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25 June 2024

A sleek slice of wizardry


By Mariam Hanafy


Apple took the global electronic consumer market by storm once again in January at the MacWorld Expo in California, with the MacBook Air – the world's thinnest laptop.

At 1.93 centimetres at its thickest point when closed and weighing 1.4 kilogrammes, this slender gadget is expected to hit retail stores across the US in two weeks.

Avid Mac customers in the Middle East, however, will not expect the MacBook Air to be available until a month after it hits US stores, according to a spokesperson from Apple premium resalers in Dubai.

Made of sturdy anodized aluminium, the MacBook Air has custom built parts and specifications that Apple engineers have somehow managed to fit into the laptop's cramped interior. At $1,799 (Dh6,570), the laptop has a 1.6 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor – in the form of a chip custom-made to fit – and 2GB of built-in RAM.

The 80GB PATA hard drive, which is 3.8cm long, can be upgraded to a faster and more durable 65GB solid-state drive for an extra $999 (Dh3,666). But best of all, the MacBook Air comes with everything that has to do with the word "wireless": built-in 802.11n Wi-Fi2 and Bluetooth 2.1+EDR. Video conferencing is made easy via the built-in iSight web camera and a 13.3-inch backlit LED screen. The battery is as thin as laptop batteries can get, but its capacity allows for five continuous hours of wireless connection.

One of the most advanced features of the MacBook Air is the oversized trackpad with multi-touch gesture technology. The pad enables users to pinch, swipe, or rotate with their fingers in order to zoom in on text, advance through a photo album, or adjust and move an image. Walt Mossberg, Wall Street Journal's tech columnist, says: "This may wind up being the biggest legacy."

He added that even though this feature has been seen before on Apple's iPhone, "it's the first time I've seen this multi-touch gesture on an actual computer, rather than a smaller device".

During the MacWorld Expo, Apple CEO Steve Jobs introduced the latest Mac notebook alongside several other of Apple's most successful products. He described its features, talked about its innovative design, and claimed that Apple's "good relationship" with Intel is partly what made it possible to create such a slim laptop. "Look at how thin this product is. How did we do it? I myself am still stunned," Jobs said.

Mossberg commented that "there are some things that the other [manufacturers] compromise where [Apple's CEO Steve Jobs] said they aren't willing to compromise. It has a big screen and it has a big keyboard even though it's extremely thin, and he claims a very long battery life" .

However, one of the main factors why it can be made so thin is because it does not have a CD or DVD drive. Mossberg also pointed out one other compromise, which is that MacBook Air users would only be able to access the internet wirelessly.