The MacBook Air Tugs at My Heartstrings

The iPad 2 is a fantastic device, especially when you own an older MacBook. However, if a new MacBook Air comes into your life, it’s suddenly a battle for your heart.

I’ve been using an iPad ever since they started shipping in April 2010. It’s been a constant companion, especially when I’m in front of the TV set. Once, when I was sick, I watched an entire movie with the iPad on my lap, lying on the sofa. (Well, Cashback with Emilia Fox if you must know.) The iPad is everything we’ve all said it is. And more.


MacBook Air (13)In July, I was fortunate enough to acquire a 13-inch MacBook Air, 4 GB RAM. It shipped with Lion, and I’ve been using it as a test bed for several Lion tips and how-tos. It’s especially sweet now that I’ve fixed up the login screen and Dashboard backgrounds.

It Must be Love*

And a funny thing has been happening. You see, the MBA replaced an aging 2006 MacBook Pro, and there was just no excitement with that aged Mac. It was cool in 2006, but with 2 GB of RAM and being rather heavy, it was suitable only for work when I wasn’t at my work desk. Routine stuff. Yawn.

Imagine my surprise when I realized that the MBA is out and out fun. It’s slim. It’s light. It has a lighted keyboard for those dimly lit evening trysts. It offers me the UNIX command line. I’m getting seven or eight hours on a charge, so I never really have to use it with the charger. (That’s a game changer.) It’s fast — I mean really fast. It has no internal moving parts, so it’s a quiet beauty. All of a sudden, the MacBook Air leaps beyond being a mere sucessor to the old MacBook Pro. It has a new, lovin’ feeling about it.

Back in April, during the quarterly earnings report, Apple’s Tim Cook recalled something that Steve Jobs had said before:

If the Mac company were a separate company, and the iPad company were a separate company, what would the Mac company build to compete with the iPad? And I think the answer is the MacBook Air.”

Just wow. Apple did exactly that. The MacBook Air with Lion feels special in your hands. It has that certain heft and stiffness. The aluminum feels warm and smooth. It opens up to a beautiful screen that already has a keyboard attached. It lures you into its exotic lair and holds you there, transfixed by its elegance and beauty And it even knows exactly, to the second, what time it is. By contrast, an iPad, especially when embedded in some kinds of cases, is, well, just a disembodied display.

Of course, you can do wonders with an iPad, but Apple knows, very keenly, the difference between what a MacBook Air can do and what an iPad can do. The MBA design cleverly emphasizes that very subtlety. Achieving that is deep a concept, a Zen, and it goes beyond words.

The MBA reaches out and tugs at my hearstrings. It makes me want to use it, sometimes even when the iPad is nearby. That’s design brilliance.


* by Rickie Lee Jones