The MacBook Air is a superslim ultraportable laptop that you can slip into very thin spaces. As with anything else that Apple crafts, the Air's industrial design is phenomenal. But its beauty is little more than skin deep.
Miraculously, the Air houses a 13.3-inch, 1280-by-800-pixel display; a roomy keyboard; and a double-wide, multitouch trackpad within its petite, 0.75-inch-thick frame. But aside from a headphone jack, a USB port, and a mini-DVI port, it isn't very well equipped. It lacks an optical drive, and to connect to a network via ethernet, you must purchase a $29 USB adapter.
The Air's anodized brushed-aluminum casing is cool to the touch, and even the most anti-Mac person can't help but appreciate it. The gorgeous keyboard's cut-out key design is not only unique but also provides huge keys that feel great. They're also amply spaced, so you won't find yourself bumbling, hitting the wrong keys.
You won't have trouble seeing the keys in dark rooms, either, because, thanks to an ambient-light sensor, the Air adds a subtle background glow to the keyboard when the area gets dark. (The feature works in the preinstalled Mac OS, of course, but not in Vista.)
In the Mac OS, the enormous touchpad adorning the laptop's bottom recognizes multitouch commands, much as the iPhone's interface does--use two fingers pinching inward to zoom in, stroke across the top to navigate pages, and so on. The feature is neat to see in action, but I'd consider it a bigger deal if Synaptics hadn't already delivered drivers that provide somewhat similar functionality for many Windows-based trackpad-equipped laptops.
PCW Rating: 70