Rant: Apple should kill the 11.6 inch MacBook Air and turn it into an iOS laptop

Apple is going to hold their annual Worldwide Developers Conference next week and it’s widely expected that they’re going to talk about the next version of iOS, the next version of Mac OS X, and some people think we may even see a television set. Since this is a mobile focused website, and by mobile I mean devices that fit into your pocket, I tend not to write about laptops and tablets, but I’ll make an exception. Right now I have two computers. One is a two year old 17 inch MacBook Pro, the other is an 11.6 inch Lenovo ThinkPad X100e that I use either when I’m traveling or when I’m not working. The MacBook Pro is likely going to stay with me for at least another two to three years, preferably even longer, but the ThinkPad is something I want to get rid of immediately. It was roughly $500 when I got it in January 2010 and while I knew it was it wasn’t going to give me the best performance in the world, I didn’t know it was going to be this bad.

I put up with the ThinkPad because it does what I need it to do. Shoving a solid state hard drive inside has made the machine a bit more peppy, and I’ve also tried various operating systems to squeeze every little bit of power I can out of the anemic single core processor. Windows XP was OK, but was a pain in the ass to maintain. Windows 7 was even better, but again, it requires maintenance. The Windows 8 Consumer Preview ran fine for the most part, but video playback was a hit or miss. In the end I settled on Ubuntu 12.04 LTS, and it’s fantastic, but it still doesn’t solve the problem that the machine runs far too hot and the battery life can be measured in minutes, not hours.

Do I want a Windows 8 machine? Not really. I’m pretty much done with Windows at this point. The next version of Microsoft’s desktop operating system doesn’t really jive with me. Metro may be pretty, but it’s jarring and I never got the hang of it, even after spending more than a month playing with it. Do I want a MacBook Air? With a starting price of $999, I’m going to have to say no; too rich for my blood. What about an iPad? It’s wonderful for what it is, and that new screen is gorgeous, but I need a keyboard.

So here’s what I’d like Apple to do: Kill the 11.6 inch MacBook Air. Why? It’s 11.8 inches wide, 7.56 inches deep, and 0.68 inches tall. Dell recently came out with a 13 inch Ultrabook called the XPS 13 that’s 12.4 inches wide, 8.1 inches deep, and 0.7 inches tall. In other words, it’s barely bigger than the 11.6 inch MacBook Air, yet it has a 13 inch display. Apple should replace the current MacBook Air portfolio, which has a 13 inch and an 11.6 inch model, with a new 13 inch model that’s smaller and a 14 to 15 inch model that’s obviously bigger.

Then they also should introduce a new product that’s basically an iPad, but with a keyboard. Computex is taking place in Taipei right now and we’re seeing numerous companies introduce 11.6 inch touch enabled Windows 8 machines that have a 1920 x 1080 display. Use that panel, add a keyboard, tweak iOS, and voilà!

How would iOS work with a keyboard? Simple really. In Mac OS X there’s a four finger gesture that brings up all the windows you currently have open, a gesture to switch between full screen applications, and a gesture to bring up all the apps you have installed on your machine. Why can’t Apple enable those gestures on iOS and make an ultra affordable productivity machine?

Will my dreams be answered next week? Probably not, but hey, it’s good to fantasize.

  • Joseph Saponaro,MD

    I love my 11 inch MBA just the was it is.  I am not even looking at the competitors.

    Dr. Saponaro

  • Stefan — I dont think Apple will do that. You know Tim Cook reiterated refrigerator-toaster thoery countless time so I dont think you will be able to convince them think otherwise. 
    However it is not to say it can’t be done I am sure the JB team must have some way 🙂

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