Thin may be in and beautiful but the compromises one has to make to be ultra-thin and beautiful can lead to some pretty tough and perhaps unhealthy lifestyle choices for fashion models and now mobile users. While the MacBook Air may indeed be the thinnest portable yet and quite pretty to look at, this fashion show stops dead on the runway for me with the the non-user replaceable battery.
I just don’t think the folks in Cupertino really thought this one through. Batteries are the food that nourishes our mobile devices and keeps them running. Call me paranoid and old fashioned, but I travel with an extra battery when I’m on the road. (I travel with extra other things as well, having a backup scenario is a key part of my being mobile.) I know others do as well. While five hours might be enough to get a user through most days, my experience tells me it won’t in my situation. A five hour battery life (and we all know that five hours on announcement day usually translates to something less in the real world) would not have sufficed at CES as an example, and I found myself changing batteries each day while there. The same is true for my other travels and on the road work.
I’m a big believer in the WNewquay school of thought on batteries. We should think of them as consumables that will indeed be consumed and need replacing. No problems there. While the offer of free labor to replace a battery is a nice gesture, that is all it is, if like I, you don’t live within shouting distance of an Apple Store. Do you know anyone who is going to be comfortable shipping their mobile precious off for a battery replacement for a few days? I don’t.
This may be an acceptable, although still not a welcome, scenario and business plan for iPhones and iPods, because the thinking goes most users will opt for the newest device when the battery needs a make over. But I don’t think that logic flows through to a $1700 portable computer purchase.
I’ve got to feel comfortable knowing I can keep my portable devices well fed and juiced up when I need to, otherwise the hunger pangs set in and they faint dead away, just when I need them to strut their stuff. Heck most mobile devices start sounding like the plant in Little Shop of Horrors screaming Feed Me with any real heavy usage.
I applaud the pretty design choices and the desire to get thinner and lighter. But when I look at the pretty pictures, it makes me ask the same questions that I ask when I see razor thin models on a runway. Is what you give up to be that thin and stylish really worth the compromise when it comes to practical living?