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Footprint vs. Thinness

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by kuwisdelu, Jan 31, 2008.

  1. macrumors 65816

    Many people have pointed out the fact that the footprint of the MacBook Air is no smaller than the regular MacBook as a flaw, claiming that it's not a true ultraportable because of this. Obviously, Apple decided to do a different direction than many ultraportables, and wanted a full-size keyboard and screen, opting for thinness over a smaller footprint.

    Personally, I think that was a pretty good choice--it offers a different kind of ultraportable from the others out on the market. At the same time, I think it would be pretty cool if Apple also released at 12" MacBook Pro to replace the old 12" PowerBook. For my own use, I see the usefulness of a thin, light computer over a smaller footprint in that I'm going to be carrying a bag anyway. My bag also has notebooks in it and possibly textbooks, all of which are at the very least the same footprint size as the MacBook Air, so a smaller footprint wouldn't help me any, while the thinness may mean I could carry an extra textbook or a few more notebooks. Also, I'm not sure I could justify sacrificing much more screen real estate (for my purposes) just to have a smaller footprint, which won't help me much.

    Now obviously, many others disagree, and want a smaller footprint, not seeing the point of thinness. I'm wondering how a smaller footprint is very useful, which is why I'm asking (not saying it isn't, just curious why people like what they do). So I'd like to hear what everyone here's reasons are for wanting what they do. Do you prefer small footprint or thinness? Which do you find more useful, and why?

    Edit for wordmunger's point: Also, who finds weight most important, and how do all three influence your decisions?
  2. macrumors 603


    Honestly, neither one matters that much to me. It's the WEIGHT.

    I *must* have a full-size keyboard (I'm a writer), so I'd never buy an ultraportable that had a small keyboard. The macbook air looks great to me.

    Unfortunately I won't be getting one -- I can't justify the cost. But it sure is a nice computer. I'll be drooling over my wife's MBA (which her employer is buying her in a few months).
  3. macrumors regular

    I always considered an ultraportable to be very small, much smaller than your standard laptop (Macbook for instance). Something like the Iphone really- this is something very small that handles very basic computing like E-mail or maybe some mild note taking. I think the problem people see with the MBA is that it is basically the same size, needing essentially the same amount of space- sure it tapers down smaller but the majority of the computer isn't much smaller than the MB so when it comes to real world portability you only lose a small amount of the thickness and 2 pounds. I just am not sure what Mac was trying to do with the MBA and honestly I'm not sure if they were 100% sure on its role either.
  4. macrumors 6502


    dude ... the thing weighs 3 lbs, a macbook weighs a pound or so more. Thats 16 oz, Is that such a difference? The whole point of being ultraportable is that it is small enough to be used in places where conventional laptops cannot be used. On a plane, in class, a small table without much room, etc etc.

    Unless a pound or so of weight makes a tremendous difference for you, it is the footprint that really matters with respect to ultraportables. This in not an ultraportable machine. It has the same footprint as the Macbook, there is absolutely no advantage from an ultraportable perspective.

    It is an ultrathin computer, nothing more, nothing less.... A completely stripped down macbook... People will be very disappointed... wait and see.

    I bet the apple stock will plunge even lower when consumer reviews come back and they start returning these "macbooks"
  5. macrumors 6502


    The weight will be more than made up for all the extra crap you will have to carry around with you (ethernet, dvd player, USB hub, etc etc)
  6. macrumors 68000

    I think apple is trying to reinvent every thing the iPhone the iPod The Apple TV but I'm still not sure about this one the apple tv didn't take off and i still don't think it will it stands a good a chance but it's just not the time for these machines and I think the same could be for the Air it is a really good design but it's just not it's prime time it's expensive not overly powerful and most of all people like it but it's just not practical For their day to day work maybe it's still too early to let go of the CD drive for some but others will be fine.

    Give it a few years and it will be more appealing for people.
  7. macrumors newbie

    re: Motivation for smaller footprint, the main example I know is ease of use on airplane seat trays. Large laptops/displays often make for cramped working.

    That said, I, too, prefer a full-sized keyboard, so don't like tiny laptops.

    Thin is not an issue for me. My MBP is plenty thin. I'm with wordmunger as weight being my primary concern. I travel a lot so every kg adds up.

    I probably won't get a current MBA for now. Need the power & ports of the MBP, which is already amazingly portable for it's feature set.

    On the other hand, I fully agree with Stuart in Oz's "Real point of MBA" post, in that the MBA shows amazing tech innovation that will eventually permeate the entire Mac and greater PC industry, and people will remember that Apple released the concept first.
  8. macrumors 65816


    By the way, macbooks weigh 2 pounds more, not 1 pound more.
  9. macrumors 68000


    You got yours already? How do you know people will be dissapointed? I fail to see how people can say this, probably because of the 1.6 ghz c2d. This is the same that's in my new Dell laptop that came in the mail yesterday. It flies, it's so fast.
  10. macrumors 65816

    Hey, hey, hey, let's not jump on everyone's opinions here. This isn't meant to be another "the MBA is awesomez vs. the MBA suxorz" thread. Everyone is entitled to what is important to them, which is why I made this thread: so we can understand what trade-offs are important to the people who do or don't want the MacBook Air.

    Like I said in my initial post, personally, I've never had to use a computer in a place where a normal MacBook-size footprint was too big, but I have been in situations where a thinner, lighter laptop is perfect. If it goes in a bag, thinness and lightness will make room for more things to carry, but footprint makes no difference at all. That's why it's useful to me, and footprint isn't. People's needs and what's convenient for them differs, and I was hoping we could understand that by learning what different people are looking for and why.

    Also...someone buying the MacBook Air probably won't need to carry around all those externals. Many of us can live without a DVD drive away from home, and so on.

    So back on topic... what's important among weight, thinness, and footprint in a laptop to you, and why?
  11. macrumors member

    I am sticking with my 26 month-old 12" Powerbook, which is .75GB RAM and .1GHz less powerful than the MBA. It has all the ports and the superdrive built in, which I need. Also, my HD spins faster at 5400 rpm, while the MBA is only 4200. I like the keyboard more (even though backlit would be nice) and I can connect to a bigger screen if I really need it. My biggest irk is poor wireless connectivity.

    My PB also doesn't have such a wide case border around the screen like the MBA, so I assume it is actually more like a 1.6" difference diagonally. Footprint is big for me because I see it like packing my cameras and lenses: you want to be able to put them into the bag without cramming everything together. It fits loosely into my bag, and is only a quarter inch thicker. So more important I suppose than thickness is weight and footprint, for me.

    My ideal would have been a new 12", either thin or standard PB thickness. When I bought the PB, it was going to be my only computer, so if the MBA had existed I would have still gotten this since (sacrificing thickness for power, assuming that the MBA of that time would be 512 and ~1.2 GHz). Here in a few months I may switch to having a home and a portable, in which case the MBA would get more consideration for weight. But it is still wide.
  12. macrumors 68000



    Man, you gotta be weak. If you can notice the fact that you're carrying around an ethernet adapter... man, hit the gym.

    And you don't HAVE to carry around a dvd player, usb hub, etc etc. I said this before, not being able to watch a dvd doesn't make a computer underpowered.
  13. macrumors 6502


    Ok, 2 pounds more. 32 oz ... who cares? I'm sure if you put together all the extra stuff you will need to cart around with you it will more than make up for those 2 pounds.

    You lose a tremendous amount of capability for those 2 pounds. Especially with something that has the same footprint as the MB.
  14. macrumors 6502


    Thats my point .. Everyone who is so obsessed with weight should hit the gym and do some bench presses.

  15. macrumors regular


    Oh, because the 2 pounds difference is so huge when carrying around a MBA vs a MB? Right...
  16. macrumors regular

    Dude, the MB weighs 5 pounds--it's a brick (if it wasn't such a brick, I'd already own it). It's about the weight to me, too. And yes, two pounds is a big deal, especially when you're talking about something that weighs 40% less.
  17. macrumors 68040

    Phil A.

    Wirelessly posted (iPhone: Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU like Mac OS X; en) AppleWebKit/420.1 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/3.0 Mobile/4A93 Safari/419.3)

    for me it's about matching my requirements: I never use the DVD drive on my MBP, I never use the Ethernet port and I never use the FireWire port (i've got a stonking great macpro for that!)
    Any laptop is underpowered compared to the behomoth that is my macpro so what I want in a portable is something that gives me the functionality I need whilst on the road. I've been using a MBP but it's too big and overkill for what I need.
    The MBA however is a perfect match for my requirements which is why I've got one on order :)
  18. macrumors 68000



    I don't know, are you? I for one, use a cane to walk, so maybe a 3 pound Macbook Air would help out.
  19. macrumors member

    I think the intent is that no one will carry the extra things though. As far as apple is concerned, they want the only wire be for power. They would do away with it if they could.

    Right now this might not be plausible for some, but I think the true MBA market are people constantly moving and being in Wifi areas. The iPhone doesn't have a USB or ethernet port, but there is no complaint because it isn't its purpose. This computer is meant to only connect wirelessly, except for the one USB port and headphones.
  20. macrumors 6502


    Touche my friend, Touche ... :(
  21. macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

    Footprint isn't really an issue unless you frequently use the laptop on airplane tray tables. The custom-sized briefcase I bought for our 12" PowerBook was hardly used because almost no space was left over inside for anything else. I almost immediately needed a larger one, which could easily accommodate a 13" laptop, and a projector and files. I've lugged around six pound laptops and that gets old in a hurry, so light weight is definitely a virtue, and I've seen some of the sub-notebooks from Sony and don't think the tiny screens and keyboards are so wonderful.

    Bottom line: thin and light is good. It's more likely than a small footprint to leave over room for other things.
  22. macrumors 65816

    Yes, if I had an MBA I wouldn't feel any need to carry those extras around. I don't use any of the corresponding features on my MacBook on-the-go, only at home.

    I see a whole new market opening up for Apple in those who use canes... I can just see it now. They'll advertise on House. Everyone will want one.

  23. macrumors 68040

    Phil A.

    Wirelessly posted (iPhone: Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU like Mac OS X; en) AppleWebKit/420.1 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/3.0 Mobile/4A93 Safari/419.3)

    by that argument we should all be carrying around 30lb luggables - portable computers are by definition cut down in power and weight.
    within those constraints individual users can determine how much power they want to trade for reduced weight. Just because not everyone thinks the same as you doesn't mean you should resort to shouting and insults to try and make your point
  24. j26
    macrumors 65816


    Staying on topic, to me there's a trade off between thickness and footprint.

    I had a 12" Powerbook and loved the footprint it had. I changed to a Macbook and while I love the performance boost, I preferred the look and feel of the Powerbook. In some ways I regret selling and changing to the Macbook it instead of getting an iMac and keeping the Powerbook.

    What annoys me is that there is so much wasted space in the bezel around the screen - it adds to the footprint and is not pleasing aesthetically (I'm typing from a Macbook with the same bezel, so I know what I'm talking about). Surely the width around the bezel could have been reduced without adding significantly to weight or thickness. I mean the edges are tapered - there couldn't be too much critical electronics near the edges.

    (I'm not going to go into my other gripes about the Air, but I also believe too many things were lost in the quest for thinness)
  25. macrumors 65816

    That's a good point. I'm not sure how much electronics they're stuffing into the bezel, so it may be necessary for the thinness, but it would be nice to be rid of it, if possible.

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