g r o t t o 1 1

Peeve Farm
Breeding peeves for show, not just to keep as pets
Brian Tiemann
Silicon Valley-based purveyor of a confusing mixture of Apple punditry and political bile.

btman at grotto11 dot com

Read These Too:

InstaPundit
Steven Den Beste
James Lileks
Little Green Footballs
As the Apple Turns
Entropicana
Cold Fury
Capitalist Lion
Red Letter Day
Eric S. Raymond
Tal G in Jerusalem
Aziz Poonawalla
Corsair the Rational Pirate
.clue
Ravishing Light
Rosenblog
Cartago Delenda Est




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Tuesday, January 15, 2008
10:46 - One of these men is crazy

(top)
Okay, this sounds like an Oscars™ Moment in the Making or something.

Randy Newman took the stage at the end of the Stevenote and started singing... well, I'll repeat what Jason Chen of Gizmodo said:

10:32 AM ON JAN 15 2008
And for the entertainment at Today’s keynote, Randy Newman.

10:34 AM ON JAN 15 2008
Randy’s singing a song about America, the president, and comparing them to Hitler and Stalin. USA! USA! USA!!!!!

10:36 AM ON JAN 15 2008
“It pisses me off a little that the Supreme Court is going to outlive me.” What the crap is he singing about? We have no idea. We think he’s gone nuts.

10:39 AM ON JAN 15 2008
The first song’s over, but now Randy Newman’s just riffing about random stuff. The next song is from Toy Story. Randy says he wrote another song to go with the love scene between Buzz and Woody, but the scene was cut. This guy is blowing our minds right now.

10:41 AM ON JAN 15 2008
Aaaand it’s over. Holy crap. Who knew Randy Newman, the guy who makes the songs your kids play over and over and over again, would sing such crazy crap about our government?

Oh, I don't know, it's pretty hard to find any song or artist in the modern age who doesn't indulge in America's Favorite Pastime. But what I want to know is, did Steve know in advance that Randy was going to go off like that about Toy Story and such? Did he see this as his Michael Moore spotlight time? Is Steve going to have to give him a talking-to? Has Randy finally lost it entirely?

Or was this all part of the plan?

I don't know about these people sometimes...


Particularly when we're talking about stuff like this:



Is it just me, or is this a ridiculously overpriced, feature-poor, and generally useless pig of an idea? Who would pay $3000 for a laptop with far fewer features than a regular MacBook?

It's not like you're going to be able to stick it in your pocket or something. You'll always be conscious of a computer being there. There will be a huge market for slipcovers and bags and stuff. It's never going to be something that's any less a weight on the mind when you carry it around.

In other words, it's all the cost and all the drawbacks of a large laptop, plus some extra drawbacks in the form of no optical drive or FireWire or hard drive space... and the benefits? Lightness? Thinness? Dude, being able to fit a computer into an envelope isn't worth $1000 to me even if you don't reduce its feature set. You'd have to pay me to use a computer like this.

But that's just me, I guess.


UPDATE: Okay, well, the share-a-nearby-desktop-computer's-optical-drive feature is pretty frickin' cool.

UPDATE: Gizmodo's hands-on from the show floor.

UPDATE: Yeah, you'd have to be a humorless Bush supporter in order to not enjoy this.

What's funny is that in the YouTube comments, it appears that European listeners are taking his diatribe as not being anti-Bush and anti-patriotic enough, in that he frames the whole thing as "Well, our leaders are the worst we've ever had, but at least they're not as bad as all these European leaders in history!" To which the Euros in the audience react by saying, "Hey, come on now, you're judging us based on Hitler and Stalin and Caligula? C'mon, that's not a way to solicit friendship!" Ha. I chortle.

Though I've got to admit that at least the "song" was actually more coherent than the random babbling he followed it with.

Dude. What the hell.


Back to Top

19 comments

1. DaveD - 11:27 Tue 1/15/2008 ( email )

I agree on all points, particularly in regards to that MacBook Air. Let's compare it to my MacBook I bought for about $400 less last November (or $1800 is you want that 64G SSD):

(1) Drive space - MacBook came with 100G (which I immediately upgraded to a 7200rpm, 250G drive for under $300, "the Air" comes with either 80G or 64G.

(2) CPU - Both have a Core 2 Duo, but where "the Air" is either a 1.6GHz (or for a cost, 1.8GHz), my MacBook is 2.16GHz.

(3) Optical drive - My MB has one, but it'll cost you another $300 for an external one to attach to "the Air".

(4) Remote? Not that I care, but my MB got one for free, but "the Air" requires that you fork up another $19 for it.

(5) Battery life - We finally have something where my MB isn't better. But hey, at around $2000 difference, you gotta find SOMETHING that matters.

But what really bites are all those other things. The lack of 10.5.2. No mention (except to acknowledge it) of the iPhone SDK. Finding out that if I would have waited 2 more months I would have gotten 5 extra apps on my iPod Touch but not paid a penny more. (For me I can get them, but for $20.) Finding out that my AppleTV now retail for $70 less - but hey, at least THAT update is available for free. All kinds of iTunes movie rentals, but absolutely no word of anything new to purchase.

Yeah, I'm just a bit underwhelmed. There's something in the air alright - but I'm feeling like I don't like the smell of it.

2. Austin - 11:28 Tue 1/15/2008 ( email )

"Who would pay $3000 for a laptop with far fewer features than a regular MacBook?"

Ummm...no one. That's why the price starts at 1800. :-)

3. Brian Tiemann - 11:32 Tue 1/15/2008 ( email | web )

Yes, and rises to over $3K. So clearly they expect someone to.

4. BrummbAIR - 13:19 Tue 1/15/2008 ( email )

This strikes me as a clear example of "Well, we've got to roll out SOMETHING..."

5. Jim Hu - 13:32 Tue 1/15/2008 ( email | web )

I just got a MB Pro, so I won't buy one either, but I don't think you'd have to pay me to use it.

The multitouch trackpad is cool, IMHO, and so is the remote optical drive stuff. I'm most surprised at no firewire. But I think this is not a bad option for its target market: people who do a lot of stuff on planes. The remote optical drive clearly means it's not intended for people to use as their primary computer (as I use my MB Pro).

6. Steven Den Beste - 13:49 Tue 1/15/2008 ( email | web )

I think this is supposed to be for the same market as the Asus Eee. Except that they're shooting for a hell of a different price point with it.

7. Brian Tiemann - 13:55 Tue 1/15/2008 ( email | web )

Actually the Eee seems to be for a totally different market, e.g. the One Laptop Per Child set. Price is the primary driver on that one, which is why it has a 7" screen and a much more durable form factor. It's supposed to be the entry-entry-entry-level computer for kids that actually runs Windows, unlike the OLPC.

The MBA, on the other hand, has a full 13.3" screen and full-size keyboard, and is clearly intended to be bought by executives and latte-sippers who want to impress other executives and latte-sippers on planes and in boardrooms. Certainly explains the price difference, though it's amusing how similar the feature set ends up being.

8. Tim Windsor - 13:57 Tue 1/15/2008

@Jim - they may be aiming at people who do a lot on planes, but it had better be people who take short hop flights to Chicago, because on the long-haul, that missing second battery is going to start looming large.

I like it... but I hate it. It's very cool, but crippled. I bet version 2 will be amazing (and this from a guy who gets razzed all the time for being Mister Early Adopter™)

9. DaveD - 14:20 Tue 1/15/2008 ( email )

I need to add one last thing to my slam on "the Air":

It appears that the battery is not user replacable:

http://blogs.zdnet.com/hardware/?p=1155

Maybe they should have named the product the "MacBook iPod" instead?

10. Jim Hu - 16:05 Tue 1/15/2008 ( email | web )

Tim

Long haul users will use seat power adaptors. Which is what I do already with my MBP ... unless I forget to bring it like on my last trip home (actually I had the seat adaptor for my pre-magsafe G4 PB with me. Useless!!).

I wonder if sealing the battery makes some kind of difference in where they put it for strength/weight. It's hard to understand otherwise. But with my G4, I effectively lived for several months with the lifestyle of the future MBA owner with a dead battery. The G4 15" batteries were out of stock all over and I had to run on power supply only while I waited for Cupertino to ship me a new one from backorder. That's when I bought my first airline adaptor, btw. And I used to carry an extension cord everywhere too!

11. DaveD - 16:14 Tue 1/15/2008 ( email )

Jim,

Granted that - unlike PCs - Macs notebooks can survive on no battery, but remember what MBA (sorry, I still prefer "the Air" because it doesn't imply some sort of Masters degree)... remember what the MBA is supposedly all about - no cables. No ties. Nothing but "the air".

Being tethered because of battery that exceeded it's lifetime and can't be replace except by professional Apple service technicians? That not only screws with that "image" - it's damn lame.

12. Steven Den Beste - 16:30 Tue 1/15/2008 ( email | web )

"Mercury-free LCD display with arsenic-free glass" -- gimme a break. I bet it doesn't have any transfats, either.

As to the battery, in a form factor like that I suspect they simply could not spare the volume for the battery case and computer case that a replaceable battery interface would mechanically require. The battery is going to be a weird form factor anyway, huge and flat.

13. Jim Hu - 17:30 Tue 1/15/2008 ( email | web )

DaveD,

PC laptops can't do that? Really?!!

I agree that it's lame to not be able to replace the battery. I'm just wondering if there's some interesting reason. I'm guessing that if there is, it will become apparent when people start taking them apart and posting the results on the web. Like maybe the battery provides case stiffness and the wafer-thin Air is so fragile with the battery out that Apple decided to not risk user damage.

Wild speculation, of course.

14. Brian Tiemann - 17:52 Tue 1/15/2008 ( email | web )

LED display, Steven, not LCD.

Though you seem to be quoting their specs page, which itself is erroneous.

15. cq - 18:08 Tue 1/15/2008

Who buys something like this? Someone who is spending their company's money, not their own. This is elongated-rectangular-glasses-wearin' black-dyed-soulpatch-sportin' whale-watchin'-at-Cabo Audi-RS4-drivin' gives-his-wife-a-Lexus-with-a-huge-red-ribbon artíste-architect-Web2.0 dude jewelry, not a desktop-replacement. Not that there are any stereotypes involved.

As a fashion-tool, the fact that its battery is built-in and will require a trip to the Genius Bar to replace is irrelevant. In the two to three years that it takes for a laptop battery to become worn out, a new fashion-Mac will be out and the target market won't want this one any more (that's so 2008!). If the battery wears out before... well, it's under warranty and will be fixed like anything else under warranty. Speaking from first-hand knowledge, I can tell you that Apple turns around laptop service very, very quickly.

It's also not for the salesforce. Even if it had a replacable battery, by the time a true road warrior's laptop kit was in place (extra battery, mouse, power brick, heavily-padded case, collection of video/audio/network cables, etc.) the weight difference and volume difference between this and a 15" MacPro (much more functional and rugged) is negligible. The true road warrior wouldn't want this; not the target demographic.

This is an image leader. It's the Corvette that sells the Camaros and the Malibus. And that's just fine.

Yeah, I want one. To show off with. But not paid for with MY money.

(btw: No comparison at all with the Asus EEE-PC, like the one on my desk right here... the only thing they have in common, really, is the word "laptop". The Asus costs 10-20% of what the MacBook Air does, is FAR smaller, FAR slower, though nearly as cool in its own way. It has geek cred, and by all reports is very amenable to being very hardware-hackable. I got it to show off with. And I paid for it with my money.)

16. cq - 18:22 Tue 1/15/2008

Re: DaveD: yes, non-replacable battery. But 5 hours of life with everything running (which is what the claim is) is the equal of two full batteries of most other laptops. So from a runtime point of view, is it an issue?

I can think of one other important reason this is not replaceable: safety. With a form-factor like this, the battery is probably less than 1/4" thick, but very long and wide. As long as it's protected in the frame of the MBA, it's fine. But take the battery out and it would be subject to getting bent and cracked. Instant toxics and fire hazard... batteries do not like having their electrolytes flexed. Given all the recent negative press every time a laptop battery goes off (then the expense of replacing every single battery... kills the profit for the whole computer sale), I can see why Apple would want to make sure that this is as unlikely as possible to happen.

17. Peter G. - 19:22 Tue 1/15/2008

It's an LED-backlit LCD. Not an LED display.

The battery is not user-replaceable, but assuming there's some straightforward way to remove the lower case, replacing the battery could be an Apple Store-level operation. If they do have to ship it, at least it'll fit easily in a FedEx box. :-)

The real problem is that the battery's energy capacity is only 37 watt-hours, which is low, about like a four-cell battery. The processor is a previous-generation Core 2 Duo in 65nm, not the new Penryn chip in 45nm, so the platform power consumption is only going to get down to the implied 7.4W average under extreme conditions. I don't believe the 5-hour figure.

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18. James - 01:14 Wed 1/16/2008 ( email )

If you buy an iPod Touch from the Apple store right now, you'll still have to pay $20 to get the new apps, as the new stock with them included hasn't arrived yet. The Air also has no wired ethernet (and the USB adapter for $30 is 10/100 only), no wireless broadband (now that would make it live up to the Air name) and no expresscard slot so you'll have to use a USB wireless broadband. Basically none of my friends are interested in it, and this includes some apple fanboys. Also, did you see Jobs' reply over the 8800GT not working in older Mac Pros? For a while there it was looking like the Mac Pro was as upgradeable as an iMac.

19. Chris M - 07:15 Wed 1/16/2008

If the battery isn't user replaceable, that kills it for me. Happy I got my 12" PowerBook when I did.


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