When Steve Jobs introduced the MacBook Air at the Macworld Expo in 2008, withdrawing it from inside an interoffice mail envelope, he pulled back the curtain on the future of laptop computers. Although the first MacBook Air was slow, under-powered, and lacked sufficient hard drive space, its slender and lightweight design was built to impress. More importantly, the MacBook Air offered a glimpse into the future of cloud computing.
Upon its release, the MacBook Air was mostly panned by reviewers. With a $1700 price tag, the MacBook Air came with an underwhelming Intel Core 2 Duo chip, 2GB of RAM, and what was essentially an iPod Classic hard drive. The only redeeming quality of the MacBook Air was its ultra thin aesthetic, and a sleekness of design that managed single-handedly to make it a sales success for Apple.
Fast forward seven years, and the two MacBook Air models that Apple sells today are powered by Intel Core Haswell processors that are energy efficient, powerful, and use integrated graphics chips built onto the CPU, allowing graphics capabilities sufficient for mid-level gaming. The Air comes in either an 11-inch or 13-inch model, holds up to 16GB of RAM, includes a solid state drive starting at 128GB, and provides at least ten hours of battery life. With specs like these, the MacBook Air is an impressive laptop that is well suited for almost any user’s everyday needs like gaming, word processing, extensive multi-tasking, and video editing.
While there are many ultra-thin laptops (dubbed ultra-books) available on the market that are just as capable, and possibly even better, than the MacBook Air, few have introduced as many stylistic innovations as has Apple. However, if any company deserves to be given credit for the success of the ultra-book product category, Intel certainly deserves recognition. Without Intel’s CPU architecture, noted for its power efficiency and graphics capabilities, these laptops would still be considered “expensive Netbooks.”
The MacBook Air now costs $999.99 for an entry level model, nearly half the price than when it was originally released. Additionally, these ultra-books are only going to get thinner, faster, smarter, lighter, and hopefully, cheaper. They put any tablet to shame, and make a standard laptop look like something your dad bought fifteen years ago.