Ultralights, MacBook Air and Netbooks, Oh MyBy Frank Ohlhorst | Print
The choices for portable computing have never been greater. And the choice for which PC you buy and support, as always, comes down to price versus performance. Netbooks and MacBook Air look convenient, but do they have the power? Ultralights have features, but are they light enough? And what are we paying for? Here’s a look at today's choices for mobile computing.
If you want to create some controversy, just say something along the lines
of "The MacBook Air sucks for business."
While that may be a blanket statement that unfairly casts the MacBook Air in a negative light, there’s some truth to the statement when one takes a look at competing products and how they are used for business.
To understand where the MacBook Air comes up short, one has to identify the competing products and their strengths—not an easy challenge in today’s world of constantly evolving products.
Although mobile workers perform their duties as individuals, they do share a common goal—productivity. Add to that the bean counters' goal of affordability, and the list of mobile solutions narrows significantly.
The units that remain in the balance of affordability and usability are located in the sweet spot of enterprisewide deployment. Those who value affordability above all else tilt the scales toward netbooks, while those looking for maximum productivity tilt the scales toward thin and light notebook computers, which include the MacBook Air.
From a productivity point of view, most users are looking for portable systems that can run their office suite applications, e-mail clients, Web 2.0 applications and Web browsers. A majority of the users may also need to run line-of-business applications and VPN clients as well. To accomplish those goals, a modicum of power is needed. Add VOIP and video to the mix, and that power quotient rises.
For most, saving a few bucks by going with an Intel Atom-powered netbook will probably amount to money being thrown away.
The typical mobile user needs certain functions in a portable computer: The device must have wireless networking, expansion ports, a usable screen (large and bright), ample storage space and run the mandatory software. If we apply those elements to the top three mobile PC platforms, weaknesses become readily apparent.