Apple MacBook Air

Naturally, Apple has another accessory to get around this little problem, a USB to Ethernet adaptor, which it will sell you for another 19.

This however, brings you straight into another issue - the MacBook Air only has one, yes that's one, USB port. In a very neat bit of design, the ports for the Air are all hidden under a small, perfectly discreet, drop down flap on the right hand side. This contains a headphone socket, a single USB port, and a small socket for attaching the supplied VGA and DVI dongles. These are close together, so if you've got a USB key plugged in, it blocks access to the headphone port. Fancy listening to music while you've got your new Vodafone HSDPA USB modem plugged in? Well, it ain't gonna happen.

The single USB port then will require some juggling around. If you've got your data on a USB key, and you need to work with a 3G/HSDPA modem, or Ethernet (via the adaptor) you're going to have to transfer is across first, rather than working off it, and then plug what you need in.

Naturally, you could buy an external USB hub, but then along with your external DVD drive, your bag is starting to clutter up.

This scenario also highlights the fact that the MacBook Air fails to include an integrated slot for 3G/HSDPA SIM cards, something that the likes of the Sony TZ and the forthcoming Lenovo X300 Thinkpad do.

Yet another omission is FireWire, a standard that Apple helped to establish, but now appears to have been abandoned. So if the idea of capturing DV footage and editing it on a super light computer appeals, you'll be disappointed.

The single USB port also limits your ability to plug in an external mouse. Apple is probably counting on the fact that you would not want to, due to the latest gizmo it offers - a multi-touch trackpad, importing some of the iPhone's trickery into a notebook. With this you can swipe sideways to move through pictures, or even rotate them - it really doesn't get whizzier than this. To accommodate this, the trackpad is unusually large, while the mouse button is thin, which took getting used to.

What the Air needs then is an external docking solution, but Apple hasn't created one, and that as much as the other issues, will prevent it from being an option for corporate use.

In terms of specifications, the Air features a 1.6GHz Core 2 Duo, an Intel L7500 integrated into a custom miniature package for Intel by Apple, running on an 800MHz front-side bus, and is backed with a remarkably generous 2GB of 667MHz RAM. I suspect that this is due to the lack of upgradeability and supplying less would have been asking for trouble.

Benny Har-Even

Benny Har-Even is a twenty-year stalwart of technology journalism who is passionate about all areas of the industry, but telecoms and mobile and home entertainment are among his chief interests. He has written for many of the leading tech publications in the UK, such as PC Pro and Wired, and previously held the position of technology editor at ITPro before regularly contributing as a freelancer.

Known affectionately as a ‘geek’ to his friends, his passion has seen him land opportunities to speak about technology on BBC television broadcasts, as well as a number of speaking engagements at industry events.