I remember getting on the internet for the first time. We lived in the O'Neil Heights subdivision of base housing on Camp Pendleton - this would have been about 1996. My brother Dave had clued me in to the internet, told me what hyperlinks were, and encouraged me to get on the net. I orderd a Gateway (remember Gateway?) computer with Windows 97 (remember Windows?) and the current version of MS Office.
It was amazing. Everything I did on that machine was so fast. I would click a button and whatever task I was pursuing happened almost instantaneously. I'm guessing it's because software development had yet to overtax the computing power available. Probably also because bloatware - the junk software computer makers load their machines with - had not yet reached the epidemic proportions it would a few years later. Mainly, you had AoL preloaded (remember AoL?), RealPlayer (remember RealPlayer?), a CD burner package and maybe a trial photo editor. It was a joy to use. Even MS Office programs opened up snappy.
Those days disappeared pretty quickly though, replaced with brand new hardware that struggled to run the increasingly gargantuan applications that comprised MS Office. I was resigned to my fate.
Then, one day, I discovered Apple. I bought a MacBook Pro not long after retiring from the Marine Corps and it's been a very happy, though not entirely trouble free, relationship. And, I've become something of a Mac groupie, following all the rumours about the next cool app or iThing about to emerge.
So when the second generation MacBook Air came out last fall, I decided to get one. I didn't really need it, but I was sure it would make the limited traveling I do easier, and I was right about that. What I hadn't expected is that it would assume the mantle of the best computer I have ever owned. Why?
It's compact - very. I got the 11-inch model and surprisling, I don't miss the screen real estate.
It's fast - very. As fast as my old Gateway - happy days are here again. Time to log in screen: about 15 seconds. Time to typing: about 40 seconds. No Windows machine I am personally aware of - and we run a business with several - can approach that.
Not only that, shut down is much faster. Ever been in a hurry to pack up your machine and get out the door, but you're stuck waiting for Windows to quit (which you want to happen to preserve battery)? It takes forever. Know how long my Air takes? About 7 seconds! I should mention that this generation received some minor jabs in reviews for featuring relatively weak processors. Hasn't hurt me a bit. I'm betting, though, that the solid state hard drive accounts for much of the performance.
Another quibble many have mentioned is the lack of backlighting on the keyboard. This, I was sure, would be an issue for me. It really just hasn't been.
Both niggles have been corrected in the third generation Air that came out recently with OS X Lion. I won't be trading mine in though. I just works so well.
Another sacrifice that remains in the current and really any forseeable future models: there's no optical drive. I've needed one only once and was able to link to my Pro's drive to install software. With the advent of Apple's App Store, the utility of the optical drive is quickly disappearing. You won't need it, I promise.
Overall, I'm smitten with this machine and I'm almost ashamed to say it has usurped my iPad, "Precious". Can you believe? Apple MacBook Air: The Best.