French Apple-watching site HardMac's Lionel reports that while Apple is proud of its ultra-thin Macbook Air enclosure, in order to achieve this result the firm was obliged to not only enormously reduce the size of the Air's motherboard, but also incorporate a very thin battery made up of several modules, which is physically very fragile.
Lionel says the thickness reduction comes at the detriment of shock resistance that one usually assumes with removable batteries. Repair techs have been cautioned to be very careful handling these batteries, as, indeed, should users who might be inclined inclined to open up their Airs. Special care need to be taken not to apply any pressure to the battery modules, let alone bump them in any way with a screwdriver or make scratches that could damage the envelope seals that contain the batteries' principal component, polymeric lithium. If damaged, the battery could lose part of its capacity, or worse - burst into flame, caveats to especially keep in mind when SSD upgrades for this machine arrive, possibly during 2011.
Meanwhile, AnandTech's Anand Lal Shimpi says that while he's determined that the £849.00 11-inch MacBook Air represents the pinnacle of laptop portability, delivering the weight and form factor of a netbook but, "without the drive-you-crazy performance of an Atom CPU," he found that his typical workflow just runs too slowly on the base 1.4GHz 11-inch MacBook Air system with 2GB of RAM.
Apple of course offers two performance upgrades for the 11-inch Air - expansion to 4GB of memory instead of 2GB on all models and an upmarket 11-inch Air with a 128GB SSD (twice the base machine's 64GB) that can be ordered with a 1.6GHz Core 2 Duo for £80.01 more. This totals up to a £230.01 price premium over the standard £849.00 11-incher. Does a 14 per cent increase in clock speed and the other performance gains
justify the extra capital outlay?
Lal Shimpi analyses the metrics and finds that the answer is "yes", only if you think a +/-15 per cent overall improvement in performance (plus doubled drive capacity) are worth a 40 per cent higher purchase price.
In his opinion, there's almost no way to rationally justify the higher cost, especially since it can be safely assumed that within 12 - 18 months Apple will release a faster version, possibly at an even lower price. The 13-inch MacBook Air will remain substantially faster than even an upgraded 11-incher.