First MacBook Air Reviews Trickle In

Click to viewThree MacBook Air reviews are in from USA Today, Newsweek and the WSJ. The first two reviews are both fairly positive, with caveats, but the WSJ's reads slightly less so. Lets begin.

USA Today: USA Today's Ed Baig summarizes with this verdict: "Given the compromises, I don't expect anyone to use Air as their only computer. But it is a yummy machine for people who spend a lot of time traveling." Going more in depth, he lauds the Air's thinness, and revels at the little things like the magnetic latch and the backlit LED display. The worst part? He got more than an hour less than Apple's rated battery life.

Baig also notes that this is the weakest Core 2 Duo in the entire Mac lineup, which means you won't be using this for video editing. He knocks points off for the sacrifices, such as the internal optical drive, the scant 80GB hard disk space, the one USB port, lack of FireWire, and the average battery life. Apple rated it at 5 hours, but he only got three hours and 40 minutes just surfing the web, using Remote Disc and writing. It only lasted two hours and 40 minutes when watching a movie. Verdict: Not for everyone (mostly travelers), and definitely not a main computer. [USA Today]

Newsweek: Steven Levy at Newsweek compares the Macbook Air's thinness to ritualistic circumcision, noting that they sliced off just enough to make it meaty, yet super thin. Thin enough for him to spend a good third of his review saying how thin it is, and how it's so great on a lap, on a Starbucks' table, on a conference table, and on an airplane seatback tray. He then decries the obvious lack of features we've been talking about since we heard about the Air: lack of user-replaceable battery, the one USB port, no optical drive, blah blah blah.

It essentially reads like Levy reviewed off the spec sheet, and doesn't have many tales of his first-hand experience with such topics as how snappy the sluggish processor is or how convenient (or inconvenient) using the Remote Disc is (he does note that you have to lower your Firewall to its lowest setting to allow easier configuration). Verdict: Not much of one, but what he does have agrees with Baig: it's thin and even though Apple's removed much of its innards, "the things that Apple left on were the ingredients for a quality computer." Also, he spends much of the review talking in a roundabout way about penises, so it's worth a read just for that. [Newsweek]

Wall Street Journal: Mossberg from the big J also loves the svelteness, owning up to his own Contact moment by saying that "it's impossible to convey in words just how pleasing and surprising this computer feels in the hand." Of course, he hates the non-removable battery, the 1 USB port, the fact that you can't put a bigger hard drive in there and the lack of an optical drive.

In his own tests, he says the machine was "speedy" and the keyboard and screen were a "pleasure to use". His own battery tests gave him three hours and 24 minutes with Wi-Fi on and playing music nonstop. He theorizes that you could possibly get 4 hours and 30 minutes without playing music and just working normally, bug Baig's own test disproves that. Verdict: Great if you love thinness or a full-sized screen and keyboard on a "subnotebook", but he "can't recommend it for all." [AllThingsD]