After the Apple keynote yesterday, Alex IMed me and asked, "did you pre-order your MacBook Air?" Although it looks like an incredible machine, the MacBook Air isn't something that appeals to me for practical use. Like Alex, my notebook is my main machine. I have a big desktop at home, but I am on the road a lot and rely on my MacBook Pro for all correspondence, web work, plus quite a bit of photo and video editing. This means that I use apps like Aperture and Final Cut Pro, which both are heavy on screen real-estate requirements and their use of Core Image. Core Image relies on the video GPU to do its heavy lifting, and the MacBook Air's lack of a dedicated graphics card is a real downer. I've heard that the regular MacBook will actually run Aperture fairly well despite the fact that its 1280x800 screen is not high enough resolution to officially support the app, but it seems like it would be a painful experience.
I also am working with a camera that produces 25MB RAW files, which are 120MB each when converted to 16-bit TIFFs. I don't mind using external disks when I'm working on large batches of images (typically in the field, on a table of other flat surface), but the MacBook Air only has one USB port. My external drive would be attached to it, and I wouldn't even be able to attach a media reader at the same time without using a hub. No good.
Speaking of the lack of ports, there is no Firewire port, which means that video editing and fast external drives are out, too. There is no ethernet jack, which is also bad, especially for travelers who occasionally wander upon a cable-only access in hotel rooms. I also frequently use an ExpressCard EV-DO card. I could switch to a USB device, but the single-port problem comes into play again.
Clearly, this is not a machine meant for media use, other than web surfing and the occasional iTunes movie rental. If my computer use required fewer features, I would definitely want a MacBook Air. Since that will probably never happen, I'll just have to wait for some of the design elements and features of the Air to trickle into the Pro line.
Gizmodo has a great chart comparing the various sub-notebooks out there. None of the other machines have the incredible thinness nor the incredible "cool" factor, but they do seem more functional. If I had to buy a sub-notebook and were OK running Windows again, I'd probably get a Thinkpad X61. I love those things! It's just too bad that Thinkpads only run Windows.
I'm off to MacWorld to see the thing in person. Should be fun...