Apple have just announced the MacBook Air.
Apple have probably the finest industrial design team available to humanity, and they very rarely disappoint. I knew the MacBook Air would be no exception, but I wasn't expecting this.
Holy shit that thing's thin. I knew they'd had a quiet word with Intel, and got them to make their processors thinner for the Air, but I wasn't expecting that. It's probably only the second time I've ever been genuinely amazed at the size of a piece of consumer electronics (the first time being when I saw a Nokia 8210 before they were released in Europe).
A lot of people are making a lot of noise about the fact that its battery is non-replaceable, its RAM is soldered-in, and that no-one will buy it because of this, but how many of you have ever replaced the battery in your laptop? And how many have added RAM?
Hell, I own a seriously decrepit IBM Thinkpad that's so old it can't even run Windows XP (it runs Fedora 8 just fine though), and even it's still on its first battery.
Anyway, Apple sell their wares on the back of only one thing: their UI engineering.
OSX, in terms of processing throughput, largely sucks. Apple held on to the PowerPC architecture for far too long while IBM flapped about trying to deliver the clock speeds they had promised. Video cards in every recent Mac have been weedy to say the least.
But OSX is without question the easiest to use and most visually impressive desktop environment available. The click-wheel on the late iPods is the only reason I own my ageing Mini, and their hardware is genuinely beautiful.
The two-finger twist and zoom in the linked video (as seen on the iPhone as well) also looks very cool, but I'm not sure how useful it really is unless you're editing images or video. Time will tell. People have even been messing about with the accelerometer in MacBooks for a while with some interesting results, so I'll reserve judgement on novel input methods in general for now.
I won't be buying a MacBook Air, but I'm glad that Apple are producing things like this because it raises the bar for everyone else. And that can only be a good thing.