Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 17th Jan 2018 00:37 UTC
Apple

"It's the world’s thinnest notebook," said Steve Jobs as he introduced the MacBook Air 10 years ago today. Apple's Macworld 2008 was a special one, taking place just days after the annual Consumer Electronics Show had ended and Bill Gates bid farewell to Microsoft. Jobs introduced the MacBook Air by removing it from a tiny paper office envelope, and the crowd was audibly shocked at just how small and thin it was. We'd never seen a laptop quite like it, and it immediately changed the future of laptops.

The unveiling of the original MacBook Air was a watershed moment for laptop. Sure, the first model wasn't exactly a speedy machine, and it had an incredibly hefty price tag, but it changed the entire market. Later models became incredibly successful, and for years it formed the backbone of Apple's laptop lineup. Every other manufacturer would eventually copy most of its design and construction, to the point where every laptop in the €800-1200 range sported the MacBook Air-like design.

It became the benchmark every other similarly priced laptop was compared to.

It's still for sale today, but it's an outdated machine mostly kept around for its low price, ironically enough. Interestingly enough, just today, I bought a new keyboard for my iOS laptop (a 2017 iPad Pro 12.9"), which gives it a look very similar to a MacBook Air - just without the legacy operating system. The spirit of the Air definitely lives on in laptops of the future.

Order by: Score:
How about the Lenovo Thinkpad X300?
by BlueofRainbow on Wed 17th Jan 2018 04:59 UTC
BlueofRainbow
Member since:
2009-01-06

I remember a story that the main design specification for the Thinkpad X300 were that it would fit in a paper envelope like the MacBook Air. The X300 also came to market in 2008.

Reply Score: 5

zima Member since:
2005-07-06

...and it had optical drive (in times when that was still quite important)

Reply Score: 2

Parallel universe
by Odisej on Wed 17th Jan 2018 08:43 UTC
Odisej
Member since:
2006-05-11

I must be living in a parallel universe because I really don't see how Air changed anything for laptops. As I see it was one of many that came at a time when technology allowed for thinner casing. Apple was not alone. If anything: if you want performance for a decent price you did not and do not buy Apple. Nothing much changed since 2008 really.

Reply Score: 4

RE: Parallel universe
by Alfman on Wed 17th Jan 2018 10:46 UTC in reply to "Parallel universe"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

Odisej,

I must be living in a parallel universe because I really don't see how Air changed anything for laptops. As I see it was one of many that came at a time when technology allowed for thinner casing. Apple was not alone. If anything: if you want performance for a decent price you did not and do not buy Apple. Nothing much changed since 2008 really.


Yea, but I'll give them some credit, for people who have a thin technology fetish, apple was at the cutting edge (pun intended). But for those of us in the function over form camp, these industry changes actually represented a decline in functionality/connectivity/compatibility. It's to the point today that even if money weren't an issue (though for me it is), apple isn't selling a single apple computer product I'd be incline to get because it'd represent a decrease in functionality over my current laptop & desktop. Personally I'm a power user, modder, upgrader, etc, and frankly apple has been shrugging off the needs of people like me because they say it's the future. Future or not though, I won't be buying an apple...

I will say I do think apple used to have decent keyboards, especially the layout since they didn't cram everything together. Some manufactures really seem to hate touch-typists! Although apple's ruining this strong point with their zero-depth keys. I don't need an immense amount of depth, but good grief apple you gotta know when to call it quits on the "thinness overrules everything" bandwagon. Come back to sanity, add more ports and eliminate those stupid embarrassing dongles, focus less on absolute thinness and improve the battery & keyboard.

Edited 2018-01-17 10:47 UTC

Reply Score: 4

v RE[2]: Parallel universe
by agentj on Wed 17th Jan 2018 14:37 UTC in reply to "RE: Parallel universe"
RE[3]: Parallel universe
by Alfman on Wed 17th Jan 2018 21:33 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Parallel universe"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

agentj,

It's not a fetish. I (and probably many other macbook buyers) want my laptop to be as light as possible, have long battery life and also look cool - not some fat pig look, especially if I carry it somewhere.


Sure, there are plenty of users who value the thinnest/smallest tech has to offer, just like you. However my point is that in catering to this specific crowd for so long, apple is no longer a premium brand for users like me. For us, compromising requirements just to get something thinner/lighter is not worth it. Not to mention apple deliberately changing connectors all the time is an anti-feature that forces me to buy new peripherals over and over, adding to costs and filling up landfills. Their policy just doesn't align with my own values, but I don't deny they'll always have plenty of people lining up.

IMHO apple products have long been overpriced, but at least you were getting something good for that money, this is no longer the case. You've got people like this guy who are career long apple users. Most want to keep using OSX, which should lean in apple's favor, but the hardware is just too lacking in features and value.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WU7U2kJsQv0


However Apple managed to screw up new MacBook series by not providing at least one USB 3.0 (and maybe HDMI or micro-HDMI) connector. Now if I want to find some connector in electronics store, I head to crApple section first - they will most like have it among thousands of other adapters. Optical drives are useless these days. Surprisingly, after release of MacBook Air and MacBook Pro other companies tried to follow apple, usually with poor results. Unfortunately apple is also slacking now.


Yeah I agree. It's sad but I think companies are better at serving customers when they are struggling to make it. Apple, microsoft, google are sitting at the top of the tech world now; all of them have become complacent. They shrug off user needs without a care in the world. I guess wealth comes with this "we know what's best for you" attitude, but as a consumer it's annoying as hell.

Reply Score: 5

RE[3]: Parallel universe
by nicubunu on Thu 18th Jan 2018 11:25 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Parallel universe"
nicubunu Member since:
2014-01-08

It *is* a fetish. The large majority of laptop buyers look for a good price/performance ratio and maybe solid build and good battery life.

Reply Score: 4

RE[4]: Parallel universe
by darknexus on Thu 18th Jan 2018 15:11 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Parallel universe"
darknexus Member since:
2008-07-15

It *is* a fetish. The large majority of laptop buyers look for a good price/performance ratio and maybe solid build and good battery life.

Ah, if only that were true. Most laptop buyers look for price, and price alone... which is why they often have to buy a new one a year later when something breaks. It's also why their machines start out so full of crapware that their new I5 feels like an Atom. Price is about the only thing they know how to look for, and they let the sales staff do the rest with predictable results.

Reply Score: 1

RE[5]: Parallel universe
by zima on Mon 22nd Jan 2018 09:37 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Parallel universe"
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

Why would they "buy a new one a year later", when the old one is still under warrant for one more year?

Reply Score: 2

nothing amazing
by unclefester on Wed 17th Jan 2018 10:04 UTC
unclefester
Member since:
2007-01-13

The Air wasn't really amazing at the time. It was basically standard Macbook hardware with the DVD and most of the ports missing in a thinner case. Plenty of other business class laptops at the time had similar features.

Reply Score: 5

But not in a good way.
by Carrot007 on Wed 17th Jan 2018 10:22 UTC
Carrot007
Member since:
2008-02-04

Changed things for the worse in my opinion. (Not that it did anything new).

Just focussed on unimportant things. Let's be a small as possible while sacrificing anything useful.

Sorry I want a decent battery, lot's of ports and to this day a optical media device (BR pref but DVD will do).

The changes were not for good reasons either. Let's wean people off optical media blah blah blah.

I don't like otherpeople views imposed upon me thanks.

Edited 2018-01-17 10:23 UTC

Reply Score: 6

RE: But not in a good way.
by ebasconp on Thu 18th Jan 2018 02:57 UTC in reply to "But not in a good way."
ebasconp Member since:
2006-05-09

Completely agree.

That's why I am seriously thinking on replace this 5-years old MBP 13" with a ThinkPad P5x instead of continuing with Apple stuff.

I want to be able to add storage, memory and replace battery in my computers and that is not possible anymore on the MacBooks and, sadly, almost all companies followed the same bad practices.

Reply Score: 4

Comment by smashIt
by smashIt on Wed 17th Jan 2018 10:32 UTC
smashIt
Member since:
2005-07-06

The Macbook Air was nothing special at a time when components were so highly integrated.
The Toshiba Libretto was something special at a time when there were no SoCs.

And to be honest:
The most influential laptop 10 years ago was the Asus EEE

Reply Score: 11

You forgot something
by darknexus on Wed 17th Jan 2018 12:48 UTC
darknexus
Member since:
2008-07-15

Sure, the first model wasn't exactly a speedy machine, and it had an incredibly hefty price tag

You forgot had less than three hours of battery life, and overheated as much as a G5. ;)

Reply Score: 1

RE: You forgot something
by OSner on Wed 17th Jan 2018 13:52 UTC in reply to "You forgot something"
OSner Member since:
2017-09-25

I actually had one and it had none of the problems you describe. ;)

Reply Score: 2

Too bad about the keyboard though
by darknexus on Wed 17th Jan 2018 14:28 UTC
darknexus
Member since:
2008-07-15

I like the look of that Brydge keyboard, but it's Bluetooth. Too bad. If there were a smart connector version, I would grab one.

Reply Score: 0

BushLin
Member since:
2011-01-26

Prior to the release of the Macbook Air you could buy a Toshiba Portege R500 for around the same price.
It was a slim, sub 1kg laptop yet they crammed in a DVD drive (which people cared about in 2007) and unlike the Air, it had enough ports not to require USB dongles and hub for office use.
The low weight came at the expense of rigidity and was a world away from the aluminium Air but for people who don't abuse their machines it wasn't an issue.
Part of me still yerns to own one having bought several for my users at the time. It was a technical feat I didn't see repeated so I make no claims for its influence in hardware design, just that I'd still choose one over anything Apple released around that time.

Reply Score: 7

kurkosdr Member since:
2011-04-11

Prior to the release of the Macbook Air you could buy a Toshiba Portege R500 for around the same price.
It was a slim, sub 1kg laptop yet they crammed in a DVD drive (which people cared about in 2007) and unlike the Air, it had enough ports not to require USB dongles and hub for office use.


And despite all these hardware advantages it failed in the market due to the hog of an OS it run (Windows).

There was no small effort on the part of OEMs to make Windows-based tablets and ultraportables, but the OS just didn't want to live in those form factors, from atrocious boot times and atrocious wake up from suspend times, to everything being ultraslow, even something as simple as browsing for files.

I remember back then a columnist complaining about how his Toshiba tablet PC with Windows XP Tablet PC edition was slow from the day it came out of the factory.

Edited 2018-01-18 21:18 UTC

Reply Score: 0

BushLin Member since:
2011-01-26

What you say has some truth to it but I should say that the main reason this notable laptop wasn't a roaring success was the price. To get the lightest version with 2GB RAM and an SSD was pushed the price up to nearer $3000/£2500.
Sadly, reality meant most units would have shipped with 1GB RAM and Windows Vista which did make the ULV processor seem sluggish. With Windows XP and SSD they were more than fast enough for the intended market at the time; and let's not pretend MS Office was realistic on anything other than Windows at the time on a corporate network, whether that was fair of MS or not.

Reply Score: 2

Morgan Member since:
2005-06-29

Indeed, I remember when dynamism.com focused on importing super-thin ultrabooks before the MBA was announced. They still had DVD drives, though on most models you had to raise the keyboard clamshell-style to access it and keep the device thin. The exorbitant price was all that kept me from getting one of those bad boys.

Then the era of the netbook came, and with it the idea that an optical drive was optional. Nowadays you can get decent 10 and 11 inch "netbooks" for a third the price of the already inexpensive Air.

Reply Score: 3

And in the other direction ...
by softdrat on Thu 18th Jan 2018 02:20 UTC
softdrat
Member since:
2008-09-17

It's not thinness that people care about, it's weight And cost. Before 2008, the two were not compatible. Light weight machines carried a premium price. The Portege was around 3 lb (1.3 kg, same as a Macbook Air - go figure) and my Thinkpad X60s was 3.5 lb (1.6 kg). All carried price tags of around US $2000.

Getting the weight down below that was a challenge. All kinds of novel devices were being developed with the idea of having a fully functioning laptop in a small form factor. They were generally expensive as well, and given the compromises needed to meet the requirement of a small size, none caught on.

Then came the Asus eeepc. It was targeted at the education market, not the average consumer. It was assembled from cheap, off-the-shelf components. The processor was a low-end, underpowered Celeron. The display was one that was designed for DVD players. Still, it had a regular keyboard (abeit cramped, unless you were a kid). At least it was rugged, and it had lots of ports (vga, ethernet, 3 USB). And it had two big qualities that the Macbook Air did not have. It was lighter (2 lb, 0.9 kg). And it was cheap (~ US $300). And it sold like hotcakes.

The next generation, with the atom chip, remedied enough of the drawbacks of the first generation that it sold so well that Microsft was forced to keep XP alive since Vista wouldn't run on it, and Microsoft didn't want to concede that piece of the market to Linux.

Maybe it was just a coincidence, but the rise of the eeepc came about the same time that there was a crack in the market price of lightweight notebooks in particular, and all notebooks in general. Did the Macbook Air have the same level of impact?

My Samsung N150 netbook is still my regular machine whenever I travel.

Edited 2018-01-18 02:23 UTC

Reply Score: 4

You give Apple too much credit.
by tuaris on Thu 18th Jan 2018 18:11 UTC
tuaris
Member since:
2007-08-05

The idea of thin and light laptops was not started by Apple, neither pushed forward. IBM has been doing that with it's Thinkpad line and Palm came up with the concept with it's Folio.

Reply Score: 1