MacBook Air 1.86GHz [2008] full review - Page 2

Fingers and adapters

Like the other MacBook models introduced in October, the new MacBook Air connects to external displays with the new Mini DisplayPort adapter, placing it on the cutting edge of an Apple technological transition. The original MacBook Air was the only Mac to ever use the Micro-DVI connection format, so in many ways this move to Mini DisplayPort is good for the Air; it now can use the very same monitor adapters as all the other MacBook models, rather than requiring its own oddball set. And the MacBook Air can now drive the 30-inch Apple Cinema Display, albeit only via an optional £69 dual-link DVI adapter.

However, there’s some bad news. In what can only be read as a cost-saving move, Apple has removed all display adapters from the MacBook Air box. (Previous models shipped with both DVI and VGA adapters.) If you want to connect the MacBook Air to an external display—and why wouldn’t you?—it’ll cost £20 extra per adapter. Travelers who give presentations will need to spend £20 to ensure that you can connect to either a DVI or VGA projector. Given the absolute necessity for many laptop users to connect to displays, in the office or on the road, it’s unfortunate that Apple has decided to stop throwing a display adapter into the box.

Unlike just about every other display in existence, you won’t need an adapter in order to connect the MacBook Air to Apple’s forthcoming 24-inch LED Cinema Display. That display, with its built-in DisplayPort connector, would seem to be an excellent addition to the Air, especially given that its self-powered USB hub has enough juice to allow Air users to permanently attach Apple’s power-hungry external USB SuperDrive (£65) to the monitor. Any MacBook Air user who has tried to boot from a DVD in order to restore a Time Machine backup from a USB hard drive—only to discover that it’s impossible because the Air only has a single USB port—will appreciate that feature.

The MacBook Air retains Apple's full sized LED display and backlit keyboard

However, we don’t yet have an LED Cinema Display in our offices, so we can’t attest to how well it works with these laptops. Stay tuned for our forthcoming review after the display arrives.

Although the new MacBook Air models lack the buttonless, clickable glass trackpad offered in the new MacBook and new MacBook Pro models, they haven’t been completely forsaken. The new four-finger gestures (slide up to reveal the desktop, slide down to show all windows, slide left or right to bring up the app switcher) supported on those models are also available on the new MacBook Air.

In the past months I’ve found that some gestures—especially two-finger scrolling—have become like second nature to me. And the four-finger slide to reveal the desktop will probably fall into that category, as well—it sure beats pressing F11 (or worse, for those of us who have set our Keyboard settings to require the Function key to be pressed in order to activate those features, the dreaded Fn-F11 death grip). It’s a shame Apple doesn’t allow you to customize what those gestures do, however.

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