Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 7th Feb 2008 22:39 UTC
Apple After reviewing the HDD model, Ars now looks at the SSD variant of the MacBook Air. They conclude: "The USD 1300 question is whether the SSD is worth the extra cash. The answer seems to be no. I experienced only moderate gains in battery life and not very noticeable speed differences. The one major benefit of the SSD model is that it doesn't cause the same types of slowdowns as the HDD model during times of high disk activity, and that's certainly a huge plus. Speedy read times are great, too, but they are balanced out by pokey write times. Still, even if it's more usable, it's hard to justify the huge price difference for the SSD model."
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Typical
by jasutton on Fri 8th Feb 2008 00:29 UTC
jasutton
Member since:
2006-03-28

I see this news as typical for two reasons:

1) Every time a new technology emerges that solves certain problems, it creates problems in other areas. In this case, SSDs improve read performance in most cases while the giving up ground in write operations. These types of new technologies are always exorbitant in price, as manufacturers feel that it's the only way they can recoup their R&D bills. They may be right in doing so, even though I believe they could probably increase profits by introducing at a lower price, thus stimulating the adoption of said technology. But that's an economic issue that could be debated forever. Bottom line here is that, while a year ago, everyone thought that the introduction of SSDs would significantly increase battery life on laptops, SSDs have failed to live up to that expectation. I believe this to be typical of first-generation innovations.

2) The other reason this is typical is that Apple has consistently had high prices on all their products. Apple's profit margins depend on their loyal customer base assuming that if they spend an extra $xxxx on an Apple product, it will always result in receiving a significantly better product. Bottom line here is that Apple is simply introducing a so-so product with a high price tag in order to pin a "we're innovative" tag on itself. Typical Apple move.

Don't get me wrong, I'm really interested in how SSDs will improve in the future, but I don't see them as being viable in the market as long as the price is so high. I'm also not beating up on Apple. Apple is a business, and businesses exist to make money.

Reply Score: 5

RE: Typical
by optimusg4 on Fri 8th Feb 2008 05:13 UTC in reply to "Typical"
optimusg4 Member since:
2005-07-06

Agreed. SSD is an exciting advancement and I hope that Apple doesn't have another Cube on their hands. Time will tell I suppose!

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Typical
by kaiwai on Fri 8th Feb 2008 20:06 UTC in reply to "RE: Typical"
kaiwai Member since:
2005-07-06

Agreed. SSD is an exciting advancement and I hope that Apple doesn't have another Cube on their hands. Time will tell I suppose!


Sorry to sound like the harbinger of doom but given the current economic concerns in the US, and the reluctance by consumers in those countries which are growing to spend the amount of money Apple demands for its MacBook Air, I think they're way out of touch with reality.

I've talked to people who wanted a more portable notebook and all they wanted wasn't this MacBook Air but simply a return of the 12inch Pro model which they used to sell. Its hardly a big proposition, and would have been a lot cheaper to deliver to customers.

Like I said previously, if it were NZ$2999 for a model which included SSD by default, it would be a great deal but right now its nothing more than an expensive white elephant for those who have more dollars than sense.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Typical
by rayiner on Fri 8th Feb 2008 05:20 UTC in reply to "Typical"
rayiner Member since:
2005-07-06

Apple's pricing on the SSD is actually right in line with the price of SSD options on competing notebooks. It's adds $1000 to the price of the Air, just as it adds $1000 to the price of a corresponding Sony subnotebook. And at Newegg, they're $1100-$1600 apiece.

The Air overall is surprisingly price-competitive for what it is. With or without the SSD, the Air is about $500 cheaper than a Sony TZ, while being thinner, having a faster processor, more RAM, and a bigger screen, at the cost of 1/3 of a pound of weight of worse battery life.

Reply Score: 2

This was a workmanlike review
by alcibiades on Fri 8th Feb 2008 07:21 UTC
alcibiades
Member since:
2005-10-12

A decent workmanlike and informative review this one. The original review of the Air represented a further stage in the decline of Ars however, where it started devoting all that space to the packaging the thing came in. WTF, you said to yourself, is this all about? How can the editors be tolerating this stuff? I mean, the assumption that your readers are really going to be interested in the packaging to that extent, what does that tell you? Cultish.

Reply Score: 4

RE: This was a workmanlike review
by miscz on Fri 8th Feb 2008 09:13 UTC in reply to "This was a workmanlike review"
miscz Member since:
2005-07-17

It's when I read stuff like "In the end, however, the install took about five and half hours from start to finish, with a quick swap of install discs toward the end. I was pleasantly surprised (...)" (from recent Infinite Loop blog entry) I think about giving up on Ars Technica :/

Reply Score: 3

Buck Member since:
2005-06-29

Well, try installing Vista over wifi then. You'll be unpleasantly surpirsed.

Reply Score: 2

miscz Member since:
2005-07-17

I wouldn't even try copying 1GB of data over WiFi. It's trying to make this sound like a passable experience that puts me off.

Edited 2008-02-08 19:29 UTC

Reply Score: 2

Funny table header
by zdzichu on Fri 8th Feb 2008 09:27 UTC
zdzichu
Member since:
2006-11-07

In comparison table: ,,Imaginary battery life: 5 hours''. ;)

Reply Score: 3

SSD
by transputer_guy on Fri 8th Feb 2008 15:41 UTC
transputer_guy
Member since:
2005-07-08

Well SLC Nand Flash is headed for much better speeds at least from Micron (joint venture with Intel). At 200MB/s read and 100MB/s write, its about time too (see EET).

Actually #1300 isn't bad for a 64GB SSD, though I hope the market will produce them in much smaller sizes too, 4-8G would suit me fine, just don't store media files on them.

Reply Score: 2