As Steve Jobs pulled the MacBook Air from the inter-office memo envelope I could not help but be reminded of the lineage of what it clearly the most innovative portable Macintosh ever. Starting with the suitcase-size Mac Portable and continuing to the PowerBook 100, the PowerBook Duo and the 12-inch PowerBook the MacBook Air is another tool in the arsenal of the road warrior – those that do a lot of traveling for a living.

The razor-thin aluminum case of the MacBook covers some innovative technology and features that make it the ideal travel companion for those on the go. With a full-size backlight keyboard with light sensing technology and roomy 13.3-inch screen the MacBook Air is ready for serious work. The multi-touch keypad, which will undoubtedly find its way into other MacBooks is stuff of science fiction, to zoom in and out on a photo you “pinch in and pinch out” a motion that is both intuitive and able to be accomplished with one hand while holding that cup of Starbucks.

Already people are preparing manila envelope carrying cases for this new MacBook Air. That means that marketing tool was pretty effective.

For many people, the MacBook Air can be the only computer they need for email, spreadsheets and web surfing. For others, the 80GB hard drive may be too small and this will be their “travel” Mac. With a 5-hour battery life, I expect to see the Air at many meetings and on planes. Most seats on planes are too small to even open your standard size laptop, so the MacBook Air will be drawing crowds with questions and “oooo’s and ahhhh’s” just the way that other Apple portables have in the past. I’ll never forget that flight with my first PowerBook and the crowd of flight attendants and passengers that were gathered around my seat as I watched Terminator on the Apple product.

With Apple’s new utility to allow the wireless use of any available optical drive on Mac or PC, I do not think that there will be a lot of tears over the loss of the optical drive. I know I seldom use the drive on my current MacBook Pro and the reduced weight and increased battery life is a huge advantage.

I don’t think that you can underestimate the impact of the weight of the MacBook Air. Three pounds versus almost six for a full size MacBook Pro is a big difference when you are carrying this around all day through airports and to meetings. Your briefcase will be smaller and lighter without sacrificing the power of the Mac.

Back at the office, with a BlueTooth keyboard and mouse and a large display connected to the micro-DVI port you can have a full-featured office machine at the ready, too.

Perhaps most importantly, this MacBook is the most environmentally friendly laptop on the planet! Steve Jobs used part of his keynote to talk about the features that make this an innovative environmental product. The case is all aluminum and hence very recyclable – an executive from Alcoa once told me, holding an aluminum can, that aluminum is basically solid electricity. The LED -backlit display is totally mercury-free and the glass is arsenic-free. Most of the circuit boards are bromide and PVC-free. The 5-hour battery life yields an Energy Star 2.0 and Silver EPEAT rating. The small size has allowed smaller packaging, too! Even frequent Apple critic, GreenPeace, applauded the innovations in the MacBook Air!


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