MacDirectory Magazine

Spring-Summer 2008 (#37)

MacDirectory magazine is the premiere creative lifestyle magazine for Apple enthusiasts featuring interviews, in-depth tech reviews, Apple news, insights, latest Apple patents, apps, market analysis, entertainment and more.

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Page 142 of 178

MacDirectory's iWards this year reflect the software and hardware that have most impressed us over the past 12 to 18 months for innovation and overall excellence. And because we really think these are arguably the best products of the year, we have also gone out of our way to probe for their weak points. 142 MacDirectory COVER STORY Apple's MacBook Ar The MacBook Air is the closest we have yet come to the ideal of a computer that's no bigger than a sheet of paper. As with many computers Steve Jobs has been involved with since the NeXT of 1988, which came without a then-univer- sal floppy but with a presumed archival magneto-optical substitute, the Air could show where all laptops could be going in another couple of years. Are optical drives, Apple's beloved Firewire, and even ethernet on their way out? The Airport doesn't have them. Will wireless be fast, reliable and secure enough to obviate the need for any other connection? Could even conven- tional hard drives be on their way out? One of the Air's BTO options is a 60 gig non-replaceable solid state hard drive. This would seem much more attractive if it provided a real breakthrough in speed. But it doesn't — just 15 to 50 percent in disk-intensive tasks. On the plus side it's more reliable than a conventional hard drive since there are no moving parts — and there's also no noise. But don't take reliability for granted in SSDs (solid state drives). Samsung, manufacturer of the SSD in the Airbook, has admitted that the next- generation SSDs, which will have two to four times the capacity of its current 60GB drive, and which would be available in 2009, will likely be less reliable than the model Apple is currently using. As for Firewire, it's notable that Leopard has new USB 2 drivers that make USB 2 work much faster on Macs; and USB 3, with potentially ten times the speed, is on its way. Firewire was always the superior but more expensive interface — how long can it hold out? And isn't it funny — terribly funny — that Apple should finally be offering wholehearted USB 2 support at the time that it seems to be indicating end-of-life for Firewire? The Air is a little slow compared with a Macbook. But who can doubt it's a groundbreaker that points the way to the future? And in the meantime it has plenty of power for users who are willing to pay for the utmost in computer portability. It's most interesting to see this laptop staking everything on Wireless-N when in Austria this year, broadband from cellular providers has already exceeded fixed broadband. Ericsson claims Wi-Fi hotspots are on their way out: They'll be the telephone boxes of the broadband WORDS BY BILL TROOP IMAGE COURTESY OF APPLE MacBook Air

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