Tech envy and productivity — the MacBook Air and iPhone are two sexy tools you won’t find in my bag

January 17, 2008 by Jared Goralnick

I can’t stop reading about the MacBook Air, but that’s because I’m a geek who loves sexy technology. Deep down I know that, like the iPhone, it doesn’t really make me more productive. While I do connote portability with productivity (in that portability enables mobility), a few ounces one way or another doesn’t play a role in my travel decisions. We’re in a world where there’s fashionable technology and dull-looking technology…but we’re missing the point. Or at least my point: technology should help us to get work done first and foremost.

Regularly I’ll toss my Dell M1210 into a Waterfield sleeve case with an extra battery and a book. That’ll get me 8 hours for 6 lbs (or 4lbs before the other stuff) with more power than the MacBook Air. Tack on my Motorola Q with an extra battery and I have unlimited free internet if I can’t find a hotspot. What more would I need? (oh, I’ll bring my 1st generation iPod Nano along, too.)

But that’s not really doing my comparison justice. With the MacBook Air I can’t bring along DVDs for a planeride (plus I have two headphones jacks on my Dell). The very thin keyboard, like the iPhone’s missing keyboard, is an adjustment that I wouldn’t look forward to. And the pricetag isn’t exactly forgiving.

I love Apple’s design (especially that of the MacBook Air), and I wish other companies could be half as innovative. Apple’s smart in at least three ways:

  1. They produce devices people want to touch and interact with
  2. They incorporate hardware that’s superior to what many people would buy on their own ($400 laptop? you’ll get what you pay for)
  3. They make things simple to use

Attractive, fast, and easy are the formula for selling, but the latter two qualities are far more important than attractiveness for productivity. I think we often get caught up in the way things look (I know I can be a design snob), but whether or not one buys some of these newer tools shouldn’t just be about the look. It should be about the hours that it’ll save you or the conveniences it’ll afford (like willingness to take a laptop somewhere you wouldn’t otherwise). That’s just my $.02 as I struggle to resist another purchase with so much appeal.

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8 Responses to “Tech envy and productivity — the MacBook Air and iPhone are two sexy tools you won’t find in my bag”


  1. Nathan Ketsdever

    Great post. Even some Mac fanboys aren’t thrilled with the new announcement due to supposed lack of compatibility. Endgadget reported that Apple’s stock went down.

  2. Nathan Ketsdever

    Actually, the stock finished with a modest 1.25 gain, which may be decent given the chaotic nature of the market at the moment. However, has to be significantly under expectations.

  3. Chris

    Price tag aside…(and I haven’t had the chance to play with one as of this writing)the functionality/performance of MacBook Air puts it in between the consumer and professional laptops Apple has. It is going to work great for some people and not for others, and better for some applications than for others.

    I think it is making a statement (albeit a bit presumptuous) as to where the future of interacting with our data is headed but is it something that people are ready for? Can you live with downloading a movie off iTunes instead of buying the dvd to bring along? Will adding the optional 64 gig SSD extend the battery enough to warrant the extra $1000 upgrade cost? Hard to say without speculating but I think it will either be a big hit or a big flop. I guess we’ll find out in a couple of weeks when they start shipping.

  4. Jared Goralnick


    I don’t think it’s too presumptuous for Apple to ship it without an optical drive–most ultraportable laptops don’t have optical drives. I’m actually perfectly okay without one, just as I’ve long since adjusted to no 3.5″ floppy : ).

    The main thing for me is that it’s a beautiful and very portable notebook that doesn’t add anything in the way of productivity for me. What I’m very curious about though is the quality of the keyboard. If it has an awesome keyboard then it’s weight/performance/eye candy combination will make it an overwhelming success. And perhaps even a consideration for me. After all, the one issue I’ve glossed over is that this is the ONLY ultraportable that Mac offers. And being able to run both Windows and Leopard would certainly be a helpful option for myself and many others in the technology community.

  5. Brad


    If you are a power user I would recommend the new mac book or mac book pro to compare to your Dell. I have used macs and PCs and I believe the real difference is in the OS. The iphone really does favor mac users as well, the way it syncs with mail calender itunes and iphoto is fantastic. I used to miss my old palm treo and PC set up but no more.

  6. Samantha Warren

    In my opinion an important thing to keep in mind when critiquing the Macbook Air is the target market for this product. Looking at the specs I really see this notebook aimed at those users who have a very powerful desktop system and need a light, convenient notebook to extend their digital lives beyond their desk. No DVD or CD drive? In an effort to minimize my personal clutter and improve productivity I have completely gotten rid of using disks and keep everything stored on drives or servers. It would actually be more convenient for me to download a movie from itunes or transfer one off of a hardrive.

    My personal issue with the Air is the price tag. Anyone who has a nice desktop system probably spends way more time at that system than they do traveling. 1799+ is a lot of money to spend on a device that is going to be used as a secondary machine.

    I am the perfect consumer for this product and there is no way I will touch it until it falls below the 1200 mark… and that is even a little steep.

  7. Jared Goralnick

    Thanks for the perspective on price, Samantha. Funny thing is that my Dell actually cost a bit more than $1799. I can’t wait to try typing on one of these. If the typing experience really is comparable to a full depth keyboard then, like you say, maybe it’d be worth considering as a second machine.

    If I only had some new employee to offload my 1-year old Dell as a justification…

  8. ponytale

    here’s a great review on the macbook Air’s Pros and cons

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