare and 4 day turnaround the norm for those, it never really bothered me.



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