So fate, through no fault of my own, has arranged for me to play with an 11″ MacBook Air for an hour or two, in the guise of setting it up. Early impressions:
1) It’s wider and thinner than my old netbook was, which makes it slightly easier to use in the lap but kind of wobbly too. It can be done, I’m just not sure I’d want to do it all day.
2) The keyboard seems damn near full sized, or as close as makes no difference, and is a damn sight better than the netbook’s keyboard. I’m typing largely without error. No question, this would kick the shit out of the iPad for text entry on the road, and with a smaller profile than carrying iPad + Bluetooth keyboard.
3) I was able to VNC back to my own computer largely without a fight. It’s obviously as limited as you would expect from an 11″ display cramming 720p-type resolution into a confined space, and I probably wouldn’t want to ARD with it full time, but the option is there. And text is largely readable on the remote machine with a normal web browser up.
4) No kidding, when closed this thing is about an inch and a half longer than an iPad with the same width and thickness. Don’t know how the battery life would be – Apple claims 5 hours, and those claims have largely been borne out with newer hardware.
So I guess that’s it. Even with just 128GB of SSD space, I would (and could!) live with this as my main axe, especially for travel support purposes. As bootable thumb drives start to trump DVDs (a 16 GB thumb drive is FAR easier to work with than burning a DVD!) the lack of an optical drive ceases to be an issue. As quick and flickable as an iPad? Probably not, but certainly the SSD makes the speed much more reliable, and having 12 Mbps Internet at home takes that problem away…This could work.